Visiting Shanghai, the Paris of the east

People on a busy street at night in Shanghai. Hudson Kuteesa.

If you have talked to a Chinese about Shanghai, you might perhaps have an idea of what Chinese think about it. They think it is a great city. Arguments have even been drawn whether it is the greatest city in the world. On the question of whether it is the greatest or not, I may not dig into the debate, however, according to what I experienced on my visit, I saw the glamour.

When I got to Shanghai, my expectations of the city are really high, especially due to the talk of how developed it is.


There seems to be so much to see in a city dubbed China’s largest economic centre, with a GDP of 18,450 USD in 2017 (equivalent to that of a medium developed country or region), hosting the headquarters of 625 multinational companies among others things.


When we touched down, I told myself, “watch and see.”


Shanghai is a beautiful city with green streets, blue skies, and beautiful architecture. These are some of the things that welcome you as you take a ride for the first time in the city through its complex network of roads and bridges.

Beautiful residential houses in the valleys on either side of the roads caught my attention and made me think that this is a more comfortable city to live in, although it is also quite a big economic city.

I asked one of the many African friends I was travelling with from Beijing what he thinks about the city, he was very quick to give an answer about how it is “wonderful and” “colourful” as he took photos with his mobile phone through the windows of the van.

Elegant red double-decker with words “city sightseeing” are some of the things that I saw on the streets on my first day and there is no doubt that Shanghai is one of the cities that attracts the most tourists in the world.

A blend of cultures, people

A home to over 24 million people, the city is a renowned international metropolis drawing more and more attention from all over the world.

In addition to its modernisation, the city’s multicultural flair endows it with a unique glamour. Here, one finds a blend of cultures, the modern, traditional, western and the oriental.

Although I can’t say that I was able to capture so much, one of the things that interested me is the lifestyle of spending especially when it comes to wedding. It is said that the average cost for a wedding in Shanghai is Rwf 26m ($30,000).

The food

Shanghai also boasts a plethora of different cuisines. The city has 30,000 catering enterprises, whose businesses range from Chinese style, western style to fast food chain stores. The foreign styled food restaurants feature food from more than 30 countries including Italy, France, Japan, Portugal and India.

The architecture

The city boasts fascinating architecture. The oriental Pearl Tower TV which we visited on our first day in the city is an epitome of the architectural glamour of the city. The tower’s futurist architectural style makes it stand out even against the diverse collection of buildings and structures in the area. Finalized in 1994, it held the prize for China’s tallest structure up until 2007.

It is made up of about three globe-like structures, the biggest of which is supported by a number of legs that drive deep underground. The bizarre shape of the tower is highlighted at night, when a series of lights shine from the structure, enhancing it as Shanghai’s landmark.

Among others is the Jin Mao tower, an 88-storey skyscraper, and the Nanpu Bridge which is the 57th longest cable-stayed bridge in the world.

The historical sites of Shanghai

Shanghai has a number of historical sites which include the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum commemorating the Jewish refugees who lived in Shanghai during World War II after fleeing Europe to escape the Holocaust.

It is also home to the birthplace of the communist party of china (CPC), the ruling party of china. We managed to visit and see the place where the first national party congress took place, two houses with stone gates which they say are typical Shanghai residences in the 1920s.

It also hosts the residences of former Chinese president Mao Ze Dong, Sun Yat-sen regarded as the founding father of the Republic of China, Lu Xun, a leading figure of modern Chinese literature, among other historical aspects.

The environment

A visit to the Chongming island part of Shanghai may show you how environmental protection is not taken for granted here.

The flat beautiful island which is the third largest in China may make you think that you have gone out of China’s largest city. Designed in a nature-friendly yet beautiful way, people who come here for holidays can also spend time picking fruits, feeding animals, playing in the grounds among other activities on the island.

The island is one of the efforts of the Chinese government to make comfortable upcountry places that would among other things provide some resting environment for people within the villages and those coming from bustling cities.

One lady I manage to talk to told me that it is believed that the air they breathe in Shanghai and the water they drink come from this island.


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