When people look at a list of things to do in China’s largest city, the beach never features very highly. Trust me, I do some research before writing these things and ‘best beach in Shanghai’ doesn’t get typed into Google very much.
China as a whole isn’t really a place to go for the beaches, but there are some nice spots up and down the country. Xiamen, Hainan and Qingdao spring to mind.
If you want to feel the sand between your toes in Shanghai though, you’ll have to head out to the suburbs. You have a few options, and one that often comes recommended is at Jinshan. It’s no Bondi or Ipanema, but it’s perhaps the best you’ll get within a reasonable distance to downtown.
I went there and shot some cheap old C200. The results are here, along with some general information about visiting Jinshan beach yourself.
Getting to Jinshan beach
You have several options for getting to Jinshan, which translates as Golden Mountain and is around 60km from Shanghai itself.
It’s probably debatable whether there are even any beaches in Shanghai. 60km means we’re talking really about beaches near Shanghai here.
Still, the public transport makes it easy to get to, with the quickest and cheapest way being the non-stop bullet train from Shanghai South Railway Station which will have you there in under 30 minutes.
Despite using actual intercity trains, the line operates like the subway – you can use your public transport card to buy a ticket and you don’t need to show your ID or passport.
There is another train from the same station that stops at more places along the way but that takes twice as long. You could also take an hour-long bus but, with that express train available, you’d need a good reason to.
We did none of the above, instead getting a car from a rideshare app my girlfriend uses. But that was because we took our dog and the train won’t let him on.
Getting into Jinshan beach
Getting into a beach is a strange phrase to use when we usually get on them. Jinshan is different though, as you need to buy a ticket and go through that welcoming entrance gate you see above.
Prices vary with the season, weekends, and national holidays, but range from around 10 RMB to 50 RMB. You can get them cheaper if you buy online in advance too.
Paying to get onto a beach seemed odd to me. They’re usually just public places, after all. I suppose Jinshan is a little different with it being man-made, as it can then be justified as some sort of privately-owned park.
Either way, it’s best not to worry too much about it, for a couple of reasons. First is the prices are hardly extortionate anyway, and the second is this is China, where some things are always going to be different and you’re never going to change them.
Unfortunately, this all meant the beach joined the train as somewhere we couldn’t take the dog. He ended up in a pet shop for the afternoon, which he was not happy about one bit.
What to expect from the potential best beach in Shanghai
I can’t tell you how busy Jinshan beach might be on the day you go there. Because we went on a public holiday, it was pretty crowded. Normal weekdays are going to be a lot quieter.
Whether you can swim there or not depends on the season too. It was prohibited when we went, but I’ve read they let you in the summer months. Knee-high paddling inside the buoys was as much as we could do in May, though.
The big collection of sand sculptures in the middle of the beach was pretty impressive, at first. Then less impressive when I noticed they’re not completely made of sand.
One of them was crumbling a little and revealed some sort of moulding the sand had been clumped onto.
The final thing I noticed at Jinshan, which came as no surprise, was a lot of people doing everything they could to avoid the sun.
Umbrellas, coats over heads, tents, face masks; everything except the full facekini, which was a shame. Maybe they’ll come out in the swimming season.
So is Jinshan Shanghai’s best beach?
Whether Jinshan is Shanghai’s best beach or not, I couldn’t possibly say, as it’s the only one I’ve been to. All I can do is tell you what it’s like in isolation.
Without wishing to sound too cynical, most of what I’ve written here points to Jinshan being a beach with Chinese characteristics, as the phrase goes.
You can go in the sea but no further than you’re told, those nice looking structures aren’t as well-built as they appear, and getting a tan is bad. And you have to pay for the pleasure of setting foot on the sand.
To be fair though, the day spent there was a pleasure. Getting out of the city always is, and not every city has a beach nearby. This one isn’t perfect but it is there. Whoever made it, I appreciate that they did so.
I was looking forward to shooting some colour film on a beach too, to make a change from the streets I usually find myself pounding, and I’m happy with the results I got with the Fujicolor C200.
And that’s just about all I have to say. I can spend all day pointing out the peculiarities of Jinshan and ponder whether it’s the best beach in Shanghai or not, but it really is what you make of it.
I enjoyed my time and made it a place to shoot some film. What more could I really ask than that? 🙂
If you enjoyed that post, why not take a look at these others to stay inspired or learn more about the Fujicolor C200 film I used here:
- Full review of this Fujicolor C200 film
- Another film photo essay from a Chinese beach
- Shooting Fujicolor C200 at another tourist spot
And if you think others will enjoy this account of Jinshan beach too, help them find it by sharing or pinning. 😀