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Walking tours proving a hit with locals, expats
By Hu Min

SHANGHAI is promoting several walking tours that are proving to be a great alternative to regular tours in exploring the beauty and culture of the city.

About 3,000 residents, tourists and expatriates yesterday participated in a travel program, one of the highlights of this year’s Shanghai Tourism Festival. There are six walking tours in five districts — Huangpu, Jing’an, Changning, Hongkou and Xuhui. The tours have different themes such as “A Stroll along the Suzhou Creek,” “A Meet with L.E. Hudec (a famous Hungarian architect)” and “A Dialogue with Eileen Chang (a renowned Shanghai author).” Participants cover 6.8 to 8 kilometers on foot, lasting between three to four hours.

Each tour is limited to 500 people.

The Shanghai Tourism Administration said it will release downloadable maps for the routes.


Activities to be added on routes

Officials said the travel routes will be developed further and more activities added in the future.

“Some districts like Changning and Jing’an are already polishing some of the routes. We hope other districts can join in the program and work out their own routes,” said Xiao Dan, a tourism official working on the program.

He said such activities are healthy and eco-friendly, and that people can discover an unknown side of the city during the walks.

Unlike sightseeing programs developed by local travel agencies, the walking tours require participants to finish some tasks like answering questions during the tour at designated spots and share videos online about their stories. Participants form their own teams of five to 10 people with a leader. Before taking the trip, they are given a pamphlet and a map with introduction to key spots. At the end of the trip they will be eligible for a lucky draw. They are encouraged to share their experience on new media like WeChat and Weibo.

Impressive spots

Italian Federico Sferrazza, who has lived in the city for a year, said he hopes to learn more about Shanghai through these walks. “I want to meet people during the walks, and learn more about the culture and history as it is a beautiful city,” he said.

Indonesian Faraiditto Suharyono said the most impressive spots were the traditional markets and the activities of the people there.

“I thought they no longer exist in the city, but it still does,” Suharyono said.

Both Sferrazza and Suharyono explored the fascinating sights of the old communities in Shanghai. The 7.9-kilometer tour named “Finding the treasures of old communities” started from the Gucheng Park in Huangpu District, and passed by the Confucian Temple, the Yuyuan Garden, old streets like Sipailou Road and Fangbang Road, shikumen residential communities, and Dajingge, a 50-meter-long stretch of the ancient city wall. The wall was built in 1553 to protect the city from invaders. It is the last remaining ancient city wall in Shanghai.

Youngsters said the tours gave them a chance to touch upon the unknown part of the city.

“The lifestyle of Shanghainese in the old Shanghai longtang (lane) is far from the life I live in new residential complexes. The tour is very interesting to me because it helps me know more about the city where I live,” said Gu Xiaowen, a Shanghainese in her 20s.

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