Not every experience on your China vacation needs to be a long one, there are many things you can see and do during a China tour that can be ticked off in a few short minutes. We've put together a list of travel experiences for China's special administrative region, Hong Kong, which can all be done in very short trips. These are some of the best ways to get maximum value from your time in China.
Take a Trip on the Star Ferry
It only cost about 30 cents and it may be the shortest trip you take in China. The Star Ferry runs across the harbor in Hong Kong and the travel time is only 7 minutes. On the way you'll see the iconic shoreline on both sides of the harbor in all its glory. The best time to jump on the ferry is about 8 in the evening when they park up for a few minutes so you can take pictures of the nightly fireworks, lasers and light show that lights up the buildings around the harbor.
Wander Round Chung King Mansions
China's not famous for its cultural diversity but it is estimated that people from at least 120 countries will pass through this bargain basement traveler's mecca which can be found only a short walk from the Star Ferry terminal in Tsim Tsa Tsui. If you're looking for the cheapest possible mobile phones then this is the destination for you. China buys up all Europe's "14-Day Returns" and sells them out of the shopping mall here. You won't want to stay all day but it's a fascinating way to see how immigrant life plays out in Hong Kong.
Drink Ying-Yang at Tsui Wah (Near Central in Hong Kong)
If you want to see what life was like before the locals could take a vacation outside of Hong Kong then you might want to check out this old-school "Cha Chan Teng". They were originally designed to give locals a slice of "Western-life" but today they are considered to be totally ironic. This is kitsch China style and while you may not want to actually eat anything here – you can grab a cup of ying-yang (that's coffee and tea in the same glass) and enjoy the company of Chinese folks going retro for a few minutes.
Take a Hong Kong Heli-Tour
This tour only lasts 15 minutes and while it will make a lasting impression on your senses – it will also make a lasting impression on your wallet at $850 a head! You can arrange the trip so that the helicopter picks you up from the famous Peninsula Hotel and then take all the photos you can of the most expensive journey you can make on your China visit.
Take in the View from the Top of IFC Mall (Central Train Station, Hong Kong)
If you want to see the best of Hong Kong for absolutely no investment; you can just jump in the elevator at Central Station's IFC Mall. This is the China that most Chinese dream of and it's yours for free. There are restaurants and cafes galore but there's no requirement to stop and eat or drink if you don't want to. There aren't many views in China as spectacular as this one that are so completely affordable.
A China vacation's not complete without taking time out from your Mainland China tour in Hong Kong. It's a trip between the polar extremes of old China and the modernity and luxury of the old colony. Before you travel to China you might want to know a bit more about Hong Kong – so we've put together some fun facts for you.
- When you take a trip on The Peak Tram you're taking a journey on China's oldest cable railroad. You're in good company 4 million people ride this route every year.
- Professor Charles Kao is from Hong Kong and he won the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physics. His contribution to society? Fiber optic communications. Without his work – you wouldn't be able to call home on Skype during your China vacation.
- You may find that Hong Kong Chinese take their Feng Shui very seriously; so please don't move objects around in people's homes or in public spaces. In fact during government construction projects there is always a separate budget put aside to pay compensation for disturbing other resident's Feng Shui.
- One thing you might want to know as you travel round China's special administrative region is that "Hong Kong" means "fragrant harbor". The locals claim that this is due to the incense trade of days gone by.
- Get down to the Robot Kitchen for a meal during your China tour and you'll be waited on by Robot Waiters! Really. Best of all, there's no need to tip!
- The most populous place on earth is Mong Kok in Hong Kong. In a single square kilometer you'll have to rub elbows with more than 130,000 people! Strangely despite the sometime cramped city streets – Hong Kong is not the most densely packed place on earth (which is Delhi) because there's so much green, uninhabited space that's considered to be part of the city too.
- If you get a chance to travel out of the city then you'll discover that nearly ¾ of Hong Kong is that green space we just mentioned. China's SAR is home to over 20 natural parks and has 4 marine parks too!
- Hong Kong is a 24 hour city and if you know where to go there's always something happening. This makes it a China vacation hotspot for insomniacs as well as those looking for the glitzier side of Chinese life!
- Lantau (a stone's throw from Hong Kong island) is also home to the longest bi-cable ride in all of the Asian continent.
- There is a restaurant in Hong Kong for every 600 people living there! That makes it one of the most "food dense" places in the world and ensures that you'll never be stuck for choice when it comes to dining out!
- The "Symphony of Lights" on the Harbor is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show in the World!
