If you have enough trouble getting your kids out of the house in the morning, dragging them thousands of miles away may seem like an insurmountable challenge, especially to a place as seemingly foreign as China. But the difficulties of family travel to China lie less in the "foreignness" of the environment than in the lack of services and entertainment geared towards children.

Hygiene, or rather the lack thereof, presents the other main challenge. Much of China is quite dirty, so young children who have the tendency of putting their hands in their mouths should be closely monitored, while older children should be reminded to wash their hands frequently and to follow the general health tips outlined in the "Health & Safety" section. Challenges notwithstanding, family travel to China can be immensely rewarding, and you shouldn't let the absence of children-friendly resources deter you from venturing here en masse.

The Chinese tend to dote on their children, and you may find your children given the same amount of attention, which usually takes the form of a lot of friendly touching, chatter, and photo sessions with the young ones.

Many hotels in Shanghai allow young children (usually under 12) to stay free with their parents, and some hotels provide babysitting service for a fee (though the caretakers are usually just culled from in-house staff).

Unlike most other cities in China, Shanghai has plenty of sights to dazzle and distract your children. For Western kids, there are many familiar fast-food and foreign-style eateries, several amusement and theme parks, a natural history museum, a children's palace, the zoo, indoor playgrounds and toy stores in shopping centers, and plenty of parks for rowing, kite-flying, and in-line skating. As a rule, there are special discounts for children at museums and attractions, though discounts are given based on height, not age.

Recommended family travel websites include Family Travel Forum (www.familytravelforum.com); Family Travel Network (www.familytravelnetwork.com); Traveling Internationally with Your Kids (www.travelwithyourkids.com); and Family Travel Files (www.thefamilytravelfiles.com).

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.