While grown-ups gasp at the Art Deco wonders of the Bund and French Concession, those too small to appreciate the city’s complex history will find plenty to delight them in Shanghai’s rich milieu.
Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center
Not the most inspiring title for a family day out, but the secret weapon at the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center is the enormous scale model of the city, which will have young and old transfixed. The model is supposed to represent both the Shanghai or today and the Shanghai of 2012 (with approved but unfinished skyscrapers represented by clear plastic models). Save this for the end of your trip so you can trace out all the spots you’ve visited over your stay in Shanghai.
Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center, 100 Renmin Avenue, Shanghai, China, (86-21) 6372 2077
Give the little ones a taste of the big time at this educational theme park. Here they can play at ultimate dress up, exploring more than 40 different professions from fire fighter, to traffic police and security guard, to dentist and hairdresser to chef. Pint sized costumes, props, vehicles and settings are provided to create a well realised metropolis, along with supervised activities within the theme of the activity, whether it’s resuscitating a dummy, printing a newspaper or broadcasting a TV show. Kids also get to learn the value of a hard day’s wage, earning Eday cash that can be used to redeem snacks.
Eday Town, 5/F, Zhongsheng World Mall, 5001 Dushi Lu, Minhang, China, 400-820-5066
Not for nothing are Chinese troupes invited around the world to perform their amazing feats of agility and skill. From contortionists that will have you wincing, to gravity defying leaps on the flying trapeze, to graceful rope dancers, to daredevil motorcycles, to breathtaking balancing acts and jugglers, Shanghai’s world class troupes have it all. Watch out for the Shanghai Magic Troupe (the first Chinese team to perform in the US), the Cloud Peaking Acrobatic Troupe (who lit up the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the Shanghai Expo), the avante-garde artistry of “ERA- Intersection of Time”, the internationally renowned Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe, and the more traditional (but comedic) hijinks of the Huxi Theatre shows or some kung fu and Beijing opera infused action.
Shanghai Ocean Aquarium
Escape under the sea at this magical aquarium, conveniently located near the Oriental Pearl Tower. The largest aquarium in Shanghai, the SOA has created 9 zones showcased the underwater eco-systems of habitats around the world. Explore the Amazon rainforest, Australian mangroves and billabongs, African rivers and the icy waters of the Antarctic, and the deepest parts of the ocean. What kids won’t find in other aquariums around the world is the journey to the Yangtze River, with its unique and often endangered species. Step onto the longest underwater tunnel in the world, stretching 120 metres through reefs, caverns, open ocean, and the infamous shark cove, where visitors can watch daily shark feedings (usually with misbehaving tots).
Shanghai Ocean Aquarium, No.1388 Lujiazui Ring Road, Pudong New Area, Shanghai, China, (86-21) 5877 9988
Shanghainese Soup Dumplings
A must if you’re introducing young palates to Shanghainese flavours for the first time. The world famous xiao long bao are a local specialty and can be tricky even for adults as you pass on to the next generation the important art of picking them up and eat without spilling the broth, when to eat without burning your tongue or letting it get too cold. Famous eateries include the 100 year old Nan Xiang Xiaolong Mantou, Fu Chun and Jia Jia Tang Bao, though Taiwanese interloper Din Tai Fung also has a strong following amongst local foodies. Best of all, this introduction to Shanghai cuisine will be a gift that keeps on giving as you revisit your trip gastronomically back in Hong Kong in one of the city’s many marvelous xiao long bao specialists.
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