Sheshan, a Hiking Through the Scenic Hill in Shanghai     

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.

Entrance of the West Sheshan Park, 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

East Sheshan Park Map

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.

Baishishan Pavilion

The bamboo path

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.

Forest Coffee Bar

22.4-meter-high Fire Brigade Tower

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. 

foods and prices displayed on a big wall

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

Xiudaozhe Tower

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.

Sheshan Basilica

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.

Xiudaozhe Tower, West Sheshan Park, Songjiang Shanghai

Century Belfry, West Sheshan Park, Songjiang Shanghai

Sheshan Basilica

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.

Way of Sorrows

Wooden Boardwalk in West Sheshan, Songjiang, Shanghai

Travel tips

Suggested tour

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.

Related post: Historic Hotels in Shanghai, Where the City’s Old Lifestyle is Represented

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.

29 Comments

  1. I have recently been to China and I can totally agree with you that it’s really worthwhile to visit. I haven’t been to Sheshan but would love to explore it. Since I love walking, I would love to explore the trails. And, as you advised, I would make sure to wear a pair of comfortable shoes to avoid potential accidents

  2. I wasn’t aware of Sheshan, but it is always good to know new places. The hiking seems to be really interesting thing to do there. I will surely climb those 368 stairs for such great scenic views. It is good to know that there are hotels close to the hills, so that one can plan to stay there overnight before starting to hike the following morning.

  3. Sheshan seems a perfect place to lose yourself in the beauty of nature. The hike is so scenic and the best part is that the difficulty level too is not much which means everyone can enjoy the experience. Love the fact that apart from the scenic beauty that the hike provides one can also experience other wonders likes the magnificence of the Sheshan Basilica.

  4. For some reason I didn’t expect Shanghai to be so green, I love it! The bamboo forest walkway looks amazing although 368 steps might be a bit challenging eheh. I would love to explore also the astronomical museum, it must be so cool! I’ll make sure to save this for when I’ll get a chance to visit 🙂

  5. Sheshan Forest Park looks like a great place to visit in Shanghai. I love that there are toilets frequently available. The lack of toilets is usually the part of hiking I dislike the most. I’m so impressed by the InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland hotel too. I have never heard of a hotel having floors that almost seem like they are underground.

  6. This looks like an unbelievably beautiful place to explore! I might day climbing all those stairs but it looks like it’s so worth it! I really love the architecture of the Intercontinental, I can’t say I’ve ever seen untying like it before. I haven’t yet been to Shanghai, but China in general is super high on my list!

  7. Shanghai looks so great.. 😊 I haven’t be here. But I would really love to, someday hopefully.. 😊

  8. Your descriptions and pictures of Sheshan are breathtaking. Now I would love to try climbing those 368 steps. It would be such fun.

  9. It has always been a dream to visit Shanghai in China. And this place added to my list of places to visit in China! Love this!

  10. Shaghai looks amazing! I haven’t had the chance to travel there yet, but it is definitely on my travel bucket list. Thank you for all of the information and tips on what to do while there.

  11. I would love to go hiking at Sheshan, a Scenic Hill in Shanghai. It looks and sounds so scenic.

  12. What a beautiful place. Nature meets history here. The 368 stairs seem worth the effort 🙂

  13. The 368 steps does look easy to climb. It does not look steep at all. Sheshan is a place to visit when in Shanghai. Oh, and that church! I can’t imagine that they did not use nails, beams or steel in its construction!

  14. So much to do at Sheshan! The bamboo forest walkway, the hiking trails, bird watching and the picnic…I am in love. I really would enjoy hiking at Sheshan.

  15. wow, shanghai is gorgeous! i still have not been to any part of china but it’s definitely on my bucketlist.

  16. This place offers such scenic views! I have been to China last year, but have not ventured to this area of Shanghai. Maybe next time I will!

  17. Sheshan looks beautiful! The hiking trail seems like quite the adventure, if you don’t get lost! I’d love to see the buildings in the city, they look amazing!

  18. There is so much unbelievable beauty there! I’d love to hike the area with my family I think we’d all have a wonderful time exploring.

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