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[Outbound]: Sheshan, A Place With Hills On Line 9

Escaping the mad city and reconnecting with your inner child in a forest less than an hour from downtown.
Apr 22, 2015 | 16:58 Wed
Outbound: Outbound is SmartShanghai's travel features series dedicated to fascinating and wonderful places, nearby and far-flung, around China and sometimes not.

Shanghai is flat. Really flat. Not much going on in terms of nature, either. Luckily there's some hills just an hour away from downtown by subway, with hiking, trees, birds, bamboo, and an astronomy museum and a Catholic church at the top. Mad history here. You can do this whole trip in an afternoon and be back in time for dinner. Definitely worth doing.

Let's head to Sheshan West Hill -- Shanghai's peak. It's the only hill in town.

Sheshan is in Songjiang, a south-Western suburb of Shanghai with several worthy destinations to hit up over the summer. For example: Happy Valley Amusement Park, Playa Maya Water Park, Tianma Race Track, and even some brunch action at Le Meridien She Shan.

To reach any of these places, just take metro Line 9 to Sheshan station, then hop on the double-decker City Sightseeing bus. That's 20rmb, which scares away a lot of people, so you've got basically the whole top to yourself.

You can hop on and off all day with that pass. This bus stops at the amusement parks and about twenty other attractions, like these underwater houses.

The whole loop takes about an hour. If you're on a budget, you can also take the city bus for 1rmb but there will probably be at least 100 people on board. So ride the bus to Sheshan West, and they'll drop you off at the foot of the hill. No cover charge here.

At 100 meters, it's no mountain but it does get steep at a few points. You'll start to feel like you're out of Shanghai. Noticeably better air in these parts.

And here we have a nice brunch spot, guarded by an affable lion.

No minimum service charge for this table. You could bring a picnic basket or a bottle of wine and just chill here. There's a little shop around the corner selling snacks and drinks too, but nothing fancy.

Here's the view from up there. Heard they get guest appearances by blue skies sometimes.

Up top you've got the space observatory and the Catholic church. Both worth checking out. The only ticket you'll need to buy here is for the Shanghai Observatory, Sheshan Station museum. It's 12rmb and well worth it.

Built in 1900, this is Shanghai's second observatory -- the first is in Xujiahui. They studio all kinds of cosmic space time shit up here, and there be dragons on the way in.

It's time for the cosmic ballet.

Mad history drops in here. The place was originally founded by Catholic missionaries then came under the control of the people in 1950. My man Li Heng holding it down.


Just some foreign bros raging Shanghai long before Yongkang Lu.

Lots of fake books in Shanghai's bars and restaurants (looking at you, 390 Bar), but these are all real.

There's an immersive theater experience with some state of the art technology from 1994, also free, but only in Chinese. Rad.

Le observation chair, pathway to the star chronicles of Zordar.

But, can't sit in the chair, because danger.

You could easily spend an hour or more in the astronomy museum, then climb out on the roof for a look.

A nice courtyard surrounds the observatory. When we visited, these trees were sort of blooming.

Then just next door you've got Jesus and friends at the Catholic church.

Sheshan Marian Basilica was completed in 1935, and can fit 3,000 worshippers. The place features a 38-meter bell tower, granite interiors, and a marble alter.

Quite a few people were talking to the J man when we came but out of respect we didn't take many photos. They do hold regular services though.

Out of the church we begin our decent. Peep the erosion.

Walking around the forest trails, this really felt like Michigan, except for the Chinese characters on the trees. The air out here is noticeably better than downtown.

This was the best part of the day -- walking around in the leaves, swinging on bamboo trees, trying to find a source of water, basking in silence punctuated by the sounds of nature. In a city where everything is new new new and nothing good lasts long, it's refreshing to just chill in a place where nothing much happens.

And you can remember your experience with a Sheshan coin, which can also open the door to star portal #280871, IF you have a time compressor.

Took a quick cab back to Line 9, and ended up in Koreatown before sundown, feeling way better about life and the cosmos.


So, Sheshan. It's the only hill in Shanghai. You can do the trip in one day for less than 100rmb, which includes the mental health benefits of escaping the mad city and reconnecting with your inner child in a forest.

One crucial note: AVOID this place on holidays. You will not experience silence then.

Getting There: Take Metro Line 9 to Sheshan Metro Station, then either take the sightseeing bus (20rmb), or a cab (less than 20rmb) to Xi She Shan (西佘山).

Staying: Well, there's no need to stay really. The hill closes around 5pm. If you wanted to make a weekend out of Songjiang, you could book a room at Le Meridian She Shan, which starts at 800rmb +15% per night. Or you could also go with a nong jia le (countryside people's house) for much cheaper, like 100–200rmb per night. Ask around for that.