Jan 09, 2024

By Goodnight Staff

Top 15 Day Trips In and Around Shanghai

Shanghai, a bustling metropolis known for its modern skyline and vibrant urban life, is a gateway to many fascinating day trips. Surrounding this dynamic city are destinations that offer a rich tapestry of cultural, historical, and natural wonders.

From the serene water towns with their ancient charm to the lush, green mountains offering a respite from city life, the region around Shanghai is a treasure trove for explorers. Each destination, steeped in history like Nanjing or naturally picturesque like Moganshan, presents a unique facet of China's diverse landscape and heritage, making them perfect for memorable day excursions.

1. Hangzhou

Hangzhou, located less than 200 kilometers from Shanghai, is a sublime fusion of ancient heritage and modern sophistication, making it an ideal day trip destination. Renowned for its scenic beauty, Hangzhou is most famous for the West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

This iconic lake has inspired poets and artists since the 9th century with its tranquil waters, pagodas, and willow-lined banks. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely boat ride across the lake, enjoying the serene atmosphere and picturesque views.

Beyond the West Lake, Hangzhou's rich cultural history is evident in its well-preserved ancient structures, such as the Lingyin Temple, one of China's largest and most visited Buddhist temples.

2. Suzhou

Suzhou, often called the "Venice of the East," is a captivating city near Shanghai, famous for its elegant classical gardens, traditional waterways, and rich silk heritage. A day trip to Suzhou offers a journey through China's ancient architectural and cultural traditions.

The city's classical gardens, like the Humble Administrator's Garden and the Lingering Garden, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, showcasing the sophisticated garden design of the Ming and Qing dynasties with their harmonious blend of nature and art.

The historic Grand Canal, another highlight of Suzhou, provides a unique perspective of the city's ancient waterways and traditional life along its banks. Visitors can explore the canal on a boat tour, witnessing the old houses and bridges that line the water.

3. Moganshan

Moganshan, a serene and picturesque mountain area located near Shanghai, is a perfect retreat for nature lovers and those looking peaceful escape from the busy city life. Known for its cool climate and lush bamboo forests, Moganshan offers a refreshing contrast to Shanghai's urban landscape.

The area is steeped in history, once a popular summer retreat for Shanghai's foreign community in the early 20th century, as evidenced by the European-style villas dotting the landscape.

Visitors to Moganshan can indulge in hiking trails that meander through bamboo groves and tea plantations, offering stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The serene environment is ideal for relaxation, meditation, and connecting with nature.

4. Linhai

Linhai, a hidden gem in the Zhejiang province, is a captivating destination for those exploring the areas around Shanghai. This ancient city, spanning over 2,000 years, is renowned for its well-preserved city wall, often compared to a miniature version of the Great Wall of China.

The wall, which dates back to the Jin Dynasty, offers a unique glimpse into China's rich historical tapestry and provides stunning views of the city and the surrounding landscapes.

Besides its historical significance, Linhai is also celebrated for its natural beauty. The city is home to the scenic East Lake, a serene spot perfect for leisurely walks and tranquility away from urban hustle.

5. Nanjing

Jiangsu Province’s capital, Nanjing, is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the vicinity of Shanghai. Rich in history, Nanjing, once the capital of several Chinese dynasties, offers a profound journey through China's complex past.

The city is renowned for its historical landmarks, such as the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, dedicated to the founding father of modern China, and the Ming Dynasty-era Xiaoling Tomb, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Beyond its historical significance, Nanjing is known for its vibrant contemporary culture and lush green spaces. The city's Fuzimiao (Confucius Temple) area, located alongside the Qinhuai River, is a bustling hub of traditional architecture, shops, and street food, offering a lively contrast to the serene beauty of the Purple Mountain area.

6. Changshu

Changshu, a charming city near Shanghai, offers a delightful escape into the heart of Jiangsu Province's rich culture and serene landscapes. Known for its well-preserved historical sites and natural beauty, Changshu is a hidden gem that provides a tranquil contrast to the bustling metropolis of Shanghai.

The city is home to the enchanting Shang Lake, a scenic spot that boasts traditional Chinese gardens and tranquil water views, perfect for a stroll or a peaceful boat ride.

