A glimpse of one of Shangxiajiu’s charming streets.
Shangxiajiu Walking Street lies west of downtown, running east and west with a network of narrow alleyways and tree-lined avenues on either side. I first discovered Shangxiajiu while searching for a part of Guangzhou that just looked different – different from the slick, high-priced downtown, and different from the boxy, frumpy old apartment blocks located on the other side of town. Isn't there something more Chinese around here? My students recommended I visit Shangxiajiu because of the Tong Lau architecture that lines the neighborhood. I went, and yes, it is different. The look and feel is different from most of what you experience in Guangzhou. Shangxiajiu also turns out to be one of the city' most popular shopping streets, along with Beijing Lu, and is a short walk from Guangzhou's famous Qingping Market.
Shangxiajiu will peak your interest whether you are looking for shopping, or just to wander through a uniquely Chinese district and see what's around every corner. The neighborhood's rich flavor comes in part from the Tong Lau architectural style, which mostly flourished during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Tong Lau is a fusion of Chinese and Western architecture, and what stands out first are the many balconies, decorative roofs and the ornamental colored-glass of the windows. There’s a long pillared colonnade that shades you as you stroll past the shops. Colorful murals, stone engravings and large, fading movie posters also add to the feel of the district. If shopping is your thing, the prices compare favorably with Beijing Lu and the variety of goods may be even greater, especially once you get just south of the street and into the outdoor market areas. This is the kind of place where foreigners and even some locals just point at the goods and say – ooh what's that? Half the people there are probably there to be fascinated.
The district’s distinct architecture makes for a great stroll
You can arrive at Shangxiajiu most easily from the Changshou Lu metro stop, eight stops past Tiu Xilu on Line 1. A five minute walk up Baohua Lu, itself dotted with small malls and tiny food stands, will take you to the main promenade moving from Dishifu Lu in the west to Xiajiu Lu in the middle and finally to Shangjiu Lu in the east. You don't risk missing the street as you will immediately be struck eclectic symphony of signs that stick out in every direction above the shaded walkways. Addresses for the bolded venues can be found at the end of the article.
Dishifu Lu is known most for its Cantonese restaurants, and for Ping An Theatre, which shows Chinese Opera. Xiajiu Road comes next. Along with the regular array of snack and clothing shops, it contains quite a number of jewelry stores and several small department stores for women's items. Before your final stretch at Changjiu Road, you'll pass through Shangxiajiu Square, a return to modernity with shopping areas such as Liwan Plaza, Dongji Shopping Mall and Saibo Shopping Mall.
You have several detours available as you branch out from the main drag. Just north of Xiajiu Lu off of Wengchang Lu is Hua Lin Street, which is a jade ornament street built in 1870. It's one of China's most renowned jade markets, with over a thousand shops, and prices ranging from 10 RMB to over 100,000. Also on Hua Lin Street is Hualin Temple. This Buddhist temple, built in 527 AD, is best known for its Five Hundred Arahats Hall which houses 500 statues of the Buddha in all different forms. Although the temple used to be enormous (49,000 square meters) as the business area keeps getting bigger, the temple area keeps getting smaller. Today it is a fraction of that size.
You will also want to explore the area south of Shangxiajiu. Its avenues and alleyways are as pleasant for strolling as Shamian, and it hosts a number of markets, most notably Qingping Market. If you want to make a bee-line for Qingping, just head down Shibafu Lu until it intersects with the main promenade at Xiajiu Lu. The market’s indoor and outdoor areas stretch 1,000 meters, selling the full Chinese spectrum of dried herbs, medicine, seafood, nuts, pets, artwork, snakes and scorpions.
You will want to take your time in Shangxiajiu. Don't just come here for a t-shirt, it would be an injustice to run to this neighborhood, buy something and leave. Take several hours here, walk slowly, choose several detours and absorb what's around you. There are only a few neighborhoods left in Guangzhou with this kind character, and only a few in China with similar architecture. Take in its lines and curves and muted colors. Take in the dense activity of the narrow thoroughfares, activity which somehow doesn't detract from the tranquility of the area in the way it does in other parts of the big city. Notice its lazy alleyways and small courtyards. In what seems an endlessly-growing modern city, Shangxiajiu retains its personality and its age.
A few places of interest around Shangxiajiu, organized by street
Baohua Lu 宝华路
Heng Bao Plaza 恒宝广场 View In Map
Add: 133 Baohua Lu, Liwan District, Guangzhou (Near Changshou Lu Subway Stop)
Da Da Di Flea Market View In Map
Add: Opposite Heng Bao Shopping Mall, no actual address
Guangzhou Restaurant View In Map
Add: 31 Xiajiu Lu, Liwan District, Guangzhou
Tel: 020 8139 0388
Tao Tao Ju Restaurant 陶陶居 View In Map
Add: 20 Dishifu Lu, Liwan District, Guangzhou
Tel: 020 8139 6111
Opening hours: 7:00 - 23:30
Ping An Theater 平安大剧院 View In Map
Add: 125 Dishifu Lu, Liwan District, Guangzhou
Tel: 020 8139 5329
Opening hours: 9:30 - 22:30
Women & Children’s Department Store View In Map
Add: 29 Xiajiu Lu, Liwan District, Guangzhou
Tel:020 8732 9520
Opening hours: 8:00-17:10
Di Hao “Women’s Street” 帝豪女人街 View In Map
Add: No. 24-28 Xiajiu Lu, Liwan District, Guangzhou
Liwan Plaza 荔湾广场View In Map
Add: 9 Dexing Lu, Liwan District, Guangzhou
Tel: 020 8139 8388
Opening hours: 8:00-22:00
Dongji Shopping Mall View In Map
Add: 92 Xiajiu Lu, Liwan District, Guangzhou
Saibo Shopping MallView In Map
Add: 58-60 Xiajiu Lu, Liwan District, Guangzhou
Tel: 020 8139 7509
Opening hours: 09:00-18:00
Hualin Temple华林寺 View In Map
Add: 31 Hualin Jie, Liwan District, Guangzhou
Tel: 020 8139 3175
Opening hours: 8:00-17:00 all year
Liu Er San Lu
Qingping Market 清平市场 View In Map
Add: 12-86 Liu Er San Lu, Liwan District, Guangzhou
Tel: 020 8122 9999
Opening hours: 9:00-22:00
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Keywords: Shangxiajiu walking street neighborhood guide Guangzhou where to visit Guangzhou shangxiajiu pedestrian street guangzhou’s best neighborhoods
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