If you want a short island trip from the Shanghai region, the Shengsi Islands are always your good choice. The Shengsi Islands, also called Shengsi County, are only about 3 hours from Shanghai, 4 hours from Hangzhou and 4.5 hours from Ningbo city. The Shengsi archipelago is an ideal for sea swimming, hiking, and eating seafood.
The Shengsi archipelago has four main scenic areas:
- Sijiao Scenic Area: characterized by blue sea, sandy beaches, fishermen's hostels, fishing experiences, and seafood;
- Huaniao Scenic Area: famous for its large lighthouse, in the east of the island group;
- Shengshan-Gouqi Island Scenic Area: well-known for its abandoned villages and island of goujis (wolfberries);
- Yangshan Scenic Area: special for the magic stone reef and modern port bridge, connected to Shanghai by a long sea bridge.
Among these, Gouqi Island, Houtouwan abandoned village on Shengshan Island next door, and Sijiao Island are the most popular areas. Sijiao Island is the biggest island in the Shengsi archipelago, and you can also get to other islands from Sijiao by boat.
Gouqi Island — "Little Greece in the East"
Located in the east of the Shengsi archipelago, Gouqi island is the second largest island after Sijiao. It gets its name because the island is covered with Chinese wolfberries (gouqi), which are used in herbal medicine. This is a rural island with simple folk customs and lots of fresh air.
Top Things to Do:
- Stroll on the Dawang Village beach, the largest beach on Gouqi Island.
- Watch the sunset on the sea ranch near Ganxie Village on the west of the island.
- Cycle along the 'Rainbow Highway'.
- Explore the 'wonder of Mountains and Sea' (山海奇观) on the south of the island
How to Get to Gouqi Island:
From Shanghai: about 2 hours' driving from Shanghai city center to Shengjiawan Port, then a 3½-hour boat trip from Shengjiawan port to Ganxie Port
From Hangzhou: about 3 hours' driving from downtown Hangzhou to Shengjiawan Port, then 3½ hours by boat to Ganxie Port on Gouqi Island
From Ningbo: It is about 2 hours' driving from central Ningbo to Zhoushan Sanjiang Port, then about 2 hours by boat to Lizhushan Port on Sijiao Island. You would have to stay one night on Sijiao Island, then take the boat to Gouqi Island on the next day.
From Sijiao Island: about 2 hours by fishing boat or about 1 hour by speedboat
Where to Stay
When it comes to the accommodation, think of a house facing the sea, with blooming flowers all around. There are many guesthouses on Gouqi Island. Some of them are adapted local homes with basic stay facilities. You can stay with locals to experience their life, and the enthusiastic landlady will cook you a table of authentic seafood. There are also good boutique hotels with great sea views, boundless swimming pools, and leisurely afternoon teas.
People always choose to stay near Dawang Village, which is in the center of the island, with Dawang Beach and Rainbow Highway within minutes by foot. There are also many restaurants and shops in the village. Luxia Chaoqi Guesthouse, Xinchenhai Haijing Minsu Guesthouse, and Wanghailou Seaview Homestay are always recommended.
Houtouwan Village on Shengshan Island — "Wizard of Oz Village"
Houtouwan Village is located on Shengshan Island, connected to Gouqi Island by Sanqiaoshan Big Bridge. Houtouwan Abandoned Village used to be a rich but small fishing village, but people moved out one after another because of inconvenient transportation and lack of education. In the early 1990s, it became a deserted place (only three households remain).
Each building in intertwined with vines and creepers, with green trees and shrubs all over the mountains making Houtouwan Village similar to creepy, other-worldly scenes from "The Wizard of Oz", especially in spring and summer. It was recognized by the British newspaper MailOnline in 2018 as "China's eerie 'ghost village' completely swallowed up by plants.
Shengshan is China's easternmost island, where China sees the sun rise first. There are many things to do on the island.
Top Things to Do on Shengshan Island:
- Explore Houtouwan Abandoned Village.
- See the sunrise first on East Cliff.
- Relax on the Dayuwan Beach.
- Enjoy the unique island scenery of Xiyangwan.
- Take photos on the Sanjiaojiang Bridge with panoramic views.
How to Get to Shengshan Island
Go to Gouqi Island first, then take a taxi over the bridge to Shengshan Island.
Where to Stay
Shengshan is a mountain island, and most of the houses are built on the mountainsides, like outcrops growing on the mountains by the sea. They are well positioned, so it is easy to find a guesthouse there with good sea view.
Like on Gouqi Island, you can choose to stay in a local fishman's house to get close to the local life or choose a boutique hotel for a relaxing and exquisite vacation. Shengshandao Wind Villa, No. 7 Seascape Hotel, Yiyezhou Fisherman Guesthouse, Jidong Yizhan Inn, Gvilla Return to Light Luxury Homestay, Shengsi Shengshan Island Mountain Ride Wulang Sea View B&B, and Wenhai Villa are always recommended.
