Remember when you first arrived in Shanghai, and everything seemed new, exotic, and exciting? People called out to you in the street, you received smiles, stares, and some really bizarre looks. Then it changed and you became just another face in the crowd. Well, if you want to recapture that sense of wonderment and that "I'm in China" feeling again, a trip to Gao Qiao Bin Jiang Forest Park (高桥滨江森林公园) is exactly what you need. Accessible by subway and then cab, it's more of a mental "out of town" than a formal trip out of Shanghai…
Simple, take Metro Line 6 to the terminal station, GangCheng Road, and from there, hop in a “private” taxi and tell him, 高桥滨江森林公园 / Gao Qiao Bin Jiang Sen Lin Gong Yuan (Taxi Printout here).
Fifteen minutes later and you’re there. It’s a negotiated cost for the cab -- starting price should be around 40rmb.
The alternative route there from the subway station is much more fun though, and offers that classic “authenticity”. Turn left out of Exit 2, left again at the next junction, and join the octogenarian mafia on the Direct Forest Park Bus No. 6, about 25 meters down the road. It’s 2rmb.
On sunny Sunday afternoons, thousands of locals descend on the 120-hectare site to enjoy a day of romping, chomping, and generally having a chilled time. Entry is only 20rmb entry. It's a real carnival atmosphere: you arriving into the place along a boulevard of a hundred kites, and there's the requisite cotton candy sellers and shrieks of glee from a million little emperors. From there, you're able to traverse into the interiors of the space, which are larger green expanses and forest areas.
Qiao Bin Jiang Forest Park is divided into five zones, with two being dedicated to wide open spaces. Starting with enjoying the plants that grow in water zone (Hygrophyte!), and from there you can wander along the boardwalk through the wetlands and head to the coastal viewing platform --yep, coastal. The park is located where the Huangpu River, Yangtze River, and East China Sea converge, and offers some really cool views of the river traffic and murky brown waters -- look through the mist for the lighthouse, and catch the breeze.
Head back for lunch at the BBQ area, but arrive after 11:30 and you will be on the waiting list. You have 2 choices: 160rmb (smaller) and 380rmb (larger -- a deluxe BBQ complex complete with brick BBQ and garden furniture). For the more adventurous, head into the woods next door, grab one of the BBQ’s lying around, pick up a bucket full of hot coals (60rmb to 80rmb) and away you go. Skewers of meat, veggies, fish, drinks, seasonings and various implements are available at the onsite shop, all for under 10rmb.
The Great Outdoors :
Fully sated and in need of some more exercise head into the “Ecological Forest Reserve”, this time wandering along the forest boardwalks and small paths ending in the "Site Seeing Zone of Special Plants". Seriously, depending on the time of year, this is totally amazing, and the best thing is because it's at least a 10-minute walk from the BBQ and a 20-minute walk from the grassland, 80% of people who visit the park never make it this far (too much nature for four-inch heels).
If you're in need of absolute peace and quiet, the final "Eastern Park Zone" is for you. Paths become overgrown, the scenery a little wilder, and the wading birds are not afraid. Head into the “Region of Orchard” to view the rows of orange trees, but guessing by the guarded bridge and moat surrounding the orchard this is not so accessible when the trees have oranges. Finally head back to the centre lake, gaze across the vast expanse of water and watch the boats still being able to collide with one another...
The Bottom Line:
Initially the park may seem a bit of a disappointment -- just another Century Park -- but keep walking and it gets better. In addition to the BBQ picnic, skewers, tent, and friends, where else in Shanghai can you see the sea, BBQ in the park and walk forever for 20rmb...
Out of Town is an on-going section on SmartShanghai focusing on weekend get-aways one might embark on from our fair city. These articles are written with the assumption that our audience already knows a thing or two about basic travel in China, and can navigate basic transport, but if you're new to the city or just visiting, see directly below for a start on how to get out of town.
- Trains: Trains: There's four major train stations in Shanghai. In order of scope, largest to smallest: Shanghai Railway Station, Shanghai South Railway Station, Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station, Shanghai West Railway Station. For the majority of your travel, you;'ll be dealing with the first three, and all three offer standard and bullet train transportation to basically all cities in China. Depending on destination and trip duration, tickets come in four basic categories: soft and hard sleepers; soft and hard seats. Tickets can be bought at the station or at several ticketing offices located throughout the city. This website has good information in English about using trains, and all train schedules (in Chinese) are right here.
- Buses: Long-Distance Buses: There are several "Long-Distance Bus Stations" in Shanghai, with the largest being the General Station at 1662, Zhongxing Road, in the Shanghai Railway Station north square. Close to 500 buses leaving daily, to destinations all over the country. See the "useful links" section of this sidebar to for links to more information on long-distance buses. A full list of bus stations in Shanghai is right here.
- Car Rentals: Although renting and driving a car yourself requires a local chinese driver's license (international drivers licences are not valid in China), Shanghai offers several car rental agencies that provide a driver for the day, should you be looking for private travel. The American-owned Shanghai Eastern Taxi Service provides English-speaking drivers / translators and can accommodate day trips out of the city. Other option are Shangcar.com and the Shanghai Limo Service, both offer bus rentals for larger groups. Hertz and Avis both have downtown offices to rent a car.
- Useful Links: Providing general travel information and editorial content on their English-language webportal, ChinaTravel.net and hotel and airplane booking at C-trip.com, C-trip is the go-to resource for expats living in Shanghai looking for travel solutions. A similar travel booking company is eLong.net, and that's another useful one to check when traveling in China. TravelChinaGuide.com deals with everything trains and buses - schedules, fairs - and you can book your trains through them as well right here.