10 great day trips out of Shanghai

(CNN) — Shanghai is a glorious city full of hustle and bustle. That's why it's so popular. But if you're a visitor who is ready for a respite from skyscrapers, crowds and stimulation, there are plenty of other ways to spend your time.
Here's a quick guide to some of the best destinations outside of Shanghai where you can slow down a bit in the countryside of China:

1. Anji Bamboo Forest

The perfect spot for a hike.
Courtesy ╬ಠ益ಠ)/Creative Commons/Flickr
Anji's Bamboo Forest has been seen by millions -- it provided scenery for the film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" -- but is visited by few. Very much worth your travel time.

2. Nanxiang, Tongli and more

Tongli has been nicknamed the "Venice of the East."
Courtesy Thomas Fischler/Creative Commons/Flickr
If you haven't explored the area around Shanghai, heading the list should be Nanxiang -- the home of xiaolongbao. You may also want to consider:
-- Tongli (to visit the intriguing Museum of Ancient Chinese Sex Culture)
-- Chongming Island (for its nature reserve)
-- Songjiang
(for the city's oldest mosque)
-- Sheshan (for the eponymous mountain).

3. Jiaxing

Explore the green spaces of Jiaxing.
Courtesy Kware Ji/Creative Commons/Flickr
Jiaxing (嘉兴), the main waterway of North and South China for 1,700 years, offers a day trip from Shanghai for those looking for peace, quiet, a delicious meal and ... oddly shaped rocks.

4. Putuoshan

Putuoshan is an island of beaches, hills and temples.
Courtesy Carsten Ullrich/Creative Commons/Flickr
Although better known as Shanghai's local beach town, Putuoshan is also a hidden Buddhist escape for local devotees and culture seekers.

5. Shanghai Film Studios

Vintage cars on display at Shanghai Film Studios.
Courtesy Madeleine Ball/Creative Commons/Flickr
For a "reel" escape from Shanghai's urban chaos head for Shanghai Film Studios in Sonjiang, where you can walk through the scenes of your favorite movies and possibly see your idols in action.

6. Thames Town

As its name suggests, the design of Thames Town is inspired by England.
Courtesy Drew Bates/Creative commons/Flickr
If you're tired of Shanghai's concrete monotony, take the metro to nearby Thames Town for some quaint English charm.

7. Xitang

Courtesy Banalities/Creative commons/Flickr
This tiny water town near Shanghai is a tranquil slice of heaven. Sit back, relax and take it all in.

8.Holland Town

Courtesy Drew Bates/Creative commons/Flickr
The Expo isn't the only place in Shanghai where you can sample some international culture. Skip out to Holland Town for some European charm.

9. Xianghai Temple

Escape your own ignorance with the help of Buddhist monks at Xianghai Temple. It might take more time than a your average Shanghai day trip, but enlightenment is worth it, right?

10. Shengsi Island

Sample Shengsi's seafood delights.
Courtesy Teresa Qin/Creative Commons/Flickr
This Shanghai day trip has sun, sand and lots and lots of seafood. Skip breakfast, don your crocs and hop on a boat to gorge yourself on fresh fish, wriggling shrimp and the specialty, hairy clams.
Editor's note: This article was previously published in 2010. It was reformatted, updated and republished in 2017.
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