The restored 16th-century Yu Garden
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A few festive Vivid Pinks later, I’m surveying the Pudong from the hotel’s 14th-floor terrace at Sir Elly’s. The color of the Veuve Clicquot and lychee liqueur ­cocktails is more than apt, given the kaleidoscopic scene before me: cruise tour boats lit up in green and blue neon, buildings across the river throwing strobe lights while others turn into video screens, the globes of the Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower polka-dotted in red.

Now to the important question of dinner: Shall I dine under a slatted roof that offers slivers of the neon Pudong sky at Camelia in the Four Seasons Hotel Pudong, Shanghai, enjoying sashimi followed by pastry chef Nicolas Maugard’s pink oblong macaroon? Or should I savor the cold crab ravioli topped with salmon roe in Sir Elly’s under a Murano glass chandelier? Or, to be daring, should I sample one of the eight kinds of sharkfin soup at Wu Tong Ju back at Xintiandi? Let’s just say I’m glad I have three nights.

Centuries collide over a teahouse rooftop
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I’m equally excited about the extended hours up on the observation decks of the city’s famous skyscrapers — the Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower and the Jin Mao Tower, which from 1998 to 2007 was China’s tallest habitable building. The three observation decks of the sleek Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC) also are open late. Lines generally are shorter at night, and the views are more stunning.

The SWFC becomes my personal favorite skyscraper for its clean, deceptive (and deceptively simple) design that changes shape, depending on one’s perspective, from a tapering rectangle to a triangle to something resembling a sail. Of course, it’s also my favorite due to its easily recognizable hole: a trapezoid aperture between the 97th and 100th floors.

Both of these floors (as well as the 94th) feature observation decks with the highest one boasting the giddiest viewing experience because its floor is transparent. I position myself on the designated spot, look down, and it seems as though I’m standing directly atop the nearly adjacent Jin Mao Tower — the building that the SWFC overtook to claim the title as the nation’s tallest. Now that’s a statement.


Drew Limsky is a New York–based writer and college professor at Pace University. He has written or edited more than 800 articles for major publications, including The New York Times, National Geographic Traveler and Lexus Magazine, where he served as editor-in-chief for five years.