Shanghai is one of the most populated cities in the world coming in at a whooping 24 million people!  With a city as extravagant as Shanghai there’s lots to see and do that can keep you busy for weeks but if you’re looking to get away from the towering neon buildings for a day, I got you covered.  Here are the best day trips from Shanghai.

Best Day Trips from Shanghai

Hangzhou

Hangzhou is the perfect day trip from Shanghai.  Home to picture perfect West Lake, where pagodas and temples dot the surrounding hillsides creating panoramic views whichever way you look.  Just a 45 minute train ride from Shanghai’s Hongqiao railway station makes this an ideal day trip if you don’t have enough time to spend a few days here. The train station is connected to the metro station so getting in and out of the city is easy.  The highlight of this city is West Lake.

West Lake has been applauded by emperors for centuries and always seems to be the muse of a poet.  You can spend a whole day wondering around West Lake, stop to take a breather at one of the many benches along the waterside, listen to the music of a local jamming out on their saxophone, or take a boat tour to see the lake from the inside out.

There are many boat operators and tours you can take to explore the lake. We chose the small/private boat tour that costs 150 RMB for one hour.  We did not notice at the time that this small boat did NOT have a motor and there was only one paddle.  Our “driver” wasn’t the most go getter of a guide so we didn’t get very far or go very fast. I would recommend getting on the larger boat to be able to see more of the lake and its half the price.

Venture up to the Leifeng Pagoda to get the best panoramic views of the city. If you’re into gardens check out the Hangzhou Botanical Garden. And if walking around the lake wasn’t enough of a workout, hike up Baoshi Shan to get a view of West Lake. You’ll get to pass by a temple on the way up and the paths are well kept. *Shan means mountain in Chinese so know you’ll be in for a hike.

We stayed on Zhongshan Zhonglu Street which was fairly busy during the day but really came alive at night.  Come hungry and get adventurous.  You can try anything from fresh juices and teas to basically anything on a stick, like squid, soft-shelled crab, and scorpion.

Where to stay in hangzhou

BUDGET

Hangzhou Pupu Homestay

Excellent location to enjoy tea plantations, temples, and West Lake. Also located close to the bus line. Clean, modern, and a nice garden area to relax in after a day of exploring Hangzhou. Rooms start at $50 a night.  Day trips from Shanghai

MID RANGE

Tea Boutique Hotel West Lake

Located close to West Lake, this hotel is tastefully decorated and has new furnishings. Great if you’re looking for tranquility next to West Lake. Rooms start at $90 a night.

LUXURY

Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake

More of a resort than a hotel, the Four Seasons in Hangzhou is located next to West Lake. Surrounded by traditional Chinese Gardens, you won’t want to leave the hotel once you arrive. A fitness center, world class spa, and an infinity pool is just icing on the cake. Rooms start at $530 a night.

Qinghefang Old Street at the south end of Zhongshan Street will have unique and original gifts for you to take home. Items ranging from silk, local teas, silver and more. You’ll walk under the bell tower to get between streets which looks awesome all lit up at night.

Suzhou

Known for its canals and gardens, it has been dubbed “Venice of the East”.  A short 26 minute train ride from Shanghai.  The G line trains are the most efficient.  There are buses that take you into the town or catching a cab isn’t hard as the train station is close to the town.

We stayed on the lively street of Pinjiang.  Stroll along the canal and pop into one of the trendy cafes, including a cat cafe! I had one of the BEST milkshakes of my life here!

Where to stay in suzhou

BUDGET

Hotel Soul

Located walking distance to Guan Qian Street. Large rooms, rooftop garden, fitness center and close to the subway. Rooms start at $50 a night.

MID RANGE

Pan Pacific Suzhou

This hotel looks like a mini Forbidden City from the outside. The rooms are surrounding by oriental gardens and has tradition Chinese decor. If you’re looking for budget luxury, look no further. Rooms start at $80 a night.

Garden Hotel Suzhou

Great location. Located in the middle of old town. The hotel has a swimming pool, spa, and fitness center. Located within 35 minutes by car to both railway stations. Rooms start at $90 a night.

LUXURY

Suzhou Marriot Hotel

Comfortable and clean rooms. Hotel is equipped with a swimming pool, sauna, and a gym. Has killer views of Suzhou city and a great breakfast. Prices start at $137 a night.

Take a riverboat tour to view the grand canal and visit one of the gardens, there are many to choose from the options are endless. We unfortunately were only here for a half a day and had to chose so we chose the canals over the gardens but I’ve heard only great things about the gardens (although be warned they are crowded.) And if you’re into museums check out the Suzhou Museum or the Suzhou Are Museum and you guessed it they’re FREE!

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