When In Shanghai…
SOHO OF THE EAST
Just south of meandering Suzhou Creek, a former state-owned textile designing facility at 50 Moganshan Road has been converted into artists' studios and galleries. It's the best place to check out contemporary Chinese art. Visit ShanghART, which has showcased top artists, including Zhou Tiehai, who paints Joe Camel into Western classic works, and pop artist Pu Jie. Take the freight elevator of Building 16 to the fifth-floor Eastlink Gallery, then head to the second floor of Building 6 to Art Scene Warehouse for avant garde works by Zhong Biao and Du Xinjian. The art isn't cheap: Expect prices in the tens of thousands of dollars.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
Think the skyline is impressive today? Stop by the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall on the northeast corner of People's Square. The biggest attraction is a scale model the size of a volleyball court laying out the architectural wonders expected to be completed by 2020. Detailed plans show everything from sewer lines to a giant Ferris wheel. Photos and videos also provide a rich romp through Shanghai's architectural past.
Bicycles have all but given way to cars on Shanghai's busy streets and highways. But it's still possible—and safe—to go for a leisurely ride in Century Park in the heart of Pudong on the eastern bank of the Huangpu River. It's Shanghai's answer to New York's Central Park.
Rent a tandem bicycle for $5 an hour and tour the meticulously landscaped 330-acre park, complete with a lake and sandy beach. Too bad swimming is not allowed.
If you've walked until you're sore, head over to Touch Therapeutic Spa to get your feet pummeled and prodded. It's on the second floor of Bridge 8, a new community for architects, designers, and boutiques in a converted auto-parts factory on the fringe of the city's French Concession, where Jianguo Road meets the elevated North South Highway. A one-hour foot massage and soak costs about $12; a full-body massage is twice that.
Three blocks east of the trendy Xintiandi entertainment district is one of the last traditional downtown neighborhoods. Its main axis is Dongtai Road, a narrow pedestrian street and antique market whose shops and stalls hawk everything from Buddhas to art deco radios to porcelain Mao statues. Be ready to bargain, and watch out for newly made "antiques." But hurry, the area is slated for the wrecking ball in the next year or two.
By Frederik Balfour