Adventure Sports in the City

By Hannah Keirl 2019-12-09 11:49:49

Your guide to the best and most exciting activities in and around Shanghai.

When we live in the concrete jungle of Shanghai, it can be easy to forget that there is a multitude of interesting sporting activities available to us, both downtown and within a couple of hours travel. As I grew up in Australia, predominately on a surfboard with sand constantly between my toes, I can tell you that being out of the sea for even a day to me feels wrong. Therefore, it only felt natural to start seeking out convenient places near Shanghai that I could go to indulge in my active, thrill-seeking, sporty tendencies.

Whether you’re looking for a weekend of adventure with the family, an afternoon pastime, or a unique fitness programme, we’ve rounded up our top favourites that you’re sure to love including skiing, surfing, sailing, horseriding, rockclimbing and my personal favourite, kiteboarding!


Why kiteboarding? The short answer is it feels like pure freedom. On a windy day, you’re left invigorated, filled with joy from flying and moving with such speed. The adrenaline kicks in and you want to go on forever. But there’s more to it than the adrenaline.

First, it’s an incredible work out, for body and soul. The physical intensity of the work out will be dependent on a combination of the force of the wind and on your personal riding style. Your core, upper body and aerobic fitness will be tested; all of which are great for your heart. Just be prepared for a sore few days after your first week of kiting!

The second and most important benefit from kiting is the wonderful sensation you get of flying which boosts your body’s endorphins. This will in turn help reduce your stress levels, improve your immune system and increase your overall level of happiness. For living and working in the 24/7 city of Shanghai, this, for me, is the greatest benefit.

I first stumbled across kiteboarding whilst backpacking in Brazil during my gap year. After celebrating New Years Eve in Fortaleza, I’d heard on the grapevine about a gorgeous beach, only accessible by non-air-conditioned buses and dune buggies. Naturally, I headed seven hours northeast to the magical, dune-y outpost of Jericoacoara; a small piece of paradise that boasts long, clean, white sandy beaches and some of the windiest weather in the world; a total haven for water sports. I remember wandering the shoreline, with the ocean gently lapping at my toes, mesmerised as I watched kiteboarders fly down the coastline. I knew instantly that I needed to give it a go!

As there is a reasonable level of skill and instruction in learning to kiteboard, it’s not recommended for children under 10 years old. On the flip side, I’d say you’re never too old to start! Whilst also being a great source of exercise, the degree of focus and dexterity that the sport requires is fantastic for improving yours and your children’s reflexes as well as concentration. On the water, you’re juggling holding the kite in the air, keeping your balance, and when entering the water you’re also holding your board. Whether simply navigating right of way, or working on your jumps, the combination of the position of the bar, your board, and your body in the wind means you’ll be using your reflexes and reaction capacity to resolve difficult situations on the water.

I highly recommend that if your children wish to try out kitesurfing, you get them onto a beginner’s course, preferably one that happens over consecutive days so that they can learn how to manoeuvre the kite and all the safety releases through continuous practice.

My kiteboard instructor was a lovely Brazilian named Juan. He had almost no English and my Portuguese extended to “thank you” and “can I have another beer please?”, but we made it work. Being the impatient person that I am, I hoped to be on the water on my first day of my five-day programme, but this is simply out of the question, so be sure to manage your child’s expectations!

My instructor had me begin on sand whereby I learnt about kite control, how to pump the kite up, and how to adjust to wind conditions. Your first time in the water will be for a ‘body drag’ where the kite pulls you through the water without a board on your feet. This is so you can learn how to harness the wind, some basic turning techniques and right of way rules on the sea. Embarrassingly, on my first body drag, I caught a wind gust which had me five feet in the air, with my bikini half off, finishing on a sharp, painful belly flop-esque SPLAT landing. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I’d go back out again, but bruised body (and ego) aside, my stubbornness prevailed and two days later, I was back in the water.

My first time on a board felt something akin to love at first sight. I felt energised with an unparalleled sense of power; I knew I’d never give it up. At the end of my course, I was rewarded with an International Kiteboarding Organisation (IKO) Card, Level 3 -Independent Kiteboarder and twelve years later I find myself a kiteboard instructor, chasing wind and waves around the world.

When I talk about kiteboarding with friends in Shanghai, the first question is always, “but where do you go?” Their assumption is that I head to the Philippines, or perhaps Hainan Island. I’ve done both, but truth be told, I kiteboard a mere two-hour drive from Shanghai!

A note on safety: kiteboarding is considered an extreme sport. In 2001, the International Kiteboarding Organisation (IKO) was established, introducing safety and quality standards. Whether you are learning to kiteboard or renting gear, please make sure that you go through an IKO certified school. More details can be found on

Shanghai Kite School

Location: Golden Beach, Qidong

Getting there: A two hour drive northeast from downtown Shanghai.

Accommodation: Small hotels are available close to Qidong beach.

Cost: 400 RMB per day to rent equipment. You must have an IKO Level 3 Card to rent.

Lessons: Available for anyone 10-65 years old. Instruction is available both in English & Chinese. Price for lessons begins at 3,000 RMB for IKO 1 + IKO 2 (6 hours). If you’d like to dip your toes in without the hefty price tag, a one hour Discovery course is available for 600 RMB.

Hours: 7 days, 10am – 7pm.

Contact: 185 2106 3605 or

WeChat: Kitesurfing_Shanghai


Why surf? Pujiang Country Park lays claim to the first indoor surfing club in Shanghai - UKONG Indoor Surfing. Their wave simulations will have you wanting to ride for hours! Open all year round and temperature controlled, UKONG indoor surfing provides a great opportunity to jump on a board. Open to ages 6 and above, with coaching available if it’s your first time.

