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The Top 10 Day Trips from Shanghai

Shanghai is a modern metropolis with two international airports, which makes it a popular transit city for overseas travelers. Besides this, Shanghai and some of the surrounding cities are also famous destinations.

If you have 1 day available during your layover in Shanghai, you can visit some highlights of the city or take a day trip to a nearby city.

The 144-hour visa-free policy and the upgraded expressway and high-speed railway let you easily travel around Shanghai and two neighboring provinces.

Read on to discover what you can enjoy during your short stay or layover in Shanghai.

1. Shanghai Highlights Day Tour

  • Features: ancient buildings, traditional garden, cultural experience
  • Highlights: the Bund, Yu Garden, the former French Concession
  • Duration: 8 hours

Shanghai is a city that blends the new and the old. For your first Shanghai trip, it is a good choice to take a one-day tour to visit the Shanghai Tower, the Bund, and Yu Garden.

Start your tour from the Shanghai Tower, where you can enjoy a bird's-eye view of Shanghai's skyline.

The Bund at nightThe Bund at night

Discover the Bund to experience what the city was like in the 1920s. A good way to visit the Bund is to take an in-depth Bund culture experience with a local guide.

After that, enjoy some leisure time in Yu Garden. You can walk around and admire the garden scenery just like the nobles did hundreds of years ago.

Our Shanghai one-day highlights tour is specially designed for people who are tight on time, such as for business and layover trips.

2. Zhujiajiao Water Town Day Trip

  • Features: water town, ancient buildings
  • Highlights: Zhujiajiao Water Town, boat cruise
  • Duration: 4 hours
Zhujiajiao Water VillageZhujiajiao Water Village

As well as seeing the urban side of Shanghai, the waterside villages around Shanghai are worth a visit.

Zhujiajiao Water Town used to be a trading area in past centuries when goods were transported there by boats and ships. Today, the many canals and boats are still part of the local's lives.

You can walk at your own pace to experience the lifestyle of the waterside residents or enjoy a boat cruise on the canals and rivers.

Our 2-Day Shanghai Essence and Water Town Tour, which includes Zhujiajiao, is a great favorite of first-time visitors.

3. Shanghai to Hangzhou West Lake Tour

  • Features: admire the lake scenery
  • Highlights: West Lake cruise, experience the tea culture
  • Duration: 12 hours
The West Lake in HangzhouWest Lake in Hangzhou

Hangzhou is a city near Shanghai with breathtaking lake scenery and it is the hometown of Dragon Well tea. Ride on the high-speed trains to leave for Hangzhou and return to Shanghai in one day.

West Lake is the most iconic attraction in Hangzhou. You have two ways to admire the scenery: walk along the lakeside or enjoy a relaxing cruise. Try to find some of the best places to take photographs.

Our 1-day Hangzhou Highlight Tour will enrich your tour by taking you to have a tea culture experience in Meijiawu Tea Village near West Lake. You can pick and dehydrate the tea leaves, and learn how to drink tea in the correct way.

4. Shanghai to Suzhou Day Tour

  • Features: traditional gardens, water town
  • Highlights: visit a traditional garden, the ancient canal, and Tongli Water Town
  • Duration: 12 hours
Lingering Garden in SuzhouLingering Garden in Suzhou

Suzhou used to be a summer retreat for Chinese emperors about 2,500 years ago and is now a heavenly destination for tourists, with traditional gardens and waterside architecture.

Riding on a high-speed train, you can travel between Shanghai and Suzhou in about half an hour.

The most famous gardens in Suzhou are the Humble Administrator's Garden and Lingering Garden. A cool way to explore Suzhou is to take a rickshaw ride alongside the ancient canal.

You can also visit Tongli Water Town, which is about 30 minutes' drive away. Enjoy the lovely ancient buildings and bridges, or take a glimpse at the local people's lifestyles.

To visit some of the best gardens and water towns, check our 1-day Shanghai to Suzhou tour.

5. Shanghai Disneyland Day Tour

  • Features: cartoon characters and settings
  • Highlights: amusement rides, parades, and performances
  • Duration: 12 hours
Shanghai DisneylandShanghai Disneyland

If you are traveling with your kids, why not spend one day in Shanghai Disneyland? Combining the magic of Disney with a Chinese element, Shanghai Disneyland is sure to provide one day of happiness for you and your kids.

You can download the Shanghai Disney Resort app to check the waiting time for attractions and rides, or check our full guide for Shanghai Disneyland to get some of the best ideas to avoid the crowds, plan your route, or find unique attractions.

Get some inspiration from our Shanghai Family Tour with Disneyland.

