Xintiandi is one of Shanghai’s must-see sites. The renovated shikumen (stone-door) lanes offer a glimpse of Shanghai gone-by, and are teeming with boutique stores, upmarket restaurants and cool little cafés. Find out which are worth your time, with our guide to the best of Xintiandi.
Note: Xintiandi is divided into the North Block (Lane 181, Taicang Lu, near Madang Lu 太仓路181弄马当路) which is packed with restaurants, coffee-shops and cafes, and the South Block (Lane 123, Xingye Lu, near Madang Lu 兴业路123弄近马当路), which is home to most of the designer clothes stores, gift stores, a cinema and yet more food options. Once you’re there though, all of the venues are within five minutes walk of each other. For each venue we mention below we have simply indicated which Block you’ll find it in. If you get lost, all the venues are indicated on the site maps that you’ll find on every corner.
What to see?
Apart from the endless parade of fashionable stores in the South Block Plaza, and the people watching opportunities on the street running north, there are also a couple of worthy historical diversions.
The site of the First National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party 中国共产党第一次全国代表大会会址纪念馆(76 Xingye Lu, near Madang Lu兴业路76号; Daily 09.00-17.00; Price 3 RMB) commemorates a (possibly mythical) 1921 meeting between representatives of various Communist cells from around the country, including a young Mao Zedong. The meeting was rumbled by a French policemen forcing the delegates to flee. Today the site is more interesting for the period detail on show than anything else.
The Shikumen Open House Museum石库门民居陈列馆 (North Block; Daily, 11.00-23.00; Price 20 RMB) is a beautifully restored example of how people lived in the 1920s – right down to the bed linen, cutlery and children’s toys. There are not many shikumen left in Shanghai, but this blend of Western and Chinese architecture once housed as many as 80% of the city’s population. The museum also explains more about the idea behind the Xintiandi project (so successful that the word has entered the lexicon, meaning, roughly, to make lots of money by cleaning up old parts of town).
Where to eat?
Wherever you like, really – there’s an unbelievable number of fine restaurants packed in here. Among the best are STEAM (North Block; 021 5306 6678) for health conscious food from across China, Din Tai Fung (South Block; 021 6385 8378) for some of the best dumplings in the city, Crystal Jade (South Block; 021 6385 8752) who have the best dim sum brunch going, Aniseed (North Block; 021 5382 1186) for French-influenced Vietnamese fare, and T8 (North Block; 6355 8999) if you really want to impress your dining partner. Lawry’s The Prime Rib (North Block; 6387 0097) does some of the best steaks you’ll find this side of Texas. Good lunch options include Simply Thai (North Block; 021 6326 2088), Pizza Marzano (South Block; 021 5383 3999), and Paul (North Block; 021 5306 7191).
Where to drink?
Many of the restaurants in Xintiandi turn into drinking dens at night, with KABB (North Block; 3307 0798) especially popular with the after-work crowd, and Paulauner (North Block; 021 6320 3935) serving up fine continental ales alongside the sausages. There’s only a few dedicated bars, but they’re among the best in town, with DR Bar (North Block; 021 6311 0358) a tasteful, surprisingly-well kept secret, and Pavillon Costes (North Block; 021 5306 9988) which brings a touch of Parisian class with its exclusive restaurant and lounge.
Where to party?
G+ (South Block; 021 5386 8088) is one of the biggest clubs in town, and regularly attracts all manner of international DJs – their Wednesday night events are especially good. Brown Sugar (North Block; 021 5382 8998) is a relative newcomer, but has already established a reputation as one of the city’s finest jazz bars.
Where to sleep?
88 Xintiandi (380 Huangpi Nanlu, near Xingye Lu黄陂南路380号; 021 5383 8833), located on the eastern side of the complex, is one of the city’s finest boutique hotels, and has a wonderful roof terrace. Nearby Lapis Casa (68 Taicang Lu, near Huangpi Nanlu 太仓路68号; 021 5382 1600) is also rather special.
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