Chongming island 崇明岛 is a large island on the north of the Yangtze estuary. And while it’s technically part of Shanghai it’s actually very rural and makes for an interesting day out.
Getting there from the city is a bit convoluted. The quickest way is to take subway line 3 to Baoyang Road and take a bus to the ferry terminal of the same name. The ferry takes about 50 minutes and costs 16 RMB. Make sure you get the one to Nanmen 南门 as that’s the most touristy part.
I walked along the bank of the Yangtze river for a little way from the ferry terminal. It was really hazy. Might have been pollution but the air quality report that didn’t seem too bad…
Next stop was Chongming Academy, an old Confucian school. Nothing spectacular to look at, but there’s some interesting exhibits (in Chinese) in several of the buildings about the history of Chongming island. Apparently it used to be an important centre of cloth production, and now it’s trying to reinvent itself as an ecotourism destination.
After that I took the bus to the wetland park in the north of the island. The bus trip is around an hour, which I wasn’t expecting, but the view along the way was interesting. One thing you’ll notice straight away is almost everyone on the island is old (quite common in rural China). The other noteworthy thing was the number of churches – I counted at least two plus some crosses on walls – which I hardly ever see on the mainland.
With all the time spent travelling I only had time for two attractions but there’s also some temples and a forest park, so maybe you could make a weekend of it.
Here’s a pro tip: the last boat back to the mainland is at 6pm. If, like me, you miss this it’s also possible to take a long-distance bus back to the mainland via the bridge at the south of the island. The bus leaves from the bus station near the ferry terminal and takes about 1.5 hours to reach a subway station on line 6.