Address: Pujiang Country Park, 2065 Jin Nan Lu, Minhang District.

Getting there: Luonan Xincun Metro Station (line 7).

Cost: 1 person, 30 minutes, 188 RMB.

2 people, 30 mins each, 288 RMB.

Booking: It’s recommended you book ahead of time through their WeChat mini program- see via their official account.

Hours: 7 days, 10am – 7pm.

Contact: 400-691-7500 / 18621365579.

WeChat: UKongSurfing


Dishui Lake is a purpose-built lake designed to look like a teardrop in deep, southeast Pudong. Here, sailing is the sport of choice to help build muscle strength and put your endurance to the test. If you’re looking for a more relaxing option, there are also options of speedboats, cruises and hobbie cats. A camping picnic ground is available too!

Address: 880 Dongyi Lu. Huanhu, Nanhui New City.

Getting there: Dishui Lake Metro Station (Line 16)

Cost: 198 RMB per person per hour.

420 RMB for 2 adults & 1 child.

450 RMB for 2 adults & 2 children.

Booking: 189 1552 3205.

Summer Camps are available- Elementary: 7 days / 6 nights 6700 RMB; Advanced: 7 days / 6 nights 7,200 RMB.

Contact: 021 6728 5977/ 189 1552 3205.


Horse riding

The bond between rider and horse is perhaps the greatest benefit to horse riding. The combination of a physical workout with the psychological connection and responsibility of the horse itself are all incredibly important to one’s overall wellbeing. Qing Qing Equestrian Club was founded in 2005 and is located in Songjiang district; approximately a 1.5 hours drive from central Puxi.

Address: 388 Chenhua Lu, Songjiang District.

Cost: 480 RMB per 45 minutes, or get a group together and pay 720 RMB per 45mins.

Lessons: Lessons are taught in English & Chinese and must be booked 48 hours in advance. Private lessons start at 120 RMB per 45 minutes, Group lessons from 90 RMB/45 minutes.

Hours: Tue: 2pm-6pm; Wed-Fri: 9am-12pm/ 2pm-6pm; Sat-Sun: 8am-12pm/ 2pm-6pm.


WeChat: 13701640624

Rock climbing

Improve your strength and coordination at one of Shanghai’s premier rock climbing facilities, Shanghai Rock Dance Space Climbing Hall. Centrally located in Hongkou district, this space offers three wall types to suit your skill level children (8m), special design (12m) and an advanced wall built to international standards (15m).

Address: Block A, 128 Huayuan Lu, Hongkou District.

Getting there: Hongkou Football Stadium, Metro Station (line 3/8).

Hours: Mon – Fri 1pm–10pm / Sat - Sun: 10am– 9pm.

Cost: 180 RMB per person per day.

Contact: 021-36368028.



Vankoo (combination of “tough” and “cool” in mandarin) Indoor Ski Field offers a selection of simulation options for beginners through to advanced skiers. Get into shape for ski season or continue to hone your skills year-round with a world-class Infinite Ski Track, a Downhill Ski Simulator and a Centrifugal Ski Training Machine; you’ll soon be top of your ski game!

Address: U Fun Park, Building 2, Lane 1388, Yinhang Lu, Yangpu District.

Getting there: Xinjiangwancheng Metro Station (line 10).

Cost: 320 RMB per session for two people including equipment. Private lessons: 360 RMB per session or 580 RMB for two.

Hours: Mon - Sun, 10am-10pm.



Head Coach, James Herrmann, at ICONX Skateboarding says, “We see many kids lacking confidence in themselves. They’re apprehensive for a variety of reasons, but the skateboard class can offer a way for the kids to be guided through a path of self-discovery of their own limits. The coach is there as an ambassador as the kid pushes him/herself to try new things and to not give up at the first sign of failure; pushing through to accomplish the small goals that eventually land a trick or manoeuvre that was otherwise unattainable. The skateboard has some magical qualities. It provides a common language that goes beyond age, gender, and nationality. It doesn’t matter who you are... gravity is always there to take you down and everyone has to get back up and keep trying.”

Address: Three locations available:

* Jingan Sports & Fitness Centre.

B201, 151 Kanding Lu, Jing’an.

* Iconx Xuhui Class.

B2 230 Ruiping Lu, POLY Sunnywalk Mall

* Pudong Indoor Skatepark – Iconx Huamu

Unit B, 49 Jingyan Lu, Pudong.

Hours: Mon - Sun: 9– 7pm.

Cost: Trial class is available for 300 RMB per person (kids & adults).

Lessons: Group classes are available, and a pack of eight classes begins at 3,240 RMB. Packages are also available for kids’ birthday parties.

Contact: 180 1706 3650.

WeChat: Iconxskateboarding

Ice-skating at Champion Ice Rink

Aside from working out almost every muscle in your body and improving joint flexibility, ice-skating is an incredibly fun winter sport. An affordable afternoon, glide around the 800 square metre Wujiaochang Champion Ice Rink in Yangpu with friends or the whole family. Please note the largest skate size is 47 EU.

Address: Bailian Youyicheng Shopping Centre, 8 Songhu Lu, Yangpu District.

Getting there: Jiangwan

Stadium Metro Station (line 10).

Hours: Mon – Fri: 10am – 9pm

Sat. – Sun: 2pm – 9pm.

Cost: 70 RMB per person for 2 hours. Multi-session cards are also available starting at 299 RMB for a 10-hour card (valid for 12 months).

Cost: Private lessons start at 280 RMB per class, a 25 class package will set you back 6,500 RMB.

Contact: 021 6548 3358.