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Nanjing Road, known as theNo.1 Street in China, is one of the leading business centers in Shanghai. It is referred to be the miniature of the history and culture of Shanghai for a century.

From the Bund at the east end to Jing’an Temple at the west end, the street has a history of more than 100 years. It was originally named Yongquan, the spring in front of Jing’an Temple.

The 1033-metre-long “Pedestrian Walkway of Nanjing Road” houses the China’s key commercial shops like Shanghai No.1 Department Store, Yong’an Commercial Building, Lao Feng Xiang Gold & Jewelry Shop, Maochang Optical Shop and Shanghai No.1 Medicine Shop. All these make Nanjing Road a thriving and fascinating commercial hub that attracts both local residents and visitors from at home and abroad.

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Given Shanghai’s role as an important financial and cultural center in China, it is no surprise that snacks from all over the nation are represented here.

So many amazing restaurants here usually serves authentic and traditional Shanghai snacks. However, the city also has its own famous local snacks that are not to be missed, such as those below.

If you are feeling puckish or looking for a light meal you won’t have to walk too far in the downtown area to feast on local or foreign favorites. Although most locals are rice-eaters, Shanghai has a large number of noodle shops and outlets selling local dumplings, the most popular being sheng jian, (pan fried meat dumplings) and xiao1ong bao (steamed meat dumplings). The most famous dumpling shop in town selling Nanxiang steamed dumplings near the entrance to the Yu Garden.

You can’t miss it-just look for a small shop with long queues. The nearby Lubolang Restaurant(Green Wave Pavilion) also conjures up a fine range of dumplings-especially the crab-filled variety. Another favorite often sold at the front of food stores and restaurants is zongzi-sweet or savory glutinous rice parcels wrapped in bamboo leaves.

Try them and many other spec
ialities at Shendacheng, 636 Nanjing Road(W). Up the road at No. 805 is another local favorite, Wangjiasha, which serves deep-fried noodles and great dumplings. It’s a very busy place and you have to purchase vouchers first and, like at most specialty eateries, be prepared to queue.

Featured Snack and Dim Sum

Gaoqiao Muffin has a sweet taste with crispiness, and is one of the four famous

Dazzling Snacks Street

1.   The City God Temple Snack Street

Located in the oldest quarters of Shanghai this snack street is near to Yuyuan Gardens and the Temple of the City God. It’s also close to the Bund and an ideal place to eat within a busy sightseeing schedule.

The street deserves to be called ‘Shanghai Snack Kingdom’. It is the largest and most long-standing snack street in the city featuring the most famous restaurants and eateries in Shanghai. In accordance with the architectural style of the nearby ancient Yuyuan Garden, restaurants in the Old Town Snack Street are all constructed following a style of Ming and Qing Dynasties.

In addition, a snack plaza of thousands of square meters is included. You can find almost all the Shanghai snacks here, including authentic Xiaolong buns, Crab-Yellow Pastries, Fried Stuffed Buns, Chop Rice Cakes, Vegetable Stuffed Buns, and Cream Spiced Beans. Various snacks from other areas in China are also available.

2.Wujiang Road

Wujiang Road is the most popular snack street in Shanghai. Located in the southeast of Jing’an District it’s very near Nanjing Road West metro station so it’s a good place to go for a snack whilst shopping nearby.

Many old restaurants along this road are famous for authentic and delicious Shanghai snacks. Usually inexpensive they’re popular with the locals and tourists. Recently some Western style restaurants and fashion stores have also opened here.

3.Xianxia Road

Xianxia Road food street is in Changning District, the west periphery area of the city zone of Shanghai. It extends to Zunyi Road to the east and boasts plenty of restaurants of different styles from Chinese hot pot restaurants to western cafes. You can easily find cuisines of Shanghai, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and Southeast Asia in this road.

Delicately furnished teahouses, cafes, and bars are another feature of Xianxia Road. The pleasant environment of these dining places attracts many youths and the prices are acceptable.

4.Huanghe Road

Huanghe Road Food Street is located near the People’s Square in Huangpu District.

It is packed with a large number of restaurants with distinctive cuisines and reasonable prices. Shanghai cuisines and seafood are leading delicacies here.

5.Zhapu Road

The Zhapu Road is north of Shanghai’s bund and full of restaurants and billboards with neon lights. You get a truly asian feeling there. It must be visited when in Shanghai, both at day and night.

This food street is located in Hongkou District, to the north of the Suzhou River and near the bustling North Sichuan Road Commercial Street.

