Shanghai © JesseW900

Home to around 24 million people, Shanghai is situated on the coast where the Yangtze River flows into the East China Sea. The country's largest city, Shanghai is criss-crossed by a maze of picturesque natural waterways and sits only a few metres above sea level.

The city is China's industrial and commercial capital, is a busy seaport and is home to vibrant science-, technology- and business communities. While visitors don't normally travel to Shanghai for intriguing history or scenic beauty, there are still plenty of opportunities for entertainment and relaxation. Indeed, the city is drawing increasing numbers of tourists with its neon cityscape, exotic nightlife and booming shopping scene. Just walking the busy streets and soaking up the vibrant atmosphere is worthwhile, with museums, temples and gardens to visit along the way.

This great cosmopolitan metro has a colourful colonial background, which has had the edge rubbed off of it during half a century of Communist rule. It was the first Chinese coastal port to be opened to Western trade in 1843, resulting in an influx of British, French and American diplomats and business interests, each of which established their own independent enclaves.

In the 1920s and '30s, Shanghai was regarded as a glamorous, decadent and fashionable place to visit. It all ended with World War II and the coming to power of the Communist Party of China. But since the early 1990s, a dramatic rebuilding programme has been underway to put Shanghai back on the map as a major international finance and trade centre. The Shanghai Tower stands as the second-tallest building in the world and, along with the supertall skyscraper World Financial Centre, is symbolic of this glitzy rejuvenation.