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There are a surprising number of places to visit by train, boat, or car for nice weekend journeys from Shanghai. Children and adults alike should find something enjoyable at each of these interesting locations.

Moganshan

To the south, in Zhejiang Province, a famous refuge for Shanghai urbanites is the mountain resort of Moganshan, built by 19th-century missionaries as a sanatorium, which later became one of the key retreats of the early Chinese leaders. Today, Moganshan is a sleepy mountain town that offers excellent hiking, mountain biking, and other outdoor sports, just a two-and-a-half to three hours' drive from Shanghai.

Moganshan has always been a respite for Shanghai families eager to escape the Shanghai summer furnace. Even Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek took his new bride Soong Mei-ling to Moganshan for their honeymoon in 1927. The Nationalists established their own resort called Wuling on the northeast side of the mountain.

Families will find many areas for hiking, eating meals outside, or just visiting the local attractions at a leisurely pace. Moganshan offers a blend of countryside comfort and early 20th century architecture. The area's architecture is of an impressive variety, from the over-the-top Western opulence of Chiang’s villa and the sprawling Chinese-style compound of Du Yuesheng ("Pock-marked Du," the notorious Green Gang boss from Shanghai who helped Chiang massacre the Shanghai workers' movement in 1927), to the simpler elegance of the Western vacationers' stone mansions. Many of the original houses, built by Western architects using the local gray dressed stone, still survive.

Mao Zedong was a frequent visitor to the area, and used a group of old stone foreign villas throughout the 1960s. By then, Moganshan was a secret retreat for "the leadership" in case of war, with air-raid shelters for the Big Brass. Some of the houses even have secret tunnels that go right down to the valley.

If you drive your car, start on the Outer Ring Road (A20) or by following Hengshan Lu, Cao Bao Lu and the Minhang Elevated straight out of town. Turn off the HuHang Highway at exit 18, the Hangzhou Express Ring North. Just after you have crossed the Grand Canal (historical point of interest) turn north off the Ring Road onto the HangNing Highway, following signposts to Nanjing. After about twenty minutes you will come to the Deqing exit. Moganshan is also signposted from the highway. Depending on the traffic, the trip can take anything from 2.5 to 4 hours.

If you travel by bus or train, go first to Hangzhou, and then take a taxi to Moganshan.

Hangzhou

Hangzhou is the capital city of Zhejiang province and is located 120 miles south west of Shanghai. The city has about 5 million residents and was recognized as one of China's most renowned and prosperous cities over the last millennium (in the year 1100, it was the most important city in the world!). With beautiful, natural scenery and the gorgeous West Lake, Hangzhou is a favorite among expats and their families of all budgets.

There are many interesting attractions in Hangzhou:

  • The West Lake (Xihu) is a very enjoyable location for the eyes and the heart, with enough fabled islands and pavilions…