China is an ancient place with well over a thousand years of history throughout the region. Billions of people live in the huge country, with different aspects of Chinese culture prevalent within each of them, so there is a lot to do and see near Shanghai. The enormous city isn’t the capital, but it is the most populous city, and it sits right on the Pacific Ocean that provides outdoor activities, beaches, gorgeous views, special events, shopping, dining, and so much more.


1.Suzhou

Suzhou
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Suzhou has been a city for over 2,500 years and is only about 1 ½ hours from Shanghai. The most popular gardens are the Humble Administrator’s Garden, which is the epitome of classic Chinese landscaping and outdoor arts, the Lingering Garden, a 9 sq. mi. garden full of life and art, the Master of the Nets Garden, and the Lion Grove Garden. Other famous attractions are Tiger Hill, which is the resting place of an ancient king that is surrounded in folklore as well as ancient history with amazing sights. The surrounding water towns are famous for tourism, and are nicknamed the “Venice of the East.” Visitors also go to the Hanshan Temple, several museums, including the Suzhou Museum, and the Suzhou Industrial Park.

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2.Anji Bamboo Forest

Anji Bamboo Forest
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The city of Anji is filled with amazing tourist attractions that are both fun and enlightening for the whole family. The Anji Bamboo Forest surrounds the small town and provides a serene experience. Visitors are immersed in the culture immediately, where they can partake in the region’s famous white tea and bamboo shoots, along with other unique dining experiences. The forest itself has hiking and biking trails throughout, with some traditional Chinese-style stone benches at rest areas along the way. The trails have amazing bridges and tea gardens that overlooks acres of tea bush farms. The distance between Shanghai and Anji is 4 hours by train and 2 ¾ hours by car.

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3.Changshu

Changshu
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This ancient city is an ancient farming community, a bustling tourist attraction, and a large manufacturing center with international businesses. People love to visit because of the historical places, the fresh markets downtown, and unique shopping and dining. The city has three amazing parks and just as many gardens. There are five designated hills that are perfect for hiking and biking. Within the downtown area and adjacent districts, people can find both modern and traditional dining and shopping places. The Xingfu Temple, Zhongyang’s Tomb, and Yanzi's Tomb are very popular and important historical sites that are located within the city limits. Traveling to Changshu takes 1 ½ hours by car and 2 hours by bus.

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4.Chongming Island

Chongming Island
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Chongming Island is located due north, just off the coast of China, and is connected by an amazing series of bridges over the Yangtze River, which connect both this island and the Changxing Island. It only takes 1 ½ hours to drive there from Shanghai. The island has huge forests, wetlands full of wildlife, and lakes to explore. There are also mudflats where sideways-walking crabs make their homes, which has given the island the nickname “Crab Island.” The island is also ancient and has many historical sites that welcome visitors. There are small towns to explore that house old temples, academies, and unique dining and shopping places.

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5.Dongqian Lake

Dongqian Lake
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This ancient and amazing large body of water is just under a three-hour drive from Shanghai and there is much to do there. The lake spans 234 km with high mountains and clear water. Boat rentals and water transportation is available. There is a ton of unique dining and shopping places available all around the lake. Visitors frequently visit the Little Putuo, which is a bank along the shoreline that is very popular and provides common outdoor activities for visitors and citizens. Xiayu Temple is an ancient place that is open for people to explore the ancient Chinese culture. Other places to visit are The Hanling street, which is a 1,000-year-old town, the museum stone carvings, Butuo Caves, Taogong Island, King Yue’s Temple, and so much more.

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6.Hangzhou

Hangzhou
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Hangzhou is the capital of the Zhejiang Province, located right on the Qiantang River, which is only about 2 ½ hours from Shanghai. The city is bustling with people from all over the world seeking out the ancient culture, unique dining, amazing shopping, and historical sites. The West Lake has over a dozen historical sites and places to learn about both ancient and current culture in China. The most popular places to visit are the Leifeng Pagoda, Lingyin Temple, Xixi National Park, Qinghefang Ancient Street, Longjing Tea Farms in Meijiawu Village just outside of Hangzhou, Jiuxi Scenic Forest, Nine Creeks, the Misty Forest, and the Thousand Islets Lake.