- The number one source of tourist for Hong Kong is the mainland. With nearly 30 million visitors a year coming over the border from Shenzhen; Chinese tourists outnumber all the other nations visiting Hong Kong combined!
As you'll soon find out during your China vacation there's one thing that unites Chinese people from all over China – the chance to have a little flutter. The only trouble is that gambling is illegal on the mainland so the Chinese have to travel to Hong Kong or Macau to indulge their passion. Macau may be famous for its casinos but there's more fun to be had over in Hong Kong during your China tour – a day out at the horse races at Happy Valley is truly memorable. So if you have time on your China trip you might want to jump on the MRT and head over and here's why.
About Happy Valley
Happy Valley was a legacy of British colonialism. The first horse races held here began in 1845. The whole track is constructed on reclaimed land. Thanks to a series of fires the original stadium is no longer available and you won't be able to sit on bamboo mats down the side of the course (probably to the relief of your back). The Happy Valley facility was rebuilt completely in 1995 and is considered to be one of the finest race courses in the world today.
If your China vacation doesn't coincide with the horse racing; don't despair. You can watch rugby, football, hockey and more on the inner field at Happy Valley when the races are off. However, if your China tour does give you the timing to visit a horse race you'll be sharing the stands with 55,000 highly-enthusiastic Chinese punters cheering on the horses. It's a very friendly affair but be careful not to engage in conversation unless someone speaks to you first – it might be considered "bad luck".
The Hong Kong Jockey Club Archive and Museum
For those with an interest in the esoteric history of gambling in China you could do worse than a trip to the museum at the Happy Valley racecourse. The Jockey Club holds all the gaming licenses for the whole of Hong Kong and they also run the lottery and the bookmakers found around town. The museum is a pleasant enough diversion before the races in the evening and you should be able to travel out an hour or two early and make it comfortable around all four of the exhibits.
- The Origin of Horses – The migration of the horse through China and into Hong Kong
- The Construction of Sha Tin – How the Sha Tin race course (the other major course in China's SAR) was designed and built
- Understanding Horses – This perhaps the nicest part of a tour of the museum though the skeleton of the three-time champion "Silver Lining" is a little out of place.
- History of the Jockey Club – A straightforward walk through the "selected details" of the institution's past
You want to visit Happy Valley on your China vacation if you enjoy the experience of live events and the roar of crowds. You'll make new friends and enjoy a chance to see how a very British pastime became part of the Orient for good. Gambling is completely optional.
Everyone who takes a vacation in China quickly comes to realize how rapidly the nation is developing. China wants to be number one at pretty much everything today if not sooner. That means your China tour will be full of fun facts and interesting modern sights. What you might not discover during your China travels is how many world records China has broken recently. However, if you get a chance during your China trip you might be able to track down the Chinese book of records; Chinness.
China's World Records
We've looked at some of the really impressive records China holds, like the world's largest building here on the blog recently. What we haven't done is taken a tour of some of the stranger records the country holds. So let's take a quick trip through the five strangest Chinese entries in the Guinness Book of World Records.
- Wei Shengchu took a vacation to Milan where he became the first person from China to stick over 2,000 needles in his head. That's right his record comes from driving 2009 needles into his face and scalp.
- Tang Guaoi from Beijing didn't trip once during the time he spent with a full glass of wine resting on a board balancing on his forehead. He stood there for 68 minutes like that.
- She Ping on the other hand wasn't going anywhere when he took the record for covering himself in live bees. More than 300,000 bees (over 70lbs) gave China one of the most curious records of them all.
- A trip to the beach gave just over 1,000 people the record for walking backwards in Shanghai back in 2012.
- China is also distinguished by a record number of tents forming a jigsaw puzzle; 900 of them to be precise.
The Chiness Book of Records
As you might be able to imagine these records are not a huge source of national pride in China. In fact it's unlikely that anyone would mention them during your vacation. The country is however very hungry for recognition. So hungry that it started its own book of records in which the only records mentioned are Chinese records.
The records within are somewhat more staid but speak to the ambition of the Chinese to be taken seriously in this matter. Let's take a quick tour of some of those records:
- CSomeone learned to recite Pi to over 20,000 places. That's quite a bit short of the Guinness record which is held by a Japanese chap who managed 100,000 places.
- CSomeone managed to carve nearly 800 Chinese characters on a bit of rock 1cm square. There's no equivalent record because Chinese characters are very different from Roman letters.
- Chinese man does just over 40 one finger pushups in 40 seconds, which pales in comparison to the 124 done in a minute by the Guinness world record holder.
