Eco Spaces in Shanghai

By 2018-12-20 23:26:08

Discover some wonderful eco spaces in Shanghai and further afield

By Jessica Levine, Abbie Pumarejo and Alex Sheffield

We love this city, but occasionally it’s nice to escape the hustle and bustle of the urban jungle to find some peace and quiet. Leave the skyscrapers behind and head back to nature with our top eco spots in and around Shanghai.

Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden

An entry fee of ¥60 gets you access to this eco oasis packed with over 9,000 species of plants spread over an incredible 207 hectares, making it the largest green space in the area. Explore the three botanical domes and variety of Chinese gardens, rent a rowboat on the lake (¥30/hour for a six-person boat) or walk to the top of Chenshan Hill – not for the fainthearted – where you’ll be rewarded with a view of the waterfall cascading into the quarry below. The park is open 8am–5:30pm in March to October and 8am–5pm from November to February

To get there, head to Dongjing metro station on Line 9 and take a taxi to the main entrance (15-20 minutes).

Find it: 3888 Chenhua Lu (near Chenta Lu); 3779 2288 (ext. 800)

URBN Hotel Shanghai

If you’re conscious of your carbon footprint, the award-winning URBN Hotel Shanghai is the perfect eco paradise for a staycation, breakfast, lunch or dinner. Born from a converted warehouse, every small detail of this hotel is constructed with eco concerns in mind, from the recycled suitcase wall to the reclaimed bricks taken from the demolition of lane houses in Suzhou. As China’s first-ever carbon-neutral hotel, URBN is not only conscious of the impact it has on the city but also other regions of the country. Partnered with local NGO Roots & Shoots, the hotel supports the Million Tree Project, which organizes the planting of trees in Inner Mongolia to offset the effects of carbon emissions.

Find it: 183 Jiaozhou Lu (near Beijing Xi Lu); 5153 4600

The Living Room by Octave

If you’re looking for a wellness space in the heart of the city, then The Living Room by Octave has plenty to offer. With courses dedicated to both body and mind – everything from mindfulness and counseling to early-childhood development, art and nutrition – there is something for everyone. Ecological and health-conscious, the facilities include safe filtered water and air. Everything on the menu at Octave’s flagship restaurant, Thought for Food, is designed by the executive chef and two nutritionists using free-range produce and organic vegetables from their own rooftop garden. You can stop by for a visit between 7am and 10pm daily.

Find it: 357 Jianguo Xi Lu (near Taiyuan Lu); 3338 4666


Get back to your roots at BIOFarm, which opened in 2004 with the mission to supply Shanghai with pesticide-free, organic, healthy food from farm to table. Roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty with activities like veggie picking, fun workshops and a guided tour followed by an organic lunch. BIOFarm is a pioneer in the field of biodiversity and it’s a great place to teach kids exactly where their food comes from. With a small entrance fee of ¥30 (free for kids under 3), a highlight is dodging the free-range chickens roaming the property and petting bunnies in the animal house. Visit on the weekends (10am–4pm) or have veggies delivered to your door (orders over ¥129 get free delivery).

To get there, take metro Line 2 to Chuansha Lu in Pudong; then hop in a taxi for a 10-minute ride.

Find it: 8019 Chuansha Lu (near Nongchang Lu); 400 620 0789; WeChat ID: BIOFarm

Gongqing Forest Park

If you want to surround yourself with nature without straying too far from the city center, this eco spot is for you. There is a small entrance fee of ¥15 for adults and ¥7.50 for children, but once inside, you'll be rewarded with glorious greenery and blooming flowers during the warmer months. Stroll through the lawns, lakes, bamboo groves and hills, or try your hand at fishing, horseback riding, rock climbing, kart racing, among other activities. 

To get there, head to Shiguang Lu metro station at the end of Line 8, then hop in a taxi for a 10-minute ride to the entrance of the park (open 6am-5pm).

Find it: 2000 Jungong Lu (near Yinhang Lu); 6574 0586

Chongming Island

On the eastern side of Chongming, China’s third-largest island, you’ll find a more rural way of life at Yingdong Ecological Village. Just a two hour’s drive from Shanghai, this eco village boasts scenic wooden boardwalks, bridges and lagoons. The tranquil countryside is home to abundant flowers and fruit trees, and you can experience village life with activities ranging from stepping on waterwheels and weaving to catching crabs and fish. Entry is ¥20/adult.

Visitors to Chongming can also experience Dongtan Wetland Park, where over 300 bird species have been spotted throughout the 240 square kilometers (150 square miles). This nature lover’s paradise is packed with gardens, marshes, streams and even a large beach. Also on the eastern side of the island, the park offers wooden walkways over marshes as well as paths that wind through landscaped hills and lawns, home to over 186 types of plants. Entry costs ¥50/adult.

Find it: Chenjia Town, Chongming District; 5943 6276

Find it: Dongwang Lu, Chongming Island; 3936 7000;

Naked Stables & Retreats

Located in a protected nature reserve in a valley of the Moganshan foothills, naked Stables & Retreats offers guests treetop villas or earth huts for the ultimate eco accommodation experience. Cars are not allowed in the resort, so transportation is by foot or electric buggy. Focus on well-being and enjoy nature with horseback riding, mountain hiking and more. An environmentally friendly company, naked Group also works with the local community and government and boasts a range of energy- and water-efficient measures. The resort is Leadership in Environmental Energy Design (LEED) Platinum-certified and dedicated to restoring natural flora and fauna in the area. Families can also enjoy the brand-new naked Discovery center in Shanghai, and two new properties slated for this year: naked Castle in Moganshan and naked Water in Suzhou.

Find it: 37 Shangxiazhuang, Moganshan Town, Deqing, Zhejiang; 400 9200 518;

Sun Island Resort

Just 45 minutes north of Shanghai, Sun Island contains facilities for corporate events as well as family getaways. There’s something for everyone, from the manmade beach, hot springs and giant wave pool to multiple restaurants, yoga classes and even picking your own vegetables for dinner. Make the most of the resort’s 2,400 acres by staying in one of the 470 split-level villas (recently renovated), where you can focus on restoring wellness or relax in Sun Island Spa’s hydrotherapy suites.

Find it: No. 2588, Shentai Lu, Zhujiajiao Town, Qingpu District; 6186 9650;

Yangshuo Mountain Retreat

You’ll find this retreat nestled on the banks of the Yulong River, offering guests the chance to get out of the city and into the beautiful countryside while taking in river vistas. Rooms are simple, with locally made bamboo furniture and no telephone or television (though Wifi is still available). Part of the hotel’s charm comes from its ongoing commitment to sustainability while empowering the locals who help run the retreat. There is plenty of eco-friendly fun to be had, like swimming, hiking among the Karst formations and rice fields, biking along country roads and boat rides down the river. The resort is an hour-long car ride away from Guilin, or, if you prefer to take a train to Yangshuo, there’s a free shuttle service available.

Find it: Yulong River Road, Gaotian Town, Yangshuo County, Guangxi Zhuang 541907; 773 877 7091;