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7.Holland Town

Holland Town
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This unique project is located just an hour away from Shanghai and looks exactly like a village in Holland. It is connected to the town of Gao Qiao, which is bustling with locals and tourists. Holland Town is actually very quiet with very little people visiting there. There aren’t many shops and some of the project isn’t finished. A large windmill stands in the center of the town and is owned by a wedding agency. The scenery is the epitome of European architecture but doesn’t have all the shops and cafes that a normal Euro town would have. Visitors are encouraged to bring a lunch because restaurants and eateries are scarce.

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8.Jiaxing

Jiaxing
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Jiaxing is a large city only about 1 ½ hours from Shanghai with over 3 million people and a unique culture that blends the old and the new to create a wonderful experience. The city is divided into many smaller parts, most of which can be described as “water towns,” since there are many rivers and creeks flowing through each part of the city. The two lakes, South Lake and Nanbei Lake offer a great outdoor experience, hiking, biking, and exploring. Much of the city is built upon water and visitors are encouraged to take water transportation around the city. There are many shopping plazas, restaurants, unique local shops, museums, historical sites, and so much more to explore throughout the city.

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9.Linhai

Linhai
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This town is one of the best places to visit the southernmost section of the Great Wall of China. The section of the wall located in Linhai is named the Jiangnan Great Wall. The Wall is surrounded by museums and other historical sites to learn everything about the ancient history of Linhai. The Wall can be travelled by tourists to view the scenery. It spans a few miles and takes around two hours to walk the entire section. The East Lake is a beautiful place that is walled off so that it can stay pristine. The lake itself is like other ones located in Beijing during the Qing Dynasty. Ziyang Old Street is the historic district of Linhai and begins at the end of the tour of the Wall. There, visitors find traditional Chinese culture in food, shops, activities, architecture, and other places to visit within the district.

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10.Moganshan

Moganshan
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Moganshan is comprised Moganshan Village and Mountain, and the amazing scenery and businesses surrounding it all. It is a mountaintop getaway that has miles of trails to the summit and down into the valley. Moganshan Village has unique restaurants, shopping, and local businesses that offer equestrian trail-riding tours, outdoor activities for groups, and more. There are hotels and hostels throughout the valley, which provide luxury to people who wish to stay, but should also be visited for people on a day trip, because of the restaurants, shops, gardens, and bars located within them. Moganshan beer is a favorite throughout the entire region. The mountain is only about a 2 ½ hour drive from Shanghai.

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11.Nanjing

Nanjing
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The City of Color is about 3 ½ hours away from Shanghai by car, and about 1 ½ hours by plane. Nanjing has been China’s capital 10 times during different dynasties, so there is well over a thousand years of history, culture, and historical sites to explore. The city is large, with activities for the whole family, and just one day won’t even scratch the surface of what Nanjing has to offer. Visitors can find You mineral springs to relax, a fine restaurant, and unique clothing and other items easily in every district. The sights are colorful and abundant. Just walking around the city will fulfill your need for a nature hike.

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12.Nanxiang

Nanxiang
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Nanxiang is a beautiful, classic Chinese water town that has small water channels and canals flowing throughout the city as if it is floating upon a lake. It is actually a part of Shanghai, but is considered its own town, and is only about a 30-minute drive from the center of Shanghai. There are many museums and unique shops and dining throughout the entire city. A must-see place is a district within the city called Ancient Town, which holds plenty of restaurants, historical sites, temples, street vendors, and eateries for both visitors and locals. Nanxiang also is home to one of five amazing gardens, the Guyi Garden of Nanxiang, which is open to everyone all year-round.

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13.Ningbo

Ningbo
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Ningbo lies just south of the Yangtze Delta right along the Pacific Ocean. It’s a large city with about 6 million people and a lifetime’s worth of historical sites, temples, vendors, shops, restaurants, and local culture to explore. It takes about 2 ½ hours to travel to Ningbo by car, the route taking you right over the Hangzhou Bay. Ningbo is a large Buddhist community, so temples are abundant. Visitors can explore the 1700-year-old Ashoka Temple, the 1600-year-old Tiantong Temple, the Baoguo Temple, which is an impressively preserved, elegant wooden structure, the Qita Temple, the Xiantong Pagoda, and the Tianfeng Pagoda. Amongst the temples are other places of historical significance, restaurants, shops, unique dining, and many places for outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy.

