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A Traveler's Guide to Hiking in Shanghai

Hiking Shanghai

Shanghai is a city of considerable importance. After all, it is home to more than 26 million people, thus making it one of the most populous cities in the entire world. Furthermore, Shanghai is a tech center, a financial center, and a commercial center, thus enabling it to claim a position of prominence on the international stage. However, it is interesting to note that Shanghai has had a strong economic focus for a very long time. This can be seen in how it was recognized as a market town in 1074. However, while Shanghai would remain a county seat for the next few centuries, a couple of incidents during the Ming dynasty made it very clear that its economic importance had continued to grow. One, it received city walls to protect it from Japanese pirates, which suggests that it was both rich enough to be targeted and rich enough to be worth protecting. Two, Shanghai received a City God Temple, which was the kind of honor that tended to be reserved for prefectural capitals and above. Having said that, the city didn't start soaring until the Qing dynasty for a couple of reasons. First, a Qing emperor reversed a Ming prohibition on oceangoing vessels. Second, the customs office for Jiangsu province was moved from Songjiang to Shanghai. Combined, this made the city the trade hub for the whole of the lower Yangtze region by 1735, thus ensuring its importance in recent centuries.

Is It Possible to Go Hiking in Shanghai?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Shanghai is very urbanized. However, the city is situated close to certain sites of interest, meaning that there are opportunities for hikers as well as other interested individuals. Besides that, it can be worthwhile to go exploring within Shanghai itself provided that interested individuals don't mind an urban hike rather than a nature hike.


Anji is a county of Huzhou in northwest Zhejiang. Its relative isolation means that it was economically underdeveloped compared to much of the rest of the province for quite some time. However, more recent decades have seen it put a fair amount of focus on eco-friendly tourism, thus making it a potential place of interest for hikers. To name an example, Anji is actually home to the single biggest bamboo nursery that can be found in the whole of China. This is worth checking out on its own, seeing as how bamboos are rather curious plants. For starters, even though they are often compared to trees, they aren't actually trees. Instead, bamboos are members of the grass family, though much bigger and much woodier than what most people would imagine upon hearing that name. Regardless, Anji's bamboo nursery is home to a very wide range of bamboo species, thus making it more varied in nature than what interested individuals might expect. Naturally, there are also other sites of natural interest such as the Longwang Mountain Nature Reserve, which is home to wildlife such as Amji's salamander.


Huangshan isn't the most convenient location for someone living in Shanghai. If they are going to go by car, they can expect to spend a few hours on the road. However, Huangshan is one of the most important cultural sites in the whole of China, meaning that it is an excellent choice for people who are interested in that kind of thing. Something that can be seen by the fact that there are regular flights from Shanghai to Huangshan, which are a much more convenient way to travel than by car. In any case, Huangshan's name means "Yellow Mountain." It is believed to have been renamed thus for the purpose of honoring the Yellow Emperor, a legendary figure who is considered to be the common ancestor of the Han people. Supposedly, Huangshan was where said individual refined his elixir of immortality, thus putting it closer to the heavens than more conventional locations. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this has attracted a lot of people to Huangshan over the centuries, which in turn, means that there are temples as well as other structures everywhere. Besides this, Huangshan has attractive scenery. It can claim a mix of pine trees, hot springs, and strangely-shaped granite peaks. Furthermore, Huangshan's heights are a great place from which to view sunsets as well as clouds from above rather than from below. As such, for people who are willing to venture a bit further out, Huangshan is an excellent choice that can offer something of everything.


Moganshan can't compare to Huangshan's fame. To be fair, it shouldn't be expected to, seeing as how the latter is one of China's Five Sacred Mountains. Still, Moganshan has its own claims to importance, which are on top of more practical considerations. For instance, the region sees hot summers. Unsurprisingly, this means that the local elite have a long tradition of fleeing Shanghai itself for cooler temperatures in said times, with one of the most popular locations being Moganshan. This means that even now the site is home to numerous villas and small inns, which are more than capable of accommodating those who are interested in either hiking or seeing some of the local sites.

Old City

The Old City would be Shanghai's traditional urban core. In fact, it was once marked out by the aforementioned city walls, some parts of which have actually managed to survive into the present time. In any case, it should come as no surprise to learn that the Old City is home to some of Shanghai's most notable historical sites. For example, its center holds the City God Temple, which has been restored to its initial use as a center of worship for the divine patrons of the city. Similarly, there is the Yu Garden situated next to the City God Temple, which was built by a Ming dynasty official for the enjoyment of his father but winded up proving ruinous to their family's fortunes. Simply put, if people are looking for something more urban in nature, the Old City is a good place to start.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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