Shanghai is the beating heart of modern China. Known as the Paris of the East, this vibrant city fuses Oriental style with cosmopolitan chic and has the best shopping, dining and nightlife in the country. Shanghai also has access to other fascinating destinations such as the garden city of Suzhou, the imperial capital of Hangzhou and beautiful Mt Huang.

The Bund

Shanghai’s colonial past is elegantly displayed along the picturesque Bund. A walk along the Huangpu waterfront past stylish buildings housing banks, hotels and the customs house offers an excellent viewpoint to understand the history of the city.

Across the river the skyscrapers of the futuristic Pudong district dominate the skyline. Boasting several of the world’s tallest buildings, Pudong is the financial centre of China. A great way to see both the Bund and Pudong is on a Huangpu River Cruise (see below).

Yu Gardens

Discover Shanghai’s classically styled Yu Gardens. Walk past carp-filled pools, towering bamboo and exquisite rockeries to discover the historical halls and pavilions. Here the feng shui aspects of design are all-important as the water, plants and buildings blend in perfect harmony.

The Yu Gardens are at the heart of the historical Old Town. This area is well restored and features bustling pedestrianised streets lined with shops, restaurants and the traditional Huxinting Teahouse perched on stilts above a small lake.

Huangpu River Cruise

A great way to experience old and new Shanghai is to take an evening cruise on the Huangpu River. From the water you can truly appreciate the differences in styles with the classic and subtly lit architecture of the Bund facing the colourful and flashing displays of Pudong. This is where old and new Shanghai come face-to-face and for many this is the highlight of China's most vibrant city.


Suzhou is renowned for its Chinese gardens and is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The walled gardens aim to recreate natural landscapes in miniature and feature ponds, rocks, trees and flowers as well as traditionally-styled pavilions. The city is built on a system of waterways and you can take a boat ride on the Grand Canal to see why Suzhou is known as the Venice of the East.

Water Towns

The area around Shanghai is populated with numerous historic towns characterised by their waterways, narrow lanes and stone bridges. Dating back over the centuries these water towns were important commercial centres linked to China's Grand Canal, the ancient trading route between Beijing and Hangzhou.

Wuzhen is a charming canal town that can be visited easily on a day tour from Shanghai. This popular destination is like a living museum and offers a glimpse into a way of life that has changed little over the centuries. Walk along ancient paved streets to discover the traditional shops and learn about local industries such as silk dyeing and rice wine manufacture. Other nearby water towns include Luzhi with beautiful canals flanked by weeping willow trees and architecture from the Song dynasty; Tongli, which features a Ming dynasty estate and a traditional Chinese Garden; and Zhouzhuang with its historic residences, temples and bridges.


Historic Hangzhou dates back to the 6th century and is one of the ancient capitals of China. The central feature of the city is the attractive West Lake with a shoreline boasting verdant gardens, traditional temples and inspiring pagodas. Take a leisurely cruise across the tranquil waters of the lake and in the evening watch the spectacular West Lake Impression show directed by Zhang Yimou, creator of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.

The cultural heritage of the city is best preserved in the picturesque Temple of Inspired Seclusion, one of the most important Buddhist temples in China. The colourful buildings are surrounded by gardens, trees and rocky outcrops carved with statues of Buddha.

Also visit the Six Harmonies Pagoda which is built on a hillside overlooking the Qiantang River. Its construction was designed to protect boatmen from the dangerous tidal waters below.

Mt Huang

Mt Huang (Yellow Mountain) is one of the most scenic areas in China and has inspired generations of artists and poets alike. It is famous for its granite peaks jutting through the swirling mist and pine trees protruding from improbable cliff-face locations. Reach the top of the mountain by cable car and stay overnight near the summit. From here you will be guided around the network of well-made paths so you can enjoy the breath-taking views.

The area around the base of Mt Huang has been inhabited for hundreds of years and has many townships dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties. An exploration of the villages in the Anhui countryside such as the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Xidi and Hongcun reveals traditional architecture, ancient waterways and a way of life that has changed little over the centuries.

Chinese New Year 2015

The Chinese Year of the Goat started on 19 February 2015. Seeing in the New Year in Shanghai will always be a momentous experience, a sky full of fireworks setting the backdrop to the futuristic skyline of Pudong and the colonial delights of the Bund. Chinese New Year falls on 8th February 2016 - you will be seeing in the year of the monkey.    

Winter is a fascinating time to visit China. While the temperatures may be colder, the days are often bright and crisp with clear skies. And there are certainly fewer other travellers at the major attractions. Most of the main destinations in China can be combined with Shanghai and the Chinese New Year celebrations or you can take this as a great opportunity to visit the famous Ice Festival in Harbin. See the Beijing section of this website for further details. Click Here.

How may we help you?

Call one of our tailor-made specialists on 0844 8566 811 or email us at
For an individually-tailored itinerary, please submit a quote request Tailor-made Quote Request

Inspiring Itineraries

Be inspired by our comprehensive multiple-destination itineraries to China
View Itineraries

Brochure Download

Download the complete ASIA Inspirations brochure in PDF format
Download the Brochure