LE DESTINAZIONI

Le Guide su Paesi, Città e Destinazioni

Guide pratiche e dettagliatissime su Paesi, città e destinazioni. Cosa vedere, quanto stare, in quale quartiere prenotare l'albergo, come spostarsi, che tempo fa. I miei suggerimenti su come organizzarti e tanti links utili dove cercare info aggiornate. Da stampare e portare in viaggio.

I VIAGGI

I Grandi Viaggi

Veri e propri programmi di viaggio spiegati in dettaglio, giorno per giorno, con tutte le informazioni ed i links che occorrono per poter prenotare, da solo e sul web, alberghi, trasferimenti e voli interni.

IL CLIMA

Il Clima

Il tempo che potresti trovare, Paese per Paese, regione per regione, quasi mese per mese. Quando è meglio andare e quando è più saggio starsene a casa. I links dove controllare forecasts ed averages di temperatura e piovosità.

LA SALUTE IN VIAGGIO

La salute e le malattie in viaggio.

Sei in partenza per un viaggio? Sei preoccupato per malaria, febbre gialla e dengue e cerchi informazioni su vaccinazioni e profilassi? L’attenzione sulla malattie e sulla salute in viaggio e di conseguenza l’informazione aggiornata sulla situazione sanitaria nel Paese che si intende visitare è un vero e proprio must per qualsiasi viaggiatore.

I TUOI RACCONTI DI VIAGGIO

I TUOI RACCONTI DI VIAGGIO

Sei un viaggiatore? Ti piace scrivere? Vuoi pubblicare il tuo racconto di viaggio su questo blog? Mandaci il tuo resoconto di viaggio, lo pubblicheremo volentieri, potrà essere utile a tutti i lettori.

PASSAPORTI E VISTI

Passaporti e visti

Le informazioni su passaporti e visti, formalità valutarie e doganali, ambasciate e consolati, l'ESTA, il Timatic Web e gli ultimi avvisi per il viaggiatore

The Best Shanghai Guided Tours and Day-Trips

The Best Shanghai Guided Tours and Day-Trips

Your super detailed guide to the very best guided tours and guided day-trips in Shanghai with my reviews and all pros and cons of each tour. What are the best guided tours in Shanghai? Are you looking for an excursion by private car and a personal guide or would you like to join a group tour? A comparison of the 6 best private and group excursions and guided day-trips in Shanghai. Guided tours of Shanghai city include visiting the Yuyuan Garden, the Bund, the French Concession Quarter, Pudong financial district and both WFC and Shanghai Tower observation decks. Small group guided day-trips from Shanghai visit Suzhou and the charming water towns of Zhujiajiao, Zhouzhuang, Jinxi, Tongli e Xitang. With detailed descriptions and direct links to book online by credit card.

Guided Tour of Shanghai Visiting the Bund with Pudong Skyline, China

Guided Tour of Shanghai, China

Photo Credit: Stefan Wagener

What Are the Best Shanghai Guided Tours and Day-Trips?

Do you wish to visit Shanghai with a guide to see the big, old complex of Yuyuan Garden, the Bund and the fascinating French Concession Quarter? Would you like to go to the futuristic Pudong financial district, go up and enjoy the view of the city from the observation decks of WFC and Shanghai Tower, the highest buildings in Shanghai? Are you looking for a guided day tour by minivan or private car to reach the beautiful historic city of Suzhou and explore the evocative ancient water towns of Zhujiajiao, Zhouzhuang, Jinxi, Tongli e Xitang?

  • I have selected tens (maybe hundreds) of guided tours and day-trips from Shanghai organised by locally based travel suppliers which are sold online and have chosen 6 different tours. These are not the only ones you can book but in my opinion they are among the best and most complete guided day tours and excursions available on the market.
  • All tours are described below in a very detailed way, with full descriptions, my considerations, some suggestions, all the pros and all the cons and all the important things you need to know before choosing. Have a look and see if there is a tour you like.
  • You can book all these tours easily by credit card through Get Your Guide and Viator, the two biggest travel companies specialising in selling tours and activities online. Viator is part of the TripAdvisor family and Get Your Guide gives you the benefit of a customer service reachable by phone 24/7 in all the main western languages. For the great majority of tours you get instant confirmation, while for some, tour confirmation is subject to availability and will be given within 48 hours of your booking.
View of a Canal in Zhouzhuang Water Town, near Shanghai, China

