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6 City Walks You Can Take to Up Your Knowledge of Local Culture

We tracked down 6 ways that you can learn more about Shanghai while strolling around its green and pleasant streets.
2023-10-20 14:00:00

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 rundown.

Historic Shanghai

Historic Shanghai is the big dog 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. 25 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 300 rmb 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:

UnTour Food Tours

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 in Hong Kong, Chengdu, Beijing, and Shanghai. 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 boozy excursions through the city's speak-easy scene. The average cost for a tour is 580 rmb; that includes all your food and lasts for 2-3 hours. You can book their tours on their website here.


Beer tour by Eatwith. If you're more into your beer than your food or history, this one might be for you. Eatwith does tours all around China's major cities, and one of the most popular tours focuses on Shanghai's breweries – that doesn't mean they are any less cultural though. The tours hit three to four breweries where you'll sample a selection of Chinese craft beers and a beer expert will talk you through the libations. You will not drink on an empty stomach, snacks and local bites also are included in their beer tour package. This three-hour tour runs at night and costs about 450 rmb per person including all the beer, food, and guide. You can book them through the mini program Eatwith共飨时刻 (English version available) or by adding their customer service on WeChat: Eatwith_China.

Culture Shock

Culture Shock also does 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 the 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 price of a tour with these guys starts from 500 rmb. You can add their WeChat for more details: Bike-Tours-Shanghai.


Culture2go is a group of experts on Chinese history, language, and culture and does 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.


Spun to life in April 2020, Arcade reshapes how we perceive Shanghai's storied streets. Veering from the cookie-cutter tour guide script, Arcade takes you on an engaging jaunt through Shanghai's rich tapestry of history and culture, making it accessible (and fun!) for both local aficionados and starry-eyed visitors, young and old. The vibrant synergy of their French and Chinese crew, all culled from the tourism realm, ensures an ever-fresh perspective on the city's chronicles. "History is not boring!" is their battle cry. Dive into walking tours, decipher mystery hunts, live out real-life Cluedos, or challenge colleagues in team-building escapades. Languages won't barrier the experience; choose English, Chinese, or French. Expect to shell out around 250 RMB for a 2.5-hour journey or 300 RMB for an immersive 3-hour exploration. Dive into Shanghai's troves with Arcade: reach out via WeChat at arcade-experiences or drop an email at