In the hot and sweaty summer, all we want to do is lie on the beach. Suzhou is pretty far away from the sand and sea, but we've managed to find some beaches near Suzhou for a quick getaway.
Every summer Suzhou National Wetland Park holds the Lakeside Beach Festival.
The festival this year has a winter theme, which makes sense in the hot and sweltering summer in Suzhou. The place will install sprayers, model icebergs, glaciers and hundreds of model penguins. We're not sure whether it will help us cool down, but it could be fun for kids.
Ther will also be some swimming pools and water sports for kids to make a splash. Expect performances at the weekends and barbecues on the "beach."
Dino Beach is more of a water park than a beach, but it makes for a fun day trip to get wet and splash around. Organized games of volleyball on the sand, kid-friendly pools, and all the fast food you can gorge yourself on make it a family favorite. Dino Beach has Asia's largest wave pool, an attraction usually packed with hundreds of people bobbing in rubber rings. Admission: RMB120 (RMB150 during peak hours).
Getting there: Take the train to Shanghai, then take line 1 to Lianhua Lu, then bus 753 to Xinzhen Lu near Gudai Lu.
Jinshan City Beach is a man-made beach just outside of Shanghai. Although it's not as nice as Sanya, you can still swim in the filtered water and lie in the sand which is imported from beaches in Hainan Province. In the heat of July and August, it's a popular spot for locals. You can even find people playing beach sports such as volleyball and frisbee. Admission: RMB30 on weekdays and RMB50 on weekends.
Getting there: Take the train to Shanghai, then take Line 1 to Lianhua Lu and then get on the 莲石专线 (lianshi zhuanxian) bus just outside the station (90 minutes, RMB8), until you see the main entrance to the beach on Fuchuan Lu.
Tantou Island(檀头岛), near Ningbo, is two forested mountain islands joined together by a beautiful kilometer-long isthmus. With an east-facing beach boasting magnificent views of the sunrise, this is an island worth exploring for those who don’t mind venturing away from the comforts of Shanghai. The island is roughly 6km² with a population of around 30 permanent residents. The infrastructure includes a one-kilometer cement road from the wharf to the town.
Local power is provided by wind and diesel generators, and a communications tower provides the area with mobile telecom services. On Tantou it’s easy to find peaceful spots where the only sounds are the waves lapping the shore and gentle breezes rustling in the trees. The restaurants and hostels here offer basic services - toilets, showers, tents, bedding and power. There may not be much else on the island but there is certainly more than enough fresh seafood for all -- a delicacy not to be missed.
Getting there: Take a two-hour bus trip to Ningbo, then take the two-hour bus to Xiangshan (象山) from Ningbo, then go to Shipu Harbor where a boat takes you to the island in about 40 minutes.
Shengsi Island (剩四岛), part of the Zhoushan archipelago between Chongming Island and Putuoshan, has got great beaches, fantastic roads for biking, fresh seafood and places to stay overnight, all of which make for a relaxing (and easy) summer weekend getaway. Although most people end up at Jinhu Beach, our suggestion is to go a bit further to reach the more sparsely populated stretches of sand.
On the far eastern tip of the island are two big scenic areas: Liujingtan and Shangtao. Both have a RMB100 entry fee and nice wooden boardwalks. You can spend the night at Donghai Yucun (East China Sea Fishing Village) right off the beach (RMB50 a night in a little hostel with hot water for showers). The beach across the street is clean enough for swimming, and in the morning you can take a nice run along the coastal road and enjoy a fresh seafood meal for lunch. Biking on the island is a convenient and enjoyable way to get around.
Getting there: Take a bus from Suzhou North bus station. The bus leaves at 9:50am and 11:20am every morning and the ticket costs RMB149. The bus will take you directly to the point where you can catch the ferry. The ferry over takes about 1.5 hours. If you're going on a weekend, buy your tickets a day in advance to avoid disappointment on the day off.When you get to the island, buy your return trip ticket immediately (be sure to ask for the ticket which includes the return bus trip to the bus terminal). The last ferry of the day leaves at 2:30pm.
Taohua Dao (桃花岛, Peach Blossom Island), is another nice island in the Zhoushan archipelago just off the coast of Ningbo. It’s home to the Archipelago’s tallest peak (Fengqi Mountain, 556 meters), second biggest beach, and deepest harbor. The sand on the island is the same quality you'll find on the Atlantic coast of the U.S. It’s also big, stretching over a kilometer, and is largely free of the strange wastes which wash up on China’s other coastal beaches.
In high season, there are plenty of facilities including changing areas and beach bars. As well as that, there are local restaurants serving up credible seafood platters (but don’t expect Qingdao quality). You can even pitch a tent in a grassy area between the beach and a field of planted lavender. If you are more of a mountain guy, entry to the Fengqi Scenic Area is right behind the beach (RMB45).
Pass through a shiny, fake-looking temple before hiking up a stone path which tops out at a stunning, 360-degree view of the archipelago. Of course, no trip to Taohua Island is complete without a few peach blossoms and for that you should go to Taohua Yu (RMB 45) where you can enjoy the peach trees.The best hotel on the island is Fengqi Gu Shanzhuang Hotel right behind the beach. One-room suites with double beds go for RMB380 a night.
Getting there: Take a bus from Suzhou North bus station. The bus leaves at 9:50am and 11:20am every day and the ticket is RMB149. The bus takes five hours and winds up at Shenjiamen on Zhoushan. From there take a cab to the Dunkou Ferry Terminal (10 minutes away) to catch your boat. There are plenty throughout the day. Buy tickets on arrival.
Putuoshan is the most well-known island in Zhoushan and is home to a peaceful beach sanctuary. The beautiful beach can be crowded during the summer, especially on weekends. If you want to get a little bit of history, follow the locals by climbing hundreds of stairs to see Puji Temple or Fayuchan Temple. End your night at Jinsha Beach where stands sell wine, beer and snacks. There are lots of hotels on the island, but make sure to book one in advance if you go during peak season. Entrance to the island (Mount Putuo Scenic Area) is RMB160.
Getting there: Take a bus from Suzhou North bus station. The bus leaves at 9:50am and 11:20am every day, the ticket costs RMB149. The bus takes five hours and winds up at Shenjiamen on Zhoushan, then transfer to the 10-min ferry to Putuoshan, RMB 20 each way (ferry ticket bought at Shenjiamen).
Located on the southeast coast of Zhejiang, five hours drive from Shanghai, Wenling(温岭) is another lesser-known beach town with beautiful mountains and fascinating stone caves, and of course, nice beaches and fishing villages. The beach, stretching over 680 meters, has an interesting name: Dongxia, literally meaning 'under the cave.'
The 10-meter high, 5-meter wide cave is like a legend; it disappears when the tide rolls in. At low tide, you can explore the cave where you'll find shells and dried mussels amid the stones. Call (Tel: 0576-8665 7758) to make sure the tide goes out before you make your trip there. While at Dongxia, try the seaweed. It's a local specialty. Accommodation at a local guest house is rather simple with basic facilities and hot showers. Admission to the beach is RMB18.
Getting there: Take a train from Suzhou to Wenling (温岭), which takes around five hours (RMB148-178), then take a cab or bus(RMB20) to Songmen (松门) town that takes another 40 minutes. You'll find the beach there.
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