View of a Canal in Zhouzhuang Water Town, near Shanghai, China

Photo Credit: Jakob Montrasio

Full Day Shanghai Group Tour

Among all the classical Shanghai group one-day bus tours to see the greatest attractions in the city this is one of the best. You start with the Old Street, the bazaar and the complex of Yuyuan Garden, a typical walled garden with a stream, caves, rocks and the famous Mid-Lake Pavilion located in the middle of a small lake and one of the very few traditional Chinese buildings still existing in Shanghai. Then to the highlight of the day: you reach the Bund, the magnificent, scenic riverfront; on one side you have the imposing historic buildings dating back to 1900, on the other side the super tall skyscrapers of Pudong, the highest in China – a true postcard of Shanghai. After lunch you proceed with a visit to Shanghai’s Old Wax Figure Museum and then end the day by exploring the glittering, fashionable alleys of Tanzifang and the French Concession Quarter on foot with your guide. You get back to your hotel at about 6pm.

  • Pick-up and drop-off: at your hotel in Shanghai.
  • Duration: 8 hours, departure is usually around 8:30am, the exact pick-up time is written in the confirmation you receive after booking, be ready 20 minutes beforehand.
  • Guide: English speaking guide.
  • Features: shared tour with other participants by minivan or bus according to the size of the group; at the update of this post, tours depart 4 times a week, please check the days of departure, instant confirmation in the link below.
  • Price: is per person, includes transportation, full day guided visit of Shanghai, all entrance fees and lunch.
  • Pros: the cost is really reasonable, especially if you take into consideration that they come and pick you up, bring you back to your hotel and lunch is included; the walking tour in Tianzifang, one of the trendy areas in Shanghai, is particularly nice.
  • Cons: during the tour there are one or two shopping stops, these are “obligatory” stops, typical of group tours and generally very little appreciated by travellers whose real interest instead is visiting the city; don’t get mad, just know this in advance and nobody really forces you to buy anything.
  • Good to know: as per all group tours, on departure and arrival the bus stops at various hotels to collect and drop off passengers, this means a lot of wasted time.
  • Recommended: if you travel alone and want to see the best of Shanghai in one single day without having to think of anything.
  • Another option: a similar excursion, also a full day tour to visit Shanghai with lunch included is offered by Viator | Best of Shanghai Day Tour, Including Jade Buddha Temple and The Bund; includes being picked up and dropped off at your hotel, a full day, guided visit of Shanghai with Jade Buddha Temple, People’s Square and Shanghai Museum plus, of course, Yuyuan Garden, the Old Street and the Bund. The tour takes place every day of the week and the difference with the GYG tour is that Viator includes a short visit to the most important museum in Shanghai and the price is really captivating. Expect the usual shopping stops.
  • The short version in half-day: the same Viator tour is offered with the option of a half day, morning or afternoon. This is the link Viator | Shanghai Half Day Morning or Afternoon Sightseeing Tour but if you check it out carefully you’ll see that you probably won’t want to book because even if the price is just a little bit lower, you’ll miss out on the other half day and lunch… anyway the most interesting of the two halves is by far the afternoon.
  • Video: the skyscrapers, the river and the lights of Shanghai in the images by Michael Shainblum. The video starts with Pudong skyline, Jin Mao Tower and Pearl Tower are at the 0:23 minute mark, the view of Pudong from the Bund at 0:30 with the impressive sight of World Financial Center (the bottle opener) and top high Shanghai Tower, at 1:04 the lively pedestrian street East Nanjing Road and at 1:17 the first images of the Bund riverfront.

Private Tour of Shanghai

A car, a driver and a guide all to yourself, at your exclusive use for 8 hours. Not such an excessive cost to slowly visit Shanghai at your own speed. If you don’t want to think about anything, there is already an itinerary outline to follow: Yuyuan Garden, People’s Square, Xintiandi and the French Concession, before walking along the Bund and reaching Lujiazui financial district in Pudong, on the other side of Huangpu River and just below the highest buildings in all China. However, this is a fully customized itinerary. If you would rather concentrate on any specific neighborhood, just speak to your guide when you meet in the hotel lobby.

