Green getaways near Shanghai

Farms and orchards to reconnect with nature without leaving Shanghai

Mahota Farm
In a city where many parks forbid you from sitting on the grass, it can be tough to connect with nature. Time Out takes a look at three green getaways to visit without leaving Shanghai

Please note all these venues are subject to changes in opening hours depending on the season. It's best to contact them directly to confirm they will be open before setting off.

Sun Island


Situated far upstream from the bright lights of Lujiazui and The Bund, though still in the middle of the Huangpu, lies Sun Island. At 2.5 miles long, the island in Qingpu district is dominated by two pristine golf courses ( 980-1,680RMB/round for non-members). 

In addition to separate driving ranges which are also available at night (from 50RMB/40 balls for non-members), the island offers a 1.3km go-karting track, a wave pool with slides and a sandy beachfront, space for beach volleyball, the opportunity to go yachting, and the perennial late night favourite, KTV.

Guests are also allowed to participate in yoga, laughter yoga and baduanjin (a form of qigong exercise). The island also offers horse riding (50RMB/700m); you can opt for a gentle trot around the island’s stable area or a more thorough workout.

Sun Island features its own eight acre farm. Simply wandering along its English garden-style paths is a pleasure, but visitors can also pick their own fruit and vegetables to take home (16RMB/kg). 

Those wanting to have lunch or dinner can sample the organic produce in the farm’s dining area and enjoy a healthy hotpot with free-flow vegetables and fish.

Another option is to make use of the free barbecue pit, where you can roast more veggies and any fish that you catch in the small lake.

Sun Island is an ideal weekend getaway, and one conveniently within a 25 minute taxi ride of Line 9.

Where Sun Island, 2588 Shentai Lu, near Shen Zhuan Highway, Zhujiajiao Town, Qingpu district (6186 9688; 青浦区沈太路2588号太阳岛国际俱乐部, 近沈砖路

How to get there Take Line 9 to Dongjing station. You can pre-book a car from Sun Island to drive you to the resort. A taxi costs around 85RMB each way.

Cost Visitors can enter the farm during two sessions, 9am-1pm or 3-7pm. Entry costs 280RMB/person (non-staying guests 380RMB/person). Farm activities are free unless specified above. Twin bedrooms on site cost 700RMB/night for two people while private villas cost 1,300RMB/weeknight and 1,700RMB/night at the weekend.

Mahota Farm

Located on Chongming Island’s eastern edge toward the Donping Wetland area, Mahota Farm is a world away from the city of which it is technically a part. Mahota sits in grounds over 100 acres in size and, though an operational farm, there’s plenty to do on a day out.

For getting back to nature, nothing beats the chance to plant your own seeds and to transfer saplings from pots into the earth. It’s simple work and a cathartic experience away from the hubbub of the city.

You can also help care for the livestock here – Mahota has up to 3,000 pigs at any one time, alongside some 400 chickens plus goats and other animals.

If that all sounds like too much hard work, there are more relaxing options. At the back of the farm is a large fishing lake where you can set about catching your dinner to barbecue later that evening. For youngsters, there’s a range of slightly cooler activities including a graffiti wall where they can get creative.

If Chongming seems a little far to go for just one day, then Mahota offers visitors the opportunity to stay overnight. 

Accommodation takes the form of cute, serviceable huts done up like Mongolian yurts and once night starts to creep in and the stars come out – no longer obscured by Shanghai’s streetlights – a new range of activities are available. 

Those still feeling energetic can plays sports such as badminton and table tennis, while those looking for something a little less physical can turn to KTV and board games.

Where Mahota Farm, Jibang Highway, near Laojie Lu, Xiandai Agricultural Development Zone, Beiqiyao, Chongming county (6944 1040; 崇明县北七效现代农业开发区汲浜公路, 近老街路

How to get there Take Line 2 to the Science and Technology Museum and head out of exit 6. There, get on the Shanghai-Chongming Line 2 Bus (申崇二线) to Chenjia (陈家镇). You can arrange in advance for Mahota to pick you up and drive the remainder of the way.

Cost All the above is included in the farm’s two-day-one-night package which costs 800RMB/person for a twin cabin and 520RMB for a single.

Johnson’s Orchard

Centred on an organic farm, Johnson’s Orchard in Songjiang district serves as an excellent budget option for anyone seeking a bit of greenery and an escape from the city.

The orchard turned organic in 2010 and fruits and vegetables remain its focus. Along the main strip there are grape vines and greenhouses and fruit trees laden with produce.

Johson's OrchardHowever, special care is taken by the staff here to prune vines and pick excess fruit from the branches to ensure that the vegetation isn’t over-farmed. You can pick a range of organic produce (25RMB/0.5kg), from apples to shumitao (honey) peaches.

Johnson’s Orchard is also home to two excellent fishing spots. Firstly there’s a natural, rustic river bank where lines can be dropped and you can sit out in the sun.

Secondly, you can settle where the pros are sat, at a man made lake studded with Chinese pavilions. Fishing in the orchard’s grounds costs 20RMB for equipment and 30RMB/kg for whatever you end up catching.

Once you’ve landed your prize catch, it’s best to amble back to the orchard’s main strip and the barbecue area, where you can grill your fish on a hired barbecue (60RMB).

However, if you come up empty handed you needn’t worry, since the orchard offers plenty of food you can cook up, ranging from fresh oysters to sizeable hunks of lamb (reserve three days in advance).

It may not have the myriad activities of Sun Island, or be as modern as Mahota Farm, but Johnson’s Orchard is a good stop off in between visiting other attractions in the area such as Seshan or the recently opened Playa Maya water park, rather than a destination in itself. 

It’s also reasonably priced and its rural charm feels less sanitised than other similar resorts.

oystersWhere Johnson’s Orchard, 102 Jiujiang Gong Lu, near Qianxin Gong Lu, Songjiang district (136 5184 1375; 189 1631 8226). Metro: Dongjing. 松江区九江公路102号, 近千新公路

How to get there Head down Line 9 to Dongjing station. From there a taxi costs around 30RMB/one way.

Cost Entrance to the orchard is free, but reservations are required three days in advance at See above for activity prices.

Please note all these venues are subject to changes in opening hours depending on the season. It's best to contact them directly to confirm they will be open before setting off.