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4 Best Places to Escape the Summer Heat in Shanghai

Jiuhua MountainsThe Jiuhua Mountains are old Buddhist temple areas

When it gets sweltering and humid in Shanghai, there are places nearby you can go to enjoy a cooler local. These include the islands, mountains in the region, lakes and rivers in or near Hangzhou, and the local water parks.

1) Islands in the Sea

Shanghai is on the coast of China, and to escape the city heat, you can go to one of the islands. Shanghai's Changxing Island and Chongming Island in the Yangtze River delta are the closest. Along with Chongming and Changxing nearby, you could visit Shengsi Island further out and Putuo Island and Tantou Island that are 100 kilometers south near Ningbo.

Each of these islands has a favorite tourist feature. Changxing is known for its forest and orange grooves and as a cooler place to get fresh air. Chongming Island is bigger, and it is the third largest island in China. Shengsi Island shown above, Putuo Island and Tantou Island are known for beaches.

Changxing Island (5 kilometers away)

  • Features: Island of sand, national forest park, bird habitat and recreational biking
  • Location: About 5 kilometers north of Pudong District in the Yangtze estuary.
  • How to get there: It takes about half an hour to drive from the center of Shanghai through the Shanghai Yangtze River Tunnel.
  • See more about Changxing Island>>

Chongming Island (20 kilometers away)

  • Features: Largest island of sand in the world, national forest park
  • Location: About 20 kilometers north of the shore of Pudong in Shanghai.
  • How to get there: It is an hour's drive from the center of Shanghai to Chongming Island through the Shanghai Yangtze River Tunnel.
  • See more about Chongming Island>>

Shengsi Island (50 kilometers away)

Shengsi IslandShengsi Island near Shanghai
  • Features: Shengsi Island (剩四岛) island nearest to Shanghai with beaches (see the picture on top). There are inexpensive beach hotels. Little pollution and few tourists. Biking and island walks.
  • Location: 50 kilometers east of Shanghai.
  • How to get there: Take Line 4 to Nanpu Da Qiao Station, and look for 1788 Waima Lu under the elevated highway to purchase the bus and ferry ticket combo for 120 RMB. The bus ride is one hour, and it takes you to Shenjiawan, the port from which the ferry departs to Shengsi. The earliest bus leaves at 8:30am. Try to buy the tickets in advance if you're planning to go there at the weekend.
  • Tip: Little English is spoken, so it is almost necessary to speak Chinese or to go with one who does.
  • See more about Shengsi Island >>

Putuo Island (80 kilometers south)

  • Features: Two big beaches (600 meters and 1.7 kilometers) and many small beaches. Mountain scenery and woods.
  • Location: 80 kilometers southeast of the shore of Shanghai
  • How to get there: Slow ferries are available at Wusong Pier in Pudong District: It departs at 20:00 and arrives at 07:30. The return ferry for Shanghai departs at 16:30, and it arrives Shanghai at 06:30. Speedboats: Special buses pick up at Nanpu Bridge. You can take public bus 65, 43, 868 or 869 to go to Nanpu Bridge. The special buses go to Luchao Pier to board the speedboat. Departure times from Nanpu Bridge are at 07:30 and 08:00. It takes about 2 hours from Nanpu Bridge to Luchao Pier, and another two and a half hours to Putuoshan.
  • See more about Putuo Island>>

Tantou Island (150 kilometers south)

tantou islandTantou beach camping
  • Features: It is known for crowded beach camping as shown in the picture and beach parties. Tents are rented at about 50 RMB per night, and so many people want to camp that tents are set side by side.
  • Location: 150 kilometers south of Shanghai. It is 60 kilometers south of Ningbo.
  • How to get there: Take a four and a half hour bus trip to Xiangshan (象山) from the Shanghai bus station. Then go to Shipu Harbor where a boat takes you to the island in about 35 minutes.
  • Tip: You can bring your own tent. But if you are beach camping, it might be difficult to get a shower. You might be able to negotiate for a shower at a hotel. Bathrooms and showers are not clean and crowded.
  • See more about Tantou Island>>

2) Scenic Mountains

Anji MountainAnji Mountain for cool shade near Shanghai

Instead of heading into the sea, you can go inland and up into some beautiful mountains in the area. The main popular mountain attractions within a seven hour drive of Shanghai are the Yellow Mountains, Moganshan, Jiuhua Mountains, and Anji Mountain.