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14.Putuoshan

Putuoshan
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Putuoshan is a small island just off the coast, south of the Hangzhou Bay. Visitors have a ton of options for travelling to the island, and it takes about 4 ½ hours by car and speed boat. Note that taking the ferry will take around 11 hours. The island is abundant with Buddhism culture, with ancient temples and vast forests and mountains. It is a serene place with miles upon miles of hiking trails, unique scenery, and coastal shores that are fantastic for outdoor activities with the whole family. Visitors love to see the Purple Bamboo Forest, the Valokitesvara Statue atop the mountain, the Pu Ji and Fa Yu Temples, and the unique seafood restaurants with traditional and new Buddhist cuisine.

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15.Shaoxing

Shaoxing
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Shaoxing is another large city with a few million people that lies just southwest of the Hangzhou Bay. It takes about 2 ½ hours to drive there by car from Shanghai. Once there, tourists love to visit the sites, explore the modern urban districts, along with taking in the ancient culture in the older districts. The city itself is over 2000 years old, making it one of the oldest cities in China. There are many museums that hold priceless artifacts and cultural history from the region to explore. Popular places to visit are Anchang Ancient Town, East Lake, Kuaiji Mountain, Lu Xun Native Place, the Orchid Pavilion, and Shenyuan Garden. Shops, restaurants, and local businesses can be found in every district all over the city.

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16.Shengsi Island

Shengsi Island
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This small island is like a tropical getaway that is just a few miles off the coast of Shanghai. It has been kept natural and pristine, and has hills and trails, and beaches that are perfect for swimming, fishing, and experiencing the local wildlife both in the ocean and on land. Local businesses offer services like snorkeling and free diving on the beaches all over the island. People can even rent scooters or motorcycles to explore the island. The trip takes roughly 3 ½ hours. The island is part of the Shengsi County Archipelago, and travel to one island to board a ferry to Shengsi Island is necessary.

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17.Sheshan Mountain

Sheshan Mountain
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This gorgeous mountain is home to the West Sheshan Forest Park at the foot of the mountain, which has villas, shops, restaurants, and outdoor play areas for the kids. The Chenshan Botanical Gardens is also located at the foot of the mountain and is open to explore during daylight hours. The mountain is located only an hours’ drive from Shanghai. The park is rife with attractions like the Xiudaozhe Pagoda, which is roughly 1700 years old. Kids are welcome to play on the huge playground built out of bamboo that is located on a large piece of open land. The summit has tables and chairs to rest once visitors walk up the steps to the top. Upon reaching the summit, visitors can explore the Shanghai Astronomical Museum and the Sheshan Marian Basilica.

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18.Thames Town

Thames Town
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China is famous for creating towns resembling other countries and cultures, like Holland Town, which resembles the country of Holland. Thames Town resembles a classic town in the United Kingdom. There is also a German and Canadian replica town as well. Thames Town was built as part of an initiative to get people to move out of Shanghai because of overpopulation. However, it didn’t really work, and the replica towns are really just ghost towns. There aren’t any locals that live there, and shops and restaurants are scarce if not non-existant. But, the sights are quite contrasting to the classic Chinese culture in Shanghai, which makes for a nice change of pace. These towns are mostly used for wedding photos because of the British architecture that is replicated throughout the town.

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19.Wuzhen

Wuzhen
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Wuzhen is another classic Chinese water town that is only about 2 hours away from Shanghai by car. It is an ancient town full of history and beautiful architecture. The small canals allow boats to take visitors throughout the small city easily. The city is divided into two sections, the East Area, and the West Area. The East Area is more modern, with newer shops and amenities, whereas the West Area is more traditional and rife with ancient Chinese culture and historical sites. While the two districts contrast, the entire city has an easy and genuine feel to it. Visitors like to see the art performances like shadow plays, martial arts performances, bamboo pole climbing performances, unique shops and restaurants, and a ton of places of historical significance to explore.

