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Shanghai is a multi-cultural, cosmopolitan melting pot, and there is a lot going on in the city. But both visitors and expats might want to take a break from the hustle and bustle for some fresh air and a much needed change of scene. Click on the links to learn more about these 10 quick, easy getaway ideas.
Water towns are old, preserved heritage towns that have intersecting water canals throughout in them. The closest ones are quick to get to, and they might add to your weekend agenda. They are considered romantic, picturesque getaways offering activities such as boat rides, shopping, and eating. Qibao and Wuzhen are our two favorites near Shanghai.
Qibao is a water town that's closest to the city and easiest to get to. Just take the metro! It is best for tourists who are visiting Shanghai for a short time. Qibao is a great visit. You'll get a good view of typical water towns that have been preserved well and make the most of your time. You could see the ancient architecture, eat the local snacks and dine in the restaurants.
Getting there: The easiest and possibly the quickest way to get there is to take subway line 9. Get off at Qibao station.
Wuzhen: We recommend this town as well because it is really pretty and picturesque. It is only an hour from the closest parts of Shanghai making it suitable for a short road trip. Beautiful lighting and restored buildings help to make the area suitable for strolling, gondola rides, shopping and dining.
Getting there: A bullet train from Shanghai Hongqiao to Tongxiang + cab: 40 + 20 minutes.
West Lake is Hangzhou's tourist highlight, where people sightsee, ride bikes, stroll, relax, and enjoy idyllic landscaping. Some people like to float in the boats, and others enjoy the fine dining in the area. Impression West Lake is a favorite musical spectacle in the evening.
Getting there: It is possible to have a one-day trip to West Lake from Shanghai since bullet trains to Hangzhou take only an hour. See our customizable Hangzhou itineraries for inspiration. We could also arrange the transport for your weekend trip.
Say the word Huangshan and many Chinese get starry eyed and talk about the peaks as if they are a cherished friend. The area is still treated like a holy site by many, and hiking up is a dream for many.
It is so popular because it is so beautiful, especially at the West Sea Canyon area, and hiking up, though strenuous, is rewarding. It is one of China's iconic travel attractions. Challenging hiking awaits. See how to climb this iconic mountain cluster and avoid the crowds.
Getting there: Tunxi Airport is about 70 kilometers (43 miles) from Huangshan. Taking a flight and then riding private transport to the mountains will make the trip less than five hours.
Moganshan is super popular and has been for a long time. Clean air, away from the city crowds, the mountains are perfect for some peace and rest and views! Moganshan is an ever popular weekend destination and may be more expensive than the others, but if you've never been, we surely recommend it. The Anji Bamboo Forest listed below is within walking distance, and hiking is a favorite activity.
Getting there: The mountain is about a 1½ hour road trip from Hangzhou and a 3 hour trip from Shanghai.
Anji is a countryside county in Zhejiang Province. It is one of China's biggest bamboo grove forests and an eco-tourism destination. Hiking, strolling, and drinking and buying good quality tea are enjoyable. You could also relax in one of the hotels or resorts and just breath the fresh air. If you are seeking fresh mountain air with views of hilly tea gardens as well as some of the best bamboo groves you can find in China, then Anji is the place to go.
Getting there: As for Mogan Mountain above.
Tantou Island: Nothing is impossible. While you may have not expected this, you can get to a beach if you are ready for a 4-hour bus ride followed by a ferry ride. It's worth it. This is a small beach town that is known for its stunning sunrise at 5 am. It's a great beach for bbq and tent camping out on the sand. The water is cold, but the beach can get very hot for sunbathing!
Getting there: There is about a 4-hour bus from Shanghai to Ningbo followed by a 35-minute boat ride from Shipu Harbor.
Shengsi Island is another island you could visit. Unlike Tantou, the main attraction isn't the beaches although there are beaches. There isn't much scenery or things to sightsee either. You could enjoy swimming and the seafood and just relaxing and strolling around away from crowds off the beaten path.
A tour guide would be helpful since English isn't much used on the island. A tour guide can help with understanding the island, leading you to things that will interest you, and helping with accommodations and dining.
Getting there: Getting to the island and traveling around in it is more difficult for those who don't speak Chinese and want to go by public transportation. So we suggest go with a tour guide instead and have a private driver to take you from Shanghai to the port to avoid problems and save time. The bus ride from Nanpu Bridge to the port takes 2 hours, and there is a 1-or-2-hour ferry ride.
Our birdwatching tours are for nature and wild-life enthusiasts! You can enjoy nature with our expert birding guide near Shanghai or the Yellow Mountains, according to your choice. Bird watching in the wild is something very few Chinese tourists do, so you can enjoy a quiet and stimulating getaway around Shanghai.
To see some of the possibilities in the Shanghai area, our 12-Day East and South China Birding Tour starts in Shanghai and visits Nanhui and Dishui Lake in Shanghai on the first day and Chongming Island the next. The itinerary continues to southern China afterwards, but you can simply make it a nice-two day trip.
For an extensive sequence of birding possibilities, see our 17-Day Shanghai Region Winter Bird Watching Tour, and select what you would like to do near Shanghai as a quick getaway. The tour goes to Rudong to see rare species and migrating birds from Siberia, Yancheng Nature Reserve, Chongming Island, the Yellow Mountains, and picturesque Hong Village.
Instead of taking public transportation to these locations outside Shanghai, the quickest, most efficient, and perhaps most enjoyable way to enjoy these places is to go with a private driver and tour guide. The tour guide can quickly help you find good accommodations and help you find what you are looking for.
China Highlights serves the most foreign visitors of any tour agency in the country, and our expertise is in helping our customers enjoy a private tour of the region.
Tailor-make a special trip that's just for you. All our itineraries are customizable. Here are some more suggestions for a Shanghai visit, or weekend escape.