Excursions from Shanghai
- Beijing’s Best Sights
- Beijing’s Best Restaurants
- Beijing’s Best Nightlife
- Beijing’s Best Arts and Leisure
- Beijing’s Best Shops
- Beijing’s Best Hotels
- Best of the Great Wall
- Shanghai’s Best Sights
- Shanghai’s Best Restaurants
- Shanghai’s Best Nightlife
- Shanghai’s Best Arts and Leisure
- Shanghai’s Best Shops
- Shanghai’s Best Hotels
- Shanghai’s Best Excursions
Shanghai is blessed with a variety of attractions in relatively close proximity. If you fancy a day (or a couple of nights) outside of the city, there’s plenty to do.
An hour from Shanghai by bullet train, the beautiful lakeside city of Hangzhou has inspired poets and musicians along the ages thanks to its willow-strewn vistas, forest-clad hills, and ancient pagodas. The modern city to the east of the lake has little in the way of attractions; the majority of scenic spots are clustered around West Lake, while Qihefang Street contains some tasty street-food and traditional old-style shops and stalls.
The lower Yangtze region is dotted with a series of pretty water towns (known as the Venices of the East) thanks to a proliferation of canals, rivers, and waterways. Many have now fallen foul to their own popularity, morphing into crowded tourist traps. However, Zhujiajiao in Shanghai’s Qingpu district has not yet been over-run by tour groups and Tongli on the outskirts of Suzhou is still a relatively peaceful spot if you avoid weekends and national holidays. Shanghai’s Sex Culture Museum relocated to Tongli in 2004, boosting its popularity with tourists in need of some (admittedly mild) titillation.
The city of Suzhou lies just half an hour from Shanghai by train and is home to some of the most beautiful traditional gardens in China. Nine of them are UNESCO World Heritage Sites with peaceful oases of rock gardens, ponds, and pavilions.
All four of the towns included here can be seen comfortably in a day, but Hangzhou and Suzhou lend themselves well to staying overnight. Having said that, if you fall in love with Zhujiajiao and Tongli, there are some quaint guesthouses and hostels available to spend the night.
© Susie Gordon from Moon Beijing & Shanghai, 2nd Edition