What are the best guided tours around Shanghai? Perhaps you enjoy traveling with tour groups or maybe you just want to enhance your solo travel with a professionally narrated trip. Either way, there’s a lot that can be gleaned from this list of excellent Shanghai tours.
China is arguably one of the most fascinating countries to travel. Expansive both in area as well as history and culture, it can be intimidating to plan your trip to China – especially if you’re on a tight budget.
You want to see all the classic sites – Shanghai’s Bund, Beijing’s Great Wall, etc. (especially if you’re a first time traveler to China) – but you also probably want to get a sense of local life, exploring the countryside and off the beaten path hidden gems. These are the things you won’t find listed in the typical Shanghai travel guide book.
How do you accomplish all this with limited time, and a limited budget?
First, you’ll want to narrow your focus. You can cover a lot of ground when doing tours in China, so be strategic about the region you choose. Benefits of taking a tour in China instead of solo travel include:
- Exploring Outside the Cities: Tours around Shanghai are a great way to see some spectacular city sites – and most include Beijing as well. Tours around Shanghai also allow you to see more rural areas that may be difficult to navigate if you’re traveling independently.
- Eliminating the Language Barrier: The social structure and cultural nuances in China are incredibly complex, tours can be a tremendous asset to ensure you get the most out of your vacation.
- Saving Money: It may seem counterintuitive but tours can actually be a great way to save money. Being on a tour, you don’t have to worry about booking your accommodations or transportation. You can be free to simply enjoy the ride, without the hassle or stress of getting lost or wondering where your next meal will be.
Many tour groups in China offer a lot of flexibility when it comes to included activities or meals so you can customize your experience for a budget that’s comfortable to you.
Here are 5 Tours Around Shanghai to consider if you’re on a budget.
Best Shanghai Tours on a Budget
#1 China Sampler
- Tour Company: SmarTours
- Price: From $1,499
- Price/day: $150
- Duration: 10 Days
This tour from popular value tour company SmarTours offers a great introduction to Shanghai as well as some other key China cities including Beijing and Suzhou. Xian is also visited, where you can see the famous Terra Cotta Warriors.
A nice sampling of activities are included, as well as a number of optional activities that you can choose to participate in for an extra fee. Accommodations will be in simple but comfortable hotels.
SmarTours is a great company to travel with if you want a solid itinerary at a decent price. Airfare is included and they frequently run deals and specials that can cut a sizable chunk out of the base trip price.
#2 South China Getaway
- Tour Company: Intrepid
- Price: From $1,030
- Price/day: $86
- Duration: 12 Days
For the young adventurous traveler, nothing can quite beat Intrepid’s classic “off the beaten path” approach.
Particularly when traveling around Shanghai, the Intrepid Travel mentality will definitely reveal a new side of the city and countryside.
This tour spends a nice amount of time in each destination, and takes advantage of the 12 days to cover a wide area. Expect fairly basic accommodation – budget tours with Intrepid are all about being out and about; they focus far less on securing premium accommodations.
If all you need is a place to sleep and you don’t require many extra amenities, you’ll fit right in on an Intrepid tour.
#3 China Delights
- Tour Company: Travel China Guide
- Price: From $1,418
- Price/Day: $129
- Duration: 11 Days
This tour begins in Beijing and winds its way through some key China sights before finishing in Shanghai.
Most entrance fees for attractions are included, 6 lunches, 10 breakfasts, and 1 dinner are also included in the price. This means you’ll be on your own for most dinners, but your guide will be able to direct you to the cheapest options – that are still delicious.
Travel China Guide is known for offering competitively priced tours that focus on classic sites with a nice balance of local immersion. Guides are English speaking and their small group tours are popular with 50+ travelers.
#4 Shanghai-Hong Kong on a Shoestring
- Tour Company: G Adventures
- Price: From $679
- Price/Day: $97
- Duration: 7 Days
For those travelers who are interested in a wild, adventurous romp exploring Shanghai, Guilin, Yangshuo, and Hong Kong look no further than this budget minded trip with G Adventures.
Be prepared for some pretty basic amenities – travelers who seek a certain level of comfort should be advised that accommodations are mainly hostel style arrangements, with multiple beds to a room. Additionally no meals are included in the price, allowing you to enjoy finding meals within a comfortable budget range.
G Adventures is all about the local experience. You’ll take public transportation most places, so be sure to pack light!
#5 China on a Shoestring
- Tour Company: Explore
- Price: From $2,356
- Price/Day: $112
- Duration: 21 Days
At 21 days long and around $2,000 per person, this tour with active travel focused tour company Explore is not going to be for everyone. However if what you’re after is a comprehensive look at some of China’s most incredible sites, cities, and countryside, with a plethora of optional excursions allowing you to tailor your experience, then look no further.
Accommodations will be basic but comfortable, and the trip includes 3 overnight sleeper trains which can be a bit of an adventure.
Explore often includes outdoor travel activities on their itineraries, and they are suitable for a wide range of ages, as long as you are relatively physically fit and enjoy being active.
Conclusion | Best Tours Around Shanghai
Shanghai is an excellent jumping off point for tours not just in the surrounding areas, but also around all of China. The city is located in a strategic place along many high-speed rail lines and within a short flight from anywhere.
For that reason, it’s a no-brainer to consider starting your China travels in the city of Shanghai and then moving out from there. Besides, there are tons of fun things to do in Shanghai!
Have you been to Shanghai? What did you think of the experience?