The best things to do in Shanghai's suburbs: West

Explore fun activities in west Shanghai in Gubei, Qibao and more

As part of Time Out's guide to exploring the outer reaches of Shanghai we take a look at the best things to do in the west of the city, from Gubei to Qibao, including watertowns, celebrity-endorsed korean Barbecue and some of the city's best Japanese izakayas.

Click through the links below for our guide to Shanghai's suburbs

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Yi Sheng tang Hot stoneGet (hot) stoned in Changning

Tucked away in the 555 Gubei Lu complex where you’ll also find brilliant soba joint Gui (Unit A3) and pricey but top-notch shochu bar 8 Balance (Room 103, Bldg 5), Yi Sheng Tang claim that their hot stone sauna treatment (206-218RMB) can ward off all manner of ailments. Inside, you’re invited to change into pyjamas and lie down on a bed of heated pebbles in a room kept at 45C and 80 per cent humidity. An assistant places more hot pebbles over your body and instructs you to lie still for 10 minutes before you take a break in an adjacent room to rehydrate. You then repeat the process until you feel thoroughly cleansed. It’s an unusual experience, but a worthwhile one.

Get there Yi Sheng Tang B3, 555 Gubei Lu, near Xianxia Lu. See full address details.

"Qing he Gu"Eat celebrity-endorsed barbecue in Gubei

West of Line 4, the city is packed with quality Korean restaurants. There’s old barbecue favourite Ben Jia and the giant pans of Zheng Yi Pin, plus the spicy catfish hotpot from Seoul Men Xian Hui. But for something with a bit of star quality, look no further than Qing He Gu (pictured left). A Korean barbecue joint that counts the likes of K-pop megastars The Wonder Girls among its clientele, Qing He Gu is an unpretentious spot with brauhaus-like wooden benches crowded with diners tucking in to delicious banchan (appetisers) and grilled meats. The tender, wafer-thin sliced beef (48RMB) is a must-order.

Get there  Qing He Gu Second Floor, Dibao Mansion, 3998 Hongxin Lu, near Wuzhong LuSee full address details.

Stampede Go-kartingBurn some rubber in Putuo district

Putuo boasts what are easily the city’s two best go-karting tracks. There’s the cheaper (80RMB/eight laps) Disc Kart beside the fantastic Changfeng Park and the newer, slicker Stampede (pictured left) a little further north (85RMB/round). Both offer plenty of fun and a bar area to celebrate your win or drown your sorrows after (or even in between) races.

Get there Disc Kart 809 Zaoyang Lu, near Guangfu Lu. See full address details

Stampede Basement, Section C, Bailian Shopping Centre, 1288 Zhengguang Lu, near Meichuan Lu. See full address details.

"Oboo-izakaya"Experience some classic Japanese izakayas

While there are lots of authentic Japanese snacks-and-drinks dens in the west of the city, two of the most foreigner-friendly are Aiya (also known as Katsu) and Oboo. The former is a typically bustling Okinawan-style spot that serves dishes such as pork belly (48RMB) and fish cakes (45RMB) as well as a whole menu of whale (which we don’t condone). Be sure to try the ‘sea grapes’, served ‘live’ fresh from the tank on a bed of ice. 

A few minutes’ walk away, the more elegant Oboo features a few misses on its menu (the cod roe, 30RMB, for example), but most dishes are hits, especially the boiled beef and potato sukiyaki (32RMB). Both places are enhanced if you have Japanese-literate friends with you, but if you don’t, just make some when you arrive.

Get there Oboo Second Floor SOHO 3911, 3911 Hongmei Lu, near Yanan Xi Lu. See full address details.


"Qibao"Head to an inner city water town


It doesn’t have the picturesque scenes of Wuzhen, Zhouzhuang or Xitang, but for a quick and easy water town visit, Qibao can’t be beaten. Qibao’s narrow lanes occupy just a few blocks either side of the main canal making it easily navigable. While this can also make it crowded at weekends and peak holiday times, it’s generally manageable on weekdays and does give a genuine feeling of getting out of the city, even if its main attractions won’t take up more than a couple of hours of your time.

The small stretch of canal at the town’s heart is of course the main reason for visiting, with a pleasant triple-arched bridge marking the old town’s centre. The waterway runs for about a block in each direction, meaning the boat trips on offer seem somewhat redundant, but the old-style buildings that flank it make for a pleasant enough view.

The canalside temple (1205 Xinzhen Lu) and Tianzhu Church (50 Nan Jie) are also worth working into your walk around the streets. The Shadow Puppet Museum (95 Beixi Jie) is another spot to take in while you’re here, the main reason being the traditional shadow puppet performances (pictured inset) that take place at 1pm and 3.30pm every Wednesday and Sunday. Performed by an elderly troupe of locals, the short shows also feature an accompaniment of traditional Chinese folk music.

Get there Head to Qibao station on metro Line 9, then take exit 2 and follow the signposts for Qibao Old Town.

Click through the links below for our guide to Shanghai's suburbs

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