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7. Drink and dine among Shanghai's Shikumen
Xintiandi hasn't been around for a decade yet and already it is a Shanghai icon. An upscale entertainment complex modelled on traditional lilong (alleyway) homes, Xintiandi was the first development in the city to prove that historic architecture does, in fact, have economic value. Well-heeled shoppers and alfresco diners keep the place busy until late, and if you are looking for a memorable meal or a browse through some of Shanghai's more fashionable shops, this is the place.

8. Link up with Shanghai's laid-back lanes
Shanghai's ultramodern skyline is electric for sure, but also impersonal and dwarfing. Don not fret. For things on a more human scale, where real communities get on with their daily lives, meandering through Shanghai's collection of lilong alleys and shikumen homes is a helpful antidote. These gorgeous stone-and-brick communities, mainly designed from the mid-19th Century to the art-deco era, hog much of Shanghai's characteristic Concession-era charms, where low-rise tenements line up in neat, pretty rows.

9. Go on an Old Town culture quest
With its shaded alcoves, sparkling pools flashing with goldfish, beckoning classical pavilions, rustling bamboo and rocky recesses, Yuyuan Gardens is one of Shanghai's most eminent sights. This prompts a caveat: classical Chinese gardens were simply not designed to accommodate daily visitor figures topping a thousand. Securing that unique, tranquil atmosphere that brought these gardens fame can be a mission improbable. Set your alarm for an early, pre-crowd visit for glimpses of the gardens' tranquilising harmonies of light and shade, and rock and water.

10. Delve into the divine
At the Jade Buddha Temple, Shanghai's holiest Buddhist shrine, the tinkle of the tourist dollar clashes with the sacred chanting of monks and birds chirping from Magnolia grandifl ora branches. Festooned with red lanterns, the halls and courtyards of the saffron-coloured temple glitter with fine effigies and temple ornaments. A visit is a reminder of the growing religious fever sweeping China.

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© Lonely Planet. All rights reserved. The article ‘Lonely Planet's top 10 Shanghai pastimes’ was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.





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