Along with these, there are also high mountains that are less well known by foreign tourists. These include Tianmu Mountain, Tiantai Mountain, and Yandang Mounain. They are all over a kilometer high (or over 3,300 feet). They are all within a four or five hours drive from Shanghai.

Moganshan (220 kilometers away, 3 and a half hours by road)

  • Features: The mountain has long been an expat summer haven. You can enjoy a stay in a lodge and hike. It is known for its tea farms and local teas.
  • Elevation: 719 meters (2,360 feet)
  • Location: It is in Deqing County, Zhejiang Province. It is 60 kilometers from Hangzhou and 220 kilometers from Shanghai.
  • How to get there: It takes about 3 and a half hours to drive on highway S12.
  • See more about Moganshan>>

Anji Mountain and Bamboo Forest (230 kilometers away, 3 hours by road)

  • Features: High mountain near Shanghai for hiking, scenery and ecotourism. There is a large bamboo grove, and the county is known for its white tea variety (白茶 báichá).
  • Elevation: 1,600 meters (5,250 feet)
  • Location: Anji County, Zhejiang Province
  • How to get there: Buses from Shanghai to Anji city take about 4 hours. These buses depart Shanghai South Railway Station from the south square terminal every hour from 7:10 am to 10:10 am. You could also take a bullet train from Hongqiao Station to Hangzhou East for an hour. Then take a bus to Anji that is about 50 kilometers away.
  • See more about Anji Mountain>>

The Yellow Mountains (400 kilometers away, 5 hours by road)

Yellow MountainsThe Yellow Mountains are famed for hiking and scenery in China
  • Features: Three main peaks that make for excellent day hikes. The daily scenery often includes the "sea of clouds" that you can see in the picture. It is also known for scenic old villages and beautific countryside.
  • Elevation: 1,864 meters (6,115 feet)
  • Location: Anhui Province, 175 kilometers west of Hangzhou
  • How to get there: Slow ferries are available at Wusong Pier in Pudong District: It departs at 20:00 and arrives at 07:30. The return ferry for Shanghai departs at 16:30, and it arrives Shanghai at 06:30. Speedboats: Special buses pick up at Nanpu Bridge. You can take public bus 65, 43, 868 or 869 to go to Nanpu Bridge. The special buses go to Luchao Pier to board the speedboat. Departure times from Nanpu Bridge are at 07:30 and 08:00. It takes about 2 hours from Nanpu Bridge to Luchao Pier, and another two and a half hours to Putuoshan.
  • See more about the Yellow Mountains>>
  • Suggested area tour: 3-Day Yellow Mountains and Hongcun Village Tour

Jiuhua Mountain (522 kilometers away, 6 hours by road)

  • Features: The Jiuhua Mountains (九华山) have beautiful mountain scenery and old temples that were important in Buddhism.
  • Location: Qingyang County, Anhui Province. The Jiuhua Mountains are 2 hours northwest of Huangshan by road.
  • How to get there: The bus journey takes six hours from Shanghai.
  • See more about Jiuhua Mountain >>

3) Lakes and Rivers around Hangzhou

Fresh water areas not too distant from Shanghai for boating, rafting, and enjoying lake scenery are refreshing places to go in hot summer weather. In Hangzhou, there is West Lake in the city and Xixi right next to it for cooler breezes, and west of Hangzhou there is Thousand Islets Lake for boating and lakeside hotels.

