Shopping in Shanghai

Shopping in Shanghai
By Susie Gordon ,

Shanghai is a shopper’s paradise. With huge malls, quaint lane shops, and multi-story department stores, there’s plenty of choice. Whether you’re after a new outfit, or a knock-off handbag, you’re sure to find it – you just need to know where to look.

Malls in Shanghai, as in any city, are great because everything is under one roof: shops, restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. There’s also the added advantage of air-con in the summer, and heating in winter. Most malls carry Western brands, so if you’re aching for H&M, Zara, and Mango, you’ll be able to stock up on essentials. Shanghai has its fair share of malls and, to be honest, they are all pretty similar. Nanjing Xi Lu has three giants - Plaza 88 (at number 1266) and Citic Square (number 1168) and Westgate Mall (at number 1038) – in close proximity. Plaza 66 is only good for window shopping unless you are seriously loaded. Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci and Dior all have outlets here. Citic Square and Westgate are a little less extravagant, but still have some high-end brands.

Nanjing Xilu, Shanghai

Another popular mall is Times Square (99 Huaihai Zhong Lu). It’s more spacious and airy than the Nanjing Lu trio, and has a good range of electronics shops. Down in Xujiahui there’s the popular Grand Gateway Mall (1 Hongqiao Lu) which is geared more towards locals. Here you’ll find mainly Chinese brands, along with a children’s activity centre, a cinema and a supermarket. Across the river in Pudong you’ll find the Super Brand Mall (168 Lujiazui Xi Lu) nestled among the skyscrapers, which has lots of Western brands and some good restaurants and bars that make it a destination for nightlife as well as shopping. Another good all-rounder is Cloud Nine (1018 Changning Lu) near Zhongshan Park. This also has a nice range of restaurants, as well as a big Carrefour and electronics market in the basement.

Sometimes it’s nicer to walk the streets than feel cooped up in a mall. The former French Concession is perfect for strolling, and there are plenty of small, independent shops you can stop off at. The area around Changle and Xinle Lu is especially good, as is the Taikang Lu complex, where old shikumen alleys have been converted into pretty bars, cafes and shops. The ever-popular Xintiandi area has upmarket shops like Shanghai Tang, and a plethora of outdoor restaurants and bars where you can take a break.

For bargain hunters who don’t mind if their designer goods are fake, Qipu Lu (otherwise known as Cheapo Lu) is the place to go. This two story market (168 Qipu Lu, near Sichuan Lu) is chock full of knock-off branded goods including clothes, bags, shoes and accessories. Likewise, if you’re looking for fake stuff, walk down Nanjing Lu or Shaanxi Lu, and you’ll be accosted by touts wielding photos of their merchandise. They’ll take you to their shops – which are usually dilapidated houses down backstreets – where you can haggle to your hearts content. Take note – these touts work illegally, so enter at your own risk.

If you don’t like what you see on the shelves (or can’t fit into them – let’s face it, anyone over about a size 10 will struggle to find clothes here) there are plenty of places where you can get garments especially made. The vast, labyrinthine underground market at the Museum of Science and Technology on Line 2 has several clothes makers, and the famous fabric market (Dong Jia Du, Huang Jia Ma Tou, 399 Lujiabang Lu) is popular with expats and tourists.

A great place to know about if you wear glasses or lenses is the optical market at Shanghai Railway Station. Follow the signs for the Sanye Wholesale Market of Eyeglasses in the metro station (Lines 3 and 4) and you’ll arrive at a warren-like underground market. You can get a pair of glasses made while you wait, and prices are incredibly low compared to the West. On average, a pair will set you back around ¥200 – a fraction of what you’d pay back home. The same goes for contact lenses.

Happy shopping!

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