The heart of Guangzhou's former European concession—France and England both set up shop on this sandy river island in 1859 toward the end of the Opium Wars—Shamian Island (Shāmiàn Dǎo, 沙面岛) is home to a number of colonial-era buildings, including a restored French Catholic church, Our Lady of Lourdes; its British Protestant complement, the Christ Church Shamian; and many former hotels, embassies, trading houses and residences. The island (actually a permanent sand bank in the Pearl River) makes for pleasant strolling..
The former French Concession (Fǎ Zūjiè, 法租界) is, for many visitors, the highlight of a visit to Shanghai, delivering much of what this fabled city promises. It's also become the city's hottest and hippest neighborhood, where trendy bars and clubs multiply like mushrooms after a rainstorm. Shanghai's idiosyncratic push-pull between new and old, development and preservation, takes a special form in the French Concession, making it an absolutely unique urban experience. The area still holds something of the alluring..
For many, the Bund (Wàitān, 外滩) is the face of Shanghai. Even as the city transforms itself, growing upwards and outwards at a tremendous rate, the Bund's Art Deco and Neoclassical facades appear much as they did during Shanghai's previous heyday as China's most international city, way back in the 1920s and '30s. Of course, the surroundings have changed radically since then. There's no better place to take in the spectacular Lujiazui skyline on the east bank of the Huangpu River than from the Bund's river promenade or through a picture..