With autumn upon us, the city’s foliage is alight in brilliant hues of gold, yellow and red. The best time to view the turning maple and gingko leaves runs from late November to mid-December. Fortunately, this means there’s still time to take in Shanghai’s glorious fall palette. Here’s a list of the best local places to go leaf-peeping, before the grey grip of winter takes hold.
Shanghai Gongqing National Forest Park
As one of the city’s largest parks, it is bordered by the Huangpu River to the east and Jungong Road to the west. In the northeast of the park, there is a 25,000 square-meter island planted with maples, gingko trees, callery pears, spindle trees and more. While the surrounding area is very much an urban environment, the park itself is the closest thing Shanghai has to a real forest. It was built almost 50 years ago on reclaimed land and was designed from the outset to provide Shanghai residents with a place to enjoy nature. The park has hills, streams, a bamboo forest and various themed areas that provide both scenic appeal and places to take part in outdoor leisure activities.
Ancient Gingko Park
Located in Jiading District, it is about 37 kilometers northwest of People’s Square. The park is an example of Jiangnan-style landscaping, which — as its name implies — is built around ten old gingko trees. These trees include the so-called “Shanghai No.1 gingko tree” which is more than 1,200-years-old. The gingko trees cover an area of 600 square meters. The late autumn finds the park a wonderland of yellow hues and marvelous autumn views.
Zaoyang, Huaxi and Tongbai roads in Putuo District
Wandering beneath golden canopies while tramping through fallen leaves may be one of the most enjoyable things about late autumn. Residents in Putuo District can experience these delights without traveling far. There will be plenty of crunch underfoot in the coming weeks on Zaoyang, Huaxi and Tongbai roads. No-sweep rules are in effect on these roads during daylight hours, so strollers can take in the views at their leisure. The roads’ old villas make a perfect backdrop if you want to capture the moment on camera.
Shanghai Botanical Garden
With the most species of plants in the city, it is definitely an ideal place to take in the dazzling yellows and reds of late autumn. Many of the garden’s trees change their colors, including gingko trees, Chinese tallow trees, callery pear and spindle trees. Red maple leaves show their ebullient passion in the Garden of Maple. Trembling poplars wear yellow coats in the Garden of Osmanthus and the fruits of haw, persimmon, photinia serrulata and orange trees hang on the branches in the Garden of Magnolias. As the biggest municipal botanical garden in China, the garden covers 81 hectares and is divided into spacious areas specializing in magnolias, peonies, maples, azaleas, roses, osmanthus, ferns, bamboo, conifers and more.
Gingko trees at Shanghai Concert Hall
Shanghai Concert Hall is located at the intersection of East Yan’an Road and Xizang Road S. in Huangpu District. Some might be surprised to learn that this location, right in the heart of downtown Shanghai, is also a great place to take in the fall foliage. There are rows of gingko trees with spectacular yellow colors by the side of the concert hall. If you are looking for contemplative seclusion though, be warned. The secret is out about this spot, which has become popular as a backdrop among Chinese couples taking wedding photos.
Located in Nanxiang Town in Jiading District, it is one of the most famous gardens in Shanghai. Covering an area of nearly ten hectares, the garden features Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) style architecture, poetry inscriptions and stone paths lined with flowers. There are also dozens of gingko and maple trees which turn yellow in late November and mid-December. Other attractions include Yiyetang, or The Hall of Reclusion. Tickets to Guyi Garden are priced at 12 yuan (US$1.88).
Gingko Avenue in Oriental Land
There is a 2.5-kilometer-long Gingko Avenue in Oriental Land, located on the shores of Dianshan Lake in Qingpu District. Oriental Land serves not only as a recreational and social center, but also as “the city’s lungs” thanks to its lush vegetation. Covering an area of 373 hectares, the theme park features more than 400 different types of plants, 110,000 trees, and 170,000 square-meters of grass. A thousand gingko trees are planted along the above mentioned avenue to provide an enjoyable strolling experience in autumn. The red and orange leaves have already begun falling, turning the path into a golden-carpeted walkway.