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Surviving Shanghai with Children: The Dos and Don’ts

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Surviving Shanghai with Children: The Dos and Don’ts

story by: Anna Sarjeant

​You may worry Shanghai’s not a destination for kids, but you needn’t fret. The key to Shanghai survival is all down to preparation, so here’s a basic lowdown of dos and don’ts to get you started.


DO use local taxis. They’re cheap and you won’t lose anyone. It’s easy to count four seats, it’s not so easy counting 50 seats, 70 passengers and finding your children somewhere amidst it. Needles. Hay and stack. Enough said!

DO pocket your hotel’s business card and underline the address (it’ll likely be in Chinese characters). Taxi drivers won’t speak English. To successfully get home simply point at the address, nod and smile. 

DON’T visit Yu Garden on a Sunday. It’s the busiest day and the crowds are overwhelming. Return in the week and feast on Xiao Long Bao dumplings, they’re delicious and you’ll avoid the one-hour waiting time. 

DO split up the day. Shanghai’s expansive and exhausting. Plan a morning of sightseeing and an afternoon of relaxing. Look for hotels with swimming pools and child-friendly amenities.

DON’T tackle it alone. Speak to your HOT agent beforehand and liaise with hotel staff to coordinate a daily agenda of activities. 

DO fly kites at Century Park. If it’s sparse on wind, the park also enjoys a children’s recreational area and a small beach, as well as trees, ponds, a large lake and an outdoor music theatre.

DON’T fear cameras. It’s common for Chinese people to ask for your photograph. They’re likely to want you (and your children) in their holiday snaps. Prepare to say cheese and if it’s the whole clan, including aunts, uncles, granddad and nana, expect to be there a while.

DO take tissues. Everywhere. From public toilets to sticky street-side finger food, you’ll appreciate them. 

DON’T bother with airport shuttles. Take the Maglev, Shanghai’s bullet train. Travelling at speeds of up to 429kmh, you’ll cover 32 kilometres in less than eight minutes. It’s fast, fun and kids love it.

DO take regular breaks from walking. A tourist boat across the Huang Pu River will soothe tired toes and hopefully impending tantrums too.

Hopefully there’s a few hacks, tricks and tips to get you Shanghai started. We know you and your whole family is going to have a blast in Shanghai.


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