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5 'Must-Have' Shanghai Experiences

Insider Guides
by Sam Bleakly May 1, 2015

1. Escape from prison

“Mr. X Mystery House” is a real-life escape game that gives you one hour to solve a series of puzzles and escape from a locked room before rich Chinese businessmen kill you for sport. Okay, well the first part of that is true. The house itself has an open bar and is open until 2am. Located in the Huangpu district, it is a good idea to take a cab. The best game to play here is the prison-break scenario ‘Angel Island,’ which has some wonderful surprises if you can figure out how it works. Be careful though, like anything in China, there are several knock off Mr. X locations.

2. Eat chocolate until you throw-up at the real-life Willy Wonka factory

Josef Zotter is the real-life Willy Wonka…if Willy Wonka took a bunch of acid and had a preoccupation with panties. (I’m serious, there are undergarments being hung from the rafters in Zotter’s Chocolate Factory.) The first part of the factory tour consists of you watching a 20 minute film that gives you all of the information you would ever need to know about chocolate processing, and is really well produced and entertaining. I won’t ruin the surprise of the film, but you can probably find it on youtube. All I will say is that Josef Zotter has a serious passion for chocolate. The second part of the tour consists of walking through hallway after hallway of chocolate samples.

Did I mention that it is all-you-can eat and that there are 365 different types of chocolate that are available for sample. I don’t have space to do it justice in this article. The retail space is worth it alone. Communion wine-infused chocolate anyone?

3. Sell yourself at the marriage market

Arranged marriage is alive and well in China. So are markets. If you combine the two, you will get the world famous People Park Marriage Corner ( 人民公园相亲角 or rénmín Gōngyuán xiāngqīn jiǎo) For just around $5 you can get yourself an Ad at the market that will last 5 months. Do not miss this, the people watching here is fantastic. For $16 paid to a marriage broker (which set up broker corners in the park) you can have access to any phone number you want.

4. Shoot a firearm

Okay, well, they’re really 22 caliber handguns — which some people don’t consider “real” guns, but that shouldn’t deter you from still experiencing this, just for the hilarious lack of concern and safety.

The East Shanghai Archery and Shooting Club is worth the taxi ride. Make sure you have your passport, or be prepared to pay an extra 100rmb and display your best puppy-dog face. Remember to attend the mandatory safety briefing, which consists of an overworked and under-enthusiastic teenager moving your fingers into position on the gun and fire away. 20 seconds later and you’ll be 20 dollars poorer. The club also has karaoke, foosball, massage chairs, and an archery range. Get drunk and shoot guns…’Merica.

5. Listen to the Peace Hotel Jazz Band

The Peace Hotel Jazz Band is a national institution, and has been playing since the advent of television. The Peace Hotel was also famous for hosting expat socialites in the 1930s, one of which was the legendary Emily Hahn, who became Romantically linked with Victor Sassoon, whose family built the hotel. She used to dress up her pet gibbon in a smoking jacket and diaper for dinner parties. She also had a child with the head of British Army Intelligence in Hong Kong, and slapped a Japanese general in the face while giving him English lessons while she was a POW…legend. But I digress. You must go here, for not only the history but also the atmosphere.

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