6. Shanghai to Zhouzhuang and Jinxi Water Town Tour

  • Features: water towns, old houses, antique museums
  • Highlights: Zhouzhuang gondola cruise and visit historical houses; see Jinxi's scenery and visit museums
  • Duration: 12 hours
Zhouzhuang Water TownZhouzhuang Water Town

Zhouzhuang and Jinxi are about 1½ hours' drive from downtown Shanghai, and the two towns are about 20 minutes' drive away from each other. So, if you have one day in Shanghai, it is possible to take a day trip to both water towns.

Zhouzhuang has been listed as one of the top 10 most beautiful towns in the world by CNN and used to be the site for many Chinese movies. Taking a gondola is a great way to witness the lifestyle of the people living by the water.

Jinxi is a pretty water town with picturesque scenery. It has 16 lakes and 238 rivers in an area of about 1 square kilometer. The town also has some characteristic museums, such as the Chinese Ancient Tiles and Bricks Museum, the Red Porcelain Products Museum, and the Root Carving Museum of China.

Check our 1-day Zhouzhuang and Jinxi Water Town tour to see what else you can enjoy in the water towns.

7. Shanghai to Nanjing Day Trip

  • Features: historical buildings, culture
  • Highlights: Chaotian Palace, the Gate of China, Nanjing Confucius Temple
  • Duration: 10 hours
Nanjing Confucius TempleNanjing Confucius Temple

Nanjing is one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. Taking a high-speed train, you can get from Shanghai to Nanjing in about 1½ to 2 hours.

You have a lot of opportunities to delve deeper into the city's history. Chaotian Palace is a wonderful place to admire some ancient artifacts from 500 to 600 years ago. Then, visit the Gate of China, the largest castle-style city gate in China.

If you are interested in the Chinese Confucian culture, Nanjing Confucius Temple is a good place to worship the greatest educator and philosopher from ancient China.

Check more things to do in Nanjing and let us help you to arrange your tour.

8. Shanghai Chongming Island Day Tour

  • Features: nature reserve, Confucian academy
  • Highlights: Chongming Dongtan National Birds Nature Reserve, Chongming Academy
  • Duration: 10 hours

Chongming Island is the third largest island in China, located on the Yangtze River estuary. The island has both natural and cultural attractions.

You can start from the easternmost point of the island where you can visit Chongming Dongtan National Birds Nature Reserve. If you visit there at the right time, you may have the chance to enjoy seeing large groups of birds flying above you in the sky.

Then, visit Chongming Academy to see some heritage items relating to the Chinese Confucian culture. Admire the ancient buildings and the statue of Confucius there.

Check our Chongming Island guide to see what else you can expect to find on the island.

9. Shanghai to Ningbo Day Tour

  • Features: port culture, lake scenery
  • Highlights: the Old Bund, Dongqian Lake
  • Duration: 8 hours

Ningbo is not a famous destination so it is less touristy than other popular places. If you want to find a tranquil place to spend a day, consider Ningbo as your destination. From Shanghai, you can arrive in Ningbo in about 2 hours by high-speed train.

The Old Bund in Ningbo is worth a visit as it was one of the earliest foreign ports in China (about 20 years earlier than the Bund in Shanghai). After that, you can visit Dongqian Lake - a beautiful lake embraced by green mountains.

10. Shanghai to Zhenjiang Day Trip

  • Feature: an ancient street
  • Highlights: Xijindu Ancient Street, the former British Consulate
  • Duration: 8 hours

Zhenjiang is also not one of the most popular destinations near Shanghai, so this is an option for a day's visit in peak seasons. Taking a high-speed train, you can arrive in Zhenjiang from Shanghai in 1 to 1½ hours.

Xijindu Ancient Street is the highlight of Zhenjiang, where you can enjoy a series of ancient architectural structures and feel the nostalgic atmosphere. You can also visit the former British Consulate nearby.

If you have more time, you can cross the river by cable car to Jiao Mountain and enjoy the view of the Yangtze River from above.

Need Help with Your Shanghai Tour? Look No Further!

Visit Shanghai with usVisit Shanghai with us

It is time-and-energy-consuming to travel independently in Shanghai. To maximize your layover time, you are recommended to take a private tour.

Just tell us your interests and requirements. One of our specialists will take care of the rest for you, from creating a unique tour to waving goodbye to you at the airport.

Here are some sample Shanghai tours for your inspirations.

  • 1-Day Shanghai Layover Tour offers an opportunity for you to glance at Shanghai's highlights in an efficient and comfortable way.
  • 2-Day Shanghai Classic Tour is best for 1st time visitor. Follow the insider's route to see the sites that are difficult to find by yourself and save time and energy with our private transfer.
  • You can find more interesting ideas from our spotlight experiences from Shanghai local food hunt to jeep night tour.
Start planning your tailor-made tour with 1-1 help from our travel advisors. Create Your Trip

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