Shanghai, China: The Next Great World City

Jean Miller Spoljaric shares her cultural Shanghai experience with GoNOMAD. Her adventures include vegetarian cuisine, futuristic architecture, silk worms, and Buddhist temples!

The Oriental Pearl Tower is the third tallest television tower in the world and the tallest in China. It is also home to the highest revolving restaurant in Asia. Photo by Jean Miller Spoljaric.

Shanghai, is an amazing city! I consider myself fortunate to have visited it during the 41st World’s Fair, the 2010 World Expo. While in Shanghai, I walked the Bund and went on a unforgettable boat cruise along the Huangpu River. I visited a 120-year-old Buddhist temple and a 700-year-old Confucian temple.

China tested the ‘vegetarian’ in me as I ate some crazy foods, including homemade dumplings made by street vendors. I quickly learned about squat toilets and to never leave home without your tissues.

Exciting and adventurous, yes, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Shanghai, with its skyline made up of buildings shaped like flying saucers and giant mosaic bottle openers, is an incredible futuristic city and a place that everyone should discover.

The 2010 World Expo and Preparations

After winning the bid to host the Expo in 2002, Shanghai began the monumental task of reshaping the city. More than 48 billion yuan ($7.2 billion US) was spent on the preparation, more than the cost of cleaning up Beijing in the preparations for the Olympics in 2008.

The clearing of 2.6 square kilometers along the Huangpu River displaced 18,000 families and 270 factories, including the Jiang Nan Shipyard which employed 10,000 workers. Six new subway lines were opened between 2008-2010. Four thousand brand new taxis were added in the month preceding the opening of the Expo.

Today, the expo site is crowded with more than 250 national pavilions, sculpture gardens, shops, a sports arena, and a performing arts center shaped like a flying saucer. Shanghai trained more than 1.7 million volunteers and adopted Olympic-level security measures, adding metal detectors to subway entrances and even screening all cars entering the city.

Nothing was spared as Shanghai went above and beyond to make the 2010 World Expo one of the best expos ever, and it showed. I felt very safe during my time spent at the expo and, even though it’s ended, the city remains and that translates into a desire to return.


The Shanghai World Expo was held on both banks of the Huangpu River in the heart of the city from May through October, 2010. The theme of the exposition was “Better City — Better Life.” It signifies Shanghai’s new status in the 21st century as the next great world city. The Shanghai World Expo had the largest World’s Fair site ever at 5.28 sq. km (1,305 acres). After the Expo closed, only five of the exhibition buildings were to remain on the site.

Shanghai, China: The Next Great World City