Zhoushan main island is accessible by plane via its small (domestic) airport situated on Zhu Jia Jian island, connected to the main Zhoushan island by a road bridge, so access is quite easy. There are flights from Shanghai's Honqiao Airport twice a day (morning and late afternoon), and flights from Beijing and Xiamen. Access from the main island to Zhu Jia Jian is easy via taxi or bus. When arriving at Zhoushan Airport and you have no car available, avoid taxis and their (marketing) aggressive drivers at any costs, especially if you are a foreigner, alone. There is a very reliable and cheap alternative to these taxis, under form of several airport buses. These buses can get you almost everywhere in the main island for prices less than €1.50. Just show them a written note where you want to go and they will get you there gladly. Taxis from main island to airport are ok - they will not overcharge you.
Zhoushan archipelago is not connected to the mainland's railway network. The closest point you can get via train is Ningbo South Station on (Shanghai)-Hangzhou-Fuzhou railway. That will change in the future. In 2018, the Zhejiang government announced plans to build a high-speed rail connection to Zhoushan. Construction is expected to begin in 2020 and be completed by 2022.
There are 3 major ways to reach Zhoushan from mainland by road, as follows:
1. From Hangzhou following G92 Expressway or from Shanghai following G15 Expressway (G15 is passing the 35 km marvel Hangzhou Bay Bridge) to Ningbo Ring Expressway (G15_01). On Ningbo Ring, head north until you reach the interchange with G92_11. This is the expressway to Zhoushan (green expessway standard indicators are with English characters as well). The expressway will take you through the spectacular Zhoushan Bridge network, passing the sea and 3 minor islands until reaching Zhoushan main island near Dinghai District. In main Zhoushan island the expressway is continued with National Road G329 (indicated by red signs with white characters) which will get you to the other end of the island and eventually to ZhuJiaJian island (where the airport and the main sea resort reside).
2. Another way to reach Zhoushan by road and your time is not limited, same as your willingness for exotic stuff, you can continue on G92 from Hangzhou (and not take the Ningbo Ring), pass Ningbo city and go to Beilun city on the sea side. There the expressway is finished and the national road will take you to Baifeng Car Terminal. Until December 2009 this was the only access by car to Zhoushan from Ningbo, now being used mostly by trucks, since these are not allowed on the bridge network of G92_11. From Baifeng the ferry will take you to Zhoushan's Yadanshan ferry terminal, very close to Dinghai District downtown, after a 50-minute sea ride. The ferries are quite ok, they offer some drinks and most important you can stay on the outer decks and enjoy the thrilling scenery of Zhoushan archipelago.
3. If you want an alternative to the above and your starting point is Shanghai, you can follow the Shanghai's S2 Hulu Expressway which will lead you to another Chinese technological wonder - the 37-km-long Donghai Bridge. The Donghai Bridge connects the mainland to a tiny island (more a rock than an island) in the middle of East China Sea where there is a deep-sea huge container terminal and a car ferry terminal. From the car terminal you will have a ~1-hour sea ride to Zhoushan, passing the northern island chains until Zhoushan's main island Ximatou ferry terminal. From there, head south and touch the G329 National Highway. The roads are well-indicated so there should not be a problem as long as you stay on the beaten path.
Zhoushan, being a major holiday spot, is very well served by bus services and this would be your best choice for travelling to Zhoushan. The buses are quite cheap, reliable and in most cases more confy and clean than you would expect. There are bus connections to all Zhejiang province municipalities and as well to Shanghai, Fuzhou, Nanjing, Jiangyin and others. Since the most frequent used lines are from/to Shanghai, Hangzhou and Ningbo, these will be described in more depth.
