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Serene Shanghai

January 29, 2018

Enjoying a calming break in Shanghai’s buzzy metropolis is easy when you know how. Here are 10 spots for relaxing in style, from tranquil galleries to indulgent spas…


Shanghai Museum

Drift in a dreamy world of heritage treasures at the Shanghai Museum, a cultural giant that’s home to dazzling calligraphy, gorgeous jade, graceful ceramics and ancient Chinese bronzes. From paintings to coins and furniture, you’ll find something to love, with permanent galleries and temporary exhibitions for a heavenly culture hit. The scenic People’s Park serves up a slice of nature outside.

201 Renmin Dadao, Huangpu, +86 21 6372 3500, shanghaimuseum.net

China Art Museum

Immerse yourself in fine contemporary artworks at China Art Museum (aka China Art Palace). Set in Pudong’s red China Pavilion from 2010’s World Expo, it offers a peaceful retreat from the pulsing city, with an artful journey spread over five floors – start at the top and flow down, soaking up propaganda posters and animated films along the way. Pre-book free tickets online.

205 World Expo Park, Shangnan Lu, Pudong, +86 21 6222 8822, artmuseumonline.org

Zao Zi Shu

Boost your wellbeing at vegetarian restaurant Zao Zi Shu (‘Jujube Tree’), which serves a health-centric menu that ticks all the clean-eating boxes. This simple eatery, with low-key wood and neutral decor, plates up fresh, seasonal and wholesome dishes made without meat, seafood, alcohol or MSG. Perfect for a revitalising refuel.

258 Fengxian Lu, Jing’an (+ branches), +86 21 6215 7566, jujubetree.com


Zen Massage

Trot to this tranquil, tri-level oasis in a lovely old laneway for traditional therapeutic massages. Located in the former French Concession, this small minimalist den offers aromatherapy, four-hand and hot stone massages plus foot reflexology, using ancient Chinese techniques and healing essential oils. Tactile interiors and soft lighting add to the calming mood.

Lane 210 Wuyuan Lu, Bldg 1, near Wulumuqi Zhong Lu, Jing’an, +86 21 3368 1227, zenmassage.cn

The Living Room by Octave

Shanghai’s first integrated, holistic wellbeing centre, The Living Room by Octave hosts east-meets-west classes and treatments catering to the body and mind. Alongside yoga, tai chi, Pilates, Thai boxing and circuit training there’s on-site childcare and a wholesome organic restaurant, Thought For Food, for guilt-free snacking.

357 Jianguo Xi Lu, near Taiyuan Lu, Xuhui, +86 21 3338 4666, new.livingoctave.com 


At the edge of the former French Concession, this modern studio specialises in Pilates, Gyrotonic and Core Suspension (using ropes and slings). It offers group classes and personal training sessions, or release stress with some hands-on Cranial Sacral Therapy.

Lane 95, Wuyi Lu, No 28, Room 205, Changning, Puxi,  +86 21 5238 5750, bodyworksasia.cn

Body & Soul Medical Clinics

This by appointment-only traditional Chinese medical centre, within Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai’s Qin The Spa, is a hushed, elegant urban sanctuary. Swing by for acupuncture, physiotherapy, Tui Na massage, herbal remedies or cupping – stiff shoulders begone!

6/F, Four Seasons Hotel, 500 Weihai Lu, Jing’an, +86 15 000 597 770, tcm-shanghai.com


Suzhou Museum

Escape the city’s frenetic pace for the calming embrace of Suzhou Museum, two hours’ drive from Shanghai. The bold, geometric white stucco and glass building, by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei, is set amid soothing water features beside UNESCO-listed historic gardens. This beautiful art space houses jade and porcelain antiques from the Ming and Qing dynasties, as well as relics, paintings and calligraphy, with special exhibitions. Sublime.

204 Dongbei Jie, Suzhou, +86 512 6757 5666, szmuseum.com

Water Towns

An hour or two’s drive from Shanghai but a world away in terms of atmosphere, the rustic string of Water Towns feature old stone houses, ancient alleyways, graceful bridges and mellow canals. Enjoy some quiet downtime in Xitang. Closer, but busier, is Zhujiajiao. Pretty details, from classic wooden balconies and arched roofs to red lanterns and gondola-style boats, make for a magical day-trip.

Xitang, Zhujiajiao, Suzhou, Tongli, Zhouzhuang, Wuzhen, Nanxun, Qibao, Luzhi and Hangzhou are all within easy road or rail reach of Shanghai

Naked Stables

If healthy hikes, horse-riding, swimming and spa treats appeal, then take a trip to Naked Stables. An eco-luxe resort and equestrian centre in a forested valley, it’s ideal for a relaxing weekend break, with thatched Earth Huts for couples or larger Tree Top Villas with mountain-view terraces and hot tubs. There’s no nudism involved, just a natural escape in the Moganshan hills.

No. 37, Shangxiazhuang Village, Moganshan Town, Deqing, Zhejiang, +86 400 9200 518, nakedretreats.cn

The original version of this article was penned by LUXE for Cigna Smart Health. Images courtesy of Shutterstock. 

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