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Going Dutch: Shanghai's 'Holland Town' brings Europe to the city
The Expo isn't the only place in Shanghai where you can sample some international culture. Skip out to Holland Town for some European charm
Life in Shanghai can be a bit monotonous: work, party, brunch and then do it all over again the next weekend. If you need to break things up and don't want to hop on plane, head over the river and check out Pudong's Nederland, aka “Holland Town.”
Under normal driving conditions you can make it from downtown Shanghai to Nederland, in a northern part of Pudong near the sea, in about an hour. (If you want to see more European living near the 'Hai, check out our article on Shanghai's Thames Town)
Directions: Best accessed by car, take Pudong Lu all the way north until you pass the S20 highway. A few hundred meters on your right, you will see the church steeple, turn in and you’re there.
Nederland is a place to relax. The area is disconcertingly quiet. For those who are looking for a place to wander, the town’s streets are perfect and a nice change of pace from Shanghai’s commotion. Although it sometimes looks like an abandoned movie set (find a real Shanghai film studio in Songjiang), an occasional passing bicycle will remind you that it is not.
Take a break from pounding the pavement and hop on a boat to the small island nearby where a world of green space and windmills await.
Although there are spaces for shops in town, this is not one of Shanghai’s best shopping locales. There are a few shops to be seen, but there are more “Opening soon” signs than stores actually open. The signs in store windows give little information about when their promised occupants will arrive.
One shop that is open is a musical instruments store selling everything from guitars to violins and traditional Chinese instruments like the guzheng (古筝) or huqin (胡琴, pictured above). If you are lucky enough, the shopkeeper will be there to play some of the instruments for you. Pull up a chair, it's a treat to listen to him practice.
The windmill in the middle of town has never moved from the position it was built in. It is now home to a wedding agency. Young couples come to the agency during the weekends to get their photographs taken around the village.
This might look like a European town, but you know it isn't when there are few restaurants or cafes to lounge in. But there are a handful of quiet corners to grab a bite, so take a picnic with you and plan to be back in town for dinner.
The Nederland complex is only half completed, with the current phase in its final stages of construction. Several units are for sale (RMB 35,000 per square meter), although many of the villas from the first construction phase have been already snatched up, though not necessarily occupied.
Nederland can also claim to be the only 'Dutch' village with a view (on clear sky days) to the Shanghai World Financial Center, Jinmao Tower and Pearl Tower.
Holland town is linked to a nearby town called Gao Qiao. This is a lively local city whose traffic and activity you’d expect of a city near Shanghai -- making Nederland's calm all the more surprising.