Treasure Hunting: Shanghai’s Best Antiques Markets

Treasure Hunting: Shanghai’s Best Antiques Markets

The ultra-modern visage of present day Shanghai can often belie the city's roots as a historic trading port. In addition to being a centre for the trade of textiles (and opium), the city was also the main exporter of Chinese culture to the Western world, and by the time of Shanghai's colonial ‘heyday' in the 1920s and 1930s, there was an abundant trade in Chinese antiques, artwork and curios of any and all descriptions.

While the market for Chinese antiques may have faded after the 1940s, with many being destroyed, it's been steadily growing over the past two decades. This is partly due to China's emerging middle class, which is placing a greater emphasis on historic cultural items as status symbols, and partly because of the ever-present interest in Chinese artefacts from tourists and foreigners living in the city. So for those of you on the look out for a souvenir, a hidden treasure or simply a Christmas gift with a little more cultural oomph than a “Rolex” from the fake markets, look no further. Here are some of the best locations in Shanghai to pick up antiques.

(Before you get carried away with thoughts of unearthing a long lost Ming Dynasty vase or a piece of Qing Dynasty artwork, keep in mind that each of the markets caters to a specific clientele. There are places where you can buy genuine antiques, places that sell reproductions which can sometimes still be valuable, and then there are places that sell stuff that just looks kind of old. It's also important to note that Chinese governmental policies are geared towards retaining as many of China's historic and cultural items as possible, so while you may be able to purchase items from before 1911, exporting them could prove to be problematic, if not impossible.)

1) Dongtai Antique Market
Officially known as the Liuhe Road Old Handicraft Market, this antiques bazaar features a limited number of genuine antiques mixed in with healthy portions of fake antiques, vintage items, craftwork and miscellaneous artefacts and ornaments. Look hard enough and you may be able to find furniture from the 1930s, Communist-period posters and propaganda, as well as statues of Buddha and Mao among others. Haggling for antiques is like fabric market haggling on steroids, so be prepared to offer outrageously low amounts of money, and then slowly work your way up.

Add: Dongtai Lu Antique Market
Opening hours: Daily, 09:00-18:00

2) Fuyou Antiques MarketView In Map
Buddhist statues, Qing dynasty coins, calligraphy, paintings, pottery and more can all be found at the Fuyou Antiques Market on Fangbang Lu. During weekdays the market has a group of permanent vendors on the first and second floors, but the real action takes place at the weekends when out-of-town antiques traders bring their wares for sale, taking over the third and fourth floors and the streets outside. The market also features two auction houses for those who want to get stuck into some serious bidding, but for most people, the stalls will offer the best opportunity of finding a bargain.

Add: 457 Fangbang Zhong Lu, Huangpu District, Shanghai
地址: 上海市黄浦区方浜中路457号
Opening hours: Mon-Fri, 09:00-17:00; Sat-Sun, 05:00-17:00

3) Huabao Building Basement MarketView In Map
It may not have the most glamorous title, but in the basement of the Huabao Building in the Old Town is the “Old Arts and Crafts Market of Shanghai Old Town God's Temple”. It's the oldest and largest of Shanghai's antiques markets and features a labyrinth of over 200 established antiques dealers who offer up everything from furniture, ceramics, artwork and curios, to old opium pipes from days gone by.

Add: 265 Fangbang Zhong Lu, Huangpu District, Shanghai
地址: 上海市黄浦区方浜中路265号
Opening hours: Daily, 09:00-17:30

4) Shanghai Antiques & Curios StoreView In Map
For discerning antiques collectors who want to avoid having to trawl through questionable (but often entertaining) merchandise, and aren't too keen on crowds, this is the store to visit. Part of the formerly state-run Friendship Store ‘brand', its antiques are guaranteed by the government and include high quality calligraphy, woodcarvings, ceramics, porcelain, tapestries, furniture, statues and more. As with other Friendship Stores, its products are aimed directly at foreigners with foreign currency being the only accepted form of payment. The prices may be higher than elsewhere, but the range and quality of the items on offer is generally better as well.

Add: 192-246 Guangdong Lu, Huangpu District, Shanghai
地址: 上海市黄浦区广东路192-246号
Opening hours: Daily, 09:00-17:00

While the odds are normally stacked against you picking up an item that the government might want to hang on to, it's often a good idea to get a receipt with your purchases to help avoid any customs issues when leaving the country. If you have any concerns regarding an item's authenticity, or that you may be trying to head home with a Chinese national treasure, the Heritage Management Committee of Shanghai Municipal Government can be contacted at 021 6358 0340. 

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Keywords: Shanghai’s best antique markets Shanghai antique shopping buy antiques in Shanghai


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In my opinion 5) Shanghai Green Antiques Shanghai Green Antiques has one of China’s largest and finest collections of antique Chinese furniture, cabinets, doors, screens, windows, wall art, tables, chairs, carvings, and architectural pieces from ancient temples, houses and buildings, as well as a huge selection of assorted antique home furnishings such as boxes, buckets, vases and a fascinating collection of Chinese cultural revolution memorabilia. Most pieces are in fact antiques, but are still affordable enough for home use, and some are priced to move. Some of the more culturally important pieces are clearly reserved for museum buyers and serious collectors with matching budgets. Fewer still are reproduction or significantly repaired pieces, which are described and priced as such. Shanghai Green Antiques showroom​s are amazing and well worth a visit, even if you don't have any particular item in mind. ​ ​ Plan on spending better than an hour or more if you want to see much of the showrooms, which literally span 4 buildings connected by bridges. Their curator and staff speak excellent English, and are happy to give free guided tours around the showrooms​- probably the best free museum our in Shanghai! Green Antiques is conveniently located within a 5 minute drive from the Outlet Mall, Jisheng Jeibang Furniture Outlet Mall and Mills Mall on Jiasong Middle Road in the Qingpu District of Shanghai, right by Xujing village and close to all of the international schools. Just exit G20 at the ZhaoXiang Exit, turn right at the first stop light (Jiasong Zhong Road), continue straight past Huqingping highway, and you will find Shanghai Green Antiques around 2 km ahead on the right. ​ 4877 Jiasong Middle Road,QingPu District, Shanghai, China Open 10am-8pm Lost? Call their curator, Jason Chen +86 138 1892 6863 Cultural Revolution Memorabilia room,

Jun 26, 2014 16:55 Report Abuse