Dramatic Shanghai skyline

Shanghai - Best Tours & Trips 2019

Situated on China's central coast, and the biggest city in the country. It's a hotbed of history, city life and modern culture. Other than Beijing, this is where many China tours begin or end and it is a spectacular introduction to the many nuances of China.
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Trip Type Trip Type Classic Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Guided Experiences Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ocean Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Tour Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Independent Package A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ocean Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.

Tour Styles

Lodging Level Lodging Level Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.

Price From*

$ 222 $ 10,000+

Price Per Day

Trip Length


Physical Level Physical Level Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.

Travel Theme

Travelers Age

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Rivers & Seas

Cities & Attractions


Solo Friendly Solo Friendly Good for Singles Trips that specifically cater to travelers looking to meet other singles.
No Single Supplement Trips where single supplement is usually not required for solo travelers.


Flights & Transport

Continents & Regions

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Top Shanghai Experiences and Attractions

Top Shanghai Experiences

Dinner while watching the city’s world-renowned troupe of acrobats.

Seeing one of the most impressive collections of Chinese art in the world at the Shanghai Museum.

Enjoying a delicious Cantonese dinner on a cruise up the Huangpu River.

Walking across the Bund docks at night and observing the futuristic Shanghai skyline.

Trying incredible street food while shopping on Nanjing Road.

Walking through the picturesque and lavish pagodas, covered bridges, and statue-lined halls of buildings in Yuyuan garden.

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Shanghai Trip Reviews

114 Shanghai Tour Reviews - Summary 98% Recommend

4.7 out of 5
Excellent 88
Great 24
Average 1
Disappointing 0
Terrible 1

Tour Reviews Write a Review

Imperial China and Yangtze River Cruise

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

An excellent introduction to China covering a number of the very diverse
facets of the country.
I am inspired to return to China to explore other aspects of the country. In
particular the Great Wall trek.
I would recommend travelling with a group, such as Exodus. It is not the
easiest country to get about in. There is very little English spoken and most
of the signs are in Chinese only. Our tour leader took care of
The Great Wall was great, the Three Gorges cruise on the Yangtze, the cycling
in the country amongst the limestone karsts, amazing landscape. There were a
number of other WOW factors not least of which was the food.

Leon was excellent: very knowledgeable about all the areas that we visited,
he was helpful on a personal level as well as to the group particularly when
it came to ordering food where the menus were only in Chinese. He was well up
to the standard of tour leaders that I had come to expect of Exodus.
His English was excellent also.

Travelling in China could be a bit of a challenge particularly as there is
little English spoken and much of the signs even at airports and railway
stations are in Chinese. Having a competent Chinese speaker with you, such as
we had, made life much easier.

The trip was billed as 1 leisurely. I think a 2 grading would be more exact;
the steps up to the great wall and later on up to the Moon Rock were
something of a challenge for some.

Keep your eyes open and look for quaint English translations of signs.

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Operator Exodus Travels

In general, it was a wonderful trip. Our guide was the best.

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Our guide in Beijing was the best. My husband likes to ask questions and she always had a great answer and very knowledgeable in history.
Jen, Vice President of Operations at Myths and Mountains, provided reminder emails and also answered all our questions. My husband liked the pre-trip phone call too. We loved touring the Mogao Caves. It was better than anticipated! Second highlight were the Terracotta Warriors.

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Operator Myths and Mountains

Classic China

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Covered the historic highlights of the trip.
(Anyway to avoid long lines would be helpful.)

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Operator Trafalgar

The China sampler tour

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

The China sampler was a wonderful trip. We had never ventured to the orient and the China Sampler was a good introduction to Chinese culture. We liked all the places we visited in Beijing, Xian, Shanghai,and Sozhou. The hotels were very nice and comfortable. Out guides Hou and Lilly were very knowledgeable and spoke perfect English. All the extra excursions were well worth the time and expense. I would definitely recommend the tour to anyone.

