Which food is best represented in Shanghai?

Top 12 day trips from Shanghai

Shanghai doesn't want stuff, but it's always nice to get out of the city for some fresh air. Fortunately, getting there from Shanghai is easy with five train stations and a sophisticated intercity bus. You don't even have to take time off to have a great vacation. Just a few hours from the city is everything you can expect on a day trip.


Hangzhou may be a city of over 9 million people, but it really is a true getaway. If you only have one day to explore, you must see West Lake, one of the most famous natural attractions in all of China. It is not surprising that the lake has long been the subject of poems and songs. It's absolutely breathtaking. Rent a boat and watch the sun set over the surrounding hills, or grab a bike and follow the outline of the lake. Cross traditional bridges and pavilions as you go. If Hangzhou enchants you, like so many, and you decide to stay longer, Culture Trip recommends taking a bus or car to the outskirts of the city to see the unique tea terraces and miles of pristine landscapes. 45 minutes by bullet train from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station

Kayak on West Lake | © Rachel Deason


“Above is the sky; below are Suzhou and Hangzhou.” This famous Chinese proverb should remind you of the charm of Suzhou. Just 23 minutes by train from Shanghai, Suzhou is the perfect day trip. The city is built around a series of canals and has earned the nickname "Venice of the East". Spend a few hours along the canals and across the traditional bridges that connect their banks, then visit Suzhou's other famous attraction: traditional Chinese gardens. You can do this in the Humble Administrator's Garden and Tiger Hill.

Getting there: 23 minutes by bullet train from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station

Classic gardens | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Moganshan (Mount Mogan) is located 60 kilometers from Hangzhou in the neighboring province of Zhejiang in Shanghai. It attracted foreigners in the 1880s, and by 1910 about 300 foreigners had set up summer homes on the green hills. Many of these colonial villas remain there to this day, serving as inns and resorts for those who can afford to stay in them. The main activity in Moganshan, besides relaxing, is hiking, either through the ubiquitous bamboo forests or the tea fields.

Arrival: 2 1/2 hours by car

Moganshan | © Marc van der Chijs / Flickr


Zhujiajiao is one of eight water cities that surround Shanghai, small villages that lie on the vast canal system of Lake Tai west of Suzhou. If you only have a day to experience the water cities, Culture Trip recommends a trip to Zhujiajiao, which is easy to get to from Shanghai and represents the water city lifestyle, albeit heavily commercialized. Highlights include the 36 ancient bridges, traditional architecture, and Dianshan Lake.

How to get there: Take the No. 4 bus from Shanghai Stadium or the Hu Zhu Line at the corner of Dagu Road. and Chongqing Rd.

Zhujiajiao | © Suki Zhou / Flickr


Don't have time to see the Great Wall of China? Head to little Linhai in Zhejiang Province for a taste of real life. Sure, Linhai's wall, built during the Eastern Jin Dynasty (AD 265-420), isn't as famous, but in some places it bears an eerie resemblance to the one in the north. The city also has an ancient road that leads from the center to Longxing Temple. If you have more than a day to explore, take a taxi to the bus station and head to Xianju, where you'll find the charming and somewhat secluded Mount Gongyu Bei.

How to get there: 3 hours by bullet train from Shanghai Hongqiao Station

Linhai | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


If you like history, go to Nanjing. This modern metropolis served as the capital of many dynasties during China's existence and is home to the mausoleum of the "father of modern China" Dr. Sun Yat-sen, several notable temples, the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, the former Presidential Palace and other historically significant sites. There are also some lovely parks and gardens, an island, and hot springs. Of course, as a large Chinese city, Nanjing does not lack the spirit of enterprise.

Getting there: 1 hour 15 minutes by high-speed train from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station

Nanjing Confucius Temple | © Till Kuhn / Flickr


Changshu has combined many of the best features of Hangzhou and Suzhou: canals, old houses, a lake, and mountains, but while Hangzhou and Suzhou are tourist hotspots, Changshu flies under the radar. Go to the Shanghu Scenic Area and take a gondola ride through bamboo-lined waterways or take a bus to Yushan Summit (Mount Yu) to see Xingfu Temple and the neighboring forest with its traditional tea plantations. There: 1 hour 30 minutes the bus from Shanghai South Intercity Bus Station

Changshu | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Ningbo is one of the ancient cities in China and home to one of the busiest ports in the world. The city has many strong Buddhist connections and makes its temples one of the city's main attractions. Among them is the 1700 year old Asoka Temple, which houses the rare Buddhist relics of Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism. 1600 year old Tiantong Temple, known for its scenery and subtle architectural style; and the Baoguo Temple, which has one of the best-preserved wooden structures of its kind in China.

Getting there: 2 hours by high-speed train from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station

Ningbo at night | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Zhenjiang, a medium-sized city in Shanghai's other neighboring province, Jiangsu, is known for little more than the home of Nobel Prize winner Pearl S. Buck. However, what makes it a great day trip from Shanghai is the charming Jiaoshan Park. Located on an island in the middle of the Yangtze River, Jiaoshan Park is home to the Ten Thousand Buddha Pagoda and a fort that served to fight the British during the First Opium War. Zhenjiang is also known for being the birthplace of a sweet balsamic vinegar that can be found on all noodles across the city.

How to get there: 1 hour by bullet train from Shanghai Hongqiao Station

Zhenjiang | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Dongqian Lake

Located outside of Ningbo City, Dongqian Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Zhejiang Province. Due to its proximity to Ningbo and Shanghai, the lake is surprisingly free of the crowds that haunt Hangzhou's West Lake, making it a relaxing getaway. It actually consists of three lakes, of which the North Lake can be seen. Between the shores of the lake and the surrounding mountains, you'll find small villages, temples, and even a sculpture park from the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD).

How to get there: 2 hours by train from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station

Dongqian Lake | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Because of its long history and preservation of ancient culture, Shaoxing is fondly known as the "Museum Without Walls". It is also known as the "Land of Celebrities" because it is the birthplace of celebrities Author Lu Xun and Former Prime Minister of the People's Republic of China, Zhou Enlai, both residences are open to tours. Other attractions include Old Town Anchang, East Lake, Mount Kuaiji, Baicao Garden and the Orchid Pavilion. Don't leave the city without trying the famous Shaoxing Wine, a Chinese rice wine used for drinking, medicine and seasoning.

Getting there: 1 hour 22 minutes by bullet train from Shanghai Hongqiao Station

Shaoxing | © Evan Wood / Flickr


Like Changshu, Yangzhou is another city that combines elements of Suzhou and Hangzhou. You'll find many traditional Chinese gardens here, like Ge Yuan dotted with bamboo and Slender West Lake, which is like a miniature version of the real thing. However, what might be the most interesting attraction is Puhaddin's tomb. Puhaddin is believed to be a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed, and the surrounding gardens and mosque are an interesting juxtaposition of Chinese and Islamic architecture.

Getting there: 1 hour bullet train from Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station to Zhenjiang South Railway Station + 40 minutes bus from the long-distance bus station next to Zhenjiang South Railway Station

Slender West Lake, Yangzhou | © james j8246 / Flickr

Author: Brent Matthews

Brent Matthews is a 44 year old journalist. Social Media Practitioner. Twitter lover. Coffee nerd. Student. Avid troublemaker. Entrepreneur. Advocate of music.