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The Best Markets In Shanghai, China
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The Best Markets In Shanghai, China

Picture of Wing Tung Isabella Yu
Updated: 9 February 2017
In this flourishing and prosperous city Shanghai, you’ll not only find modernly furnished shopping centers featuring designer labels, but markets devoted to traditional Chinese culture. With over 5,000 years of history, from klunky lanes with dealers selling products during the Ming and Qing dynasties, historical sites where litterateur converge to complex malls for tea lovers, distinctive markets converge in this vibrant city. Here’s the five best markets in Shanghai where you can experience Shanghainese culture.

Tian Zi Fang

In the Old French Concession quarter of Shanghai lies the arts and crafts enclave Tian Zi Fang. There are three distinguishing features about Tian Zi Fang. Firstly, the 50-year-old archaic bungalows reflect the primitive simplicity of the early republican era in China. Secondly, the buildings have been revitalized to become a creative market where you can find hilarious kungfu esoterica, nostalgic art pieces or coins from the Qing Dynasty. Thirdly, Tian Zi Fang is a place where coffeehouses converge within its stone-ringed architecture, and these serve roast coffee and Western cuisine in an open-air terrace. Strolling around, you’re transported back to the beginning of civilization on these lanes, filled with an Old Shanghai ambiance.

Lane 210, Taikang Road, Hangpu, Shanghai, China

Tian Zi Fang © Birger Hoppe/Flickr
Tian Zi Fang | © Birger Hoppe/Flickr
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Dong Tai Road Antique Market

There are two world-renowned antique markets in China, one is the Liulichang, located in Beijing, and the other is the Dong Tai Road Antique Market. With over 200 stores arranged in close rows in this 500-meter-long walking zone, you’ll get dazzled by the endless array of antiques and grotesque stuff. Classic antiques, like sculptures, porcelain, jadeware, the ancient stationeries ‘scholar’s four jewels’, and embroideries, are just tip of the iceberg. Don’t let your jaws dropped if you find shops bragging about their crusted three-inch golden lotus shoes and baskets, used scholars during the Ming Dynasty to carry their books. Without any state-owned brands nor unified pricing, you can bargain with the dealer for a more reasonable price.

168 Dongmen Road, Shanghai, China

Dong Tai Lu Antique Market © mikeric/Flickr
Dong Tai Lu Antique Market | © mikeric/Flickr

Duolun Road

Dated back to the 1930s, Duolun Road is the rallying point for the Chinese literary giants Lu Xun, Mao Dun, and Guo Mo, where they discussed political issues. Back in modern Shanghai, Duolun Road plays a paramount role in contemporary literary development, with the remains of historical relics including the Fitch Memorial Church and the Celebrity Tea House. Duolun Road consists of small houses along a path displaying mahogany sculptures, scripts, and calligraphy. On this short and wriggly lane, you’ll find various galleries selling exotic stones, chopsticks from all over the world as well as ancient clocks from Nanjing. What’s so special about Duolun Road is that there’s a chessboard café offering Chinese Weiqi chess – play for RMB$10 an hour with supplies of coffee and tea.

Duo Lun Lu Wen Hua Ming Ren Jie, SiChuan BeiLu, Hongkou Qu, Shanghai Shi, China

Duolun Lu Celebrity Street © Ira Smirnova/Flickr
Duolun Lu Celebrity Street | © Ira Smirnova/Flickr
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Tianshan Tea City

Curious about the Chinese tea industry and its history? You should not miss the Tianshan Tea City, pioneered by the masters of the Chinese tea industry Su Jinping and Lu Ling. Converging tea leaves from all provinces of China, herbal tea, tea artworks, and the aesthetic performance of tea making, tea connoisseurs can find everything related to tea culture. Drop by any of the 300 tea stores in this giant three-storey complex, and you can have a rapport with knowledgeable tea dealers and learn essential skills, including tea tasting, tea making, and even how to sort good tea leaves. You can find famous premium dragon well tea and red-robe tea here too.

518-520 Zhongshan W Rd, Changning, Shanghai, China

Tianshan Tea City © Gary Stevens/Flickr
Tianshan Tea City | © Gary Stevens/Flickr

Chang Li Lu Food Market

To experience the authentic street food culture in Shanghai, make a visit to Chang Li Lu Food Market to enjoy local tidbits in Shanghai. At night, Chang Li Lu is crammed with pedestrians making their way through the crowd. Adjoining stalls are packed together, with stools and tables spreading on the street, and folks get carried away by serving dishes. While multifarious yet bizarre choices of dishesare rampant here, from the meat of cats and dogs to Hong-Kong-style fermented bean curd, the delectable yakitori cooked over charcoal with smoky aromas emanating throughout the street are the most popular option among diners.

Chang Li Lu, Pudong Xinqu, Shanghai Shi, China

Nanjing Road, Shanghai © taylorandayumi/WikiCommons
Nanjing Road, Shanghai | © taylorandayumi/WikiCommons