1. Shanghai From Shanghai you have two choices for reaching Zhoushan by bus. One is via the public bus service from Shanghai South Hub Station (rail and bus station). The buses from here run at every 45 minutes to Zhoushan from 06:00 to 18:00 all week. The ticket costs about ¥130, can be purchased directly at the station and in most cases is not necessary a booking or buy in advance since there are always available seats. Pay attention that in Zhoushan there are 3 stations for each of Zhoushan main island's districts - first one in Dinghai, a further one in Lincheng and the terminus in Shenjiamen - Putuo District all served by the same bus, so choose in advance depending of your destination. On the way back to Shanghai take all the above in reverse. Another choice is the touristic bus service which starts from Shanghai's NanPu Bridge Tourist Bus Service Terminal. The bus station is located exactly under Nanpu Bridge on Puxi side and has its own station of Shanghai's Line 4 Metro. The buses run all day long at roughly same intervals as public bus service. Prices are ¥138 for a normal seat or ¥220 for a special splurge VIP seat in double decker buses (Jan 2012). Not all buses have VIP service. The VIP means you will have one of the only 6 seats in the lower deck, identical to a Business Class plane seat. In Zhoushan, this bus will touch downtown Dinghai District (in a different location than public bus station) and will finally drop you off in Shenjiamen somewhere 1 km away from the public bus terminal. From Shenjiamen to Shanghai this touristic bus starts from Banshendong Ferry terminal on the easternmost tip of the island and has 2 more stops in Zhoushan, at Dongang New Bus Terminal (which is in the middle of nowhere) and in Dinghai.
The bus ride between Shanghai and Zhoushan takes roughly 4 hours with a 15 minutes break on Hangzhou Bay Bridge North bank.
2. Ningbo Bus connections from Ningbo to Zhoushan are extremely frequent at every 30 minutes or so, from Ningbo's North or South Bus stations. Ningbo North Bus Station is your choice because of its proximity to Ningbo downtown (15-minute walk from TianYi square, just across the river from Mariott Ningbo Hotel). If you reach Ningbo by train and you do not plan to visit Ningbo, than from Ningbo South Railway Station, just cross the street and you will find Ningbo South Bus Station. The bus ride between Ningbo and Zhoushan take 2 hours.The ticket costs somewhere around ¥50 In Zhoushan the bus from Ningbo will stop on the stations as described on Shanghai public bus section above.
3. Hangzhou Hangzhou bus service to Zhoushan is served by the same 2 methods as for Shanghai. The bus ride from Hangzhou to Zhoushan takes 3 hours and it can start from Hangzhou North or South Bus Stations. The Hangzhou South is more used due to close distance to Hangzhou downtown and West Lake scenic spot. Tickets are below ¥100, can be purchased directly at the bus terminal and do not need be booked in advance due to very dense departure schedules (every half hour).
Zhoushan being an archipelago, it is served by a dense and very well developed (and complicated) network of ferry lines between the (inhabited) islands and/or mainland. The ferries are mainly of 3 types: fast passenger ferries (water buses), normal passenger ferries (slower but much bigger) and the combined car and passenger ferries (RO-PAX Ferries). From the mainland the main ferry connections to Zhoushn are from Shanghai and Beilun Port of Ningbo. There is no evidence that International Passenger ships touch Zhoushan on a scheduled basis. To understand Zhoushan ferry network, one should divide it in:
- ferry lines connecting mainland to Zhoushan main island (see above section "By car")
- ferry lines connecting mainland to other major islands in the archipelago (from Beilun to Liuheng Island for example)
- ferry lines connecting Zhoushan main island to other islands in the archipelago (see below "Get around")
There are many ferry terminals in Zhoushan's main island and as well at least one on each inhabited island.
- 1 Opium War Relics Park (鸦片战争遗址公园, 竹山公园 Zhushan Park), 81 Zhushanmen Road, Dinghai District 定海区竹山门路81号 (Bus routes 31 and 34), ☏ . Free.
- 2 Shenjiamen Fishing Port (沈家门渔港), Bingang Road, Putuo District (普陀区滨港路) (Bus routes 1, 3, 6, 7 (or k07), 15, 23, and 29. The fishing port is at the southeastern end of the island). Free.
- 3 Zhoushan Museum (舟山博物馆), 610 Haitian Avenue, Xincheng, Dinghai District (定海区新城海天大道610号) (Bus routes 22, 103 and 105), ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-17:00, no entry after 16:00. Free.