Day 1. One-Day Side Trip to Beijing. Take the 8:20 a.m. flight on China Eastern to Beijing and have a prearranged driver and guide meet you at the airport. Given the vagaries of traffic, the conservative itinerary pairs the Forbidden City (in the morning) with the Great Wall in the afternoon. Bring a picnic lunch with you so you can eat in the car between the two sites. Take an evening flight back to Shanghai, arriving at your hotel in time for a late dinner.
Day 2. West Lake Day Tour. Have a car drive you to West Lake in Hangzhao and charter a private boat to enjoy the vistas of its temples. Then tour the tea plantations in the hills beyond the lake. Overnight at the Four Seasons Hotel at West Lake.
Day 3. Old Shanghai Day Tour. Shanghai is a remarkably tourist-friendly city, and there is no need for a private guide. Hotel concierges can provide direction cards suitable for handing to taxi drivers (just be sure to keep them in the proper order of your chosen destinations). Be warned that cab drivers do not speak English. Head first for the old town and Yu Garden, which is a maze of Ming Dynasty water gardens and pagodas. Then progress to the French Concession, where you wander through tree-lined streets and narrow shopping alleys dating from Shanghai’s French colonial period. As the evening approaches, walk along the Bund, which is the area of old Shanghai that runs along the river. It offers panoramic views of the colorful towers of new Shanghai’s Pudong section. Conclude the night with a ride on the Bund sightseeing tunnel. The closest analogy to the sightseeing tunnel is Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland. It will make you laugh.
Day 4 – Pudong. On a pretty day, go up on the observation decks of the Shanghai Tower or Shanghai World Financial Center for amazing views. Another location for a good view is the Ritz Carlton’s rooftop bar and deck. The surreal lights evoke a modern Xanadu (Samuel Taylor Coleridge):
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
Hotel: Four Season Pudong and Four Seasons West Lake
Photo Tip: Pool at Four Seasons Pudong
Photo Tip: Forbidden City (head off to the side, away from the crowds)