The Two-Day Tripper

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Tuesday, May 05, 2015 

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While Shanghai doesn’t want for a wealth of landmarks and tourist hotspots, we are not exactly blessed when it comes to natural scenic attractions. Which is why a trip out of the city every once in a while is just the thing to get your batteries recharged. We found several places, all within a few of hours of Shanghai at most, and that are ideal for a couple of days away.



Naked Retreats – Reconnect with the countryside

Nestled in the foothills of a bamboo-clad mountain, Moganshan’s Naked Retreats is the perfect hideaway. And the area’s crisp breezes (temperatures are usually 7 degrees lower than Shanghai) make it ideal for escaping the heat of the city summer. The trip can be as back-to-basics as you want it: staff can arranged hiking and biking trips, as well as demonstrations of centuries old traditions such as tea picking, herb growing and bamboo harvesting. Then again, you might just want to cuddle up in front of a roaring fire, happy to have left behind the concrete jungle for a couple of days.

Directions: Take the fast train to Hangzhou main station. The resort can arrange private pick-ups from there. Call the Shanghai office on 400 9200 518 or 6431 8901 for reservations and further details.



Xitang - Old China Revisited


The producers of Mission Impossible III knew what they were doing when they singled out this gem of a water town as the backdrop to Tom Cruise’s far-flung adventures. Almost unchanged since many of the buildings were constructed during the Ming and Qing dynasties, Xitang is still far less commercialized than its gaudier neighbors Zhouzhuang and Wuzhen. Even along the central lanes, shopkeepers are outnumbered by resident families and their unique ceilinged corridors built to protect against the unusually rainy climate. Make sure you sample the yellow rice wines from one of the many riverside producers, considered among the best in China.

Directions: Take the train or bus to Jiashan. From there the bus to Xitang leaves every five minutes, a distance of about 10km.


Gongqing Forest Park - Surbuban Oasis


Gongqing Forest Park covers 131 hectares of pastures, woodland and bamboo groves; nothing unusual in itself, except that this is in Puxi, barely an hour’s ride from downtown. The area was marshland until the 1960s when the government decided to dredge the site and turn it into a tree nursery. Today, it’s the city’s most accessible patch of countryside with plenty of family-friendly activities. On-site options include roller coasters, merry go rounds and horseback riding.

Directions: If you’re feeling flush, take a taxi to 2000 Jungong Lu (6532 8194). Or take any of the public city buses out there including numbers 102, 124, 841, 147 or tourist bus No. 8. To arrange activities, go to www.withyanacom.  



Thousand Island Lake - Discover a Lost Civilization


You can’t get much more adventurous than a visit to the ancient city of Shi Cheng (Lion City); the major obstacle being that it’s entirely submerged under water lying 20 meters below the calm surface of Zhejiang’s picturesque Thousand Island Lake (Qiandao Hu). The site was only initially “rediscovered” in 2002 when divers stumbled across the intact walls of a settlement built during the Dong Han period (25-200AD), but which was deliberately flooded in 1959 as part of a dam construction. Shanghai-based Big Blue Scuba Diving can arrange trips for experienced divers to explore these Atlantis-like ruins.

Directions: Big Blue Scuba can make all the arrangements. The company also runs courses for divers at all levels. Tel: 6291 2110.