You might be surprised to land in Shanghai and notice that as you're being whisked from airport to hotel, you pass all the same brands you already know from home. Shanghai has become one of the most cosmopolitan cities on the planet with shops and brands from all over the world. In nearly every neighborhood, you'll find multistory malls touting everything from Starbucks to Louis Vuitton.
There are plenty of homegrown brands, too, and although the mom-and-pop shops are being razed to make room for the latest multiplex, multistory shiny mall, there are still curio markets and super cool unique shops if you know where to look.
Although many shops and markets are obvious, you might not know where to go to buy certain things or you might not even realize what's available. So check out these Shanghai shopping tips that will help you maximize your shopping time here.
Warning: You may need to buy an extra suitcase at the end of your trip to lug all your goodies home.
Although most shops in the malls and many stand-alone boutiques in Shanghai have fixed prices, the prices in market stalls are almost always negotiable. You need to hone your bargaining skills before you begin shopping for treasures.
Shanghai boasts many markets spread throughout the city—and, luckily, not all are tourist traps. Locals go to markets, too, and you can pick up some great bargains, from pearls to bed linens.
Sometimes it's hard to see beyond the markets, and when you don't have much time, markets can definitely be a time-saver. However, Shanghai has a growing number of independent boutiques and designers that you should check out. You'll find treasures that aren't at the markets here or at the local import shop back home. It's nice to find something truly unique to take home as a gift or souvenir.
In the classical old buildings on West Fuxing Road, you'll find some lovely boutiques to poke around in as well as a number of cafés and bars. You'll enjoy strolling along this tree-lined street that is actually quiet despite its location in the center of the city. It is also one of the best walks to include in a historic tour of Shanghai's former French Concession.
Shaoxing Road is another great shopping destination in Shanghai's former French Concession. Take a little walk down Shaoxing Road and then head to the Tianzifang alleys off Taikang Road to enjoy some arts and crafts shopping.
A small warning: Tianzifang used to be under the radar and rather secluded, but it is now on the main path of many domestic tour companies so you might find it extremely crowded. Visit Tianzifang in the late afternoon when the tour crowds have mostly left for the day.
You can go to any of the fabric markets and have a decent suit made; however, if you're looking for exceptional quality using imported, high-end fabric (at a fraction of what you'd pay back home), then visit a respected tailor such as W. W. Chan & Sons Tailor, Ltd.
Hitting the pearl markets? Understand how to tell a fake pearl from an authentic one.
You may be jetting into town just for a quick business trip but there are still souvenir expectations back home. Check out these Shanghai shopping tips that offer lovely gift ideas for family and friends.