  • Pick-up and drop-off: at your hotel in Shanghai.
  • Duration: 8 hours, several departure times throughout the morning.
  • Guide: English.
  • Features: fully private tour with car and guide at your complete disposal, instant confirmation.
  • Price: if things have not changed, the price differs very little whether you are alone or in a small group of 5; it includes car, driver and guide for 8 hours; entrance fees/attraction tickets are not included nor is lunch, your guide can suggest cheap restaurants.
  • Pros: pick up and drop off at your hotel, the great comfort of travelling in a completely private car, no shopping/souvenir stops, having a guide at your disposal and the opportunity to ask questions about China that you could only ask travelling with a local; in addition your guide will give you good suggestions about restaurants and what to do in Shanghai in the evening.
  • Cons: none, except the cost; of course the price becomes advantageous starting from two people, if you are alone this tour is too expensive.
  • Recommended: if you are travelling with a partner/family/friends and you have at least a decent budget; if you want to visit the greatest attractions in Shanghai using a private car to move from one place to another.
  • Do you want a private guide without a car? Would you prefer to visit Shanghai with a guide but move about using public transport? Yes, it’s possible and quite interesting, not to mention that doing without a car radically lowers the cost of the tour. In fact, this is the best way to explore the city, like a local and not a tourist, you and your guide travel together throughout Shanghai using public transport (the subway goes everywhere and is super cheap) and on foot, you only see what you are interested in. It’s brilliant! There are two services with a private guide that you can book: the first one is GetYourGuide | Shanghai Full-Day Private Tours with a fixed cost – extremely low – irrespective of the number of participants, the second one is GetYourGuide | Shanghai: Full-Day Private Customized Tour where the cost however depends on the number of people. Check out both prices.
View of Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai WFC and Pudong from Shanghai Tower Observation Deck, China

View of Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai WFC and Pudong from Shanghai Tower Observation Deck, China

Photo Credit: sporst

Tour Zhujiajiao Water Town + WFC Observatory + The Bund

A super-interesting excursion at a reasonable cost. A full small-group day trip to visit in one go the ancient, charming Zhujiajiao water town and two of Shanghai’s star attractions: the Bund and the observation deck on top of the World Financial Center in Pudong. How is the tour organised? A full morning to explore the alleys of the old city of Zhujiajiao on foot then visit Khezi Garden, the post office dating back to Qing Dynasty and Fangsheng Bridge with your guide, before taking a boat tour along the canal and having lunch in a typical Chinese restaurant. In the early afternoon you go back to Shanghai, the destination being the financial district of Pudong. Here you go to the top of WFC building for a great panoramic view of Shanghai from Sky Walk 100 on the 100th floor, with the incredible steel and glass suspended bridge between the two side walls of the building. The grand finale is the walk along the Bund riverfront. While your guide tells you about the history of Shanghai you can admire the spectacular skyline of Pudong on the other side of the Huangpu River. The local supplier of this tour is China Highlights which is well-appreciated on TripAdvisor and usually provides very good guides.

  • Pick-up and drop-off: available for any hotel within the Middle Ring zone of Shanghai where 99% of hotels booked by tourists are located.
  • Duration: approx 8 hours, departure is usually at 8am, back at the hotel at 4pm.
  • Guide: English.
  • Features: minibus mini group tour, maximum 6 people, you can book even if you travel alone.
  • Price: per person and includes transportation, guide, entry admission to Zhujiajiao Ancient Town with tickets to Kezhi Garden, Qing Dynasty Post Office and Fangsheng Bridge, gondola tour in Zhujiajiao, fixed menu lunch in Zhujiajiao, entrance ticket to Pudong World Financial Center in Shanghai includes spectacular Sky Walk 100 Observatory and guided walking tour of the Bund.
  • Pros: in one single day you see old-time China, those of Raise the Red Lantern, and 21st century China with glass, steel towers rising above Shanghai; please note that your guide will get the WFC observatory tickets in advance, so you don’t have to queue at the ticket counter – nice!
  • Cons: none in my opinion, this tour is value for money.
  • Recommended: for everybody, whether you travel alone, with a partner or with your family.
  • Video: scenic Zhujiajiao and the gondola tour on the canal in this video is courtesy of TheSmartLocalSG.

Zhujiajiao + Yuyuan Garden + The Bund + Shanghai Tower Observatory

A similar tour to the previous one and equally interesting. The difference is you get a completely private car and guide just for you and your party. After leaving your hotel, and driving for a little under an hour, you have the rest of the morning to visit the ancient town of Zhujiajiao, calmly explore the small alleys of the historic centre with your guide and take a boat tour on the river and small canals. After lunch you go back to Shanghai and visit the two biggest attractions in all the city, Yuyuan Garden complex with its walled garden and scenic Mid-Lake Pavilion and the Bund riverfront whose old imposing, elegant buildings and views look over modern Pudong. But the day is not over, to ensure a more complete excursion you reach Pudong on the other side of the Huangpu River and climb up to the Shanghai Tower observatory, the spectacular 119th floor sightseeing deck of the highest building in China and a new icon in Shanghai.

