Day Trips From Shanghai | The Ultimate Guide To Shanghai Day Trips

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There are many day trips from Shanghai that can be easily accessed by train or bus.

In this ultimate guide to Shanghai day trips we’ll list everything from small water towns to mid sized cities suitable, to interesting attractions – all for sight seeing in 24 hours or less.


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Day Trips From Shanghai |

 | The Ultimate Guide To Shanghai Day Trips


Day trips are a great alternative to choosing a new city every couple of days. Choosing Shanghai as a base during your trip to China means less hassle, as you won’t have to constantly change hotels or carry your luggage around. Shanghai is a massive hub, and there’s lots of different places to see within less than two and half hours transit so it’s the perfect place to base yourself.

One thing that is important to note about taking day trips from Shanghai – you will need to have the bus stations or trains stations written in Chinese (characters) if you need to catch a taxi to them. Once your in the train or bus stations however there are normally signs in English to help you get around.

You can often find the names on Google or have the receptionist at your hotel or hostel write them down for you. If you don’t want to travel independently we recommend day tours through Viator or City Discovery in China.

After you’ve explored the places around Shanghai, you can come back at take your pick of one of the many rooftop bars Shanghai has to offer.


Water Towns

Qibao Ancient Town

Qibao is the closest water town to Shanghai but due to its size this means it can also be the most crowded in peak holiday times. There are two small canals to see and they will only take you roughly half an hour to get to from central Shanghai.



Tongli is one and a half hours away from Shanghai and could easily be joined with a trip to neighboring Suzhou. Tongli receives less travelers than most of the other water towns so this would be a great Shanghai day trip for hobby photographers looking for a bit more peace and quiet to compose their shot in.

Day tours that include Tongli:



Suzhou is one of the more well known water towns in the area and what a beautiful town it is. While small, the town has some beautiful riverside walkways to explore and view classic Chinese architecture.

Day tours that include Suzhou:


Zhujiajiao Ancient Town

Zhujiajiao is one of the prettiest water towns you’ll be able to visit as a day trip from Shanghai and it will take you one hour to make the trip from Shanghai central. Zhujiajiao is a lot larger than Qibao which means a little more a lot more leisurely roaming.

Day Tours including Zhujiajiao

  • Private day tour to Zhujiajiao – see more details here.
  • Huangpu evening river cruise + day trip to Zhujiajiao – see prices here.


Zhouzhuang Water Town

Finally, the most popular water town to visit from Shanghai is the Zhouzhuang Water Town. It will take you an hour and a half to get here from Shanghai. A lot of the architecture here is old – some as early as the thirteen hundreds, and if you like you can even take a boat cruise through the waters.

You can also see the Bizarre Tower here which includes many photos ops including one where it looks like your head has been chopped into a basket. If you like taking photos, come as early as you can to get a head of the crowds.

Day tours that include ZhouZhuang:

  • Suzhou & Zhouzhuang – see more information here
  • Zhouzhuang halfday tour – find more information here.


Other notable mentions are Nanxun Ancient Town, Luzhi, Wuzhen and Xitang.




Wuxi is a mid sized city that could be a good Shanghai day trip as it’s about 1-1.5 hours away from Shanghai. Wuxi is especially pretty during the early months of Spring where you can see cherry blossoms, and a wide range of other flowers blooming in the parks and around the city.

Another great attraction to explore is the nearby Giant Buddha. The bronze Buddha statue is colossal, you can even see it as you get closer to the park on the drive towards the area. The scenic park is beautiful in Spring, which is when we visited, with flowers lining the way to the Buddha.

Inside the park you’ll also find some other over sized statues and two starkly different looking temples opposite each other.

Day tours to Wuxi from Shanghai:



Hangzhou is a little further away and while you probably won’t be able to see all of the sights in the city in a day trip from Shanghai, it’s a great way to get a taste.

In Hangzhou the main attraction is the city’s West Lake which is beautifully set, although can be very hot in summer. Nearby you can check out the …. temple. Another option is to visit the …. wetlands. A beautiful area located a bit further from the main train station.

Unless you’re a garden fanatic I would suggest picking either the Wetlands or the West Lake, so you can take your time leisurely exploring the city. If you have your heart set on both – depending on how early you leave and plan to return to Shanghai, it can be possible to spend only a couple of hours at each attraction to see all of these sites in one day trip.

Day trips to Hangzhou from Shanghai

  • Visit Hangzhou sights and the tea plantation by private tour – See prices here.
  • Bullet train and hotel transfer – If you’d prefer to explore Hangzhou on your own this is a nice compromise to help you get there and back, see the latest prices here.



Nantong is about 2 hours away by bus and is an easy day trip from Shanghai for city lovers. Nestled alongside the Yangtze River Nangtong is a modern city with pretty river views and an impressive looking main bridge.

Spend your day in Nantong checking out the impressive view at Langshan, visit the Cao Gong Zhu Memorial Temple, and seek out interesting architecture around the city.



Go two and a half hours away by fast train and you will find yourself in the city of Nanjing. Nanjing is the capital of the Jiangsu province and used to be the capital of China; this translates into being a large city with a cosmopolitan vibe.

While we’d reccomend spending more than just a day in Nanjing if you want to see all the sights, by picking just one or two attractions it could definitely be done as a day trip if you don’t mind returning to Shanghai later in the evening. 

In Nanjing you can visit the gate of China, a number of pretty lake parks, the Confucius temple, and even a mausoleum, among many other attractions. You can also see a presidential palace, lots of temples and visit the Purple Mountain area – as you can see, visiting as a day trip will mean choosing your favourites.

Day trips to Nanjing from Shanghai:



Two hours away from Shanghai you can visit the city of Huzhou, making it an easy Shanghai day trip. In Huzhou you can visit the nearby bamboo forests, the Feiying Pagoda, the Jiangnan Sky Pond or the nearby Mogan Mountain.


Day Trips From Shanghai | The Ultimate Guide To Shanghai Day Trips

Written by Lexi
Lexi Forrest is an experienced luxury traveler who has a passion for scenic destinations. She's traveled to 25+ countries over the past 10 years.