Hangzhou West Lake (160 kilometers away, 2 and a half hours by road)

West Lake boatingBoating on West Lake in Hangzhou
  • Features: Scenic lake 2.5 square miles and parkland. Biking and boating. Lake breezes make the park noticeably cooler than Shanghai.
  • Location: Western side of Hangzhou, about 170 kilometers from Shanghai.
  • How to get there: It takes 2 and a half hours by Highway G60. Bullet trains from Hongqiao Station to Hangzhou East take an hour. Then catch a bus or taxi.
  • See more about West Lake>>

Xixi Wetlands (160 kilometers away, 2 and a half hours by road)

  • Features: Several rivers converge there. Place for boating and dining for tourists.
  • Location: Three kilometers north of West Lake in Hangzhou. You can go there for dining or sightseeing after seeing West Lake.
  • How to get there: The bus journey takes 2.5 hours from Shanghai via Highway G60. Alternatively for bullet train from Hongqiao Station, after the hour train ride, catch a bus or taxi there.
  • See more about Xixi Wetlands>>

Thousand Islets Lake (330 kilometers away, 5 hours by road)

thousand islets lakeThe Thousand Islets Lake
  • Features: Artificial lake with islets. People like to go for scenic cruises or staying at a hotel for a getaway.
  • Location: 160 kilometers west of Hangzhou (2 hours by bus).
  • How to get there: The bus journey takes five hours from Shanghai. By bullet train: From Hangqiao, for a possibly shorter journey time, take a bullet train for an hour to Hangzhou East. Then you can go to Hangzhou West Bus Station and take the 2 hour bus journey.
  • See more about Thousand Islet Lake>>

4) Shanghai Water Parks

Shanghai has two big water parks. Maya Beach in Shanghai Happy Valley and Dino Water Park are some of the biggest in Asia. You can expect them to be crowded, especially on hot sweltering sunny days.

Both of these parks are new. Happy Valley's Water Park was built in 2009. Dino Water Park was built in 2011.

Happy Valley's Water Park

happy valley water parkHappy Valley's new water park
  • Features: It has "Wave World" with one of the world's biggest machines for making waves. The waves are 3.5 meters. Along with the water park, you can ride Happy Valley's thrill rides.
  • Location: Maya Beach Water Park of Happy Valley Theme Park, Shenzhen, Song Jiang, Shanghai
  • How to get there: It is accessible by Metro Line 9 (Sheshan Road) with free shuttle straight to the park. Taxi: Show this address to the driver. 上海市松江佘山,欢乐谷主题公园内,上海玛雅海滩水公园
  • Cost and times: 200 RMB (30 USD) for adults. 120 RMB (18 USD) for kids shorter than 1.2 meters tall. Time: 11:00 am to 8:00 pm on weekdays. 10:00 am to 8:00 pm on weekends from June to September. It would probably be best to avoid the weekend crowds.
  • See more about Happy Valley>>

Dino Water Park

private transport with China HighlightsAvoid the hassle and time of getting to these recreational areas yourself. Here is a better way! China Highlights provides private transport services.
  • Features: 85,000 square meters. Big beach, 1.2 kilometer artificial river, high tech facilities.
  • Location: 78 Xinzhen Rd, Minhang, Shanghai
  • How to get there: Line 1 to Xinzhuang station and then take the 763 or 173 bus to Xinzhen Lu Gudai Lu stop (新镇路顾戴路). Bus 803 goes from Shanghai South Railway Station to Xinzhen Lu Gudai Lu. Taxi: Show this address to the driver. 上海市闵行区新镇路78号,热带风暴水上乐园
  • Cost and times: Ticket range between 140 RMB to 200 RMB (30 USD) depending on time of day and day of week. Time: July 1 – Aug 25, 09:00-24:00; Aug 26 – Sep 8, 09:00-22:00. It would probably be best to avoid the weekend crowds.

For more info, see the Most Attractive Water Parks in Shanghai>>

Shanghai Weather

The sweltering weather is in June, July and August. Check the Shanghai climate and current forecast.

Going with China Highlights

Private tour: The most pleasant, direct, and interesting way to go is with a private tour company such as ours. Our tours are known for being hassle free and individualized for our customers. You can save time and money too. We can find discounts. We can arrange for interpreter service and other aid.

Recommended China Tour Packages

HuangshanHuangshan and Shanghai Tour

With us you can create your own heat-escaping Shanghai summer trip and visit the places you want.

Further Reading