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Shanghai Early Morning Adventures

When the summer temperatures inevitably soar, the residents of Shanghai know that an early start is the only way to go about their business without fear of heatstroke. It’s a habit energetic visitors should consider adopting, since whilst most museums and galleries don’t open until mid-morning, some of the city’s most endearing neighborhoods are up and moving hours earlier.  Ready to dive in? Check out a few of our favorite early morning Shanghai endeavors below.

Park Life

Lu Xun Park

Hands down the best people watching in the entire city, Lu Xun Park in Hongkou is entirely untroubled by tourists and is in full, riotous swing well before 7 a.m. in the warmer months.  As well as ubiquitous Tai Chi troupes, expect an impressive array of talents to be on show, from weight lifting to swordplay and ballroom dancing –  all set to a soundtrack provided by enthusiastic accordion players and saxophonists. A quirky slice of local life that is genuinely uplifting to behold. Lu Xun Park is located at 2288 Sichuan North Road in Hongkou District, and is open from 6 am-11 pm.

Meet the ‘Four Heavenly Kings’

Shanghai Breakfast

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The Great World

The Great World

The Great World of the past. Pic credit: Chinese Posters.

Turning one hundred years old is no mean feat, so Bespoke’s hearty congratulations go out to the lovely Great World building near People’s Square that was built in 1917. Now, whilst you’ve no doubt whizzed past this grand old dame countless times (and seen the bright white spire that looms over the elevated highway) you might not know that back in her youth she was a bit of a goer.

Opened as the city’s premier ‘entertainment complex’ and later taken over by corrupt-policeman-turned-mob boss ‘Pockmarked Huang’, the Great World was said to be teeming with life of every kind – contemporary accounts tell of everything from opera performances and tightrope walkers to fortune tellers, pickpockets and pimps!

As decadent as it sounds, the building has known hard times too, most notably when a bomb was accidentally dropped on it in 1937 at the start of the conflict with the Japanese with huge loss of life. While the building was repaired, it never really got its mojo back and lean years lay ahead.

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Gulou At Night

Beijing Drum and Bell Tower

We’ve always had a soft spot for the Drum and Bell Towers – architecturally unique they look pretty spectacular no matter which season you see them in. Here’s a little shot of them on a clear February evening looking particularly majestic…

Want to understand why the Drum & Bell Towers were once crucial to the daily life of all Beijingers? Only a Bespoke guide can help you do that. Get in touch at info@bespoke-beijing.com to find out more!

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Huashan

View from the summit at Huashan.

View from the summit at Huashan.

While most visitors come to Xi’an for its history, the city has some pretty impressive countryside right in its backyard in the shape of the Qinling Mountains. Huashan, the most famous peak in the range clocks in at over 2,100 meters and is regarded as one of the most important Daoist sites in the country.

As interesting as the spiritual connection is, the staggering scenery is ultimately what you are coming for: sheer drops, soaring cliffs, crooked pine trees and swirling clouds really do look like they’ve been ripped from an old Chinese landscape painting. Bespoke’s top tips? Visit in the winter low season if you can, to avoid the crowds that descend in the warmer months and avoid busy weekends and holidays. Also, the cable car is not just for wimps – even once you reach the summit there’s still a few solid hours of steep hiking to take in the various peaks, so conserving your energy for the top makes a sensible strategy.

Huashan cable car.

The cable car.

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