Shanghai and Hangzhou Cities
Hangzhou - Heaven on Earth
Hangzhou, formerly transliterated as Hangchow, is the capital and largest city of Zhejiang province in Eastern China. It is governed as a sub-provincial city. As of 2010, the entire administrative division or prefecture had a registered population of 8.7 million people. The built up area of the Hangzhou municipality had a resident population of 6.242 million in 2010 (urban and suburban districts), of which 3.56 million lived in the six urban core districts.
A core city of the Yangtze River Delta, Hangzhou has a position on the Hangzhou Bay 180 kilometres (110 mi) southwest of Shanghai that gives it economic power. It has been one of the most renowned and prosperous cities of China for much of the last 1,000 years, due in part to its beautiful natural scenery. The city's West Lake is its best-known attraction.
Heaven on Earth...
During his well documented travels through China, Marco Polo gave Hangzhou this famous title. Now, Hangzhou is the most popular tourist destination in China for Chinese citizens, both because of it’s beauty and it’s cultural significance. Now wide open to western visitors as well, the city’s attractions are becoming known the world over. A city of 6.4 million residents in China's Zhejiang Province, Hangzhou is just one hour by high-speed rail or two and a half by car from the exiting Asian metropolis, Shanghai. Hangzhou has a subtropical climate, with four distinct seasons and an overall mild atmosphere.
Hangzhou became China's imperial capital from 1138 until 1279, and subsequent emperors favored the city, building resort villas along the waterways. The "Ten Sights of West Lake" offer inspiring scenery and poetic names like "Orioles Singing in the Willows." One popular destination for the botany-minded is “Breeze-Ruffled Lotus at Quyuan Garden,” which offers 200 species of lotus. History aficionados will find Yuefei Mu, the tomb and temple of 12th century patriot Yuefei, and the The Pagoda of Six Harmonies, a national relic built in 970, on their list of favorite places.
Visitors and local alike can spend their leisure time enjoying beautiful West Lake either from the shoreline or on a boat cruise. One can also sample the famous local Hangzhou cuisine or choose from a growing number of western and international delicacies. Several museums in the city combine to represent the historical significance of Hangzhou’s and China’s culture, including the Silk Museum and the Tea Museum. Recreation opportunities abound in Hangzhou. Hundreds of acres of beautiful, safe, green parks, dot the landscape, many within walking distance of the city's center.
Shanghai is the largest city by population in the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the largest city properby population in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities of the PRC, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010. It is a global city, with influence in commerce, culture, finance, media, fashion, technology, and transport. It is a major financial center and the busiest container port in the world.
Located in the Yangtze River Delta in eastern China, Shanghai sits at the mouth of the Yangtze River in the middle portion of the Chinese coast. The municipality borders Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces to the west, and is bounded to the east by the East China Sea.
"Paris of China and Queen of the Orient;" city of quick riches, ill-gotten gains and fortunes lost on the tumble of dice; the domain of adventurers, swindlers, gamblers, drug runners, idle rich, dandies, tycoons, missionaries, gangsters and backstreet pimps; the city that plots revolution and dances as the revolution shoots its way into town – Shanghai was a dark memory during the long years of forgetting that the Communists visited upon their new China. Shanghai put away its dancing shoes in 1949. The masses began shuffling to a different tune – the dour strains of Marxist-Leninism and the wail of the factory siren and all through these years of oblivion the architects of this social experiment firmly wedged one foot against the door of Shanghai’s past until the effort started to tell. Today, Shanghai has reawakened and is busy snapping the dust off its cummerbund. The sun rises every day to a city typifying the huge disparities of modern China - monumental building projects push skywards, glinting department stores swing open doors to the stylish elite, while child beggars, prostitutes and impoverished souls congregate among the champagne corks and burst balloons of the night before. History is returning to haunt Shanghai and at the same time, to put it squarely back on the map. Shanghai is evolving at a pace so unmatched by any other Chinese city that even the morning ritual of flinging open one’s hotel curtains reveals new facets to the skyline and new sounds on the streets. Shanghai is racing towards the future and has little time for yesterday.
Shanghai has a population of around 20 million people, but that figure is deceptive since it takes into account the whole municipal area of 6100 sq. km. Nevertheless, the central core of some 220 sq. km. has more than 7.5 million people, which must rate as one of the highest population densities in China, if not the world.
Broadly, central Shanghai is divided into two areas: Pudong (east of the Huangpu River) and Puxi (west of the Huangpu River). There are four main areas of interest in the city: the Bund from Suzhou Creek to the Shanghai Harbor Passenger Terminal (Shiliupu Wharf); Nanjing Donglu (a very colorful neighborhood); Frenchtown, which includes Huaihai Zhong Lu and Ruijin Lu (an even more colorful neighborhood) and the Jade Buddha Temple and the side trip along Suzhou Creek. Near the Bund, is the famous Yu Gardens, with its beautifully crafted gardens and bazaar shopping surrounding the area.