As you can see the Chiness is for the moment a matter of national pride but given the investment the nation is making in development – it's probably only a matter of time before it rivals its better known global companion.
Returning to our history tour of China's dynasties today we're going to take a trip back into China's past and look at the period of the Southern and Northern dynasties (420-589 A.D.) You should be able to see plenty of the works left behind by this part of China's history during your vacation. This is the time in which the Han Chinese would travel across the country and become the dominant people of Southern China as well as Northern China.
As you might expect China was divided into two states for this period – the North and South. It was a time of nearly endless military tours of the country conducting a full-scale civil war. If you'd taken a vacation in China back then you would have found a country in political chaos but with a keen eye for cultural, technological and artistic development. It was also the time when Buddhism and Daoism would travel from India into China and take hold in many parts of the nation.
The Southern Dynasties
The failure of the Eastern Jin Dynasty when Liu Yu seized the throne split China in two. In the South of the country the Liu Song rose to power and were followed by the Southern Qi, the Liang and then the Chen. All of them were based from Jiankang at one point or another and thus are considered to be "the Southern Dynasties".
Liu Yu founded the Liu Song and was considered a generally competent Emperor. He was terrified of losing control of the Kingdom he ruled and would have his own family assassinated regularly to preserve his power. His line would continue until the Emperor Houfei was deposed by a rival general who crowned himself Emperor Gao of the Southern Qi nearly 50 years later.
The Southern Qi only had brief trip in the Imperial role for China. Gao's grandsons triggered another civil war and they were quickly overthrown by Emperor Wu of the Liang Dynasty.
Wu was perhaps the best of the leaders of the Southern Dynasties. He is famed for caring for his people and trying to reduce the conflict in the country. Sadly for Wu he failed and starved to death during a siege of Jianking. Fighting continued until the Emperor Wu of the Chen dynasty prevailed. The dynasty would fall to the Sui forces when they finally took Jianking and reunited China.
The Northern Dynasties
The Northern Wei united Northern China and began the sinicization of the country. It is their influence that allowed the Han Chinese to travel freely and slowly exert a strong hold on the nation. They were also responsible for some of the finest Buddhist art, much of which you will see on your vacation, and for the general acceptance of Buddhism as a religion in China.
Internal conflict was responsible for the collapse of this dynasty and provided the opportunity for the Northern Qi to seize the throne. The Northern Qi lasted only 25 years as the family split and the breakaway branch The Northern Zhou would reconquer them almost immediately. They lasted only 6 years before the Emperor Wen of Sui took the North and then the South of China.
If you're booking your China vacation now and you want to know what events you can catch during your China tour; then we've got a quick round up of what's planned in Shanghai in 2014. Travel in China is always fascinating but if you want a little extra on your trip then don't forget these dates. Just make sure that China's biggest city is in your travel plans.
Shanghai International Fashion Festival
This one's in March and will be held in the Shanghai Expo grounds. If you time your vacation for this festival you'll be able to check out how China is slowly catching up with New York, Paris and Milan for world class fashion. Of course, the vast majority of the show is aimed at international buyers but casual visitors are welcome to come and check out the catwalk talents too.
Shanghai International Flower Festival
A firm favorite if your China tour allows the time for a visit here in April. This festival is a little way out of the city center but it may be one of the finest displays of natural beauty in the country. The carpets of flowers combined with the scent of exquisite bouquets are incredibly memorable.
Shanghai International Tea Culture Festival
If your trip is in April you might want to check this festival out; it highlights the most important drink in China –tea. You'll be able to try blends and leaves from all over the country and get caught up in a lot of history regarding the plant.
Shanghai International Music Festival
This is simply splendid and a great reason to book your vacation in May. With music and performers from the entirety of China giving demonstrations of everything from classical opera to modern pop, it should be unmissable.
Shanghai International Film Festival
This event in June is supposed to be the world's fastest growing tribute to the cinema. It's the largest festival of its kind in Asia and it pays tribute to the emerging world of Chinese modern film. You really shouldn't miss it if you're in town at the time.
Shanghai International Arts Festival (And Art Fair)
The Festival runs from October to November so there's plenty of time to schedule it in during your China travel but the Fair is only open for 3 days in November. There's something for everyone with both local and international talents represented in all the arts. It's one of the largest events in Shanghai and it should be easy to find something to your tastes that fits in with your tour schedule.
