Family Travels: Shanghai

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Travellers: Chinese/Japanese couple Shi Qiang Liu and Akiko Yamashita, and their daughter Yoko (7).

The plan: The family wanted to see Shanghai and planned a four day jaunt through a travel agent. They took the overnight sleeper train (soft-sleeper 550RMB, 11.5 hours, five daily departures) and returned by air.

Cruising the river: A Huangpu River cruise was one of the highlights of the trip, which Akiko booked at an agent on the river. The three-level vessel cruises to the Yangtze river and back, a journey of three hours (120RMB).

Swim with the fishes: The Shanghai Ocean Aquarium is a comprehensive sea-fest, showcasing salty creatures from 9 different world zones including Deep Sea, Antarctic and South East Asia (120RMB adults, 80RMB kids, 1388 Lujiazui Ring Road, Pudong, 021 5877 9988, http://www.sh-aquarium.com/, 9am-6pm daily).

Adrenaline rush: The family tried out the world’s fastest train – the Shanghai Maglev – but found it a little too scary. Able to reach 350km/h (top speed 431km/h) in only two minutes, the Maglev zips along by magnetic levitation and passengers feel like they’re flying. The train runs from subway line 2 to Pudong International Airport in around 7 minutes (50RMB one way, 40RMB if you show a flight ticket).

Culture vulture: The 400-year-old Yu Gardens feature gorgeous grounds surrounded by a bustling nest of old-style shops where you can bargain for toys and faux antiques (132 An Ren Road, 021 6355 5032, 8.30am-5pm daily). Shanghai Museum has a marvellous range of Chinese artefacts, as well as The Chinese Minority Art Gallery, making it a fascinating venue for older kids, not to mention Mom and Dad (free entry, http://www.shanghaimuseum.net/en/, 201 Renmin Avenue, 021 6372 5300, 9am-5pm daily). For a spiritual experience, the divine Jade Buddha Temple is an active Zen Buddhism monastery. Don’t miss the precious Buddha statues carved from white jade; the sitting Buddha is nearly two meters high (15RMB, 170 Anyuan Lu, Putuo, 8.30am-5pm daily).

Where to nap: The family enjoyed Oriental Riverside Hotel, right on the Huangpu river (facing the Bund), and featuring an indoor swimming pool, miniature golf and six-lane bowling alley (from 615RMB, 2727 Binjiang Ave, Pudong, 021 5037 0000, showhotel.com/china/profile.htm). Directly outside the hotel is the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, a convenient but gaudy way to traverse the river, fast. This ain’t no Disney ride, but Yoko just loved the flashing lights and the novelty of it (30RMB one-way, 40RMB return, 8am-10.30pm daily).

First published in beijingkids magazine and on the beijingkids website.

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