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The best way to see Shanghai in 24 hours is to lose yourself among the locals. Start your day off early with a trip to the Bund promenade or to one of the city's many public parks to watch the elderly Chinese do their morning exercise routines. Many practice tai chi, and it's quite a sight to witness the elegant art form. You'll also see people walking backward while hitting themselves — don't worry, it's a popular practice among locals.
Next, head over to the French Concession neighborhood. Amble down the tree-lined streets, stopping in whichever shops, bars or restaurants catch your eye. A few standouts include the Sunflour bakery and café for a light breakfast — the croissants are a must — and Le Cafe des Stagiaires, a quaint bar making a name for itself with a wide selection of imported beers and an extensive wine list, plus it's open fairly early for a morning tipple. For some local flavor, grab a bite to eat at one of the many roadside dumpling or noodle stalls. If you're feeling the need for a bit of R&R after all that noshing and shopping, stop in any one of Shanghai's countless massage parlors for a quick foot rub or back massage.
After some pampering, head to People's Square to learn how the city evolved into a powerhouse. The Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center provides an interesting glimpse into the ambitious plans of Shanghai's architects. While you're in the square, visit the Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai to peruse interesting modern works from local artists. Then treat yourself to some tea, Valhrona hot chocolate or a cocktail at JW Marriott Hotel Shanghai at Tomorrow Square's 38th-floor lobby lounge. You'll get a fantastic view of the park and the city from the big-picture windows. Though if you need something more substantial, make your way back to the Bund to dine at hot spots like contemporary French eatery Mr & Mrs Bund or Italian favorite 8 ½ Otto e Mezzo. Wind down your packed day with a relaxing cruise down the Huangpu River. The city looks its best at night, when its avant-garde Pudong skyscrapers are drenched in neon lights and the stately white Puxi buildings along the Bund glow.