|Shaghai. Image: commons.wikimedia.org|
Variarts has launched a new rage of tours that are all about enjoying Shanghai and Beijing as the locals do, and getting a more informed culinary, design and historical edge with real experiences and sites the average visitor would never normally visit or ever get to know about.
Their Beijing Tour for instance, takes in intriguing aspects of Cold War history such as Mao's 85 kilometre long network of nuclear bunkers under the capital, with fascinating historical commentary on discussions between Mao and Nixon, then they juxtapose that with views from the China World Tower at 330 metres high and finish off the tour at a brilliant micro brewery with local ales that are surprisingly good.
Then comes the reinvention of what to do come night. Like in any global city worth its salt – illuminated ancient and modern buildings of state, alleyway neighbourhoods and markets take on a new life in the evening. The 'Insider' Nightlife Tours of Shanghai and Beijing reveal some impressive sites but are really about the watering holes and meeting locals for a real experience on the town. Deliberately bypassing the touristy and expat bars the 'Insider' guides take you to a mix of where local working class folk enjoy a brew, street food stalls that offer gourmet morsels you just have to try, and then brilliant cocktail bars with views over these major and quite glamorous cities. It's full of value with some drinks included let alone the fun and experience you definitely would not have found otherwise.
Apart from that other tours include a gourmet picnic with a difference and day of hiking on the Great Wall, a design tour of Shanghai visiting some of China's increasingly influential fashion boutiques shoe and dress makers, an invitation to a private gallery, and a civilizational overview with an art historical perspective, ending the day with drinks and small snacks of home made noodles is simply perfect.