If you’re looking to escape the metropolis that is Shanghai for a day, you have plenty of quick day trip destinations to choose from.
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If you’re looking for a peaceful day trip not too far from Shanghai, then Moganshan is the place for you. Roughly 180km from Shanghai, this mountainous area with lush bamboo forests is an amazing place to escape city life.
There aren’t any historic sites you must see, museums you need to visit, or foods you absolutely must eat. It’s a really simple, slow moving area that once housed the summer homes of the city’s elite and has recently been rediscovered and redeveloped as a tourist destination.
Some things you can do in Moganshan include taking a hike through the bamboo forests, swimming in the beautiful reservoir, mountain biking or just chilling outside with a cold beer and a book.
With more than enough BnBs and hostels to choose from, and some more luxurious options like Le Passage Mohkan Shan and naked Retreats, finding a place to stay should be fairly easy.
Transport yourself to the China of the old in Zhujiajiao. Just a quick and very cheap hour bus ride away from downtown Shanghai, this classic ancient water village is a wonderful and more peaceful alternative to the hustle and bustle of the big city.
The water town houses many old historical buildings and sites, including perfectly preserved banks, rice shops and spice stores, post offices, bridges, gardens and temples. You can easily spend several hours strolling among the narrow alleyways and old streets, all of which are lined with vendors selling snacks and souvenirs.
Make your way over to Fangsheng Bridge to get a beautiful view of the surrounding waterfront houses and the row boats traveling up and down the canal. If you like, you can rent a four- to six-person boat for RMB65 and cruise down the canals yourself.
The only downside? Zhujiajiao’s proximity to Shanghai does unfortunately mean that it can get quite busy with tourists during peak travel periods.
This is another ancient water town very similar to Zhujiajiao, but smaller and and even more easily accessible. Qibao is located in the southwest of Shanghai, and is just a 30- to 40-minute metro ride from the city center.
Much like Zhujiajiao, it can get pretty crowded, but it’s worth braving the crowds for one day (or even just half a day) to explore this tiny town. Highlights include Qibao Old Street, specialty snacks like Qibao gao (flavoured glutinous rice cakes), lamb and rice wine, and tang tuan (soft glutinous balls filled with things like pork or sesame).
Oh, and don’t forget Qibao’s famed crickets. Yes, crickets. Cricket fighting was once one of the most popular folk activities in ancient China, and today cricket fights still draw interest amongst locals. There’s even a special museum with cricket displays and, occasionally, live cricket fighting shows.
4. Chongming Island
Chongming might not be the definition of an ideal island getaway, but there’s still plenty to do and see there. China’s third largest island, Chongming offers a variety of different activities suitable for a day trip. Dongtan Wetlands is great for bird watching (best months to go are between June and September), while Dongping Forest Park is offers biking, zip lines and lots of open space to stroll around.
At Qianwei Ecology Village, visitors can experience sustainable living: you can push wheelbarrows, ride horses, pick fruit and veggies and even go fishing.