One of Changshu's most notable attractions is Yushan Mountain, a site of historical significance and natural splendor. The mountain is home to ancient temples and pavilions, offering panoramic views of the city and its lush surroundings. Visitors can also explore Fangta Park, which showcases traditional Suzhou-style gardens and architecture.

Changshu's blend of historical heritage, natural beauty, and a slower pace of life makes it an ideal day trip for those looking to experience the quieter, more traditional side of China, just a short journey from Shanghai.

7. Ningbo

Ningbo, a vibrant coastal city in Zhejiang Province, is an excellent day trip destination for those exploring the Shanghai area. This bustling port city, one of the oldest in China, seamlessly blends ancient culture with modern development.

Ningbo is renowned for its rich historical heritage, which is evident in landmarks like the Tianyi Pavilion, the oldest existing private library in Asia, housing a vast collection of ancient Chinese literature and art.

The city is also home to the impressive Baoguo Temple, one of the oldest wooden structures in southern China, offering a glimpse into the country's ancient architectural prowess. For nature enthusiasts, Ningbo's Dongqian Lake provides a serene escape with its picturesque landscapes and tranquil waters, ideal for boating and leisurely walks.

The combination of historical depth, cultural richness, and natural beauty makes Ningbo a compelling choice for travelers seeking to explore beyond the urban sprawl of Shanghai.

8. Dongqian Lake

Dongqian Lake, located in the southeastern part of Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, is a splendid natural retreat and a perfect day trip for those in Shanghai. As the largest freshwater lake in Zhejiang, it spans an area of about 20 square kilometers, offering a picturesque landscape that blends water, mountains, and cultural relics.

This scenic area is divided into four zones: the Lake District, the Southern Mountain District, the Northern Mountain District, and the Eastern Lake District, each offering unique natural and cultural experiences.

Visitors to Dongqian Lake can indulge in boating, fishing, and hiking activities. The lake is lined with lush green hills and ancient sites, including the Hanling Old Street, which showcases traditional Chinese architecture and culture.

The area is also famous for its tea plantations, providing a serene backdrop for a relaxing day out. With its natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, Dongqian Lake is a must-visit destination for those exploring the region around Shanghai.

9. Shaoxing

Shaoxing, a charming city in Zhejiang Province, is a delightful destination for a day trip from Shanghai. Renowned for its ancient waterways, traditional bridges, and classic Chinese architecture, Shaoxing presents a picturesque view of old China.

The city is steeped in history and culture, famously known as the birthplace of the great Chinese writer Lu Xun and the home of Shaoxing wine, a traditional Chinese rice wine.

Visitors to Shaoxing can explore the ancient streets lined with well-preserved buildings, giving a glimpse into the city's rich past. The city's water town charm is best experienced by boat riding along the canals, meandering through old neighborhoods and under stone bridges.

Key attractions include the Lu Xun Native Place, which offers insight into the famous writer's life, and the Shaoxing Wine Museum, where one can learn about the traditional brewing process of this unique wine. Shaoxing's blend of cultural heritage and serene landscapes makes it a captivating escape from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai.

10. Yangzhou

Yangzhou, located in Jiangsu Province, is a splendid choice for a day trip from Shanghai, offering a blend of historical elegance and serene natural beauty. This ancient city, with a history spanning over 2,500 years, is renowned for its classical gardens, historic temples, and beautiful Slender West Lake.

The city's rich cultural heritage is intertwined with the development of the Grand Canal, and it has been an important trading center throughout Chinese history.

A visit to Yangzhou is incomplete without exploring the Slender West Lake, a picturesque waterway adorned with willows, bridges, and traditional pavilions, offering a tranquil escape from urban life. The city's gardens, such as the Heyuan Garden and Ge Garden, are exquisite examples of classical Chinese garden design, featuring intricate rockeries, water features, and elegant architecture.

Yangzhou also boasts a vibrant culinary scene, with local specialties like Yangzhou fried rice and steamed dumplings. This city is a captivating blend of natural beauty, culinary delights, and rich history, making it an ideal day trip from Shanghai.

