After Shanghai's six weeks of tolerable spring weather, the mercury starts climbing, quickly forming a one-two punch with the humidity (add to that urban density and lack of green space and you've got a recipe for a cruel, cruel summer). But there's more to a Shanghai summer than escaping to Mogan Shan or staying inside with the air conditioning on full blast. While the city is certainly no Sanya, there are still plenty of Shanghai beaches and pools to enjoy soft sand between the toes, a cool drink in hand and a place to take a dip.
For more on Shanghai travel, check out our Shanghai travel guide.
The Hottest Shanghai Beaches
Bund Beach: Man-shifted sand by the Huangpu
This stretch of soft sand that was placed behind the bars and restaurants at the Cool Docks on the southern end of the Bund looking out at the iconic Pudong skyline went largely unnoticed and underappreciated as Sunny Beach. Enter "Hispano-American" restaurant Rico Rico who took over to spice things up. Since then, there have been Shanghai beach parties (several courtesy of local event makers Ice Cream Truck), beach volleyball games, social networking events and family days. A wading pool helps with staying cool (though drinks from the on-site bar can help, too), while spacious sunbeds encourage all-day lounging.
RMB 50-100 entry.
The Bund Beach, 421 Waima Lu, near Maojiayuan Lu (外马路421号近毛家园路), a short walk from Metro Line 9 Xiaonanmen Station.
Jinshan Beach: Shanghai's oceanside playa
Located in Shanghai's suburban Jinshan District, this 1.3 km (0.8 mi) long beach of golden sand imported (yes, imported) from Hainan Island sits along a stretch of ocean sent through a filtration system turning the water a shade of blue not normally seen this close to a Chinese river delta. The eastern end of the beach is usually quieter while the western end has beach volleyball (pro volleyball events have been hosted here in the past) and techno music; SCUBA and water skiing are also available. A few other beaches are located nearby along the Shanghai coast.
Mon-Fri: RMB 30; Sat-Sun: RMB 50.
Jinshan City Beach, Jintao Lu, Jinshan District (金山城市沙滩，金山区金涛路); an hour's drive south of the southern terminus stations of Metro Lines 9 and 5.
Dino Beach: Water park with a wave pool and beach
With twisting slides, a lazy river ride, a wave pool, a kiddie pool-playground with pirate ship and all the usual water park fun, Dino Beach (the Chinese name of which means "Tropical Storm Water Fun Park") makes for a good day of cooling off for the whole family. The wave pool (touted as the largest in Asia) ends on a sandy beach that fills to the brink with sun-wary masses on summer weekends. Outside food and drink are not allowed, so fill up before you head out—greasy fast food is available inside, but beer isn't. After 4pm (around the time crowds start dwindling), the prices go down. Ladies get a discount on what the park calls "Hot Babes Day," or as most of us call it, Wednesday.
Mon-Fri: RMB 100-150, Sat-Sun: RMB 150-200 for adults; RMB 100-120 for children under 1.5 m; free entrance for children under 0.8 m. Open 10am-11pm daily from around June 20 until September.
78 Xinzhen Lu, near Gudai Lu, (上海热带风暴水上乐园，新镇路78号近顾戴路); take Metro Line 1 to Xinzhuang Station and then take a 10-minute cab ride or transfer to bus 763 to the park entrance, (86 21) 6478 3333.
Le Meridien She Shan: Swimming pools, a beach, bubbly and a big buffet
The sandy beach at Le Meridien She Shan sits amid prime grassy landscape with a golf course beside a small man-made lake surrounded by hectares of lush grass, weeping willows, bamboo trees, gardens and palms. While the lake isn't for swimming, the hotel has an outdoor infinity pool near the beach as well as a temperature-controlled indoor pool. The hotel provides lounge chairs on the beach and by the pool as well as towels. You can also rent a volleyball if you'd like to play a game at the net on the beach; boombox blasting "Playing with the Boys" by Kenny Loggins not included. For RMB 398, the hotel's Big Blue Brunch (11:30am-2:30pm) gives you access to the beach, both pools, the hotel gym, free entry to the Museum of Contemporary Art and a lovely buffet spread of some 300 items that includes drinks and free-flow Champagne. Make lunch reservations either on arrival or before.
RMB 398 (plus 15% surcharge) for adults, RMB 160 (plus 15% surcharge) for children aged 3-12.