There are a number of restaurants along the 1000-meter Zhapu road, mainly featuring Shanghai dishes and cuisines of southern provinces in China such as Sichuan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Guangdong.

In addition, Huqingping Road in Minhang District is a good place to have seafood. Xin Tian Di in Luwan District, Heshan Road and Grand Gateway in Xuhui District are also popular among gourmands.

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In June 2009, ten famous Chinese streets, all in different provinces, were included on a list of “Historical and Cultural Streets in China”. The aim, in compiling the list, was to promote the protection of key cultural sites in the country’s cities. The ten “Famous Streets” are Guozijian Street in Beijing, South Avenue in Pingyao County, Central Avenue in Harbin, Pingjiang Road in Suzhou, Tunxi Old Street in Huangshan, Three Lanes and Seven Valleys in Fuzhou, Badaguan in Qingdao, Zhaode Ancient Street in Qingzhou, Qilou Old Street in Haikou, and Bakuo Street in Lhasa.

Lhasa’s Street of Prayers

There’s an old saying among Tibetans, “Jokhang Temple was built before Lhasa itself.” Originally built in the seventh century, the Temple is one of the oldest buildings in Tibet. Tibetan Buddhists believe that Jokhang Temple is at the centre of Lhasa and Lhasa is at the centre of the world. In other words, it is the most sacred temple in Tibetan Buddhism. Surrounding the temple is Barkor Street, and it is a key act of worship among Tibetan Buddhists, to circumnavigate the temple, walking clockwise along this street.

To Cedor and Huang Jialin, Barkor Street is a place of warmth and charm. Their lives are closely associated with the street. And the many historic buildings have provided them with plenty of inspiration for their writing and painting.

In the years of Reform and Opening, Barkor Street and the life of the people there, have been transformed in many ways. At the same time, a number of traditional objects and practices, such as the thangka and the famous landmarks on Barkor Street, still remain, unaltered for hundreds of years.

Pingjiang Road in Suzhou

For many centuries, much of Suzhou’s cultural life has been centred on Pingjiang Road. It’s been the site of bookshops and local opera theatres. There are also many teahouses, where people gather for performances of Pingtan, a kind of storytelling and ballad singing in t
he local dialect.

Not far from Pingjiang Road is Cangjie Street, once the centre of the city’s prosperous silk industry. Today, the weaving machines that were once a feature of every home, can only be found in museums.

Zhaode Ancient Street, Qingzhou

It was in Qingzhou that Dongyi culture, one of the earliest Neolithic civilizations in China, originated 8300 years ago. Qingzhou’s location makes it a natural transport hub, and two and a half thousand years ago, it had well-established trade relations with the Western Regions. More recently, during the Yuan Dynasty some seven hundred years ago, there was a mass migration of ethnic Hui merchants from the Western Regions, who settled in Qingzhou. They formed their own distinct community, which was centred on an area known as Zhaode Ancient Street. It became quite prosperous during the Ming and Qing dynasties.

At the time of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, Zhaode Ancient Street was a hive of activity, when it was lined by numerous famous shops and workshops. Today, some of the old buildings remain just as they were. Also well preserved, thanks to people like Ding Zuming and Xu Zuotan, are some of the ancient skills associated with the ancient culture.
For old people like Ding Zuming, going to the mosque every day to pray, is a daily routine. It’s an aspect of the traditional way of life which they plan to keep alive, as long as their health permits.

South Street, Pingyao

The two-thousand-seven-hundred-year-old city of Pingyao in the heart of Shanxi Province, is a World Heritage Site. Almost every day, its streets are crowded with tourists from all over the world. One of the most popular attractions is South Street, which is commonly known as the ancient city’s backbone. The name comes not only from its central location; it’s also a reference to the dozens of ancient shops, built in a distinctive traditional architectural style, that line it on both sides. According to legend, the city of Pingyao was developed around a well of gold, discovered on South Street. But is there any truth to the legend? And what are the stories behind the old shops that give the street its distinctive appeal?

Perhaps because of the ‘gold well’, business on South Street flourished, especially in the Ming and Qing dynasties. One of the most prosperous businesses on the street was ‘Changshengyuan’, a rice wine and cake shop that was known as ‘Jushengyuan’ in the Ming Dynasty.
For a period of time in the 1950s, the sound of people counting money out loud was no longer heard on South Street. It was a difficult time, when a State grain and cotton monopoly was imposed. At the old shops, like Changshenyuan, people wondered what the future might hold.

