Whole books have been written about Shanghai, and I doubt if there’s anything new I can add, especially since I was only there for a couple of days, one of which was spent outside the city proper in Zhujiajiao village (which is pretty amazing, see below).
Shanghai is, not surprisingly, one of the most “international” of Chinese cities, and there is plenty to see and do, with Western-style (or at least American-style) bars aplenty, though the ones we visited were full of Aussies and New Zealanders.
The main attraction is the Bund, with views across the river, which are pretty good at night (unfortunately all my night-time photos came out very grainy, so not worth posting – but there are plenty online anyway). It is, however, always very crowded. In fact, the whole central area is oppressively crowded, so we tried to escape it.
A few city blocks away from the Bund, in the old city, is a slighly quieter place (on weekdays), called Yuyuan (“Happiness Gardens”) which is well worth a visit. Ouside the gardens is Yuyuan Bazaar, aka Yuyuan Market, a real tourist trap, with expensive food and unlimited tourist tat, but interesting for people watching.
Another escape from the centre of Shanghai took us out to Longhua Temple, which has been around for more than 1000 years.
Zhujiajiao Ancient Town, reputed as the Venice of Shanghai, is a 1700-year-old town with old bridges, old streets, Ming-Qing dynasty architectures, old Buddhist and Taoist sites, and lots more of interest. It’s easily accessible via the Shanghai metro (and a bus). Needless to say, it gets extremely busy with tourists, Chinese and foreign, so go as early in the day as possible, and take the usual precautions against pickpockets. And yes, the boat trips are overpriced, but you’ll still want to have one.