Shanghai’s got a lot of history and culture. Some locals say the city is ‘like a dragon, with its tail in the past, and its head in the future’. Unfortunately we couldn’t find you any future walks, but there are a number of history walks you can take, and a few where you can learn about the city’s culture through its food and drink. Here’s the run down.
Historic Shanghai are the big dogs when it comes to history walks in Shanghai. Founded in 1998 by Tess Johnston, Patrick Cranley and Tina Kanagaratnam, they set about to uncover and preserve our city’s unique architectural and socio-cultural history. 23 years later they are still at it, putting an incredible wealth of knowledge into walking tours on subjects ranging from Art Deco to the perilous lives of Shanghai’s Jewish refugees and anyone else that left their mark on our city. Walks take around 2 hours and are 300rmb to join. If you’re a real Shanghai-history buff you can become a paid member of Historic Shanghai and get discounts. You can book their tours through their WeChat Official account by searching ‘HistoricShanghai’ or via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
When it comes to eating, we all like to know that super-secret local spot that none of our friends have been to before. UnTour’s food tours will show you just these places. Since launching in 2010, they now run food tours across China. Most tours hit about 3-5 restaurants where their highly-knowledgeable guides order the showcase dishes and explain the cultural context of what you’re eating. In Shanghai they’ve got tours on everything from breakfast bites in the French concession, to exploring Korean food culture in K-town, and boozy excursions through the city’s speak easy scene. Average cost for a tour is 550rmb; that includes all your food, and lasts for 2-3 hours. You can book their tours on their website here.
If you’re more into your beer than your food or history, this one might be for you. Eatwith do tours of Shanghai’s breweries – that doesn’t mean they are any less cultural though. The tours hit three breweries where you’ll sample a selection of Chinese craft beers and a guide talks you through the libations. They wouldn’t want you drinking on an empty stomach, so there’ll be food along the way too, mostly in the form of local bites. The tours run at night and last about three hours. They are about 450rmb per person including all the beer, food and transportation between breweries. You can book them by adding their customer service on WeChat: Eatwith_China
Culture shock also do tours based around Shanghai’s history and architecture, but with a twist - they do them by bike. You’ll cycle through different parts of Shanghai as you hear about people and history that have shaped the city into the place it is today. Their tour guides are long-term residents of the city and all multilingual. They also do walking tours, and have recently included one for pet lovers: doggy walks, where you can bring your pooch along for some exercise and a bit of a social with the other dogs while you learn about the culture. The average price of a tour with these guys is about 400rmb. You can book them on their website here.
Culture2go are a group of experts on Chinese history, language and culture and do a set of particularly good architectural tours around Shanghai. The tours cover everything from the old, on the Bund and in Xuhui, to the new, in Lujiazui. Of course, you can’t talk about the architecture of Shanghai without some historical context so their guides deliver readings and anecdotes about how life has been lived for the people of Shanghai through the ages. Being set up by Germans, they offer a lot of tours in that language, but also plenty in English. Each tour is about 2-3 hours long and costs an average of 200-300rmb. To book them visit their website here.