Shanghai Shopping Guide - Find where and what to shop and buy

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Shanghai had a reputation as a shopper's oasis long before the city set out to redefine its image in the 1990s. The greatest contingent of shoppers is Chinese, visiting from all corners of the country to indulge in the commerce.

Shops are found in dense concentrations across the central districts. Nanjing Road itself has more than 600 retail operators, but this is a drop in the bucket when you consider the city as a whole. Tens of thousands of shops are onsite, housed in a combination of historic shop houses, ramshackle bazaars and gleaming, multiplex malls that are every bit as good as those in the most cosmopolitan world capitals.

With this kind of selection, it's difficult to pin down a local specialty. High fashion and designer goods are certainly a contender, though visitors are more likely to take interest in the antiques, silk textiles and myriad handicrafts that seem to embody the Far East experience. In any event, Shanghai is an all-inclusive shopper's dream, and it certainly has something for everyone.

Huangpu District/Nanjing Road/Nanjing Road East

The most famous stretch of China's world-renowned shopping street, Nanjing Road East is a half-mile pedestrian avenue that hosts the busiest shops in Shanghai. Crowds of enthusiastic shoppers (most of whom are visiting Chinese) pour in during weekends and holidays, and prices are more reasonable than international tourists may expect.

Jingan District/Nanjing Road/Nanjing Road West

The opposite end of Nanjing Road (near Jing'an Temple) is decidedly more upscale. The luxury boutiques in this area specialize in international name brands and designer fashion. The posh shopping malls and department stores in Nanjing West rate well with the city's affluent shoppers.


French Concession/ Huaihai Road /Maison Mode

Previously known as Avenue Joffre, Huaihai Road runs parallel to Nanjing and was once the most popular shopping avenue. While it lost out to Nanjing Road in terms of scale, it maintains a reputation for elegant, boutique-style shopping. The local highlight is Maison Mode, with its collection of designer brands.

The Bund/ Yuyuan Gardens /Old Town Bazaar

Also known as Yuyuan Bazaar, this is the place to find Chinese handicrafts, antiques and local artwork. The historic storefronts are arrayed across a maze of pedestrian alleys that are worth checking out, even for those not in the mood to shop. This area is Shanghai's oldest and boasts beautiful gardens and temples.

Pudong/Jinqiao/Zhangyang Road

With nearly twice the retail space as Nanjing Road, this thoroughfare is more popular with locals than tourists due to the abundant bargains. What it lacks in name-brand merchandise it makes up for in sheer discounts. The tangle of shopping malls in this district is anchored by Nextage department store.

Shanghai shopping tips

Bargain hunters appreciate the opportunity to haggle over prices, but note that some shops have fixed prices. The best strategy for securing good deals is to scope out prices in department stores or hotel gift shops (always fixed-price and more expensive). Then armed with this knowledge, head into the foray of street vendors and bargain accordingly.

Specialty shoppers, especially antique hunters and jewelry collectors, are urged to practice caution. Fakes are convincing and surprisingly prolific. Authentic antiques should be marked by a red waxy seal, and nothing that predates the 19th century may be exported. A good rule is to buy something simply because you like it and not because you suspect you're getting incredible value for money.