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Despite its futuristic reputation, Shanghai has a surprising number of parks and green spaces. Some are massive sprawls of urban wilderness, while others are hidden pockets of paradise (and worth seeking out for a bit of solitude). Here are some of Culture Trip’s favourite parks in which to relax and recharge in downtown Shanghai.
It’s hard to tear yourself away from the jaw-dropping views of the Huangpu River curving along the Bund, with its colonial-era edifices and vertiginous towers. Yet Huangpu Park offers a peaceful triangle of lush lawn and manicured flower beds amid the Bund’s sensory overload. It is China’s first-ever park opened to the public and the city’s oldest. Like most green spaces in Shanghai, it has a list of rules. Back in 1917, the sign’s restrictions included bicycles, dogs and ‘the foreign community’ (but today everyone is welcome).
Named for the gleaming gold temple across the street, this lovely rambling park was once the site of the Bubbling Well Cemetery. It holds a prime position alongside West Nanjing Road’s glam boutiques and multi-level shopping malls. At the centre of Jing’an Park is a tranquil pond with waterlilies and reeds, where you can lie on the wooden boardwalk (security won’t shoo you away) to watch koi and large turtles skim near the surface. If you’re just seeking a shady spot away from all the shopping, there’s always a bench free near the group of Shanghai grandmas dancing under the trees. Cosy up to some strangers and enjoy the action.
If you want to skateboard, jog along a soft surface or test your grip on a rock-climbing wall, the Xuhui Riverside Green near the Long Museum is recreation central. Once an industrial area butting up against the Huangpu River in the West Bund district, it’s now an 8.5-km-long strip bordered by grass and plenty of plants. For a more chill experience, simply stroll along the river passing under the area’s massive orange tower cranes, which almost feel like avant-garde art against the distant Pudong skyline.
Don’t let the iron gate deter you from entering this park that feels like a secret hideaway; if you arrive early enough you might even have it all to yourself. Hengshan Park is small but big on character, with a meadow, flowering trees and few benches hidden on a quiet hillock. Feeling energetic? Get a mini workout on the park’s exercise equipment.
Huashan Greenland is a delightfully diverse urban park that straddles the blurry edges where the former French Concession and Changning neighbourhoods meet. Within its 39,500 square metres, you can find a short running track that undulates past palms and weeping willows, traversing a small brook with large stepping stones. It’s a favourite place for locals to play basketball on the courts near busy Huashan Road, or to huddle under a pavilion for a game of cards. Be sure to check out the southern end of the park, where a wooden boardwalk zigzags through a shaded grove of green bamboo.
This article is an updated version of a story created by Monica Lau.