Shanghai, China: fast-paced and sophisticated.

Home to the 2010 Expo, rampant redevelopment, distinctive architecture and arguably the world’s fastest growing major economy, sophisticated Shanghai has become a cool tourist destination. Considered the birthplace of everything modern in China, (the country’s first motor car was driven here and the first train tracks lain), it became a multinational hub of finance and business in the 1920s and 1930s and is now the world's largest cargo port.

It’s a city of surging skyscrapers, some of which have top floor restaurants resembling flying saucers and the Shanghai Museum, Shanghai Grand Theatre and Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre are all examples of its varied contemporary architecture. Must visit stops include the waterfront Bund, and the City God Temple and Yuyuan Garden in the old town.

City planners are now developing more green areas and the government is protecting parts of its past that remain. The Duolun Lu in the Hongkou District is an officially protected stretch, restored by the city government in 1998, reports the New York Times. Buildings were rehabilitated, the road pedestrianized and statues erected in memory of literary giants who lived and worked there in the 1920s and ’30s, whilst its residents stayed on. Going into the backstreets here is like going back 50 or 60 years, a total contrast to today’s Shanghai.

However some of its residents fear for the area’s future as even protected status may offer little real protection against future profitable apartment complexes. Given its uncertain future, now is the time to visit the area whilst it’s still bustling with locals and not just an outdoor museum.

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