Shanghai Fitness Festival
With a mixture of the weird and the wonderful from Chinese sport you may be able to catch a great martial arts display or dragon dancing performance in November. You may also find that China's greatest passion, table tennis, dominates the events a bit.
Whenever you time your visit to Shanghai there's bound to be something that adds a little extra sparkle to your trip round the nation's financial capital.
When your China tour passes through Beijing you might want to check out the extraordinary work of Zheng Chunhui. As you'll discover on your China vacation the country's keen to make its mark on the world and there's a concerted effort for Chinese fame to travel overseas. One of the ways that China is shaping the perception of the nation is through art and the current leader of the record breaking pack is Zheng Chunhui. To see his masterpiece you'll need to take a trip to China's Palace Museum in Beijing.
World-Record Breaking Sculpture
There's a painting called "Along the River During the Qingming Festival" that's famous throughout China. It's a very clever piece of art designed to be viewed on a wooden scroll as the viewer travels along the paper the scene changes to give you an idea of how a day of Qingming would unfold in a typical Chinese village. One of the basic training techniques for Chinese painters is for them to revisit this painting and develop their own version of it. Many of the new versions take a trip through time as well as space and show the evolution of China from the ancient to modern times all seen through the eyes of a visitor to Qingming.
Zheng Chunhui's version is very much true to the original. However, it differs in one dramatic aspect. It's a carving rather than a painting. Zheng's rendition of one of China's most important annual vacations is the world's largest wooden sculpture. It was carved from one continuous piece of the same tree and is extraordinarily intricate.
It is over 12 meters long, over 3 meters tall and nearly 2.5 meters wide. It takes the viewer on a tour of the original work in beautifully rendered 3-dimensional imagery. You can see the care and attention put into every detail and it's perhaps unsurprising that this took nearly 4 years to bring to life.
The best way to view the sculpture is to begin at the left hand edge and slowly travel down the length of it. Pay attention to the housing which shows incredible amounts of depth and gives you a genuine feel for what it would have been like to live in China during the time of painting. Watch out for the people (there are over 500 of them each carved in exquisite fashion) who preside over the festival.
The boats and trees add a tremendous amount of atmosphere and make the whole scene come alive. It makes you wish for a long-ago China where life was less busy and industrious. Of course, we wouldn't have been able to take a vacation in China back then because the country was effectively sealed off to the world but it's nice to dream isn't it?
If you need any more reasons to visit the Palace Museum then this is it; the sculpture shows how much attention the nation is paying to continuing to develop the arts while China enters the modern age.
Much of what you see on your China vacation will be ancient history. There's no doubt that China's history is the best reason to take a tour of the country. It is, however, important to acknowledge the huge progress when it comes to modernization in the country. If your China trip is passing through Chengdu then you should take the time to travel to what is now officially the world's largest building. China is attempting to break records everywhere and this is a spectacular success.
How Big is Big?
Huge. You could fit the Sydney Opera House inside of it over 20 times. Even the colossus of buildings that is the Pentagon could comfortably fit inside 3 times. The New Century Global Center is quite simply the biggest place you've ever seen. It's 18 stories tall and built completely from glass and steel so it's an imposing looking place too. It makes a superb snapshot for your China vacation album.
There's a whole heck of a lot inside; as you might imagine. You can find the Paradise Island Oceanic Park with a real sand beach to soak up the rays on. Though this being China you might find that your trip to the beach involves sharing it with about 100,000 other people. Given that there's no actual sea anywhere this far inland you'll also have to make do with projections of water and tropical destinations on the walls – given that this is done on another record-breaker, the largest LED screen in the world, it's almost worth a tour of the place just to see the screen.
If you like cinema then it's impossible not to be impressed with 14 IMAX screens. It's worth remembering that the choice of English language films may not be that great as there is a limit on the number of Western movies allowed to be shown in China each year. Though we suspect you won't travel to
China just to watch a film...
There's also an Olympic sized ice rink but please don't trip and hurt yourself here as medical facilities in this part of China are still a touch basic. You don't want to come back from a China vacation early do you?
The shopping mall is one of the largest in China and should be decked out with all the latest designer goods. In general the prices you see are likely to be the prices you pay here and bargains may not be thick on the ground. It's bad form to haggle in a shopping mall. Do keep your eyes peeled for discount offers which will be advertised separately from the price of the goods themselves. They're normally stuck to a rail nearby the item rather than on it. This lets the stores go through a steady cycle of "different offers" without having to sticker each item every few days.
On the grounds but not inside the main building are also an art museum, conference center, auditoriums and more shops and even a few bars.
