Spring Back To Life

Family Outings In Shanghai

The bitterly cold and wet Shanghai winter has blown over and spring is finally here. The city is in full bloom, so it’s time to come out of hibernation, peel off your extra layers and enjoy some family time in one of the greatest cities on Earth. Take advantage of the Easter holidays and beautiful weather by exploring corners of the city you have probably never visited before. Here are our top day-trips for April.

Zoom Around Shanghai By Sidecar - With Shanghai Insiders

If you are looking for a fun family activity, that is slightly out of the ordinary and perfect for a special occasion, this is the tour for you. Whizzing around in a sidecar motorbike is the perfect birthday treat or best way to spook the grandparents when they are in town.

The adrenalin rush of sitting in the sidecar, or on the back of your driver’s bike, whilst the wind blows through your hair as you take in the scenery on a beautifully clear, sunny day is second to none. Drive by beautiful Art Deco buildings, old lane houses, or historical French Concession architecture and tree-lined streets.

Kids will be blown away (literally at some points) by the exhilarating ride as well as the sights and sounds of the magnificent city they live in. The experience will definitely be a talking point for years and leave them with fond memories of the city.

The concept of the sidecar tours from Insiders is that there are no tours, and instead the activities can be tailor made to suit your needs. Therefore, a familyfriendly sidecar ride can be designed around your precious little ones (with no minimum age) but, naturally, they will still be fun for adults.

We can guarantee that you will learn new things about the city when out with one of the experienced, English-speaking sidecar drivers. You can also get out along the way for a walk around real life labyrinth-style alleyways, cross the river on a boat, feed the fish in a traditional setting and get your family picture on a sidecar framed and sent to you. The team will also provide a souvenir pack for each little rider, as a memento of his or her awesome day.

This four hour ride costs RMB 2000 per sidecar (for 2 passengers) with a 20% discount for kids under 12 years of age. You can also add the go pro option, for even more fun on the sidecars, by filming your trip and receiving a two minute movie of your highlights (RMB 550).

Tel: 138 1761 6975. Web: www.shanghaiinsiders.com. Email: [email protected]

Let The Kids Loose In A Candy Store - At Zotter Chocolate Theatre

Willy Wonka only allowed five children into his factory, but there are no such restrictions at Zotter Chocolate Theatre in Yangpu. If Easter isn’t the perfect time to venture to this forgotten district for chocolaty treats, then we don't know when is.

Zotter is a renowned, Austrian family chocolate company who pride themselves on producing organic and fair trade, high quality chocolate. The company boasts more flavoured chocolate varieties than there are days in the year, along with the infamous fish chocolate! They produce their chocolate straight from the bean, and the ethically responsible Zotter family visit the farming collectives themselves. You become aware of the company's strong principals after watching the introduction video by Mr Zotter himself, at the beginning of your choco tasting tour.

Mr Zotter dispatched his oldest daughter, Julia Zotter, to Shanghai to oversee the daily operations. Shanghai is only their second chocolate theatre, after their main base in Austria, which comes complete with a petting zoo! Although smaller, yet still at a whopping 2400 square metres, the Shanghai theatre’s tasting tour includes 16 stations, a Viennese coffee shop and chocolate store.

After the video, the choco tour begins in earnest. At this point, pace yourself, it is easy to get over excited trying a cocoa bean for the first time or at your first sighting of chocolate fountain. The tour literally takes you on a journey from bean to bar and you end up at the running chocolate station, which is a conveyor belt slinging out different varieties of the finished chocolate bars, with other stops along the way including a drinking chocolate stand and chocolate DIY station where children (and adults) can mould their very own chocolate bars choosing the shape, flavours and toppings, after strenuous taste tastings of course.

The Zotter family are chocolate connoisseurs, and we actually learnt a lot about the intricacies of chocolate making. Our big take out of the day was that dark chocolate isn’t always necessarily “healthier” than milk chocolate – it all depends on the way the chocolate bar is produced – mind blown!

The chocolate studio can also cater to parties, so if you want to make this a family day-trip, or a party extravaganza, this is a fun activity for all. RMB 180 for adults and from RMB 110 for children (depending on age) is well worth the price tag, as we can guarantee that you will leave not being able to eat another morsel, and if you think you can make it around the 16 stations another time, they welcome you to do so for free!

At the end of the tour... good luck prising the kids away. They might just think, “It’s the most wonderful place in the whole world”. Family or group ticket prices are also available.

Zotter Chocolate Theatre. Shanghai International Fashion Centre. Building 9, 2866 Yangshupu Lu, near Neijiang Lu. Tel: 6016 6030. Web: www.zotter.cn/en

Tour Shanghai’s Old Jewish Ghetto - With Newman Tours

Get your older children better acquainted with the rich history of the city by taking them on a walking tour of the old Jewish Ghetto in Hongkou.

Guests learn about the historic migration waves of Jews into Shanghai and the lasting effect they had on the architecture and local area, although the main focus of the tour is the plight of the Jews who managed to escape from Nazi Europe to Shanghai.

You will be met by a native English speaking, and extremely passionate, tour guide at Dalian Metro Station, who will begin by walking you past Tilanqiao Prison, once described as one of the harshest penitentiaries in the world. Once your appetite has been whetted for the interesting and sometimes gruesome history of Shanghai, through anecdotes from the tour leader along with photographs, video footage or maps on an iPad, the tour makes its way over to the old ghetto buildings.

Over 1000 refugees were confined in this area by the occupying Japanese.  You will learn about the hardships they faced, which were admittedly much more humane that the atrocities that were going on back in their native homelands, and the way in which they attempted to maintain their dignity.

The next stop is the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum. One of the better kept museums in Shanghai. It is often visited by foreign dignitaries and therefore has fantastic English translations and some interactive displays – such as the opportunity to search for the addresses of friends or relatives you may know who were confined in the ghetto. You will also learn about the Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews, who were already successfully settled in Shanghai and how they worked together to save refugees fleeing from the Nazis.

Currently, there is also a special section detailing the brutality of Auschwitz, although there is no indication of how long this will remain on display. The museum insightfully represents a depressing yet also inspiring section of history that must not be forgotten. It is very interesting for European children to learn about such a relevant period of their history and how it relates to the city they call home.

The guides on Newman Tours are extremely knowledgeable on the subject and can answer any questions from prying young minds. However, if they can’t give you an answer on the spot, they will be sure to drop you an email with more information after the tour.

This is an important part of a child’s education that every kid in the city should experience at some point. And now that the weather has turned, a walking tour is the perfect way to experience it first hand.

The tour leaves every Sunday afternoon at 3pm and lasts for two hours. RMB 290 for adults and RMB 220 for children under 14, inclusive of museum entry and all activities. This is one of a range of historical and cultural excursions from Newman Tours.

Tel: 138 1777 0229. Web: www.newmantours.com. Email: [email protected]