1288 Linyin Xin Lu, near Shenzhuanjiasong Gonglu Lu, (Shé Shān Línyìn Xīn Lù jìn Shěnzhuānjiāsōng Gōnglù, 佘山林荫新路1288号近沈砖嘉松公路), a short taxi or motorbike taxi ride (RMB 5) from Metro Line 9 She Shan Station, (86 21) 5779 9999.
Shimao Riviera Garden: Nice swimming pool with a beach and tropical trappings
Located in Pudong near the Huangpu River, the pool with sandy beach at the Shimao Riviera Garden apartment complex is kept even cooler by the surrounding lush greenery. An exercise pool and leisure pool are both available. It's a trek from Puxi, but with the restaurant and bar next to the pool, it's worth a good day in the sun.
RMB 120 for adults, RMB 60 for kids. Open 9am-7pm daily from May to September. 1-2
Weifang Xi Lu, near Pucheng Lu (Shìmào Bīnjiāng Huāyuán, Wéifāng Xī Lù jìn Pǔchéng Lù, 世茂滨江花园，潍坊西路1-2号近浦成路), five minutes by taxi or 20 minutes on foot south of Metro Line 9 Shancheng Lu Station, (86 21) 6888 8108.
Sun Island Resort: Wave pool, beach, slides, go-karts, horse-riding, driving range, KTV, you name it...
A long, narrow island in the middle of the Mao River, a tributary of the Huangpu to the southwest of Shanghai, Sun Island is a trek to get to, but there's plenty to do once you arrive. Operated by the Sun Island Resort, the island's large outdoor wave pool is luckily also open to those not staying at the hotel, as are the driving range, horse rides, organic farm, go-karts and karaoke. (Unfortunately, there's a separate charge for each.) Also on the island, the Mao Pagoda Lighthouse, which is free to visit, was first built in the Tang Dynasty and helped ships navigate past the island through the subsequent Song Dynasty when it was decommissioned.
RMB 200, RMB 120 for resort guests. Open 9am-7pm daily.
2588 Shentai Lu, near Shenzhuan Lu, Zhujiajiao, Qingqu district. (太阳岛国际俱乐部，青浦区朱家角沈太路2588号，近沈砖路), a 30-40 minute cab ride from Dongjing Station on Metro Line 9, (86 21) 6186 9650
Stay Cool in the Pool
Purple Mountain Hotel: Rooftop pool in Lujiazui
Previously the site of Lujiazui is paired with a shallower, slightly smaller twin for the kiddies. Adult drinks and kid safe drinks alike are available from the hotel bar and can be enjoyed poolside. Like most pools in Shanghai, the one at the Purple Mountain Hotel requires a swimming cap (for keeping hair out of their filters), but unlike some, the staff at the Purple Mountain usually enforces that rule.
RMB 120. Open 7am-10pm daily, starting each year around June 10 and closing again around October 30.
778 Dongfang Lu, near Zhangyang Lu (Zǐjīnshān Dàjiǔdiàn, Dōngfāng Lù jìn Zhāngyáng Lù, 紫金山大酒店，东方路778号近张杨路), close to Metro Lines 2, 4, 6 and 9 Century Avenue Station, (86 21) 6886 8888.
Mandarine City Apartments: Swim-up bar and pizza
The pool at the Mandarine City Apartments [sic] is a popular one, so expect crowds on hot weekends. However, this is one of the cheaper options for cooling off and nothing says "cooling off" like a cold brewsky from a swim-up bar. Nothing. With the pizza on sale ready for lunch, this pool is a prime spot for a sunny Shanghai day.
RMB 100 for adults, RMB 50 for kids. Open 7:30am-10pm daily, from around June to October.
788 Hongxu Lu, near Huaguang Lu (Míngdūchéng Jiǔdiàn Gōngyù, 名都城酒店公寓，虹许路788号，近华光路), a short walk south from Metro Line 10 Shuicheng Lu Station, (86 21) 6405-0404.
Beyond the 'Hai
About three hours away from Shanghai in the Zhoushan Archipelago, Shengsi Island makes for a great weekend getaway. Laid-back, sparsely populated and lined with beaches, the island is dotted with villages and a few World War II gun fortifications.
Learn more about taking a weekend trip to Shengsi Island.