While a China vacation is one of the most sensible choices you can make in life; we think that a China tour can be enhanced with a little background knowledge about the country. Before you travel to China we'd like to share some interesting and fun trivia that might make your trip to China even more fulfilling.
- There are more big cities in China that you might believe. You'll see a fair few during a tour of the country but would you believe that there are now 21 cities in China with more than 5 million people living in them? There are also more than 150 cities with more than 1 million people! In the US there are only 2 cities with more than 5 million and only 9 with more than 1 million souls.
- Economic growth in China has been 7 times higher than in America during the last decade. They still need to travel a long road to catch up with the US economy overall but it might be sooner than you think.
- Pollution has become such a concern in some parts of the country that you can now buy cans of fresh air spray in the worst affected cities. For 5 RMB (less than $1) you could spruce up your vacation by buying one to take home. Only in China could they bottle air and sell it...
- You will be greeted with a cheery "Ni Hao" (Hello) almost everywhere you go on your tour. But if you'd have arrived in China during the Tang Dynasty era you'd have been greeted with a poem instead. They'd also say goodbye like that. Each poem would have been unique and made up just for you.
- Christianity may not be the official religion of China but there are now over 50 million Christians in the country. That's more than there are in Italy! In the next 100 years or so China may be turn out to be the most-Christian nation on earth.
- One thing you won't fail to notice on your trip is how the Chinese have taken to the cellular phone. There are over 800 million of them in use in China. The most phones in any nation on earth.
- Chopsticks are consuming China's forests with nearly 100 billion sets of chopsticks manufactured each year. There's growing pressure to switch to plastic washable versions from the wooden ones as a result.
- Did you know that 85% of all the plastic and artificial Christmas trees on earth are produced in China? It's also true that nearly 80% of all the world's children's toys are made there too.
- The Chinese like pork as you'll see during your China travel and they like it so much that they keep more pigs than the next 40 biggest pork producing nations combined!
- While they may seem pushed for space – the truth is that there are over 64 million empty homes and apartments in China. That's enough to house every man, woman and child in England in their own home and still have some left over!
If you're thinking of taking a China vacation in 2014 and you'd like to fit Macau into your China trip then you might want to aim to travel in May. China's special administrative region will be out celebrating drunken dragons on May 12th. If you think you'd like to see this on your China tour read on...
It has to be said that as China undergoes dramatic modernization many of the local traditions are quietly disappearing and it's good idea to take a vacation in the country before more of them vanish. However, in Macau there's a steadfast tradition which is unlikely to disappear even if you can't take your tour in the next year. The drunken dragons come out every year and it's a great way to see China's folklore come to life and enjoy the refreshingly inebriated company of the locals.
The fishermen from Inner Harbor carve small dragons out of driftwood and then carry them through the city. They stop at the Kuan Tai Temple to dance (somewhat the worse for wear for the drink they have consumed on the way) and then continue the dance down the harbor and all along the seafront.
On their travel they consume a lot of China's favorites rice wine and throw the rice wine about drenching the occasional bystander so you might want to keep an eye out as they pass you by to avoid the spray. It's an occasion that is considered to be a true highlight of a trip to Macau and you'll be offered plenty of rice wine to drink as well. They say that this will bless you with health, wealth and fertility. The origin of the festival is to be found in mainland China in Zhongshan (just over the border from Macau).
The story goes like this; a long time ago there were villagers devoutly marching with a stature of the Buddha and hoping for his divine interference to cure a vicious outbreak of disease in the locality. Their travels took them to the river and when they reached it a huge python is said to have jumped from the waters onto the bank. This being China the villagers didn't bat an eyelid at the arrival of the snake and instead quickly sliced it into three parts and threw it back in the water. The snake wasn't as keen on being dismembered as it might have been and pulled itself together and leapt up into the heavens themselves. The plague is said to have vanished from the land immediately that this happened.
The snake wasn't a snake it was the sacred Dragon of China. Its trip to heaven blessed the people and happily coincided with the Buddha's birthday. Ever since the people of Macau have been celebrating the drunken dragon dance (thanks to a rather glorious celebration of the dragon's healing properties at the time of the event). The celebrations are open to all though you should take care as when night comes round – there is a tendency to throw firecrackers in the air.
One of things people love about Hong Kong on a China tour is the wealth of wonderful Chinese baked goods. Unlike other locations you’ll encounter on your China vacation – English is widely spoken in Hong Kong and it’s much easier to determine what’s hidden inside a pastry than on the mainland. If you’d like to take a trip to the sweeter side of China’s special administrative region then it’s time to take a little time to travel to the best bakeries in China.
