When traveling I like seeking out the little treasures, spots that most people don’t know, seldom visit, things off the beaten path if you will. When I find a spot that the locals rarely frequent, I know I’ve found a gem.
The Shanghai Postal Museum is one of those rare gems visited only by school groups, bored locals, and tourists looking for something different.
The Shanghai Postal Museum is housed in a gorgeous four-story Baroque style building featuring Greek columns and a clock tower – a little out of character and completely unexpected from something as utilitarian as the postal service.
Inside the building on the second floor a small but functional post office similar to what you’d find in any modern city, with rows of postal mailboxes of various sizes and tellers selling stamps and accepting mail.
A walk through the Shanghai Postal Museum leads you through the history of the postal service from inception in the 1st millennium BC to present day. Stunning lithographs depict images of pony express couriers riding at break neck speeds, speeds that required getting a new horse every nine miles least the horse fatigue and the courier unable to deliver his message.
Among the lithographs and other memorabilia on display, is postal box No.1741. Postal box No.1741 is the rented mailbox that the Chinese Party used to conduct secret communications.
Other displays include a collection of rare stamps from China and other countries sure to please even the pickiest philatelist. The stamp collection is housed in a climate-controlled room where photography is prohibited.
Photography is welcomed and encouraged in the expansive courtyard and atrium on the ground floor where you’ll find replicas of a 1909 horse-drawn carriage used during the Qing Dynasty, a 1917 postal truck, a 1917 mail car, a 1929 plane representing air mail deliveries, and a post office complete with a mannequin dressed as a postal worker.
Career as a postal worker intrigue you? Try your hand at sorting mail inside the postal train car.
If you have time you can watch a film on the interpretation of the postal service of the future.
Last if not least, weather permitting, go up to the roof for some of the best free views of The Bund.
Whether or not you’re into stamps, the Shanghai Postal Museum is worth a visit, if not for the building’s architecture but for the views.
The Shanghai Postal Museum, 250 North Suzhou Road, is open Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. with last entry at 4 p.m. Admission is free to the public.
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