Shanghai is an incredible city and a must visit on your China trip. But, if you have time to escape the city, make sure you check out these day trips from Shanghai to experience a different side to China.
Shanghai Day Trips
Zhouzhang Water Village
A simple and well preserved town with beautiful waterways, dating back more than 900 years. Take a Gondola and explore this quaint water village, travelling back in time through carved-brick archways and along authentic courtyards.
The water town is around an hour and a half from Shanghai and is worth a full day- you can visit the historic archiecture and even take a boat ride down the canals.
If you can, avoid visiting on a public holiday or weekend because it can get busy and crowded which ruins the peaceful nature of this place.
Similar villages include Tongli Water Town and Zhujiajiao.
For a fun and slightly random day trip, head to Thames Town. This is a English-themed town on the outskirts of Shanghai, originally built to disperse the pollutation of the city. Very few people actually live in Thames Town but it does make for an unusual and interesting day trip.
Whilst in the town, you can stop for tea, visit an Alice in Wonderland themed restaurant, see statues from English pop culture such as Harry Potter and take in the British styled houses and church.
We caught a DIDI (China’s version of Uber) to Thames Town which took us around an hour, but you can catch the Shanghai Metro Line 9 to nearby town Songjiang New City. From here, you can get a taxi to Thames Town. It is also worth noting that there is also a German, Spanish, Scandinavian, Italian and Dutch themed town in and around the town of Songjiang.
One of oldest towns in the Yangzte basin, famous for its beautiful gardens which survived the Mae Zedongâs Cultural Revolution. Visit the Net Master Garden, a great example of a Ming Dynasty garden, followed by a visit to the ancient city wall and the Grand Canal.
The Classic Gardens of Suzhou were made a UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1997 and Suzhou is now known to the world as the ‘Venice of the East’.
Suzhou is an hour and a half away from Shanghai and we recommend getting a taxi or arranging a driver and getting here early. It can get busy quickly, especially in the warmer months. You can also get a bullet train from Shanghai or Hongqiao Railway Station to Suzhou which should take around 30-40 minutes – we use the cTrip app to book our train tickets in advance.
Of course Disneyland was going to get a mention. Located around a 40-minute drive from Shanghai, this Disneyland is massive and popular. Book your tickets online to avoid the queues, arrive early and download the Shanghai Disneyland app before you arrive to book your fast passes as quickly as you can.
We have a few posts on Disneyland Shanghai for more tips:
Catch a one hour speed train to Hangzhou and enjoy a different type of Chinese city.
Head to West Lake and explore the surrounding Pagoda and temples, visit the Lingyin temple or try some local dishes at Gaoyin food street.
If you have a few days in the city, take the 45-minute journey to Tianducheng; China’s very own Paris, complete with replica Eiffel Tower.
Around 50 minutes from Shanghai on the speed train, is the smaller, less-developed city of Changzhou. There isn’t too much going on in the city centre but they do have a weirdly fun Dinosaur theme park as well as the Joyland Theme Park – perhaps the worst copyrighted theme park in the world!
Around 40-minutes away from the city centre, Nanxiang is home to stunning gardens as well as the birthplace of xiaolongbao dumplings. Head to Guyi Garden for a relaxing stroll or enjoy the calm and culture of Yunxiang Temple.
Take a train to Nanjing and explore the ancient temples and fascinating museums that depict China and its growth through the years. Train journeys can take between 1 ½ hours to 3 hours depending on which train you catch and tours are available with Viator.
Make sure you visit the Nanjing Memorial for a truly moving and slightly heartbreaking look at the awful historic events in Nanjing.
Home of the Terracotta Warriors, Xi’an is definitely worth a visit if you have the time whilst you’re in China. If you are short on time, take a Viator day trip to Xi’an. The trip is pricey but includes return flights to Xi’an, a tour of the Terracotta Warriors as well as a tour around the city walls and a Chinese lunch.
If you have a bit more time to spare, take the 6 hour speed train and explore Xi’an over a few days.
Xi’an is perhaps our favourite city in China so make sure you check out our vlog series here >> Xi’an, China.
Around 2 and a half hours from Shanghai, is Moganshan; known as a place for the elite. Home to amazing hiking trails, bamboo forests and breathtaking tea feilds.
Just an hour and a half away from Shanghai, Changshu is a favourite spot for expats. It has a mixture of mountains, canals, beautiful lakes and temples but isn’t as crowded as places like Hangzhou and Suzhou.
You can catch a bus from Shanghai South Long Distance Bus Station.