By now, your hibernation instincts have probably kicked in and all you want to do is stay huddled up in your apartment, nice and (fairly) warm. For the sake of your health and sanity (and most likely the sanity of your roommates, coworkers, and friends…) you may want to venture outside on those days when it’s not quite freezing outside. Luckily, Shanghai has some great outdoor places where you can enjoy nature during these brisk wintry days.
One of the best places to go is the Shanghai Botanical Gardens, the largest municipal botanical gardens in China. Construction of the gardens began in 1974, and they were finally opened up to the public in the late 1970s. The 200-acre horticultural oasis has magnolia trees, bamboo plants, roses, and supposedly the best orchid garden in the country.
The garden is divided into four sections, which feature things like Traditional Chinese Medicine plants that are actually grown, harvested, and used right here in Shanghai. There are also two greenhouses, one of which houses over 3,500 tropical blooms from southeast Asia. The other greenhouse, one of the newer additions to the garden, focuses on desert plants such as cacti. The fake camels and sunset that are used to make you feel like you’re actually in the desert are a tad cheesy, but the plants themselves are pretty wild.
While you’re strolling around enjoying the greenery, don’t be surprised if you run into groups of students on field trips or witness scientific surveys being conducted. One of the main purposes of the garden is to promote educational and scientific research in the area of plant science. They’ve even built a new area, known as the Plant Evolution Section, completely dedicated to horticultural experiments. But don’t worry - you don’t have to have your PhD in order to enjoy the garden; the flowers here, which have won awards at international shows for their beauty and rarity, are gorgeous whether you know their backgrounds or not.
While the other sections of the gardens have their fans, the most popular area by far is the Bonsai Garden (Penjing Yuan). Keep in mind that if you don’t buy the all-inclusive ticket, you’ll have to pay separately to enter this part. It’s completely worth it, though. Hundreds and hundreds of bonsai trees crisscross the various courtyards, pools, and corridors that make up the area. Attached to the section is the Rock Penjing display, in which rocks have been carved to form miniature mountains. Rather bizarrely, it holds the honour of being known as ‘China’s largest potted landscape park’.
And lastly, a park in China wouldn’t be complete without the requisite restaurants, vendors, stalls, and children’s playgrounds scattered throughout. It’s because of this that the Shanghai Botanical Gardens ultimately serve a dual purpose. One the one hand, they are a hands-on research facility that exposes both students and professionals to an area of study that for some reason is not very popular in this country. It’s also a great place to relax and unwind while soaking in the pure beauty of your natural surroundings – and that’s certainly not something you can do everywhere here in Shanghai!
Shanghai Botanical Gardens (上海植物园 Shanghai Zhiwuyuan)View In Map
Add: 1100 Longwu Lu, near Baise Lu, Shanghai
Tel: 021 6451 3369
Opening hours: Daily, 08:00-17:00 (spring, summer, autumn); Daily, 07:30-16:30 (winter)
Price: 15 RMB (gardens only); 40 RMB all-inclusive (includes other sections of the garden, including the Bonsai Garden)
Getting There: Take Metro Line 3 to Shilong Lu Station; or take bus No. 56, 714, 720, 770, 820, 824, 958, 973 to Shanghai Zhiwuyuan.
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