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Walking tours are a great way to "get in touch" with the Chinese people. Rather than sit in a bus or taxi, get out and walk in the neighborhoods to see some things group tours never will see.
The best books on the subject are from the Old China Hand Press which are available at its reading room 27 Shaoxing Lu, near Shanxi Nan Lu 绍兴路27号, where it is a treat out of colonial Shanghai history to have tea. Good walks are also featured in various printed guide books, such as the DK Eyewitness Guide to Beijing & Shanghai and Frommers. So you can do it yourself if you like, considering almost every street sign is bilingual.
UnTour Shanghai is an excellent way to discover the city through its culinary traditions. A food tour company, UnTour takes the guesswork out of eating like a local, taking guests on small, intimate tours to the city’s best street food vendors and hole-in-the-wall restaurants. They provide a handy packet for all their guests post-tour that includes lots of information about the best places to eat, drink and enjoy Shanghai for their guests, so it’s best to do their tour early in your trip (or ask them to send you the welcome packet before you arrive).
Shanghai Pathways is one very good way to discover Shanghai and getting in touch with the local Chinese people, their unique Shanghai Walking Tours take you through the vibrant streets of this fascinating city, which has some of the most lively neighborhoods you have ever seen. The tours help you to discover the hidden beauty of Shanghai on “The Road Less Traveled”. Chinese Culture Event covers every aspect of the art - music, art, theatre as well as architecture, history and gastronomy. Their wonderful small group tours provide a great opportunity for people from all backgrounds to experience and appreciate the Chinese culture.
An alternative is China Outside Adventure which features walking tours to suit visitors looking for something unique to see. These walking tours are good for visitors who not are very comfortable cycling the new city or a family with kids. The tours take you to see things you won’t find on your own. Walking into the heart of the old French Concession of the Lilongs apartments and villas from 1915 through the 1930s that were home to foreigner property owners gives you some thoughts on how foreigner lived in the older times. The walk also goes off the main streets and takes you into the back lanes for a glimpse of residential compounds of local shanghai life. If you have young kids travelling with you, a fun markets walk may be a good choice for them.An other alternative is World of Noodles which offers personalized tours through, for instance, the old town, interacting with Chinese people and daily life on the street, eat streetfood. Guides are foreigners living and working in Shanghai for many years and most of them speak Chinese which makes it possible to interact with the locals. Walking in a private, small scale, tour gives you taste of China and an experience you cannot get walking with a guidebook in you hand.