For the foodie
UnTour Food Tours
With its commitment to honoring Shanghai and Beijing’s fading street food culture, UnTour Food Tours has unsurprisingly captured the attention of publications like The New York Times, National Geographic, and CNN Travel. As Shanghai in particular works to improve food safety, many street food institutions have sadly seen themselves shuttered in the past few years. Now, taking an UnTour may be one of the only ways to truly experience this vanishing phenomenon. UnTour, which touts itself as the number one food tour company in all of China, offers several options, each targeting a different aspect of street food culture. There’s the dumpling tour, which takes participants to at least three different tasting shops before turning them loose to try dumpling making for themselves. (Any casual Xiao Long Bao fan is not wise to miss it.) Then there is the breakfast tour, night eats tour, a private tour, and more. Prices range from RMB471-RMB606 ($70-$90) for adults to RMB236-269 ($35-$40) for kids.
For the history buff
Historic Shanghai is much more than just a tour. Founded in 1998 by three expatriates hoping to raise awareness of Shanghai’s building heritage and social and cultural history, the foundation organizes regular walking tours, presentations, author talks and film screenings. Additionally, Historic Shanghai has done extensive research on the city through interviews, photographs, maps, directories and books. The walking tours are all customizable, with a focus on Shanghai’s Art Deco heritage, sacred architecture, revolutionary past, and other often-overlooked but nonetheless integral features of this unique city. Historic Shanghai is not interested in giving participants a shallow overview. Expect to be challenged, entertained and enriched.
For the active adventurer
Culture Shock Bike Tours
No matter the hour, night or day, Culture Shock Bike Tours promises to change your perception of Shanghai. The popular morning join-in tour costs RMB471 ($70) and takes you down the peaceful lanes of the Former French Concession, where you will discover beautiful 1930s villas and pass by aunties and uncles practicing Tai chi in Fuxing Park. The afternoon promises a zen-like visit to a Buddhist temple, a sensory-engaging ride through an open-air wet market, and a time travel experience to Old Town. The night tour RMB471 ($70), shorter at only 180 minutes, is sure to provide any traveler with unique insight into Shanghainese culture. Not only will you get to visit a traditional Chinese medicine outlet, but you’ll also learn about ghost wedding rituals at Yu Garden. Culture Shock tours are recommended for anyone who isn’t satisfied with a simple trip to the Bund. By traveling the city like its locals, you’re one step closer to understanding this paradoxical paradise.