  • Pick-up and drop-off: at your hotel in Shanghai.
  • Duration: about 8 hours.
  • Guide: English.
  • Features: fully private tour, instant confirmation.
  • Price: the real cost depends on the number of participants; it includes transportation by private car, guide, entry admission to Zhujiajiao Ancient Town with gondola ride and tickets to some attractions, lunch, guided tour of Yuyuan Garden and the Bund in Shanghai and entrance ticket to Shanghai Tower observatory.
  • Pros: going to the top of the highest building of all China with an impressive panorama of Shanghai; the comfort of a private car and guide at your full disposal, the tour can be tailor made according to your wishes, speak to your guide about this as soon as you meet him/her at your hotel; with a small extra cost you can add dinner if you prefer.
  • Cons: the cost; if you are alone this tour is really too expensive and not worth it.
  • Recommended: for couples, and even better for families and groups of friends.
  • The group option with dinner cruise on Huangpu River: this is a 9-hour tour starting around noon and operates only a few days a week, there is an afternoon visit of Zhujiajiao before coming back to Shanghai and taking a dinner cruise on the Huangpu River. Here is the link to check costs and departure dates GetYourGuide | Full-Day Zhujiajiao Water Town Tour and Huangpu River Cruise; two things to bear in mind: there is a shopping oriented stop at a silk house (of course you are totally free to avoid any shopping) and the quality of food during the dinner cruise is so so… but you buy the tour for the panorama of the lights of Shanghai by night and not for the food, this is what matters.
Guided Day-Trip to Zhouzhuang Water Town, China

Guided Day-Trip to Zhouzhuang Water Town, China

Photo Credit: Kristoffer Trolle

Zhouzhuang and Jinxi Water Towns Tour

A full-day, small-group tour to visit two of the most alluring water towns of Jangsu Province, 75 km North-west of Shanghai on the road to Suzhou. One is the well-known Zhouzhuang, surrounded on three sides by a lake and rich of traditional houses and canals. The second is the cosy and far less visited small village of Jinxi, famous for its 36 small bridges and surrounded by countryside. First you explore Zhouzhuang visiting three of its more notable residences: Shen’s House with seven courtyards and over 100 rooms built in 1742; Zhang’s House, dating back to 1400; last is Ye Chucang’s last Residence. Then you take a boat tour on the lake and the canals of the old town, followed by lunch at a traditional restaurant specializing in local Chinese food. In the afternoon you reach the nearby small village of Jinxi, only 8 km north of Zhouzhuang, here you take a walk through its silent alleys, repeatedly crossing small stone bridges to visit one or two of the museums recently added to Jinxi by the Jiangsu government, usually the Red Porcelain Museum and Calligraphy Museum. At the end, you are driven back to your hotel in Shanghai. The local supplier is the very well-appreciated China Highlights.

  • Pick-up and drop-off: included for any hotel in Shanghai inside the Middle Ring Road, that means all hotels in or near the Bund, Yuyuan Garden, East and West Nanjing Road, Xintiandi and all the French Concession area.
  • Duration: 8 hours depending on the traffic.
  • Guide: English.
  • Features: minibus mini group tour, maximum 6 people, you can book even if you travel alone.
  • Price: is per person, includes transportation plus guide, entrance admissions to both Zhouzhuang Water Town and Jinxi Water Town, boat tour on the canals in Zhouzhuang and fixed menu lunch.
  • Cons: the tour is monographic, you spend all day visiting the water towns without seeing anything of Shanghai. It is ok if you are staying in Shanghai for two or three full days so you have time to visit the town too.
  • Recommended: if you wish to explore two fascinating places still relatively unknown to western travellers; better to go during the week on working days and not on Saturdays and Sundays, when Zhouzhuang is full of thousands of Chinese tourists.
  • Video: picturesque Zhouzhuang with nice images by CALLIA&MALLIA.

Tour to Suzhou and Zhouzhuang

A long full day-tour from Shanghai to discover the big city of Suzhou, one of the so called not to be missed destinations in China. A very old city, founded between 500 and 600 BC, with an historical center full of canals, once known as the Venice of the East and with some of the most beautiful traditional Chinese gardens in the Country, is today on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. From Shanghai you need one and half to two hours drive to reach Suzhou where you spend all morning  visiting the town’s ancient city walls, the picturesque Grand Canal and the Master of Nets Garden, one of the best preserved gardens in Suzhou and protected by UNESCO. After lunch you move to Zhouzhuang for a walk through the characteristic streets of the center and take a boat cruise on the lake and the small canals. You get back to Shanghai just in time for dinner. The local supplier of this tour is HikeShanghai, reviews on TripAdvisor are really excellent.

