If you're a shopper or are looking for something special to bring back home, then pearl shopping is probably on your list of things to do while in Shanghai. Pearls are a good bargain in China. Because there is a large industry of cultured pearls in and around Shanghai and Suzhou, prices can be quite good - if you can manage to do some good price negotiation.
Shopping at the Hongqiao New World Pearl Market
The Hongqiao New World Pearl Market is off the beaten tourist path in an area of Shanghai that is west of the main downtown area.
If you're willing to make the trip out, it's a good place to do not only pearl shopping but also other souvenir shopping.
Pearl and jewelry shops dominate the second two floors but the first floor is filled with small vendors selling Chinese silk, scarves, small curios, handbags, and t-shirts.
The cavernous three-floor market (similar to a shopping mall) is full of goods and pearls. On the first floor, you'll find knock-off bags, silk scarves, and Chinese junk. On the second and third floors, pearl and jewelry vendors spread their wares on tables for your perusal.
You'll find higher-end shops around the sides of the market in proper shops. Lower-end vendors are in open market stalls and tables throughout the middle section of the market.
Vendors sell pearls and stones and can make anything you want in minutes. Bargain hard and don't be afraid to walk away. Every shop has virtually the same thing.
If you're worried about buying fakes, understand how to buy pearls before you go.
Market Address, Hours and Transportation
The address is 3721 Hongmei Road (虹梅路3721), just off Yan'an Road. It is open daily from 10 am to 9 pm. These are the official hours but don't be shocked if you go at 8 pm and many vendors are closed.
We suggest going before 6 pm to find most vendors still open.
As there isn't a metro stop that is terribly convenient, the best bet is to grab a taxi. The Hong Mei Road area is a bit of an expat ghetto so you'll have no trouble finding a taxi to take you back downtown (or wherever your next stop is) but make sure you have the address of your hotel (or wherever you're going) written down for the driver.
A Note About the Neighborhood
Hong Mei Road, the street the market is on, is as noted above, an expat haven. If you feel like it, you could walk the length of the road to find many shops, cafes, and restaurants that cater to the expat population that lives in the area. There is an alley called "laowai street" or "foreigner street" across from the pearl market that has a number of popular restaurants and bars inside. This might be a good place to send a bored spouse while the other one is in the market shopping.