Markets can be some of the most lively and colorful places to visit when you're exploring a new city, where locals and tourists come together around everything from food to antiques to secondhand treasures. Here are 10 of our favorites to explore in Shanghai:
1. YUYUAN MARKET. Many locals and visitors come to the Yu Garden, an oasis of calm in bustling Shanghai. Next to the garden is Yuyuan market (also known as the City God Temple market) in the old city of Shanghai. It is a wonderful place to experience local life. The market will lead you back to 100 years ago. There are over 100 stores (mainly small) where you can find Chinese medicine, walking sticks, chopstick sets, tea sets, silk umbrellas, bamboo and rattan furniture, even goldfish. Local people in Shanghai enjoy shopping here. They can find things unobtainable elsewhere and they can snack or dine at nearby local restaurants.
Photo: Yuyuan Market by Tim Sheerman-Chase
2. XINYANG MARKET. After the famous “fake” market market in Puxi closed in 2006, many vendors relocated to Yatai Xinyang Fashion and Gift Market located under the Science and Technology Museum, directly accessible from the line 2 station of that name. In principle, the vendors in this market create their own brands, though replicas can be found. It is a great place to buy inexpensive souvenirs: t-shirts, chopsticks and cushion covers alongside bags, suitcases and electronic items. Hard bargaining is advised.
Photo: Xinyang market by TooN LAURENT
3. HONG QIAO NEW WORLD PEARL MARKET. This market confusingly also has signs saying Hong Qiao Silk Market, but it is the same building. It offers, over three floors, far more than just the pearls. It is a large shopping venue selling knock-off bags, silk scarves, Chinese souvenirs and more. Bargaining hard is the order of the day. It is, of course, the best place to shop for pearls at good prices. Visitors might enjoy the Foreigner Street "Loawai Jie" just opposite on Hongmei Lu.
Photo: Hong Qiao Pearl Market by Tobias Hieta
4. DONGTAI LU ANTIQUE MARKET. Dongtai Road Antique Market is a famous street for antiques in Shanghai. Dongtai Road is an open market about 200 meters long with about 125 stores opened on both sides of the road. There are antiques both real and fake, including ceramics, copper, jade, ancient coins, pocket watches, paintings and a host of other collectibles. As time has passed, it has become more difficult to find genuine antiques here. Many stalls sell the same and/or similar items, so put your bargaining skills to work and shop around.
Video: Day in the life of the Dongtai Lu Antique Market by farhad4art
5. SOUTH BUND FABRIC MARKET. South Bund Fabric Market was originally known as the Dongjiadu Fabric Market. It's housed over three floors, on Lujiabang Lu, and is full of fabric shops and tailors. It offers good value on cashmere coats, Qipao and men’s shirts. Many shops have their own in-house tailors who can make you a suit, or anything else you want, in a few days. The prices are reasonable because the cloths used are not expensive, but pieces are still tailor made and a good fit. While in the South Bund, don't miss a visit to the Cool Docks for refreshments and dining.
Video: Skip ahead to 1:39 for a tour of the fabric market with The Shanghai Life
6. QIPU LU CLOTHING MARKET. This market is the largest wholesale and retail clothing market in Shanghai which offers a huge range of men’s, women’s and children’s wear. It has a history of over 100 years. Shoppers find general clothing, apparel, underwear, skirts, shoes, jeans, t-shirts, bags and other accessories. The latest fashions can be found at low prices in this market, away from downtown, in Qipu Lu, in Zhabei District with lower rents.
Photo: Qipu Lu Clothing Market by David Almeid
7. HONG KONG FAMOUS SHOPS STREET. Located at Renmin Road, in downtown Huangpu District, this is Shanghai’s first underground shopping street filled with booths on both sides. Prices are higher because of the rising costs of rents, but shoppers can find unique and good-looking products including clothes, bags, hats and jewelry. It attracts a younger crowd, people who are looking for trendy items. As in most markets, you'll need to bargain for a good price.
Photo: Heading into the underground fashion market by Leo Fung
8. MUSLIM STREET MARKET. This market meets weekly on Fridays and is located in front of the Huxi Mosque (Northern Jing An District), with roadside vendors gathered to sell Muslim foods and products. It is an interesting place to see some non-Han Chinese culture. The street food is cleanly prepared and it is also worth wandering around the mosque. Most of the vendors come from Xinjiang Province and their cuisine is very different from that of eastern China.
9. FLOWER, BIRD, FISH & INSECT MARKET. This is the leading market of this kind in Shanghai, with flowers appropriate to each season. Spring’s orchid, Summer’s lotus, Autumn’s mum, and Winter’s plum are good examples. All kinds of fish and birds can be found and crickets are a good example of the insects, for those with that interest. This market can be found at Tibet Road off Fuxing Road.
Video: A fascinating look at the Flower, Bird, Fish & Insect Market with Tim Buktu
10. TIANSHAN TEA MARKET. This market is spread over three floors. It's full of Chinese tea and can be found on Zhongshan Xi Road. For those wanting to get all their tea shopping done in one place, this is the place. It is useful to take along a Chinese speaker. If not, armed with a dictionary, go sample tea helped by friendly shop owners who allow touch and smell. Shoppers are welcome to ask for tastes. The first two floors are all tea, the third floor is a mix of tea and curios. Long Jing green tea, Pu'er tea, Jasmine, Oolong - it is all there.
Video: Interesting look at the Tianshan Tea Market with TimGloAdventures