Bought and Sold: Shanghai's Best Markets

Bought and Sold: Shanghai's Best Markets

If there is one thing we Shanghai residents know, it’s shopping. Luckily, there are enough choices for every sort of mood. Feel like flexing your bargaining skills in a hustle and bustle atmosphere? Try the Fake Market. Prefer to pamper yourself in a more upscale shopping environment? Try the (relatively) quiet boutiques of Fahuazhen Lu. While oftentimes these places sell a little bit of everything, when you know what you’re looking for, why not visit one of the many specialty markets? Below are five marketplaces on the Puxi side of the river, each offering a different slice of Shanghai life:

1. The Fake Market 淘宝城(假货市场)–580 Nanjing Xilu, near Chengdu Beilu 南京西路580号近成都北路

Perhaps one of the best known shopping areas on this list, The Fake Market is a virtual mecca for everything knock-off. With over three hundred stores spaced out between three floors, and an area of twelve thousand square meters, you won’t have any problems finding what you need (or just really, really want).

What you can buy: Purses, sunglasses, belts, clothing, hats, tea, trinkets – they’ve got it all. If nothing in particular catches your eye, be prepared for the shop owners to show you their “special items” – often located in a back room accessible only through a fake wall that swings open. Don’t worry, you’re not entering some horror movie doomsday chamber, just a room that has an even bigger selection.  

Prices: Varies wildly, but be prepared to dig your heels in during the bargaining process. Vendors are often more generous on individual pricing when you buy more than one item.

Hours: Daily, till 9:00pm.

Hassle Factor (1-5): 4. These are some of the most intense vendors you're ever likely to come across. It’s possible to get some really good deals, but only if you’re willing to spend a little extra time negotiating. Don’t expect to be in and out of there in a hurry.

Getting there: take bus line 20, 37, 112 and get off at Chengdu Bei Lu, or take bus line 36, 933, 869 and get off at Nanjing Xi Lu, or take the subway line 2 to the People's Square

2. Shanghai South Bund Fabric Market 南外滩轻纺面料市场 - 399 Lujiabang Road (near the Bund) 陆家浜路399号

A perfect place for the clotheshorse in your life, the Shanghai South Bund Fabric Market rounds up many of the city’s finest tailors in one convenient location. Whether you already have something in mind or are just browsing, the selection at this three-story market is enough to make anyone happy.

What you can buy: Any sort of clothing you can imagine – shirts, dresses, slacks, suits, ties, etc. These can either be made to order or bought pre-made. It's a good idea to bring something you already own that you like and have it duplicated in another fabric. This usually works out better than trying to explain what you want or showing the tailors pictures. Be prepared for your unique creations to take about a week to make.

Prices: Be prepared to bargain - men’s collared shirts and any sort of cashmere are particularly good value.

Hours: Daily, 10:00am-7:00pm.

Hassle Factor (1-5): 2. While bargaining is still a must, the prices here are a bit more fixed than at other markets.

Getting there: take bus line 43, 89, 802 to Haichao Lu; take bus 144, 910 or subway line 4 and get off at Nanpu Bridge 

3. Fangbang Lu Antique Market (also known as Fuyou Lu Antique Market) 藏宝楼–457 Fangbang Zhong Lu 方浜中路457号

A four-story warehouse full of every type of antique, the Fangbang Lu Antique Market is a great place to pick up a little piece of history. Don’t forget to visit the top floor, where visiting merchants set up camp.

What you can buy: Antique furniture, porcelain, books, wicker, etc. While there are more and more fakes popping up, a lot of these antiques, including some Buddhist statues and Qing Dynasty coins, are authentic.

Prices: Prices are obviously a bit higher for the real things, but everything is negotiable. More experienced hagglers recommend deciding in advance the most you're willing to pay, and working up towards that number. If you get that price, great – if not, don’t buy it!

Hours: Weekdays, 9:00am-5:00pm; Weekends, 5:00am-5:00pm

Hassle Factor (1-5): 3. It definitely helps the bargaining process if you know a bit about antiques. If you don't, its perhaps worth bringing a friend or doing some quick internet research about how much certain items may be worth.

Getting there: take bus line 783, 929, 969, 980 to Fuxing Dong Lu; take bus line 42, 736, 920, 930, 932, 969 to Laobeimen; take bus line 24, 451, 715, 775, 783, 789, 911, 969 or subway line 8 and get off at Laoximen Station

4. Hongqiao Bird and Flower Market 虹桥花鸟市场–718 Hongjing Lu 虹井路718号

In these waning days of summer, take advantage of the gorgeous foliage on display at the Hongqiao Bird and Flower Market. It’s easy to find your favorite flowers there, along with many varieties you have probably yet to discover.

What you can buy: Pretty much every flower and plant imaginable, along with garden accessories like fish, bamboo decorations, etc. The fresh cut flowers are beautiful and the potted plants would liven up any room. And, while the shops are certianly pleasant, mosey your way up to the greenhouse for a true garden experience.

Prices: A little pricier than other places, but you’re really paying for the selection and convenience (many vendors speak English). A bouquet of roses will run you about 75rmb more than the competition, but you get more flowers per bunch and the delivery services are some of the best (about 70rmb for Puxi locations, about 100rmb for Pudong locations).

Hours: Daily, 9:00am-6:00pm

Hassle Factor (1-5): 3. The vendors here are willing to negotiate – a little. You’ll be able to bring them down a bit but don’t expect miracles.

Getting there: take bus line 867, 804, 721, 753 and get off at Hongsong Lu; take bus line 57, 721, 753, 809, 936 and get off at Huanghua Lu

5.  Wukang Lu Market 武康菜市场–The corner of Anfu Lu and Wukang Lu 安福路和武康路路口

While this may not be the biggest or best market around, the surrounding area is among the most beautiful in the city. Located along the quiet, tree-lined streets of Anfu Lu and Wukang Lu, it provides a delightful escape from the crunch of downtown. Be sure to take a stroll down these historic streets before you load up the shopping bags at this local daily market.

What you can buy: Fresh seasonal fruits, vegetables, fish, and poultry. All the vendors are grouped together – those selling fruits and veggies on one side, those selling meat on the other. Beware of the smell, however – with all that meat and live seafood sloshing around, this market is not for the weak of stomach.  

Prices: Variable, but consistently cheaper than you’d find in a grocery store.

Hours: Daily, 9:00am-6:00pm

Hassle Factor (1-5): 1. Since prices are marked per 100 grams, they’re not really negotiable. This pretty much takes all of the guesswork out of your shopping experience.  

Getting there: take bus line 96, 506 and get off at Wukang Lu; take bus line 93 and get off at Wulumuqi Zhong Lu; take subway line 1 and get off at Changshu Lu Station

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