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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 of China.

Shanghai Day Trips

day trips from shanghai

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, traveling 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 architecture 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.

Thames Town

For a fun day trip, head to Thames Town. This is an English-themed town on the outskirts of Shanghai, originally built to disperse the pollution 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 the 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.

day trips from shanghai


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 Classical Gardens of Suzhou were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site 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. Alternatively, you can book a group or private tour to Suzhou. 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.

Day trips from Shanghai

Shanghai Disneyland

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. The Shanghai Disney rides are unique and unlike the rides in other parks around the world – we highly recommend a visit for Disney lovers!

Hangzhou Travel


Catch a one-hour speed train to Hangzhou and enjoy a different type of Chinese city.

Head to the picturesque West Lake in China 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 a replica Eiffel Tower.

Day trips from Shanghai - Changzhou


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 center 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 center, 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.

Further Afield 

Backpacking Asia


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 Get Your Guide.

Make sure you visit the Nanjing Memorial for a truly moving and slightly heartbreaking look at the awful historic events in Nanjing.

Things to do in Xian China


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 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 favorite 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 fields.


Just an hour and a half away from Shanghai, Changshu is a favorite spot for ex-pats. 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.

Helpful resources

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BEST APPS FOR CHINA TRAVEL • Creative Travel Guide

Sunday 3rd of January 2021



Sunday 12th of January 2020

I want to see the Terracotta warriors, but I have to admit that the Zhoushang Water Village looks worthy of a visit too!


Sunday 12th of January 2020

Man, I haven't made it to Shanghai yet but this wants me to plan a trip NOW! Keeping this post for later!


Sunday 12th of January 2020

These all look so beautiful! I would love to visit.

Taylor Deer

Saturday 11th of January 2020

You definitely inspired me to travel to China! All of your photos are beautiful and these are great suggestions! I've definitely heard of some of these cities before, but now I have to see them for myself. Great article! :)

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