5 of the most amazing places to visit on a short break from Shanghai
Everybody knows Shanghai for its modernity and mesmerizing city landscape. In Shanghai, you find everything from an amazing skyline to old bustling areas. There is always something new you can discover in this diverse and beautiful metropolitan city. Millions of people visit Shanghai every year. But as a local it is much more pleasant to get away from the high-rises and boulevards. In this article, you will learn about five places you can visit on a short break from Shanghai.
1. Zhouzhuang Water Town
This town is located 80 km west of Shanghai and is known as the number one water town in China. Zhouzhuang translated means “Zhou’s village” and is named after Zhou Digong, a pious Buddhist, who donated in 1088 all his land (13 hectares) to the local Fuquan Temple. With a rich history of more than 900 years, this old water town has become a cradle of Oriental culture, with pristine and simple customs, unique folklore, ancient canals, stone bridges, and residential houses. You can visit this unique place in one day and still arrive back to Shanghai in time for supper. You just have to take the long-distance bus from the Shanghai Northern Long-distance bus station. The entrance fee is 100RMB, and it is worth it because you can enter again in the water town within three days.
2. Classical Gardens of Suzhou
A stunning place nicknamed “The Venice of the Orient, the Classical Gardens of Suzhou are located 95 km northwest of Shanghai. In Suzhou, eight of the finest gardens and one from the nearby ancient town Tongli were included by UNESCO in the World Heritage Sites for the unique art of Suzhou style of their classical gardens. The city is quite renowned for its rivers, lakes, stone bridges, pagodas, and particular meticulous design gardens. Suzhou is quite famous internationally for its gardens. People say that the gardens located south of Yangtze River are the most beautiful in the world. A Suzhou tour can be easily arranged by high-speed trains from Shanghai. Most visitors opt for using the train because it is not only comfortable but also convenient. You can take the train directly from Shanghai Railway Station or Shanghai Hongqiao Railway station to the Suzhou Railway Station, and you will arrive in around 30 minutes.
3. The Mesmerizing Landscape of Hangzhou
200 km southwest of Shanghai, a place famous for its picturesque view exists. It is called Hangzhou and in June 20011 UNESCO listed the West Lake Cultural Landscape as a World Heritage site. With a fame older than 800 years, even Marco Polo described it as “beyond dispute the noblest and the finest in the world”. Furthermore, Hangzhou has a lot of ancient lakeside temples, historic buildings, and ancient canals. It even has its own local products such as silk, color-glazed porcelain, Xihu silk umbrellas, white chrysanthemum, Longjing tea and many others. It is easy for you to arrange a trip to Hangzhou. Each day more than 40 high-speed trains leave Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station for Hangzhou Railway Station and Hangzhou East Railway Station.
4. Yellow Mountain (Huangshan)
Huangshan is located 400 km southwest of Shanghai and it is a world famous city. There the marvelous mountain known as Yellow Mountain can be found (in Chinese is Huangshan). Since 1990, this mountain is listed as a Natural and Cultural Heritage and two nearby villages, Xidi, and Hongcum, are part of UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today the place is full of visitors, painters, poets and photographers who like to come on pilgrimage to this site. Yellow Mountain offers magnificent views, unwinding hot springs, granite peaks and rocks emerging from a sea of clouds. You can go to Huangshan directly from Shanghai by plane or overnight trains. This trip can last minimum two days, so plan carefully.
5. Qiandao Lake
This lake located in neighboring Zhejiang Province covers more than 978 km² and has 1,078 islands. Situated 350 km from Shanghai, it is an easy 4-hour drive. Of course, you can also take the bus, taxi, or plane from Shanghai to Qiandao Lake. Until 1950 the area was a mountainous region with few remote villages, but after that the villagers were relocated and the area became a vast reservoir. This man-made paradise is perfect for those who love quiet vacations by the water. It is a great area for sailing, windsurfing, boating and swimming. There are a lot of hotels in the area, including seven 5-star hotels, such as Sheraton, Narada, and Hilton. In addition, every evening at 6:30 PM, an antique-looking boat departs from Fisher Dock and returns two hours later.
To drive in China you will need a Chinese driving license, but you can always hire a car and a driver to take you to one of the five best places to relax near Shanghai. All you have to do is schedule the trip, and away you go! Have fun!
Photo credits: Jakob Montrasio, Jonathan (IceNineJohn), David Almeida, Tauno Tohk, Patrick He.
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