China’s largest city is a playground of skyscrapers and glamorous hotels; Full of cosmopolitan entertainment featuring excellent restaurants, fascinating museum areas, traditional temples and peaceful parks hidden in the metropolitan area.
However, with a population of 24 million, the masses may be tiring for some, and a fresh breeze out of town is the perfect remedy.
Shanghai’s location at the mouth of the Yangtze River means that it is perfectly located for use as a base to explore the Chinese coast and the various inland waterways that flow into it.
From lakes and forests to coastal villages and towns, the area surrounding Shanghai abounds with options for day trips.
Here are some ideas to help you get started.
A 45-minute drive from the incredibly efficient high-speed train is the conquering city of Hangzhou.
With a population of over 9 million, it is by no means a small city, but it has a completely different and refreshing atmosphere than Shanghai.
One of the undisputed highlights here is the Western Lake, which is widely considered one of the most well-known natural attractions in China.
You can walk or ride around its perimeter, admiring its beauty while discovering bridges and various pavilions in a traditional design.
Other popular pastimes in the city include a visit to the many picturesque tea houses and a taste of the excellent cuisine.
The city of Suzhou has long been crowned as the “Venice of the East” by poets and writers, and once you arrive, it’s easy to see why.
A huge network of canals and waterways are connected to each other across Suzhou, which together with the lush blooms and bonsai trees that grow in every corner, give it a wonderfully peaceful atmosphere.
You can lose yourself for hours in the scenery and wander across the traditional bridges before going to observe some traditional Chinese gardens.
They can be found in Tiger Hill or in the humble principal’s garden, both of which are impeccable examples of oriental horticulture in China.
Mogenshan, also known as Mount Protected, is the ultimate escape to the high plateaus, a world distance from the densely populated city of Shanghai.
Just 60 kilometers from Hangzhou (easily accessible from the city), the area is slowly becoming a community of wealthy locals building their villas and resorts in breathtaking mountain surroundings.
The number one attraction in Moganshan is a hike through its green hills and valleys peppered with rivers and lakes.
Particularly popular are trails that take you through bamboo forests and tea fields, both of which grow in abundance.
The most recommended water town near Shanghai, Zhujiajiao is one of eight similar towns that exist on the canal system that flows from Lake Tai.
Can be easily reached by bus from Shanghai, the strange water town is a symbol of these types of settlements and as such is rich in history and culture.
This is evident in the traditional architecture and ancient bridges that exist throughout the entire city, anchoring it to the past period.
You should also visit the amazing and huge Lake Dansan, which is almost 12 times larger than the western lake of Hangzhou and surrounded by idyllic hills, wide meadows and lined with amazing islands like Sun and Moon Island, or Rainbow Island.
The lake is highly commercialized, boasting golf courses and resorts, but you can guarantee you will not be bored there.
An especially popular alternative to the expensive tour of the Great Wall of China, Linhai is a charming city that has its own wall from the Eastern Jin Dynasty, around AD265 – AD420. The resemblance to its larger and more famous counterpart is astounding and the city itself a pleasure to explore.
Surrounded by the Ling River, the city is a hotbed of architectural history, with even an ancient street running directly from its center to the Longhing Temple, many miles away.
Also, a fascinating insight into the past is the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Christ in the city.
As a central Chinese city, Nanjing is a hub of activity, but one attraction for many people is the fascinating history that can be found here.
The metropolis was once the capital of many ruling dynasties throughout the past of the nation and has a huge number of culturally significant attractions.
From beautiful temples to the former presidential palace and the memorial hall to the Nanjing massacre, history buffs and casual visitors alike will be conquered from the various sites.
Also on the to-do list are some local hot springs, picturesque parks and many gardens, and even an island you can visit.
To a town with similarities to the beautiful cities of Hangzhou and Suzhou, but without the crowds, make your way to Changshu; A virgin town full of canals just an hour and a half from Shanghai.
