In Shanghai, there is a market for almost everything and everyone. From glittering jewels to arresting eyewear, it is amongst this city’s bustling stalls that you’ll find the treasure you seek.
Shanghai’s shopping malls may be flashy, but they don’t hold a candle to the experience of navigating and haggling through its markets. These spaces maintain, to this day, a sense of the old world. While today you’ll likely find hawkers touting fridge magnets and selfie sticks, many also stock items pertaining to traditional Chinese culture, including silks, pearls, teas and antiques. Visitors from far and wide flock here to discover rare gems offered at fantastic prices – given that they know where to look. Make sure to leave room in your suitcase before heading down to these markets.
Hongqiao International Pearl City
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Hongqiao may be a little out of the way for visitors to Shanghai, but the trek is well worth it. Pearl City has some absolute bargains on gorgeous, 100 percent quality-assured, freshwater and Japanese sea pearl jewellery. It is one of the best places to find pearls in all of East China. Despite the flashy products here, make sure you haggle. Haggling is an assumed part of Chinese culture and can reduce the price of your purchase massively. Pearl City can be found on Hongmei Road.
The Bund is a beautiful place to visit and doubly so when you glimpse the colourful fabrics of this marketplace on Lujiabang Road. You can purchase quality fabrics to take home and use in your own crafting, sewing and dressmaking, or you can purchase a custom-made suit from one of the market’s professional tailors. Remember to haggle as it could save you up to half of the asking price.
Set beneath the illustrious golden Jing’an Temple in the heart of Puxi, this jewellery market caters to visitors wanting to take home a real slice of Chinese culture. Jade statues, traditional jewels and vintage antiques all sit prettily on display. The market is a mix of permanent stores blasting air conditioning and market stalls that pack up when the sun goes down. The stalls sell more affordable trinkets such as purses and fans, while the stores stock the more expensive jade products. This balance ensures there’s something for everyone to take home.
There are few more precious commodities in China than tea. Almost every province has its own style and brand of brew available and, at the Tianshan (meaning ‘sky mountain’) Tea Market on Zhongshan Road, you’ll find three massive floors of tea sellers offering every kind under the sun. Feel free to smell and sample the tea before buying – you may just become a connoisseur.
Qipu Road boasts the city’s largest selection of wholesale high-street fashion brands. This century-old market offers a true old Shanghai experience, with a buzz and hustle that some may find overwhelming. Whatever apparel you’re looking for, this place is guaranteed to have it. This market has especially good deals on the latest fashion trends, so you can look good for much, much less.
City God Temple Market has the venerated nickname of ‘Treasure Tower’. Hundreds of vendors gather to offer a range of authentic Chinese antiques you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else. Its location on Fanbang Middle Road couldn’t be better, sitting right beside the city’s beautiful Yu Gardens. The picturesque setting makes for a wonderful day of treasure hunting.
Shanghai is home to fantastic independent florists, but they can be hard to find and a little on the pricey side. The Caojiadu Flower Market on Changshou Road offers the widest range of flowers (both fresh and fake) in the whole city, all in one place and at more affordable prices. Lunar New Year is the best time to visit this market, as they beautifully prepare their stalls and bouquets for the festivities.
This is one of the most unique and exciting street food markets in Shanghai. Every Friday afternoon, members of Shanghai’s Muslim population gather outside Huxi Mosque to cook up traditional Middle Eastern dishes. Expect a culinary bazaar: Ughyur samsa (pastries filled with lamb) and naan bread baked in ovens, while juicy kebabs sizzle on smoky grills. The mosque is an impressive attraction in itself and welcomes tourists to wander through its ornamental halls.
This market, found on Muling Road, is an absolute godsend for bespectacled people who want to play with their face fashion. Vendors offer glasses of every brand, colour and style at frighteningly affordable prices. Take your time to browse this surprisingly extensive space, don’t be hasty and pick up something special.
This market is a must-visit for people settling in Shanghai. Buying household products, especially upholstery and bedding, can be surprisingly tricky here. This market on Cao’an Road not only offers every kind of household upholstery imaginable, but they are also generously willing to adjust the fabric to your taste – crafting something completely unique to you.