Map: Pudong

“Pudong is a feng shui fantasia of glass, steel, and construction cranes.”—Matt Gross, “Frugal Traveler” columnist, the New York Times. The insider’s joke is that residents of Puxi, the more populated area to the west of the Huangpu River, need a passport to head east to Pudong. In fact, Pudong is a quick tunnel, subway, or ferry ride away, and as fascinating as it is vast and eerily scrubbed.

If you’re starting in Puxi, catch a taxi through the (1) Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, a riot of light, or take the metro to Lujiazui, then walk northwest on Century Boulevard to Fenghe Road until you reach the (2) Oriental Pearl TV Tower (1 Shiji Dadao; tel. 86 21 5879 1888). With its pink bulb-on-a-needle silhouette, this is the city’s most distinctive tower. Snap a few shots, but don’t bother ascending, since you can have the same view for free at neighboring Jinmao Tower. Head down to the basement for the (3) Shanghai History Museum (1 Shiji Dadao; tel. 86 21 5879 3003). “A fun and educational rummage through Shanghai’s extraordinary past.”—Damian Harper, author, Lonely Planet Shanghai. You can also up the ick factor with a visit to the kid-friendly (4) Natural Wild Insect Kingdom (1 Fenghe Road; tel. 86 21 5840 6950), at the top of Fenghe Road, at the river’s edge.

Retrace your steps to Yin Cheng Road, turn left and walk to the (5) Shanghai Aquarium (1388 Lujiazui Ring Road; tel. 86 21 5877 9988; www.sh-aquarium.com). Not heavily touristy, this aquarium is an offbeat activity—fun for kids and particularly abundant in Asian sea life. A long Plexiglas tunnel displays the animals, culminating with—what else?—sharks. Visitors pass on a slow-moving conveyor belt beneath what seems like too many sharp-toothed, powerful-looking, specimens. After browsing the gift shop, retrace your steps down Yin Cheng Road, which turns into West Lujiazui Road, leading to the riverbank. If you’re in the mood for shopping, look around for locally owned shops near the river. Otherwise, once you’ve had your fill of watching boats chug by and imagining when the opposing riverbank was a busy colonial-era port, make your way back onto Century Boulevard and head southeast a block to the (6) Jinmao Tower (88 Century Boulevard).

This 87-story structure, which looks like New York’s Chrysler Building re-imagined as a 21st-century pagoda, houses the highest hotel in the world, the Grand Hyatt Shanghai (tel. 86 21 5049 1234; www.shanghai.grand.hyatt.com). There’s plenty to do here, starting with the whimsical gourmet candy shop on the ground level. For refreshment with a view, take the rocket launcher, i.e., elevator, to the hotel lobby on the 54th floor and pick from among the hotel restaurants, each with a clear view of the city. If you’re hankering for a drink, embark on another set of elevators to Cloud 9, on the 87th floor. If you appreciate vertigo or just fine architecture, go to the 53rd floor to view the internal swirls at the core of the atrium. If you’re in the mood for relaxation with an exceptional view, take a swim in the temperature-controlled horizon pool on the 57th floor. If you’re returning to Puxi, the hotel can shuttle you back to the metro station, or you can catch a taxi downstairs.

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