Here you will find the same style of ancient houses, a mountainous background and a nearby lake, but with a much smaller, local feel.
The Shanghu Scenic area is a picturesque network of canals with bamboo-lined banks, and is a perfect place to stroll.
Further afield, you will find the Shinfo Temple on the top of Mount Hugh, where you can wander the surrounding forests filled with tea plantations.
Two hours from Shanghai by high-speed train is the port city of Ningbo.
It also happens to be one of the oldest cities in China, and as a result it has a strong Buddhist presence that takes the form of countless temples, some of which are the oldest in the world and worth a visit.
Asuka Temple is over 1700 years old and contains remains belonging to the founder of Buddhism, Sakyamuni.
Baoguo Temple is also one of the best preserved wooden structures of its kind in China.
In the neighboring province of Jiangsu, you will find the picturesque city of Zhejiang, famous for being the place where the Nobel Prize-winning author was born. Buck, but a little more.
However, people went on day trips to Zhenjiang because of the picturesque and magical Jiaoshan Park that can be found there.
The park is attractively maintained, partly on an island in the Yangtze River, which gives it the impression of being detached from urban life and one with nature.
The most popular highlight here is the Ten Thousand Buddha Pagoda.
10. Dongchian Lake
This lake, close to Ningbo City, is by far the largest in Zhejiang Province, and is a perfect day trip for locals and tourists in Shanghai who want to escape the city during the day to enjoy peaceful solitude that is hardly found elsewhere among the area’s popular lakes. .
The most recommended of the three lakes that make up Dongchian is the northern lake.
Here you will find the nearby mountains and beaches filled with tiny villages and temples dating back to 960 AD, as well as a charming sculpture park.
11. Shanghai Sculpture Park
Just a short drive from Shanghai, you will find the attractive and wonderfully entertaining Shanghai Sculpture Park, located in Songjiang Quarter.
An ideal family day out, admire the lush lawns to relax and enjoy a picnic, wooded hills and even a man-made beach to soak up some sun.
There are excellent restaurants in the area, pools and boat rentals, making this park an excellent refuge from the concrete jungle of the city center.
Less than 40 minutes from Shanghai city center, you will find Nanxiang’s beloved district, famous as the birthplace of the much-enjoyed xiaolongbao dumplings, and home to some stunning classic gardens.
The best of which is Garden Guy, where you can spend hours wandering the paths and bridges under the canopies of trees.
Nearby you will find the peaceful Yunxiang Temple, one of the largest near Shanghai and considerably calmer than the others, perfect for a quiet reflection while you explore.
An hour and a half from Shanghai lies the historic town of Shawxing, famous for its rich history within its borders and affectionately referred to as the “Museum without Walls” by the locals.
The sleepy and explanatory town is always home to cultural sites like the ancient city of Archang and the garden in Ikea, while a little further afield you can explore Mount Koaji or the peaceful eastern lake.
You will also have the opportunity to try the delightful Shaoxing wine, a special local beer of Chinese rice wine that the city is famous for.
A traditional Chinese lake town, Yangzhou also incorporates elements of Hangzhou and Suzhou, while managing to remain unique in its beauty and appeal.
The Slender West Lake is a smaller but no less stunning version of its larger counterpart; You can spend a few hours strolling along its shores, or among the trees of Ge Yuan Garden, populated by bamboo forests.
One of the highlights is the tomb of Fuhadin, an ancient Muslim prophet whose tombs are adjacent to a mosque and several gardens that constitute a fascinating contrast between Islamic and Chinese architecture.
The famous Potwashan Buddhist resort is about four hours from Shanghai, but with an early start it can be easily reached in a day.
Here you will be blessed with the opportunity to see some truly authentic sites, visited by a large number of Chinese locals.
Among these can be found the purple bamboo forest, located at the foot of Mount Fotoshan, famous for the purple color of the rock.
Also not to be missed is the breathtaking temple of Pu Ji; Contains two large sakura trees indoors, which when they bloom, make the interior look super beautiful.
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