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Operator SmarTours

A magic once in a life time experience and worth every penny

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

A magic once in a life time experience and worth every penny.

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Operator G Adventures

Interesting overview of China's highlights

  • Value 4.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 4.0

This trip covered many of the highlights of China from the Great Wall to
Shanghai and did it very well. Although it was rated as 'leisurely' it was
very busy and perhaps Exodus could introduce a new range of ratings to
reflect how busy they are as well as the physical effort required.

China is an interesting country going through massive change and
urbanisation, I had not expected the huge amount of building work and high
rise blocks built and being built and the sheer enormity of the cities
I particularly enjoyed the visit to the Panda Breeding Programme in Chengdu
and seeing the baby pandas -such a conservation success story.

The leader Alan - Liu Bin was excellent, my only criticism was that he only
seemed to have one speed which was fast, I prefer to amble and take in my
surroundings particularly in a country with a different culture and this was
not possible when trying to keep up with Alan.
Alan gave us a very interesting and informative session on China's take on
disputed territories which presented a different viewpoint from that we have
been given in the West.
Alan was very organised and full of information, he worked constantly but
still maintained a good sense of humour.

If you are not happy to use squat toilets I found that the disabled cubicle
usually contained a 'potty' style.
Coffee was not generally provided in hotel rooms so some sachets are useful.

Hotels in China do not provide maps, I found this very frustrating and feel
that Exodus should provide maps of the area around the hotels used with
information of suggested places to eat/drink and transport options to places
of interest, it is not possible to print these before departure as hotels are
not notified until arrival. As a consequence of the lack of maps I do not
feel that I had an overview of the cities visited (spatial awareness).

I found the food pretty boring, as the only non-meat eater I found that meat
dishes were served first (a cultural norm) and often sat with just a couple
to veg dumplings while the rest of the group tucked in, when the vegetables
(and rice) eventually arrived they were usually rather bland and boring and
the rest of the group were nearly finished eating. I would have welcomed the
opportunity to pick a dish for myself from the menu. The much vaunted
Sichaun Hot Pot was rubbish for me as the spicy part contains ox fat so I
could not cook my food there and just had to use the boring unspicy broth.

Three nights on trains was too many and Exodus should look at tweaking the
itinerary as there was some wasted time waiting for trains and also when we
go on the boat.

Overall a very good enjoyable trip - I found China interesting and am very
pleased I chose this trip as it gave a great overview.

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Operator Exodus Travels

Shanghai Tours and Travel Guide

Shanghai Attractions & Landmarks Guide

Situated on China's central coast, and the biggest city in the country. It's a hotbed of history, city life and modern culture. Other than Beijing, this is where many China tours begin or end and it is a spectacular introduction to the many nuances of China.

Top 5 Things to Do in Shanghai

1. See the Old & the NewGet a glimpse of old China and older Shanghai in Zhujiajiao, a traditional “water town”, with life surrounding the various canals winding through the towns. Narrow bridges connect over these waterways, and lead into a tangle of charming, pedestrian back streets too narrow for cars.

Then, take a quick ride back into the city to get a look at the Shanghai World Financial Center, the 9th tallest building in the world, a symbol of modernization and modern China.

2. Yuyuan Garden Take a moment to appreciate some of China’s beautiful endemic plant life inside the Yuyuan Garden. This garden was originally intended to serve as a private garden for Ming-dynasty official Pan Yunduan and his family, though it is now completely open to the public.

There are 6 main areas and 30 pavilions, each with their own with ornate decorated bridges and colorful pagodas, and quiet private areas. In particular, be sure to visit the dazzling Jade Magnificence Hall and the magical Lotus Pool.

3. Shanghai’s Oldest Temples - Longhua Temple and Jade Buddha Temple. Longhua Temple is the oldest and largest religious complex in Shanghai. This 10th century, multi-story pagoda is filled with treasures, as are the surrounding buildings.