Villas of Badaguan, Qingdao

Qingdao was made a special city by the Nanjing Nationalist Government in April 1929. After that, a series of large-scale construction projects began, which attracted an influx of foreign investment as well as domestic capital. As a result, Qingdao entered a period of fast growth and prosperity. Many of the officials serving in the Nanjing government were educated in Europe and the United States, and their western perspectives on urban planning and architecture changed the face of the city forever.

The large-scale construction attracted many young Chinese architects to Qingdao, who designed and built beautiful homes for the rich and powerful. Badaguan became something of a showcase of architectural art. After the founding of New China in 1949, the Badaguan area was turned into a public sanatorium.

Tunxi old street, Huizhou

Historical records describe Huizhou people at the beginning of the Southern Song Dynasty, as “engaged in trade everywhere”. They sold tea, ink, paper and wood. By the Ming Dynasty, the shortage of land and the over-supply of manpower drove many farmers from their fields, and into business. Commerce in the region flourished, and as a result several local products made their way onto the foreign market. The best known of these was, tea.

The Huizhou merchants, with their natural resourcefulness, became adept at obtaining positions at court. As a result, politics and commerce became closely linked. Yet, whatever political advancement they achieved, they never lost sight of their commercial roots and the simple mottos on which their success was founded: “Cheat neither old nor young, and supply fine products at honest prices.”

 Fuzhou‘s historic neighbourhood

This residential neighbourhood can trace its origins back to the end of the Tang Dynasty, over a thousand years ago. By the Song Dynasty, it was home to local officials, the city’s wealthy elite and scholars. Later, during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, it underwent rapid development. During this period, and in mid-to-late Qing in particular, many buildings that are today considered of great historical significance, were constructed in Sanfang Qixiang.

Small though it is, Sanfang Qixiang produced a remarkable number of people who contributed to social progress locally and nationally. Today, Sanfang Qixiang occupies an area of 40 hectares and has more than 200 buildings; and it still retains its traditional lane and alley layout.

The history of the Three Lanes and Seven Alleys continues to inspire people. With its rich and fascinating past and its rare architectural features, Sanfang Qixiang attracts visitors from far and wide. By the 1990s, however, with many large-scale construction projects being launched in Fuzhou, it occurred to people that Sanfang Qixiang might be under threat.

Harbin‘s Central Avenue

Work first began on Central Avenue in 1898, and today it is known as a “gallery of European architectural art.”  Its attractive buildings feature the diversity of western classical styles of architecture. Anyone who has ever visited Moscow, Paris or Rome, is likely to get a sense of deja-vu, as he or she strolls along Harbin’s Central Avenue.

During the Russo-Japanese War of 1904 and 5,Harbin served as a rear base for the Russian Army. After the war, the city experienced a massive influx of foreigners, most of them Russians, who brought with them their own lifestyles, cuisine and arts. Before long, European-style buildings were being erected along both sides of China Street.

Central Avenue’s prosperity didn’t last long. In 1932, Japanese forces occupied Harbin, and the city became part of the puppet state of Manchukuo. The Japanese immediately began expropriating private property and terrorizing the civilian population. 14 years of Japanese rule would leave the city with memories of pain and humiliation.

Qilou Old Street, Haikou

Haikou, capital of the island-province of Hainan, features a stylishly-classical fusion of European and Asian architecture. Here Qilou, or Chinese arcade houses, form the city’s most exotic landscapes. With its origins in ancient Greece some 2000 years ago, arcade architecture was introduced into Haikou by overseas Chinese merchants in the 1920s. A Qilou stands three or four storeys in height, with the ground floor set back halfway into the building, to be used as a storefront. The upper floors serve as the living quarters, extending over the pavement and supported by columns. These unique buildings look inviting and customer-friendly, and still today, the design remains popular for commercial premises.

Chinese people have a strong sense of their roots and national identity. The early 1920s saw many merchants return to their homes in Hainan, after making their fortunes in Southeast Asia. They were responsible not only for bringing about rapid economic development, but also for the appearance of a brand new architectural style; the unique Qilou arcade building.

He Daqi was a famous merchant and philanthropist. With his monopoly over Hainan’s oil industry and shipping trade, he was the richest businessman on the island. By establishing the first direct shipping route between Haikou and Southeast Asia, he opened the door to the outside world, for people on Hainan.

