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Shanghaiwhere old meets new

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Time Out: Shanghai

Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

Photo by Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

Once a sleepy fishing village on the banks of the Huangpu River, Shanghai is now China’s financial center. About 23 million people live here, according to data from the United Nations, making it the third-most-populated city on earth (after Tokyo and Delhi). In the 19th and early 20th centuries, it was a center of foreign investment and became known as the Paris of the East. You can still see vestiges of western influence when walking on The Bund and in the former French Concession, where colonial-era buildings have been converted into swank hotels, restaurants and glitzy nightspots.

Go to The Cut for affordable steak and fries, stay for cocktails and amazing city views from the rooftop bar. Glammed-up expats drink at Starling and the 1920s speakeasy Flask, the entrance to which is located behind an old-fashioned Coke vending machine in The Press sandwich shop. Similarly, Speak Low is hidden behind a sliding bookcase in Ocho, a bar supplies store. You can access its second secret bar by pushing Shanghai on the world map on the stairway wall.

Line up early with locals for soup dumplings at Jia Jia Tang Bao; once they’re sold out, that’s it. For seared pork dumplings, hit Shu Cai Ji Shengjian, or try The Commune Social—housed in a former police station—for globally influenced tapas. At The Liquid Laundry, wash down the beer-braised beef tongue sliders with one of a dozen house-brewed craft beers. For the most authentic eats in Shanghai, visit the Shouning Lu street market.

Stroll the miles-long Nanjing Road for luxury shops and open-air markets. Buy freshwater pearls for a song at Hongqiao International Pearl City and the women behind the counter will make your necklace for free. Visit Madame Mao’s Dowry for contemporary Chinese designs, vintage-inspired fashion and communist-era memorabilia. Shanghai Tang sells chic silk dresses and gorgeous cashmere scarves in a rainbow of colors.

Hit Moganshan Road, once a street of deserted warehouses and now a vibrant contemporary art hub. Stop in at South Bund Fabric Market to have an outfit made from a magazine photo, and pick up your new duds the next day. Balance your chi with traditional Chinese acupressure at Green Massage or take in a tea ceremony at Lake Center Tea House, which sits on stilts in the middle of the little lake in Yuyuan Garden.

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