Sheshan (佘山) is located in the Songjiang district, west of Shanghai. It consists of two forested hills, the East and West Sheshan Park that belong to the Sheshan National Forest Park, which includes, for example, the East Sheshan, the West Sheshan, the Tianmashan (天马山), and the Xiaokunshan (小昆山).
Sheshan is the only mountain-range in Shanghai. The bamboo forest walkway, the hiking trails, thousands of plant species, bird watching, and picnic places make the place a perfect day trip destination. The most famous sites in the area are the Observatory and the giant Basilica. The area is well-known among the locals. But you could book a private landscape tour to explore the Sheshan Natural Park and the west suburb area of Shanghai.
The Sheshan scenic area is a family-friendly tourist resort. A free route map is available at the ticket office. Make sure to take one as it has information about all sites.
All sites are easily reachable, but not all places are open on the same day. Nevertheless, there are enough scenic places to satisfy your outdoor enthusiasm.
The best way is to start from the South Gate and exit at the West Gate. In that way, it is easier to continue the trail to West Sheshan Park without any detour. My walking route is:
- South Gate
- The 368 stairs
- Baishishan Pavilion
- Bamboo Path
- Forest Coffee Bar
- The 22.4-meter-high Fire Brigade Tower
- Qianglong Pavilion
- West Gate
Detailed walking route of the East Sheshan Park
The 368 stairs
Shortly after the South Gate are the 368 stairs up to the mountain. The stone-paved stairs are pretty broad and easy to walk up the hill. After about 200 steps, on the right side of the stairs, it is the Baishishan Pavilion.
The bamboo path
The bamboo path is behind the Baishishan Pavilion. It was in the Springtime when all the bamboos were growing. The Spring bamboo roots are edible and are a delicacy in the local cuisine. Fences were around the bamboo growing area to protect the bamboo forest. Some locals were digging the bamboo roots outside the fenced area and along the roadside. It took them nearly half an hour to find a bamboo root deep in the soil. It seems not so easy to find them.
The Forest Coffee Bar
According to the map, the bamboo path leads to South Peak. But I turned back and walked toward the Forest Coffee Bar. In reality, it is just a kiosk with several seats.
A few steps further away, the Forest Coffee Bar is the sightseeing platform in a mushroom shape. I was happy to have a break there and enjoy the view without any obstacles. The fog was gone, and the air was clear. Next to it is the 22.4-meter-high Fire Brigade Tower, highlighted by its red-yellow colour.
Exit via Qianglong Road
In front of the Fire Brigade Tower is Qianglong Ancient Road. My next break was at the Qianglong Pavilion next to the road. The Qianglong Road leads to the North Peak and another sightseeing platform. I opted for getting down the hill and then walking towards the west gate. It is also possible to hike back to the south gate directly by following the driveway.
The restaurant and the hotel between the East and West Sheshan Park
The restaurant that belongs to the Forest Hotel (森林宾馆) offers many local dishes. Guests can find all foods and prices displayed on a big wall. Though waiters don’t speak English, international guests should have no problem ordering the food based on the pictures. Many dishes also use bamboo roots as one ingredient.
The Lan Sun Mountain Villa (兰笋山庄) has a large compound. Locals stay in this hotel to explore the nearby outdoor places, such as the Yuehu Sculpture Park, the Zuibaichi Park, the Fang Pagoda Park, the Chenshan Botanical Garden, etc., are all outdoor destinations.
Sites in the West Sheshan Park
Crossing the Waiqingsond Road, I reached the east gate of the West Sheshan Park. Most tourists only visit this area. Behind the east gate is the tourist centre where a map is also available. My walking route from the east gate was:
Most tourists only visit this area. Behind the east gate is the tourist centre where a map is also available. My walking route from east gate was:
- Xiudaozhe Tower
- Century Belfry
- Sheshan Basilica
- Sheshan Observatory and Astronomy Museum
- Way of Sorrows
- the Wooden Boardwalk
- East Gate or North Gate
Detailed walking route of the West Sheshan Park
The wooden Xiudaozhe Tower with eight-story is octagonal. According to the Legendary, a hermit called “Xiu” had participated in the construction. After the completion, he burnt himself to become a martyr. Therefore, “Xiu” become part of the tower’s name.
Passing the Century Belfry, I walked around 10 minutes to the Sheshan Basilica surmounted on the top. On the way, I could see Fire Brigade Tower on the East Sheshan and the Lan Sun Mountain Villa at the foot of Sheshan.
The construction of the Basilica started in 1925 and lasted ten years. The church has no single nail, beam, or steel. Its whole interior used granite. However, all paintings and stained glass windows were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Later, in 1981, the government returned the church to the Shanghai Diocese, and thus the Basilica got renovated.
Visitors can see the red brick church with its 38-meter-high bell tower in the distance.
Sheshan Observatory and Astronomy Museum
Ninety-nine meters above sea level, the former Sheshan Observatory was established by the French Mission in 1900. It was China’s first modern observatory equipped with a dome and huge telescope. Later in 2004, its main building has become the Sheshan Astronomical Museum.
Way of Sorrows
Below the Basilica is a zigzag path through the bamboo forest. The path links 14 stations and forms the Way of Sorrow. The stations imitate the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem. Inside the stations are a series of 14 holy images, such as ‘Jesus carries His cross’ and ‘Jesus meets His mother Mary’.
The wooden boardwalk
I turned into the driveway and continued walking towards the east for about 10 minutes. Then, I arrived at the wooden boardwalk. The boardwalk ends up at a junction. I exited at the east gate and took a bus in front of the Adcote Boarding School to the Metro station.
Those who are short on time can join a private landscape tour. The tour explores the Sheshan Basilica, the Grand View Garden, and the Dianshan Lake. The Grand View Garden is the principal scene in the famous classic novel “A Dream of Red Chamber”(红楼梦) written by Cao Xueqin in the 18th century.
It was a sad romantic story about two wealthy families during the Qing-Dynasty. Fiction is a masterpiece of Chinese literature and the manuscript of films and TV series.
Where to stay
Sheshan is in the Songjiang District, Shanghai. In recent years, Songjiang has become a new tourist destination. In general, hotels with high-standard are cheaper than those in the city centre.
How to get there
Take the Shanghai Metro Line 9 and get off at the Sheshan station. Then, take the No. 92 and get off at the Sheshan National Forest Park station. However, the bus doesn’t arrive frequently. Meanwhile, some private persons offer a drive to the Sheshan. But don’t take their offers. It is not cheap and unsafe. It is easy to call an official taxi just outside the Metro station.
What to pack
The Sheshan Forest Park is a pleasant getaway from the urban hustle and bustle of Shanghai. To make your trip enjoyable, I suggest to pack the following things:
- Wear a pair of comfortable shoes to avoid potential accidents.
- Carry a bottle of water since the water from the kiosks could be expensive.
- Not all the toilets are at the newest standard. Prepare for some toilet paper to avoid embarrassing situations.
- Bring some snacks to have a picnic while enjoying the pleasant views.