5 off-the-beaten-path destinations from Shanghai for your summer

From a relaxing getaway in Anji to treading the ancient silk road in Gansu, here's five cities to visit this summer

Photograph: Frankie Ng via Unsplash (Wanning, Hainan)
It happened almost overnight. Shanghai residents have suddenly found themselves overcome with travel options this summer, as many provinces eased quarantine policies for post-lockdown Shanghairen. While Sanya, with its promise of tropical bliss and quarantine-free policy for most Shanghai residents, remains a top choice for many holidaymakers, there are many more cities open to travellers from low-risk areas of Shanghai. From a relaxing weekend getaway in Anji to treading the ancient silk road in Gansu, here’s five lesser-known destinations for your summer vacation.

Notice Due to everchanging COVID-19 prevention measures across different cities, it is advised to check with local policies (find 24-hour hotlines via 国务院客户端 mini-program) and the hotels before confirming your travel plans.

Lanzhou, Gansu

Photograph: Darmau Lee via Unsplash

Only a three-hour flight from Shanghai, Lanzhou, the capital city of Gansu province, provides visitors with a raw experience of Northwest China. Sitting on the banks of the Yellow River, you can explore its two thousand years of history in places like the Gansu Provincial Museum and White Pagoda Park. Lanzhou is a perfect transfer point for those planning to take a longer journey deep into northwest China. Take a night train to Dunhuang for the stunning Buddhist cave paintings at Mogaoku, or drive to Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture for the breathtaking views of the plateau.

✈️How to get there Three hours by air from Shanghai. Roundtrip flight tickets from Shanghai cost around 1,500 RMB.

Anji, Zhejiang


About four hours driving from Shanghai, Anji provides its travellers with a getaway from the busy metropolitan life. As a part of the city of Huzhou, Anji sits 65km away from Zhejiang’s largest city, Hangzhou. Home to more than 40 different species of bamboo, the county houses China’s largest bamboo nursery and is famed for its ecological-friendly industries and agriculture. Prepare to immerse yourself in the sea of bamboo where Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was filmed. Furthermore, if you are a tea lover, make sure to taste Anji White Tea while you are there.

🚅 How to get there Four hours’ drive from Shanghai or two hours by train (transfer at Hangzhou Dong Station) and an hour bus ride from the station. Roundtrip bus tickets cost about 250 RMB.

Chongzuo, Guangxi

chongzuoPhotograph: Gabriel Xu via Unsplash

Chongzuo in southwest Guangxi Zhuangzu Autonomous Region, bordering northern Vietnam, is now open to travellers from low-risk areas of Shanghai. This city’s rich natural scenic sights include Asia’s largest transnational waterfall, Detian Transnational Waterfall, along with the Stone Forest of Chongzuo and the Heishui River. If you are lucky enough, you can also spot the white-headed langur in Chongzuo, an extremely rare type of money listed as a critically endangered species.

✈️How to get there Three hours flight from Shanghai to Nanning, then a two-hour bus or a train ride to Chongzuo. Roundtrip flight tickets cost around 1,400 RMB.

Suzhou, Jiangsu

Photograph: Micha Brändli via Unsplash

Suzhou has long been one of the top weekend staycation destinations for people living in Shanghai. The classic route includes the UNESCO-listed ancient gardens, the sleek Suzhou Museum (designed by IM Pei) and the bustling Shantang Street. But if you have more time to kill, stay a night or two in Suzhou and explore the vast area near Taihu Lake, one of the largest freshwater lakes in China!

🚅 How to get there One- to two-hour drive to Suzhou from Shanghai or a 25-minute train ride from Shanghai. Roundtrip train tickets cost about 80 RMB.

Wanning, Hainan

Photograph: Frankie Ng via Unsplash

Missing the sunshine and the sea? Finally, travelling to Hainan is feasible for most residents from Shanghai (folks from Minhang, Baoshan, Jingan and Fengxian districts still require a three-day self-isolation after arrival). Though everyone is heading for Sanya, Wanning, only a two-hour drive from Sanya Airport, is a good choice for people who prefer some tranquillity. You can drive along the coastal route, sunbathe on the Shimey Bay and spend your nights partying at many bars along the beach. Have a craving for surfing? Wanning’s Riyue Bay, known for hosting multiple international surfing festivals, has loads of surfing schools for pupils of all skill levels.

✈️How to get there Two hours drive to Wanning from Sanya or Haikou. Roundtrip flight tickets from Shanghai to Sanya are around 3,000 RMB, while Shanghai to Haikou cost about 2,000 RMB.

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