  • Pick-up and drop-off: at any hotel in the central area of Shanghai.
  • Duration: about 10 hours, the duration of this tour really depends on the traffic on the highway.
  • Guide: English.
  • Features: this tour is usually (but not always) conducted on a private basis, minimum two people.
  • Price: is per person, includes transportation, guided tour of both Suzhou and Zhouzhuang with entrance fees, boat tour in Zhouzhuang and lunch.
  • Pros: in one go you visit two cities which are close together but very different. The first is big and crowded with an important historical heritage. The second is very small and quiet with the atmosphere of Old China.
  • Cons: Suzhou is full of things to do and see, not only gardens but small alleys, temples and museums too, it deserves at least one night and a full day, whereas you stay there only a few hours…
  • Recommended: despite having extremely limited time, don’t miss out on visiting Suzhou’s world famous gardens.
  • Another option: a similar excursion to Suzhou and Zhouzhuang (with the choice to visit Tongli instead of Zhouzhuang) is offered by Viator, the tour is guaranteed on a strictly private basis but looks more expensive, at least if you are a couple. However, it’s a different situation for a party of 4 or 5 friends or for a large family, here is the link to check prices Viator | Private Suzhou and Zhouzhuang or Tongli Tour from Shanghai
  • The seductive option of Xitang by Night: is one of the most particular and unusual excursions reviewed in this article.  The tour is expensive but, starting in the gentle late afternoon light and then in a magically-lit evening, it takes you to visit the fabulous ancient city of Xitang, one of the most fascinating water towns in China, famous for its hundreds of long covered walkways along the riverside, a feature you will not find anywhere else in China. It is in Xitang that Tom Cruise came to shoot some of the most thrilling scenes in Mission Impossible 3.  Departure from the hotel in Shanghai is about 2.30pm, in Xitang are included a guided visit of the water town, a boat tour and dinner with a view over the brightly lit canals, return to Shanghai mid/late evening. Here is the link to investigate Viator | Xitang Water Village Sunset Tour with Riverside Dining Experience from Shanghai; the peculiarity of this tour lies not only in the intrinsic beauty of the place, but is unique in that you can tour a water town between late afternoon and early evening in the best conditions; all the other tourists have gone and there are no crowds, so you can enjoy the silence and the magic of the lights.
  • Video: the canals and the UNESCO listed Suzhou world famous gardens in this video by The China Guide.

Important!

  • Before booking read the full description of the tour you like in the official page of Viator and GetYourGuide carefully, please check what is included and what is not, meeting points, times of departure and cancellation policies. After booking, if you have any queries or doubts, immediately contact Viator Customer Care or GetYourGuide Customer Service in order to receive assistance.
  • And, most importantly, the day before the tour, please reconfirm the pick-up time with the local supplier. You receive phone and email of local supplier of the tour immediately after your booking.
  • Read the reviews. If the majority of the reviews are positive that’s a good thing. And always check all the info you read here in the official page of each tour, things change and the official site provides the latest updates.
  • Does your travel plan take you to other cities of China? Are you looking for a guided tour? Hopefully you might be interested in reading my technical reviews of the most complete and value for money day-trips and excursions in Beijing, Xian and Hong Kong. The post The Best Guided Tours in Beijing invite you to explore the great attractions of the capital of China including the Forbidden City, Tian’anmen Square, the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace. The Best Great Wall Guided Day-Trips from Beijing include very detailed descriptions and pros and cons of both group and private day-tours to the Mutianyu Great Wall, Badaling and the Great Wall of Jinshanling and Simatai, leaving Beijing in the morning and coming back in the afternoon. In The Best Guided Tours in Xian you find my comments about the better travel options to visit the world famous Terracotta Army Museum and the highlights of the city; including the City Walls, the Great Mosque, the Muslim Quarter and the magnificent Big Wild Goose Pagoda. Finally, The Best Guided Tours in Hong Kong offers some ideas of the better excursions to explore Kowloon and Hong Kong Island and how to visit Macau in a guided day-trip, leaving in the morning and coming back to Hong Kong in the evening.

Published: April 1st 2019

Creative Commons 2.0 GenericFront cover photo credit: Zhouzhuang Water Town by Jakob Montrasio. Photos come from Flickr: Creative Commons Attribution Licensed Photos. Please read here the Summary of the Legal Code. Terms of license are valid at the time of publishing this post.