Hang Heung Cake Shop (Near Mong Kok and Near the Causeway MRT Stations)
As you may have guessed it’s cakes that are the order of the day at Hang Heung’s. If you want to take something home from your China vacation you might want to check out the "century-egg" pastries as they aren’t in the remotest bit perishable and can be given as gifts easily. If you want something a little more immediate we recommend the sweet red-bean pastry which is a truly traditional Chinese favorite.
Kam Fung (Wan Chai)
Tucked away in this traditional stopping point on a China tour you’ll find Kam Fung and here we’re all about the egg tarts. Egg tarts in this part of China are nearly the equivalent of culinary trip to heaven. If you’re in the mood for something savory then check out the chicken pies which are absolutely awesome and packed with tasty chicken gravy.
Ming Wah (Mong Kok)
For something different check out the chicken biscuits which are unique to this bakery. If you want to go for something sweet then you’ll be better off relaxing after your travel through this busy district of Hong Kong with a red bean cake. They are exceptionally sweet and if you’re hoping to head home from your China vacation a few pounds lighter they won’t help with that plan at all.
Hoover Cakes (Kowloon City)
This is supposedly the best place to much on a custard tart anywhere in China and they rely on duck’s eggs to create a much stronger taste than other vendors. However, our favorite here is the whipped-cream offering which is just scrumptious.
Tsui Wah (Central)
If you’re in Central then you’ll be in one of the busiest places in the world and it’s lovely to sneak off for a cake during your China tour to escape the madness. The original Tsui Wah was founded in Mong Kok nearly 50 years ago but they’ve shifted locations to a rather more modern premises in the city’s heart. Try asking for the pineapple pastry with extra butter. The butter should be liberally applied and then allowed to melt before consuming it. It’s absolutely wonderful.
Tai Cheong (Central)
Another great escape and a long term favorite of Hong Kong’s elite is the Tai Cheong which offers the flakiest and for our money best custard tart in the region. They open at 9 a.m. and queues start forming almost immediately. Get there early to avoid disappointment.
This is one of the most interesting and fun museums that you'll encounter on your China vacation! The history of this museum of interesting China memorabilia is a must during your travels in China
The owner and founder of this special place is named Yang Peiming and he came into possession of his first China propaganda poster quite by accident. A friend had asked him to get some vintage Chinese lady posters, but upon trying, he was shipped the wrong kind of posters. He now has over 5,000 Chinese propaganda posters stretching from the years 1949-1979.
Mr. Yang will gladly show you the entire collection personally, which should add a lot of enjoyment to your China tour. These near relics show illustrations of Chinese Communist mottos and sayings that you wouldn't normally see in public, in modern China, during your travels. These pieces of history will add much enjoyment to your China tour. Mr. Yang has also been asked to present pieces of his collection in International galleries in Europe and America. He has the original China lady posters he was supposed to get years ago as well!
A must see on your vacation in this wonderful bastion of Chinese memorabilia is hidden in one corner near the back of Mr. Yang's basement gallery. Shown here are some of the rarest relics of the Cultural Revolution. Many of them are painted and hand composed condemnation notices that were put on university campuses at the peak of the Cultural Revolution.
If that's not entirely your cup of tea then we also recommend:
Shanghai Animation Museum
China has a long history of animation and if you fancy a change from Disney on your vacation; you could find that this is a really pleasant change of pace. You can a take a trip back in time to China's earliest animations and of course pick up on all the modern day favorites too. Pleasant Goat and Big Bad Wolf are probably the best known characters in China but we'd say that our own top pick is San Mao, Shanghai's very own cartoon character. You may need to lift any very small children in your party up to see some of the displays as they're often oriented towards the adult-eye line though you'll be pleased to hear that there's no adult content.
You can also find some Western cartoons around on your tour of the Museum and there's a permanent exhibit dedicated to Steamboat Willie.
The 3-D cinema experience is nowhere near as polished as Epcot but despite some reports advising you to skip it completely we think it's quite fun. Take a little time out of your trip to see how China is slowly catching up on the entertainment front.
There's a huge interactive section to reward the effort of travel to the museum. Cartoon tracing is probably not that much fun but you can make your own clay models of cartoon characters and that's awesome and cheap at around $2 a character.
This is perhaps one of the most light-hearted day trips you can make in China's largest city. We think eventually it's going to be a must-see on a China vacation.