Summer is officially here and even though the pollution and weather has drastically improved in Shanghai, we know you still crave an escape. If you and the fam don’t have time to travel to places like Thailand and Vietnam, here are some fun weekend getaways that will offer a change of scenery from Shanghai’s concrete jungle. Best of all, these places are just a short drive or train ride away.
The capital of Zhejiang province, Hangzhou is recognized for its magnificent scenery, which has inspired many an influential poet and artist. While West Lake is the city’s biggest attraction, it is not the only natural vista worth a visit. Mountains surrounding the water offer exceptional hiking and camping options, while the longjing (dragon well) tea plantation, offers visitors a chance to pick their own leaves, which can be a great activity for the kids. Overall, this city makes for a great weekend away for adventurous families with lots of outdoor activities to choose from.
What to See:
Thousand Island Lake
This manmade lake is dotted with 1,078 large islands, plus a few thousand smaller ones. It is recognized for its crystal clear water, which covers an area of 573 square meters and is 100 times larger than West Lake. The surrounding forest covers about 90 percent of the area and is home to over 2,100 types of wild animals. The best way to explore as many islands as possible with the family is by boat. Jet skis and bikes are available for rent, with plenty of paths among the islands to go for long bike rides. If you have younger children, we definitely recommend stopping at Monkey Island and Island of Snakes, which have been transformed into amusement parks.
An UNESCO World Heritage Site, West Lake is known for having influenced poets and painters throughout Chinese history. Studded with temples, pagodas and gardens, this freshwater lake is roughly 6.5 square kilometers in size. Families can go for a boat ride, as well as cycle or walk along the lake’s circumference. Not to be missed is the Impression West Lake Show, which consists of dance, music and light performances – a show that is sure to dazzle your youngsters.
Xixi National Wetland Park
Crossed with six main watercourses, this natural wetland covers 2,800 acres and is the first and one of the only wetland parks in China to combine urban life, farming and culture. The original site of Chinese South Opera, it is a typical water village that features silkworm feeding and silk production. Every year one of the most recognized traditional dragon boat contests are held here.
The easiest way to get to Hangzhou via Shanghai is by train, which runs between Shanghai and Hangzhou East Railway Station from 6am to 9pm. A ride on the non-stop CRH high-speed service trains takes just 50 minutes one-way.
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