Sijiao Island — the Main Island of Shengsi
Sijiao Island is the largest island of the Shengsi archipelago, and it is also a prosperous distribution center with the most convenient transportation and lodging. Shengsi County's government is located in Caiyuan Town on Sijiao Island.
Top Things to Do:
- Walk along the famous Jihu Beach and Nanchangtu Beach.
- Watch the sunrise at Liujingtan Natural Scenic Spot on the east coast.
- Get a bird's-eye view of the Shengsi Islands from Dabei Mountain.
- Try being a fisherman with an enjoyable one-day fishing experience.
- Explore the slow but colorful life in Fishermen's Village, famous for its colorful and strangely conceived paintings on the public walls.
- Cycle along the famous 'Left Bank Highway'.
How to Get There
From Shanghai: about 2 hours' driving from Shanghai city center to Shengjiawan Port, then a 1-hour boat trip from Shengjiawan Port to Lizhushan Port
From Hangzhou: about 3 hours' driving from central Hangzhou to Shengjiawan Port, then 1 hour by boat to Lizhushan Port
From Ningbo: about 2½ hours' driving to Zhoushan Sanjiang Port, then a 2-hour boat trip to Lizhushan Port
Where to Stay
The accommodation on Sijiao Island is very convenient and has many choices. It is mainly located in Caiyuan Town and around Jihu Beach, Nanchangtu Beach, and Dabei Mountain Scenic Area. Relatively speaking, hotels are more concentrated in Caiyuan Town and along Jihu Beach.
Caiyuan Town is the center of the island with convenient transportation and good access to supermarkets and restaurants. If you like nighttime food streets, you should choose to stay in Caiyuan Town. There are many business hotels in the town.
Shengsi Islands Small Homestay, Fei Cheng Wu Rao Holiday Hotel, and Shengsi Maison New Century Hotel near Jihu Beach are recommended.
Azure Bay Resort and Floral Hotel Shengsi Weichi Homestay (Nanchangtu Beach Branch) near Nanchangtu Beach are recommended.
Haiwan Senlin Hostel and Wudao Seaview Inn near Dabei Mountain Scenic Area are always recommended.
The Best Time to Go to the Shengsi Islands
Shengsi County has a subtropical maritime monsoon climate with four distinct seasons. It is not severely cold in winter and not too hot in summer. The Shengsi Islands are suitable for sightseeing all year round.
Spring (from mid-March to early June) has an average temperature of around 17°C (63°F). It is cloudy and rainy, and usually has sea fog. Everywhere is full of green in the spring, so Spring is a good time to explore the "Wonderful Wizard of Oz" abandoned houses in Houtouwan Village.
Summer (from early June to the end of September) has an average temperature of around 26°C (79°F). Early summer is the high rainfall period, from the mid-June to early July, lasting for about 20 days. Typhoons are most likely in mid-summer, and during that time the weather is hot with frequent thunderstorms. Summer is the best season to see the blue sea and enjoy watersports in the sea, but please note that boat schedules always change when there is unstable weather.
The famous Shengsi Mussel Culture Festival is always held at the end of July on Sijiao Island. You can join in the festival and taste the fresh mussels if you travel at that right time.
Autumn (from end of September to early December) averages 17°C (63°F). It is dry with little rain. The weather is often clear and crisp, so it is the best time for outdoor activities on Shengsi Islands, such as hiking on the mountains and cycling along the sea-view roads.
Winter (from early December to mid-March) has average temperatures of around 8°C (46°F). Affected by cold air from the north, the temperature often decreases significantly, and the wind increases sharply. The maximum wind force can reach level 11 (storm force). Winter might be too cold for a trip, but it is the best season to enjoy seafood.
Whenever you go, contact us for more details and a customized Shengsi Islands trip.
Shengsi Travel Tips
1. Island traveling is always synonymous with seafood or "sea-to-table" meals. Seafood is the main dish offered on Shengsi Island. Please note that July and August — the rainiest months — are fishing's temporary prohibition period and seafood is less and more expensive than usual at that time.
2. March to June and September are the shoulder times of the rainy season in Shengsi, so please remember to bring an umbrella or raincoat with you during those times too.
3. The sun is strong, and mosquitoes are fierce in summer. Please remember to bring sunglasses, sunscreen, and mosquito repellent.
4. Boat is the only way to most of the islands, which depend very much on the weather. Boats might be canceled if it is very windy or rainy.
5. Transportation is convenient on Sijiao Island and you can take taxi or tourist bus to travel around. On other islands, such as Shengshan and Gouqi, walking is the best way to travel because they are small — only about 4 km (2½ miles) across. Sijiao Island is the transit center and you can go to other small islands from Sijiao by boat.
More Islands Near Shanghai to Visit
- Putuo Island — famous for its seascapes and Mt. Putuo, one of China's Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains
- Tantou Island — a quick weekend beach getaway from Shanghai
- Chongming Island — in the Yangtze Estuary, it's the largest estuarine island in the world
- Changxing Island — with forest and fresh air it's good for a vacation, and reachable by bridge from Shanghai