Guozijian Street, centre of Confucian learning ,Beijing

At the east end of Guozijian Street, is the famous Lama Temple. Here, the perfumed aroma of sandalwood from incense shops fills the air. But as you head westward, towards the Confucius Temple and Imperial College, the distinctive smell of old books prevails. It was at the Temple that the emperors would pay homage to Confucius. The Imperial College next door, was the leading institute of learning in the country during the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. Guozijian Street is unique in Beijing, for its ancient archways and lush cypresses. It is also lined by a private museum, bookshops, and antiques shops. In Guozijian Street, visitors feel they are being enveloped in an atmosphere of history and culture.

Emperor Qianlong, before he headed to the Imperial College to give a lecture, would usually visit the Confucius temple to pay homage to the great philosopher. The most impressive feature of the Confucius Temple is its forest of stone steles inscribed with the names, origins and positions of more than 5,000 people who passed the imperial examination.

Confucius believed that moral principle, virtue and discipline should be the very first lessons taught to a child. However, these qualities have tended to be neglected in our more commercial society, leaving some parents to appreciate the value of Confucian philosophy and a Chinese classical education. One of them is Zhou Jun, who sent her little daughter, Zhang Yuliang, to the Confucius Temple to learn the elementary Chinese classics.

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As Tang Dynasty poet Li Bai famously wrote, “Go to Yangzhou in March, in the mist of the flowers of spring”. During the time of Li Bai, mention of Yangzhou evoked images of prosperity and romance. Today, much of the city’s heritage is still alive within its narrow lanes and well preserved family gardens situated in the old town area.

Hundreds of cobbled stone lanes sprawl outwards from the center of Yangzhou’s seven square kilometer old town area like tree roots; heading in different directions, overlapping with one another, linking together a number of historical residences along the way. The largest and most visited of these lanes is Guandong Street.

Over 1000 meters in length, the street was once a business hub where people would come to buy their daily supplies, including food and small furniture. Thankfully, this tradition is still alive today, as tourists can find almost every kind of local specialty food and handicraft on offer here.

Small, homey eateries selling steamed buns, sticky rice balls and bean curd snacks open their doors to neighbors and friends living nearby while also welcoming tourists at the same time. A light meal usually costs about ten to twenty yuan; a price as friendly as the places themselves.

Less in number but equally popular are the workshops run by generations of craftsmen which appear around every corner of the street. Yangzhou was a cradle of artists in times past; workshops dedicated to embroidery, paper cutting and lacquer work once flourished here.

And although Guandong Street is usually billed as the essence of historical Yangzhou, what travelers usually end up seeing is the everyday life of the modern day city.

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Like the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, hutongs are an exclusive feature of Beijing. For more than 800 years, hutongs have formed the bones of Beijing’s inner city, and we suspect their original builders in the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368) could not have imagined that the complex net woven by these simple alleyways would one day become must-see tourist attractions.

Imperial Hutongs: Hutongs around the Forbidden City

Much of China’s history took place 500 meters east of Tian’anmen tower, where the majestic Chang’an Jie and an unassuming side-street named Nanchizi  meet. Nanchizi snakes along the length of the Forbidden City, and is mirrored by Nanchang Jie  on the other side of the complex. The area inside the gate of Nanchizi is flanked on both sides by Changpuhe Park , where several high-end companies and restaurants are hidden. The walls of the hutongs in this area are thicker, and their color more vibrant than any other hutong in Beijing. Huangshicheng , located 200 meters inside Nanchizi, stores the imperial files for the last two dynasties, the Ming and the Qing, and houses documents over 600 years old. There is no entrance fee, but visitors are requested to be quiet. Along the east side of Nanchizi are several hutongs named after their former functions: the lantern storage alley Denglongku Hutong , satin storage alley Duanku Hutong , and the china storage alley Ciqiku Hutong . Nanchizi turns into Beichizi near the east gate of Forbidden City, and following this road all the way to the west leads to one of Beijing’s most scenic spots, where tourists and wedding parties gather at regular intervals to take advantage of the stunning backdrop. To the east, there is a small hutong named Zhide Beixiang  which leads to a popular stone tablet, engraved with a phrase which was historically used to ward off evil spirits, known as fox fairies . These stones have become extremely rare in modern times, and this one is worth seeing before it is too late.

