World ? Asia ? China ? Shanghai

Shanghai: Organized Tours

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), with its head offices near the Shanghai Centre at Beijing Xi Lu 1277, Guolu Dasha (tel. 021/6289-4510 or 021/6289-8899, ext. 263; The FIT (Family and Independent Travelers) department can be reached at fax 021/6289-7838. There's another branch at the Bund at Jinling Dong Lu 2 (tel. 021/6323-8770) where you can purchase airline and train tickets. CITS operates many of the English-language group tours in Shanghai, even those booked in hotels. The only reason to go directly to the CITS office is to arrange a special tour, perhaps of sites not offered on the regular group tour list, or for a private tour with guide, driver, and car, but you will pay dearly for it.

If you have little time, group tours are convenient, efficiently organized, and considerably less expensive than private tours. These tours cost about ť250 to ť400 ($30-$48) per person. The Jin Jiang Optional Tours Center, which has its head office in the CITS building (Beijing Xi Lu 1277, Room 611; tel. 021/6445-9525; fax 021/6472-0184; and a branch office near the Jin Jiang and Okura Garden hotels at Changle Lu 191 (tel. 021/6445-9525 or 021/6466-2828, ext. 239/240), offer a typical group tour of Shanghai by bus, with English-speaking guide and lunch, for ť250 ($31); sites include Yu Yuan, the Bund, Jade Buddha Temple, Xin Tiandi, People's Square, the Shanghai Museum, and a quick drive-by of Pudong. At press time, prices were expected to increase, however. Jin Jiang offers similar 1-day group tours to Suzhou (ť350/$42) and Hangzhou (ť500/$60). Hotel desks have a wider range of group tour itineraries to select from, but at higher prices than those offered by the Jin Jiang Optional Tours Center.

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.

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. At press time, the Jin Jiang Optional Tours Center was offering 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 ť950 ($114) for one person, ť550 ($66) each for two people, or ť480 ($58) each for three or four people, but prices were expected to increase shortly. Travel agencies and hotel tour desks can also act as ticketing agents for nighttime entertainment, too (such as acrobatics, operas, circuses, Peace Hotel Jazz Bar, Huangpu River cruises).

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

The Shanghai Sightseeing Bus Center, located under the no. 5 staircase at Gate 12 of the Shanghai Stadium (Tianyaoqiao Lu 666; tel. 021/6426-5555), runs 10 in-town sightseeing bus lines, and multiple tours, both guided and unguided, to destinations like Tongli, Nanxun, Suzhou, and Hangzhou, but tour guides speak Chinese only.

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