"Paris of China" and "Pearl of the Orient," the vibrant city of Shanghai is a shining symbol of the economic emergence of the world's largest nation. A comfortable jumble of old and new, it is a city in seemingly unstoppable transition. Like the rest of China, Shanghai is undergoing one of the fastest economic expansions the world has ever seen, yet has striven to retain its historical roots. Today's Shanghai is a montage of stunning architecture, mixed with noble reminders of long-gone eras. Shanghai, as you soon discover, has many faces. Explore Condé Nast Insider Tips for Shanghai
Off the Beaten Track
Elite Villa Botanical Gardens - Just outside busy Shanghai you'll find this tranquil park where centuries-old laurel and Chinese flowering quinces are among the more than 300 large arbor and shrub species outnumbering those in the Shanghai Botanical Gardens. Medicinal shrubs, fruit trees and colorful plants grow along the banks of the lake. Yunxiang Temple - The only mid Tang Dynasty style temple in Shanghai is located in Nanxiang Town. Originally constructed in 505 AD, it was recently opened to the public after extensive renovations. Monks with shaved heads and clothed in yellow gowns and dark cloth shoes, wander through the corridors of the elaborately designed complex.
Gifts are very important in Chinese culture and many have specific meaning. If you are invited to a family gathering, small gifts like wine, fruit or candies is acceptable. Ticking clocks sound like funeral bells tolling and therefore clocks should never be given. Black and white objects are also associated with death and should be avoided. Gifts should show the good intentions of the giver and not the value so the receiver never views it as a bribe. Odd numbers are considered bad omens. Although the number four is an even number, when translated it means death in Chinese and is therefore avoided. Gifts to elders should always be given in pairs in keeping with the saying "blessings come in pairs."