A hub for pirates during the Ming Dynasty, Zhoushan Island, located approximately 100 mi/160 km south of Shanghai, is considered a spiritually healing vacation spot for locals and has been called the "Buddhist paradise on the sea."

The archipelago, composed of more than 1,300 islands, attracts some 27 million tourists every summer. Zhoushan's strands of unspoiled beaches, nature preserves, cultural relics, old war bunkers, exotic temples and ancient petroglyphs keep visitors returning year after year.

The islands' rich cultural history has spawned many festivals, including the annual Zhoushan International Sand Sculpture Festival.

Hire a tour guide to explore Zhoushan Island itself, or pay a local fisherman for a daylong trip through the archipelago.

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