Shanghai tips: Nine travel routes give a glimpse into China

Shanghai, known as the window through which the world observes China and the preferred city for global exchanges, is not just an international metropolis but also a starting point for exploring the roots of Chinese civilization.

This year, the Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism, together with prestigious travel agencies, has unveiled a series of travel routes that delve into the essence of traditional Chinese culture. There are so many options, each promising a unique and enriching experience. 


No 1: World Heritage tour of Shanghai, Suzhou, Lijiang, and Beijing


The view of a water town in Suzhou, East China's Jiangsu province. [Photo/VCG]


Agency: Shanghai China International Travel Service

About the route: Embark on a journey along this route to experience the cosmopolitan charm and maritime culture of Shanghai, as well as the grandeur of Beijing. 

In addition, travelers on this route can explore Suzhou of East China's Jiangsu province, known for its elegant bridges and flowing streams, and Lijiang of Southwest China's Yunnan province, the only city in China with three World Heritage sites. Suzhou is known as one of the most representative cities of Jiangnan (the region south of lower reaches of the Yangtze River) water towns. The quaint town of Lijiang boasts abundant natural resources and is home to multiple ethnic groups, thus creating a rich tapestry of cultural charm.


No 2: Shanghai-Yunnan in-depth tour


Yulong Snow Mountain towers behind Lijiang ancient town. [Photo/VCG]


Agency: Shanghai China International Travel Service

About the route: Immerse yourself in the cosmopolitan charm and Haipai culture of Shanghai before embarking on an exploration of one of China's significant tourism provinces - Yunnan. 

Experience the ancient charm of Dali, and the ethereal beauty of Erhai Lake; journey to the paradise of Shangri-La, where dreams touch the summits of snow-capped mountains; wander through the ancient streets of Lijiang, where alleyways crisscross in a mesmerizing pattern; and explore Kunming, the city of eternal spring, where flowers bloom in all seasons.



No 3: Learn to cook Chinese cuisine 


Foreigners make local delicacy xiaolongbao.[Photo/Gray Line]


Agency: Gray Line

About the route: Embark on a culinary adventure to learn how to cook authentic Chinese cuisine with Gray Line. Join professional chefs as you visit popular markets in Shanghai to select fresh ingredients and gain insights into the local food culture. Upon arriving at the workshop, Gray Line guides will delve into the origins of Chinese cuisine, the eight major culinary styles, and the symbolic meanings and health concepts that Chinese people pursue beyond just taste, aroma, and presentation.

Participants will engage in hands-on activities such as washing and cutting vegetables, making and rolling dough, and learning to prepare two traditional Chinese dishes, like xiaolongbao (soup dumplings), dumplings, spring rolls, Kung Pao Chicken, sweet and sour pork, and Mapo Tofu. Chefs and staff will patiently guide participants through the cooking process, helping and giving advice in English.


No 4: A taste of the ancient Silk Road


A view of the Jiayuguan Pass in Northwest China's Gansu province, the western end of the Great Wall. [Photo/VCG]


Agency: Spring Tour

About the route: This 12-day tour encompasses Shanghai and Northwest China's Gansu province, connecting places of cultural significance, such as Dunhuang, Jiayuguan, and Zhangye. This tour gives international travelers ample time for a leisurely journey through China's historical tapestry. 

From the millennia-old Mogao Grottoes to the vast Qilian Mountains, and the echoing sounds of camel bells in the Mingsha Sand Dunes, this ancient Silk Road trail has borne witness to the exchange and mutual learning between Eastern and Western cultures. Delicacies like Dunhuang roasted lamb, Jiayuguan stewed chicken, Lanzhou noodles, and more showcase the unique local flavors of the region.



No 5: Enter the oasis in the desert


Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang, Northwest China's Gansu province. [Photo/VCG]


Agency: Spring Tour

About the route: This 6-day tour of Shanghai and Dunhuang, Northwest China's Gansu province, is tailored for international travelers with limited time. This itinerary combines the essence of Shanghai's local culture with the rich heritage of Dunhuang. As visitors explore Dunhuang, they will delve into the mysteries of the renowned Mogao Grottoes, where the echoes of ancient Dunhuang music have resonated through centuries.



No 6: The splendor of China


The Forbidden City. [Photo/VCG]


Agency: Guilin Tang Dynasty Tours

About the route: A 14-day classic journey through China. This itinerary covers several of China's most renowned tourist cities. Starting from Shanghai, travelers will visit Guilin, South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, cruise along the Yangtze River, and explore Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi province, and Beijing. 

Visitors will tour famous attractions such as the Bund and Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai, the Great Wall and the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an and more, while enjoying the picturesque landscapes of the Yangtze River as well as Guilin's Lijiang River.



No 7: Enchanting Jiangnan


The West Lake in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang province. [Photo/VCG]


Agency: Guilin Tang Dynasty Tours

About the route: A 7-day tour of Shanghai and its surroundings, ideal for travelers who appreciate the natural beauty and culture of Jiangnan, or those with limited time to explore but wish to delve into the Yangtze River Delta region. 

This itinerary covers Shanghai, Suzhou, Hangzhou of East China's Zhejiang province, and Huangshan Mountain in East China's Anhui province. Travelers will explore Shanghai's changes throughout the years, experience the unique charm of classical Chinese gardens, savor the fragrance of Longjing tea, explore the beauty of Hui-style architecture, and summit Huangshan Mountain to marvel at the wonders of nature.


No 8: From the oriental pearl to the roof of the world


Potala Palace in Lhasa, Southwest China's Xizang autonomous region. [Photo/VCG]


Agency: CGT Travel

About the route: This 13-day journey will take you through the cultural and natural treasures of China. From the bustling city of Shanghai to the leisurely Chengdu of Southwest China's Sichuan province, from the mystical Lhasa to the ancient capitals of Xi'an and Beijing, travelers will get to experience the country's diversity and charm. 

In Shanghai, ascend the Oriental Pearl Tower and admire the magnificent views of the entire city from the 263-meter-high observation deck. In Chengdu, enjoy a cup of tea, watch a Sichuan opera performance, and relax in the leisurely atmosphere. In Lhasa, visit the Potala Palace and experience the breathtaking charm of this grand Tibetan-style palace fortress. In Beijing, hike the Great Wall or enjoy a meal amidst the stunning scenery. 

Along the way, savor local delicacies such as dim sum in Shanghai, roujiamo (Chinese hamburger) in Xi'an, and candied haws in Beijing.


No 9: Explore the dreamy Silk Road


A view of Danxia landform in Zhangye. [Photo/VCG]


Agency: CGT Travel

About the route: This route starts from Shanghai and travels to Xi'an, the starting point of the ancient Silk Road. It then continues westward to explore the numerous sites and beautiful scenery along the Silk Road. 

Shanghai is a great choice as a traveler's first stop in China, thanks to its convenient public transportation system and wide range of colorful tourist experiences. The next stop is Xi'an, known for the Terracotta Warriors and the ancient city wall. The Danxia landform and colorful hills in Zhangye create a stunning sight that travelers will fall in love with. 

Dunhuang is famous for its grottoes and murals (Mogao Grottoes).The Jiaohe Ancient City of Turpan, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, is the best-preserved urban site of earthen construction in western China, while the ancient city of Gaochang, also in Turpan, is a treasure trove of religious and cultural heritage. Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, is a hub on the "new Silk Road", and is full of ethnic charm and historical culture, with must-try local cuisine.


Source: WeChat account "Shanghai Fabu"