Haining City is great for a quick getaway from Shanghai.
Near Hangzhou, Haining is famous for its tidal bore, the country's biggest leather market, entertaining an emperor and now the country's first Angry Birds themepark.
While the tides can be viewed every month, the biggest and best tidal bore is usually in September and people come from around the world to witness it.
Haining's Yanguan Town is also famous as the hometown of celebrities like kung fu novel author Jin Yong and scholar Wang Guowei.
The city's fame goes back to imperial times. During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Emperor Qianlong visited Haining several times.
The tidal bore is at its most awe-inspiring best on the 18th day of the eighth month on the Chinese lunar calendar -- this year it was September 14. Tens of thousands of tourists gather along the banks of the Qiantong River to watch the tide of up to 10 meters.
The moon's gravity and the trumpet-like mouth of the Qiantang River create the spectacular scene.
A 4D-movie in Tide Wave Watching Park in Yanguan explains in greater detail how the tide works.
Haining hosts the International Qiantang River Tidal Bore Festival annually sometime in September. It features a variety of art performances and traditional folk customs.
Historical documents have been found that show tide watching was already popular in the Tang (AD 618-907) and Song (AD 960-1279) dynasties.
Although the tidal bore is at its most spectacular around September, it can be seen around the 15th day of every Chinese lunar calendar month. At these times, the tide only occurs twice a day. Information boards in the area are updated every day to make sure travelers know the best tide viewing times. Arrive at least 30 to 40 minutes before the scheduled tide to ensure an unobstructed view.
Tips: The best places for tide watching are Yanguan Town, Babao (8km east of Yanguan) for the tide’s highest point, and Laoyancang (12km west of Yanguan) for the returning tide.
Other sites worth visiting
•Angry Birds Park: This fun fantasy world comes to life at the country’s first Angry Birds Activity Park, which opened in October.
Children and young people familiar with the various Angry Birds games will probably enjoy it the most, but there’s a good chance everyone in your group will have a good time.
Authorized by Rovio, the creator of Angry Birds, the park includes a castle and parkour area.
The castle, which can be seen far from the park, is the highlight. It combines slides, climbing structures and suspended bridges.
There are also interactive games and people dressed up as characters from Angry Birds.
•Haining China Leather City: It’s the leading leather market in China. Look for bargains on a wide variety of leather products.
•The Former Residence of Wang Guowei: This is the birthplace of one of China’s top scholars and poets from 100 years ago. Wang Guowei (1877-1927) is famous for his studies on Chinese literature, philosophy and poetry. He was born in Haining and eventually became a professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing. In 1927 he committed suicide by throwing himself into a lake at Beijing’s Summer Palace.
When to go:
From the first to fifth, and 15th to 20th of every lunar month are great tide days. The year's biggest tidal bore is usually sometime in September.
How to get there:
It takes less than one hour from Shanghai by high-speed train. By car it is around two hours from Shanghai depending on traffic.
Where to eat:
Dong Po Restaurant in Yanguan: It offers fresh fish and shrimp. Try the pork. The local dish is said to have been created by Song Dynasty poet Su Dongpo.