advertisement

Most Shanghai hotels have tour desks that can arrange a variety of day tours for guests. These tour desks are often extensions of China International Travel Service (CITS), now rebranded locally as Jin Jiang Tours. CITS has its head offices near the Shanghai Centre at Beijing Xi Lu 1277, Guolu Dasha (tel. 021/6289-4510 or 021/6289-8899, ext. 263; www.citsusa.com). There's another branch at the Bund at Jinling Dong Lu 2 (tel. 021/6323-8770) where you can purchase airline and train tickets.

Jinjiang Tours operates many of the English-language group tours in Shanghai, even those booked in hotels. If you have little time, group tours are convenient, efficiently organized, and considerably less expensive than private tours. The Jin Jiang Tours Center, which has its head office near the Jin Jiang and Okura Garden hotels at Changle Lu 191 (tel. 021/5466-7936 or 021/6466-2828, ext. 0), offers several City Explorer group tours, including a half-day Shanghai tour and a 1-day tour of Shanghai by bus, with English-speaking guide and lunch, for ¥400; sites include Yu Yuan, the Bund, Jade Buddha Temple, Xintiandi, People's Square, the Shanghai Museum, and a quick drive-by of Pudong. Another option is Gray Line Shanghai, located at Beijing Xi Lu 1399, A/5F (tel. 021/6289-5221; www.grayline.com), part of the international chain, which offers half-day (around ¥306) and full-day tours (around ¥496) of Shanghai.

Group tours aren't for everyone, as they are extremely rushed. At major sites, group tour participants are shown only a fraction of what's there. A good guide can outline the history and culture of a place, but there is usually no more than an hour to see a major site. Most of the commentary is delivered during the bus ride.

As an alternative, Big Bus Tours (Hankou Lu 515, Hui Jin Tower, Room 1205, Huangpu; tel. 021/6351-5988; www.bigbustours.com) has recently inaugurated two tour routes covering all the major landmarks in Puxi and Pudong on its open-top double-decker buses. Your ticket (¥300) allows you to hop on/off at your leisure at any of the designated stops within a 24-hour period, and also includes audio commentary on the buses, free tickets to the Jade Buddha Temple, the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, and a free River Cruise. Tickets can be purchased through your hotel, from the company's website, or on the bus (one of the main stops is at the northeast corner of People's Square opposite Madame Tussauds by Metro Exit 7).

Of course, travel agencies can arrange in-depth private tours, customized to fit your itinerary or interest (such as education, art, food, or the martial arts). These tours include an English-speaking guide, driver, and private car for the day. The Jin Jiang Optional Tours Center offers a full-day private tour of the city, including door-to-door service, air-conditioned car, English-speaking guide, and lunch, at a cost of around ¥1,500 for one person, ¥1,000 per person for two people, and ¥900 per person for three to four people. Travel agencies and hotel tour desks can also act as ticketing agents for nighttime entertainment, too (such as acrobatics, operas, circuses, and Huangpu River cruises).

In addition to Jin Jiang, another proven private travel agency providing group day tours, private tours, tickets, and hotel bookings to international clients is the China Spring International Travel Service, Dingxi Lu 1558 (tel. 021/6251-5777; fax 021/6252-3734; www.chinaspringtour.com), which also maintains a 24-hour Tourist Information Line (tel. 021/6252-0000).

As an alternative, concierge service providers like Luxury Concierge China (Wulumuqi Bei Lu 457, Ste. 403; tel. 1350-166-2908; fax 021/6249-2316; www.luxuryconciergechina.com) can customize itineraries and provide private guided tours for those with special interests such as art, architecture, or shopping. Other recent successful tours have included a sidecar drive of the French Concession, and a fashion designer tour where guests were able to meet with Shanghai's up-and-coming designers.

Some other more specialized tour operators include: Bodhi Bikes (Zhongshan Bei Lu 2918, Building 2, third floor, Ste. 2308; tel. 021/5266-9013; www.bodhi.com.cn), which offers bicycle tours of Shanghai by night, as well as day trips to Chongming Island and other nearby mountains; China Cycle Tours (tel. 0/1376-111-5050; www.chinacycletours.com) has daily half-day and 1-day tours of Shanghai by bicycle, as well as a Chinese massage bike tour (includes a 1-hour massage in your meanderings), and a nightly city tour. Shanghai Sideways (tel. 0/1381-761-6975; www.shanghaisideways.com) arranges motorbike and sidecar tours of the city on a vintage 750cc Changjiang motorcycle, with a 4-hour tour costing ¥1,100 for the first passenger, and ¥750 for the second. There are also 1- and 2-hour tours.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.