11. Wuzhen

Wuzhen, a picturesque water town in the Zhejiang province, is a perfect day trip destination from Shanghai for those seeking a glimpse into China's ancient waterway cultures. Known as one of the country's top six old towns, Wuzhen's charm lies in its centuries-old buildings, stone bridges arching over calm waterways, and the tranquil atmosphere of a bygone era.

This town, with a history of over 1,300 years, beautifully preserves the traditional architecture and layout of the Jiangnan region.

Strolling through the narrow, cobblestone streets of Wuzhen, visitors can explore the unique blend of natural scenery and cultural heritage. The town is divided into four scenic zones, each offering a distinct experience, from traditional workshops demonstrating silk production and indigo fabric dyeing to ancient residences and peaceful boat rides along the canals.

Wuzhen is not just a tourist attraction; it's a living museum offering a serene and authentic experience of China's rich cultural past.

12. Chongming Island

Chongming Island sits at the mouth of the Yangtze River, offers a refreshing escape from the bustling city life of Shanghai. As the third-largest island in China, it is renowned for its lush green landscapes, organic farms, and abundant birdlife, making it a haven for nature lovers and eco-tourists.

The island's commitment to environmental conservation is evident in its numerous nature reserves, including the Dongtan Wetland, an essential stopover for migratory birds.

Visitors to Chongming Island can immerse themselves in a variety of outdoor activities. The island's flat terrain makes it ideal for cycling along rural paths and exploring traditional villages, serene forests, and expansive wetlands.

The Chongming Dongtan National Nature Reserve is a highlight, offering a chance to observe rare bird species in their natural habitat. Chongming Island presents a perfect blend of natural beauty and peaceful rural charm for those seeking tranquility and a break from urban chaos.

13. Xitang

Xitang, a picturesque water town near Shanghai, is a perfect day trip destination for those looking to experience the charm of ancient China. Known for its well-preserved architecture, stone bridges, and narrow alleys, Xitang offers a glimpse into the serene lifestyle of the past.

The town is crisscrossed by nine rivers, dividing it into eight sections, all interconnected by old-fashioned stone bridges.

Visitors can stroll along the covered corridors, unique to Xitang, which run alongside the waterways, providing shelter and a leisurely path for walking regardless of the weather. These corridors, combined with the traditional houses and the gentle flow of the rivers, create a peaceful and picturesque setting.

Xitang is not just a visual treat; it's also a cultural experience. The town is famous for its local cuisine and vibrant night markets. As the sun sets, the city lights up, offering a different yet equally enchanting atmosphere, making Xitang an unforgettable excursion from Shanghai.

14. Wuxi

Wuxi, a city near Shanghai known for its rich history and natural beauty, is an ideal destination for a day trip. Nestled on the shores of Lake Tai, China's third-largest freshwater lake, Wuxi is often called the "Pearl of Lake Tai" due to its stunning scenery and lush landscapes.

The city is a harmonious blend of modern urban development and classical Chinese gardens, making it a unique place to explore.

One of Wuxi's most famous attractions is the Lingshan Grand Buddha, a majestic bronze statue towering at 88 meters, making it one of the largest Buddha statues in the world. Visitors are often captivated by the spiritual and peaceful ambiance of this site. Additionally, Wuxi is renowned for its traditional gardens, such as the Jichang Garden, which dates back to the Ming Dynasty.

These gardens are not just a feast for the eyes but also provide a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. With its natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, Wuxi offers a delightful experience for those looking to explore the diverse facets of Chinese culture and scenery.

15. Nantong

Nantong, located in the Jiangsu province near Shanghai, is a hidden gem for day-trippers seeking a blend of culture, history, and scenic beauty. Known as the "Pearl of the River and Sea," Nantong is uniquely situated at the confluence of the East China Sea and the Yangtze River, offering picturesque waterfront views and a serene atmosphere. This city is a feast for the eyes and a place steeped in rich cultural heritage.

One of the city's most notable attractions is the Hao River, encircling the ancient part of Nantong and creating a charming island at the city's heart. Visitors can explore historical sites, traditional architecture, and lush gardens along its banks.

Nantong is also renowned for its textile industry, and the Nantong Textile Museum provides an insightful look into the city's pivotal role in China's textile history. The city's harmonious blend of natural beauty, cultural depth, and historical significance makes Nantong a captivating destination for those exploring the region around Shanghai.

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