When we travel as a family, we always get a private tour because of my dad’s special needs. You see, he’s 68 years old and he gets tired easily and cannot last a long time walking. I blame it on his lack of exercise, but he’s adamant about not doing any. Hahaha. He also always needs to be close to a restroom. Other than this.. well, we just don’t like being forced into “shopping stops,” so we always opt for private tours that we can customize. Oh, and having your private guide means you can have your own private photographer too!
We also always sort of divide the work when planning for a trip — I do the flights and the logistics, my sister does the hotel and the tour. She merely googled “Shanghai Private Tours” and stumbled upon www.shanghaiprivatetours.com, which we eventually used for our trip.
At 9am we were met by Mr. Michael, our guide, at the lobby of our hotel. He had with him a driver and a minivan that was entirely ours for the duration of the tour. Having our own minivan and driver made things a lot easier for my dad because the pick up and drop off points were made as close as possible to the place we were visiting. There were also times when my dad would just rest inside the minivan while my sister and I would go shopping or whatnot.
Anyway, we got the 2 day Shanghai Old and New City Tour, which basically covered all the touristy places in Shanghai and nearby areas. Their website listed down the itinerary, but Mr. Michael suggested changes to it, taking into consideration the traffic, and the kinds of places we wanted to see. (That’s another good thing about private tours! You’re free to customize it as you want!)
First stop was Zhujiajiao, which is a water village about an hour away from Shanghai. It had this old world vibe, like we were in the Shanghai of olden times. It meant walking on cobblestones through stalls selling food and other trinkets. We also went on a boat ride through the canals that criss-crossed the place.
Next stop was the Little White House, which was exactly how it was described — a little white house. It is now being used as the Shanghai Arts and Crafts museum.
Lunch was at Xintiandi, a modern day mall within restored traditional “stone gate” houses. (No photos, sorryyyy. I was too hungry! Hahaha) We had lunch at Din Tai Fung, and ate Xiao Long Bao which I totally, totally loved. Mr. Michael suggested other restaurants, but my sister and I wanted to eat here because of what our friends had told us about this place. Papa had a hard time with the Xiao Long Bao though, but then again, he was never really good with chopsticks. 🙂
The last stop for today’s tour was at the Jade Buddha Temple. It was at this point that we were able to really test our guide’s knowledge on the places that he was bringing us to. I like cultural stuff, and naturally, I had a lot of questions about Buddhism in China and how it differs from the other forms of Buddhism in Japan and in India. Mr. Michael was able to really answer my questions and give us more information more than what we asked for. 🙂
The day’s tour lasted about 6 hours, and we were brought back to the hotel afterwards. But because my sister and I still weren’t tired, we left Papa in the hotel and started walking again. We hung out at the Bund area again, and decided on going on a river cruise.
The River Cruise ended up a really good idea, because we got to see the lights of The Bund at night. They were really beautiful! The pictures don’t do them justice.