In the spring, this is site is also one of the best places to see the peach blo Jade Buddha Temple is known for its legions of statues, most notably two large jade buddhas and three golden ones representing past, present, and future, this temple is also still inhabited by monks -- one of the few remaining in Shanghai. 

4. Walk the Bund - This is the bridge connecting Shanghai’s mainland across the Huangpu River, and also the classic location to get a photo of Shanghai’s famous skyline. We recommend going at night -- not only is there less of a chance of smog concealing the view, but the buildings are also known for their fantastic light shows. You will feel as if you’ve been transported into the future.

5. Nanjing Road This is Shanghai’s most famous shopping centers, Nanjing Road is lined with dozens of international and local shops. Although not the best place to find a bargain, the beautiful architecture of the area and the lively hustle and bustle make it one of the must-see sights in Shanghai. The views at night are equally spectacular as the daytime; neon signs turn their lights on and are reminiscent of Times Square.

Private Tours in Shanghai

Shanghai is a large and crowded city, so it makes sense if you want to make sure you won’t be lost in the crowds of a large tour group. One solution to this would be to book a private tour of Shanghai, a surprisingly popular option.

Although meals are not typically included in these tours, you can expect to get many more genuine and personalized suggestions for restaurants, along with everything else.

If you have a specific interest, like Chinese history, for example, having a privately guided tour ensures that all of your questions will be answered and the specific sightseeing you wanted to do will be.

Top Shanghai Travel Companies

Things to Know Before You Go

Best Time to Visit Shanghai

One generally touted piece of advice when traveling to Shanghai is to visit in the autumn. Temperatures are still comfortably warm between September and October (with highs on average 81F in September and a still pleasant 72F in October), and you will be avoiding the high prices and crowds of the summer.

The spring weather is also a good option, temperatures are in April around 65F, and May 74F. Shanghai tour packages at this time of year are also the best time to catch the city’s gorgeous cherry and peach blossoms.

The best time to visit certain tourist attractions can also vary. If you are a multi day tour of the city, your tour guide will likely make sure that certain attractions are experienced during the week. For example, the gorgeous and historic water town of Zhujiajiao is usually quite crowded with tourists during the weekend, so it’s recommended that you visit during the week.

What to wear in Shanghai

If you do decide to travel during Shanghai’s winter, bring a good jacket and warm clothing. Otherwise, you can feel free to dress as you might at home, though perhaps a bit more formally -- much of Shanghai dresses in Western fashions, and is very trendy.

You are expected to wear more formal clothing when eating out to dinner at night, and you may be looked down upon if you wear anything too revealing.

Also, it is important to note that Chinese clothing sizes are smaller than typical Western ones -- so if you need to replace an article of clothing, buy a couple of sizes up!

If you are a man, do not wear any green hat! In China, this is associated with being a cheat or adulterer, due to how linguistically similar the words sound in Chinese.

Is air pollution a problem in Shanghai?

Although air pollution is a more well known problem in Beijing, it is also a problem (on a lesser scale) in Shanghai. For this reason, you will still see many Chinese wearing face masks. It is not necessary for you to wear these since you are only spending a short portion of time in the city. If you are very asthmatic, it is recommended you avoid intense, outdoor exercise.

Shanghai Travel Tips

  • Despite the very modern appearance of Shanghai, you will soon find that most bathroom are still squat-toilets. Bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
  • You will have to purchase a step down converter and travel adapter plug -- most Western devices aren’t designed for the shape and voltage of Chinese plugs.
  • Don’t drink the tap water, although it is safe to brush your teeth with.
  • In Shanghai, taxi drivers prefer to be given coins over small bills anyday.
  • If you are dining outside of tourist areas, you may have to ask for rice immediately. The Chinese consider rice a cheap way to get full at the end of your meal, so asking for mifan mashang (rice immediately) is your best way to get some.

All Shanghai tours, river cruises, expedition cruises, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages. Average rating of 4.7 for all Shanghai trips.

130 trips from 50 tour companies with 114 reviews

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