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20.Xianghai Temple

Xianghai Temple
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This large Buddhist Temple resides in Jiaxing, which is about 1 ¾ hours away from Shanghai. All the temples around the region serve specific purposes, and the Xianghai Temple is known for answering prayers that promote a healthy body, a clean spirit, and a peaceful mind. All year round, visitors flock to the temple seeking guidance and wisdom, and find that the monks offer classes that teach meditation and relaxation techniques to the general public. The temple is open to anyone during daylight hours. Some classes can even last for over a week to teach the students inner peace and spiritual strength along with the other teachings of Buddha. For the people on a day trip, it’s a privilege to see the monks, and to participate in their daily activities with them, as they practice what they preach.

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21.Xitang

Xitang
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Xitang is yet another water town that are famous for their beauty and unique landscape. The entire town is situated on water, so flowing rivers and smaller canals are a great way to travel about the town. There are shops in most districts, including the Xitang Ancient Town, where 1300 years of history is still there to be explored. Xitang is known for best preserving their history, including their buildings and structures, along with artifacts and other facets of the region’s history. The most popular attraction is the Covered Corridor, which is an artistic structure that protects the people from the sun and rain. It runs along the main lane, along a large waterway, and has many types of little shops and ancient art decorating the structure. There are also plenty of ancient bridges, historical landmarks, and buildings and other structures that are well over a thousand years old to explore. And, it’s only an hour’s drive from Shanghai.

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22.Yangzhou

Yangzhou
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Yangzhou is a very large city with about 4.5 million people and a whole lot of amazing tourist attractions to explore. It takes about 3 ½ hours to travel to Yangzhou by car. It is a top tourist attraction in all of China, so there is an abundance of everything tourists wish to see within the city. Yangzhou is over two thousand years old and full of history that people can see, touch, and feel. There are gardens, museums, unique shopping in downtown and in the older districts, and some of the best restaurants in China. There are many places for kids, adults, and the whole family. Visitors love to visit the He and Ge Gardens, the Daming Monastery, and Slender West Lake for outdoor activities.

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23.Yellow Mountain

Yellow Mountain
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This ancient mountain is located in Huangshan, a very old town with deep cultural roots and incredible sights. Yellow Mountain is about a five-hour drive from Shanghai by car. The natural landscape is unique, with pine forests and large rock formations covering the region. The small villages of Hongcun and Xidi Villages reside in the valley below and offer their own unique culture, shops, entertainment, and dining. The mountain itself is picturesque. At the summit, visitors can see what the locals call the “Sea of Clouds,” which are clouds that cover the upper portion of the mountain and spread as far as the eye can see. There are many hiking and biking trails and a park at the foot of the mountain. Huangshan also offers many unique attractions and historical sites for people to explore.

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24.Zhenjiang

Zhenjiang
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Located about 3 hours away from Shanghai, Zhenjiang sits within the Yangtze Delta area near the ocean, and Zhenjiang has prospered for over 3000 years because of its location. People often go and see the Jinshan Temple, which is a very large structure that is architecturally amazing and open for anyone. For outdoor adventurers, the Jiaoshan, Maoshan, and the Nanshan Mountains are all beautiful places with parks and roads leading to the summit. Some of the best seafood and unique local shopping places are located throughout Zhenjiang. There are also museums, plenty of entertainment, other outdoor activities, and cultural locations that are great for the whole family.

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25.Zhujiajiao

Zhujiajiao
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Zhujiajiao has over 1700 years of history to share with its visitors within its watery basin. This famous water town is appropriately nicknamed the “Venice of the East.” Canals and waterways flow throughout the entire city and make for great ways to travel about. Artistry and traditional culture is abundant in Zhujiajiao, with some of China’s best artists in various disciplines displaying their talents to the public daily. There are a few museums and many historical sites to visit all throughout the city. The downtown area has both modern and more traditional Chinese shops and restaurants. There are 36 stone bridges with intricate architecture to explore, among many other structures that all serve a purpose in the community.

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25 Best Weekend Getaways and Day Trips from Shanghai