M
ost Polished Courtyards: Houhai, Gulou, Nanluogu Xiang

At the northwest corner of Jingshan Park  you will see a small hutong named Gongjian Hutong  which leads to Houhai, one of the most popular and commercialized hutongs in Beijing. These hutongs curve along the bends of the river that runs through their midst, and are some of the few hutongs in the city whose lanes are not straight. Dajinsi Hutong  west of Yinding Bridge , is one of the best preserved hutongs in Beijing. To the north of Houhai stand the old Drum and Bell Towers, which were once used to announce the hours, but now overlook some of the neatest and most peaceful hutongs in Beijing. This is the perfect place to experience life at its simplest: old men sitting at tables playing chess, kids running around with their school bags dragging behind them, and old women walking their ancient Pekingese are just a few of the sights that can be taken in. Nanluogu Xiang , just east of the Drum and Bell Towers, is another straight alleyway whose structure has remained mostly unchanged since the Yuan dynasty, but whose interiors are now bustling with cafés, restaurants and shops.

Most Intellectual Hutongs: Guozijian, Fangjia, Wudaoying

The northernmost corner of old Beijing was the land of scholars. The archway leading there is called the “Street of Becoming Virtuous” (Chengxian Jie ), as scholars were seen as men of high virtue. Educated men were so highly valued in imperial China that they were exempt from corporal punishment, and the stone monument which orders officials to dismount their horses  is an eternal reminder of Beijing’s intellectual past. The other name of this street is Guozijian Jie named after the Imperial University that was home to China’s greatest scholars starting in the Sui Dynasty(581-618). The university which stands here now was built in 1306, when Beijing became the new capital of China. Traditionally this university enrolled students from eastern and middle Asia, and even Russia, as well as students from affluent families. Now serving as a museum (open Tue-Sun 9am-5pm, RMB 20), Guozijian showcases ancient classrooms, administration offices, and even a hall where every emperor since Qianlong (1735-1796) has given a lecture. The Confucius Temple sits right next door and floods with students and parents lighting incense and praying for good test grades during college entrance exams every year. Two other hutongs in this area – Wudaoying  and Fangjia  hutong north and south of Chengxian Jie are becoming more and more popular for their trendy food, bars and shops.

The Old Sanlitun: Qianmen, Dashila’r

Just a stone’s throw away from Tian’anmen and the Forbidden City is the area where Beijingers used to eat, drink, shop and have fun. With hundreds of restaurants and shops, the Qianmen area was the central business and shopping center during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Many time-honored shops and restaurants, including the most famous Peking duck restaurant, Quanjude , and TCM store, Tongrentang , started and succeeded here, and it is also considered the origin of Beijing snack foods. Many snack shops remained in their old location in Menkuang Hutong , Xianyukou Hutong , and Langfang Toutiao  until the Qianmen area was renovated. The price of building a new Qianmen Dajie  was the inclusion of international businesses like Starbucks and H&M, and the end of a lot of traditional restaurants and shops that couldn’t afford the rent. Apart from restaurants, the hundred-year-old Tongrentang pharmacy, Ruifuxiang silk store  and Neiliangsheng shoe store  remain open on Dashila’r. The China Film Museum, which is also located here, chronicles the early beginnings of Chinese film. Qianmen Xiheyangjie  and Xijiao Minxiang  were once Beijing’s financial street and hosted many of China’s earliest banks. The western style building located here now serves as the Qianmen branch of Bank of China, and is neighbored by the China Ancient Money Museum . West of Dashila’r is Liulichang, a street that is dedicated to selling antiques, calligraphy and paintings. Baishun Hutong, Yanzhi Hutong , Hanjiatan, and Shaanxixiang, all of which are also located in this area, are known for their top-class service, tea ceremonies, and musical performances.

Most Diplomatic Alleys: Dongjiaominxiang

East of Qianmen and Tian’anmen square is Dongjiaominxiang, which was the bank of a canal used for sending food between northern and southern China during the Yuan dynasty. It was originally called Jiangmi Xiang  because it used to be the street where people traded glutinous rice. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, authorities set up hotels to host foreign ambassadors, and after the Opium War (1840-1842), many countries started to establish embassies there. In 1901, these embassies were forced to build a six-meter tall wall around their compounds, which remained there until January 1950, when the new China was established. China has torn down many of these buildings since the 1980’s, but some remain. Number 36 Dongjiaominxiang was Citibank, 27 Dongjiaominxiang was the Russian embassy, 19 Dongjiaominxiang was the French post office, 15 Dongjiaominxiang was the French embassy, A13 Dongjiaominxiang was the Catholic church of St. Michael Earl, 1 Taijichang Dajie was the Italian embassy, 5 Zhengyilu was the British embassy, 11 Qianmen Dongdajie was the Dutch embassy, and 23 Qianmen Dongdajie was the American embassy.