The Shanghai of modern western imagination was testimony to the west's will to do business with China, come hook or by gunship. Today, it is business as usual once again, and Shanghai has re-emerged as the mainland's business and financial centre. Beijing may have the history and the latest incarnation of a sprawling imperial bureaucracy, but Shanghai hustles as it has always done, and increasingly, as in the swinging '20s and '30s of the last century, it is doing it in style. Because Shanghai is essentially a modern invention, dating back to the mid-19th century, it has little of the kind of sights most foreign visitors associate with China. But that does not mean Shanghai is not a superb weekend getaway from Hong Kong. Once the sights, historical and modern, have been ticked off, the gateway to the Yangtze River Delta is a city for rambling exploration on foot. Away from the push-and-shove consumerism of Nanjing East and Huaihai roads (each worth an afternoon of exploring in themselves), Shanghai is a uniquely charming city that fuses evocative colonial-era architecture, modern chic and traditional Chinese street life. By all means see the sights listed below, but do please spend an afternoon or two losing yourself in the old French concession quarter of Jing'an, and in other parts of town. Xintiandi Just off the chic shopping boulevard of Huaihai Middle Road, 'New Heaven and Earth', as the name literally translates, is the Paris end of Shanghai, and its success is the envy of city governments the length and breadth of China. A great example of how to save historic city districts from the wrecking ball, a block of so-called shikumen (stone gate) residential buildings have been transformed into boutiques, restaurants and bars, along with the hippest Starbucks in town. History buffs will take ironic pleasure in the fact that the block is also home to the First Chinese Communist Party Congress site, which is now a diminutive but absorbing, frozen-in-time museum. Longhua Temple 2853 Longhua Lu There are few better places in China to get a glimpse of Chinese urban religious life than Longhua Temple, and the Ming Dynasty-era complex rightly features on most itineraries. It is notable for a strikingly ornate, 44-metre pagoda and a massive bell weighing more than 6,000kg. The Maglev 28907777 8.30am to 5.30pm To its critics, it is the fastest train in the world to nowhere, but even if Pudong International Airport's hi-tech miracle deposits arrivals in the far reaches of Pudong, it is still an experience unlike any other in China - or in the world. Best to treat the smooth-as-air experience (it has a regular run speed of 430km per hour) as your first Shanghai sightseeing experience. Giant magnets, apparently, keep the train suspended above the 'tracks'. Nanjing East Road Nanjing East Road, particularly the stretch just west of the venerable Peace Hotel, is Shanghai's Golden Mile. Even back in the 1980s, when foreigners first started trickling back to ogle at a Shanghai in which shopping had been out of official favour for some four decades, the street was known as China's No 1 shopping street. These days it is getting a run for its money from the more fashionable Huaihai Road, but there is no denying Nanjing East Road has character. Much of it today has been converted into a pedestrian mall. Shanghai Museum 201Renmin Dadao 63723500 9am to 5pm daily Dominating the Renmin Square area is the vast Shanghai Museum, opened in 1996 to much fanfare. With about 120,000 permanent exhibits, excellent English labelling and even audio commentary (for a hefty deposit), the museum is one of the country's best. The only possible gripe you could have here is that there is simply too much to see to do it justice on a short trip to Shanghai. Yu Gardens and Bazaar Smack in the heart of the old city, which hugs a hoop in Renmin Lu not far from the Bund, the ornamental Yu Gardens, with its attached Temple of the City God, are rather like Shanghai's answer to Chinatown. There are charming viewing pavilions, a zigzag bridge (in other words, ghost-proof - as ghosts famously have problems with tight corners), an ornamental lake filled with carp and perhaps the city's most famous dumpling outlet - look for the queue. The Bund For second-timers and residents, the Bund (left) may be the ultimate tourist cliche, but from Pudong, or from the river, the Bund's chop-suey of architectural styles takes the prize for Asia's best riverside cityscape. On street level, it is good to start with a visit to the Peace Hotel - formerly the Cathay, and apparently little changed in anything but name - at the northern end of the strip and then make your way south past the grand frontages that recall a bygone era. What is now the Pudong Development Bank was once the HSBC's flagship branch in the Far East. Stroll inside and marvel at the opulent foyer. Bund Tourist Tunnel 58886000 9am to 9.30pm daily Take the underpass just south of the Peace Hotel and you will see the signs for this most curious of tourist attractions - a psychedelic, if somewhat tacky, miniature rail connection between the Bund and Pudong, complete with a museum of 'Chinese sexual health'. The views of the Bund from the other side alone make the 20 yuan one-way ticket price worth it, and once you are done there is the option of a far more economical and less mind-bending ferry trip back to the Bund. Pudong Riverfront and Oriental Pearl Tower 8am to 5pm daily On a sunny day, a stroll along the Pudong river front, with its Bund-view Starbucks, Haagen-Dazs and other outlets, is a Shanghai must-do. Combine it with a visit to the Oriental Pearl Tower - at 468 metres, China's tallest TV tower. When it opened in 1994, it virtually stood alone in Pudong, and seemed an almost quixotic attempt to re-establish the city's futuristic credentials. Now it is surrounded by a host of hotels and conference facilities, and tourists flock to its double-decker lifts for a 263-metre high view of the city. Shanghai Botanical Gardens 111Longwu Road 8am-5pm daily For a break from the press of the city, head to these gardens, a favourite picnic destination in the city's southwest suburbs. It is renowned for its 5,000 square-metre greenhouse. A lush profusion of greenery (which reportedly became something of a jungle during the Cultural Revolution), the gardens stand apart from the manicured style of other Shanghai gardens.