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Only got a weekend to spend in the world's biggest city? Here's how to make the best of it.

DAY 1

08:30  Start your day early to avoid the masses who flock to Yuyuan Garden (yuyuantm.com/cn/yuyuan/en; admission £4) every weekend. This 400-year-old sanctuary is considered one of the world’s prettiest Chinese gardens, with hidden alcoves, carp-filled pools, bamboo-covered rockeries, bridges laden with tile dragons and some splendid pagodas and pavilions. There is an extremely tacky adjoining bazaar selling all manner of tourist paraphernalia. 

10:00  Yuyuan is situated in Shanghai’s Old City, a world away from the modern metropolis outside the old perimeter. Today it gives a glimpse into genuine Chinese culture, with stunning temples hidden down small, twisting alleys and scores of street markets selling clothes, fish and vegetables. 

12:00  For a sharp contrast between old and new, head to Renmin Square, the modern centre of this busy city. When you start to feel claustrophobic thanks to the sheer volume of people, head to Renmin Park, a shady haven in the midst of Shanghai’s constantly pulsing heart. 

12:30  Despite China’s fascinating 5000-year history, Shanghai is strangely bereft of good quality museums – this is more a city for soaking up the atmosphere than racing around the sights. That said, the Shanghai Museum (shanghaimuseum.net; admission £2) has an incredible collection of artefacts, from bronze weapons and cooking utensils with intricate designs, to traditional costumes and Ming dynasty artwork and ceramics. It would be easy to spend the whole afternoon here, so get your skates on.  

14:30  Fuel up on some traditional dumplings (xiaolong bao) to get your energy levels back up. Sadly, the best ones are not to be found in a dingy little shack in the Old City or down a hidden side street in a traditional restaurant. No, they’re in Din Tai Fung (Super Brand Mall, 168, Lujiazuixi Rd), a Taiwanese chain in a clean-cut, soulless mall. But don’t worry, as soon as you taste these pork- or crab-filled delicacies, you won’t care where you are.


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Weekender: Shanghai in 48 hours
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