Top Shanghai Markets

The term "market" is flexible, and in Shanghai, it applies to vendors selling virtually the same thing all under one roof, or in one open section of space. Unlike the Western sense of competition, the Chinese believe that if you are all selling the same thing, you'll attract more customers. Fair enough.

Indeed, this makes life easy for the shopper. Want pearls? Go to the pearl market. Want fabric? Go to the fabric market. Want crickets? You guessed it, go to the cricket market. Just remember your bargaining skills! You'll need them in the markets of Shanghai.

  • 01 of 13
    Pearls City, one of Shanghai's Markets
    ••• © 2006 Sara Naumann, licensed to About.com
    • Description: Wholesale freshwater pearls, sea water pearls, natural stones, and crystals.
    • Address: First Asia Jewelry Plaza, 3rd floor, 288 Fuyou Lu
    • Comments: Let fantasy be your guide. For pennies, you can design jewelry to your heart's content. Every vendor will have loads of ready-made jewelry for you to look over but you can also design your own. Just wait a few minutes and they'll string everything for you as you watch. Remember the golden rule: bargain, bargain, bargain!
  • 02 of 13

    Shanghai Shiliu Puhong Qixiang Cloth Market

    ••• The possibilities hang outside the fabric stalls at the market. © 2010 Sara Naumann, licensed to About.com.
    • Description: Three floors of fabric and tailors.
    • Address: 168 Dongmen Road, not far from Yuyuan Garden.
    • Comments: This market is very similar to #6, but is much quieter and has a lot fewer foreigners standing around looking confused. You'll find the same fabrics - cashmere, silk, linen, wool, and cotton at similar prices. Many vendors speak a bit of English but if you're having something complicated made, it's best to take along someone who can speak a bit of Chinese.
  • 03 of 13
    ••• © 2010 Sara Naumann, licensed to About.com.
    • Description: A crazy ​maze of vendors selling pets and supplies. The bugs are really the reason to go.
    • Address: Tibet Road at Fuxing Road (just a few minutes walk from Dong Tai Road (see # 1)
    • Comments: Unless you're in the market for fighting crickets or grubs to feed your birdies, this is more of a gawk-stop than a real shopping trip. It's worth the trip for the weird and unusual and you'll get some great photos.
  • 04 of 13
    • Description: 2 floors within a shopping mall - nothing but glasses
    • Address: Muling Road #188, 4-5 Floors (穆棱路188号4-5楼)
    • Comments: Most people can afford one pair of glasses every few years. You wear them so long that your friends have to tell you that round Harry Potter glasses are really, truly out. Those days are over. One trip to the Shanghai Optical Market and you'll have new face furniture for every outfit.
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  • 05 of 13

    Weekly Friday Muslim Street Market

    ••• A dried fruit vendor poses with his cart. © 2009 Sara Naumann, licensed to About.com.
    • Description: Small area of a street with roadside vendors gathered selling Muslim foods and products.
    • Address: In front of the Huxi Mosque, 1328 Changde Lu, near Aomen Lu, Northern Jing'an District (1328 常德路近澳门路)
    • Opening hours: Weekly Fridays from morning until afternoon (best to go in mornings before lunchtime to catch all vendors
    • Comments: This is an interesting place to see some non-Han Chinese culture. Check out the different offerings, sample some street food and even have a wander around the mosque. Most of the vendors come from Xinjiang Province and their cuisine is very different from eastern China. Folks are friendly but don't speak a lot of Mandarin - hand signals and smiles are useful. Ask before taking photos.
  • 06 of 13
    ••• A tea shop on the first floor of the market displays its wares. © 2009 Sara Naumann, licensed to About.com.
    • Description: 3 story market full of Chinese tea
    • Address: Zhongshan Xi Road #520 (中山西录520号)
    • Comments: If you want to get all your tea shopping done in one place, this is it. If you can, take along a Chinese speaker. None available? No problem, allow yourself plenty of time. Arm yourself with a dictionary and go sample tea. Shop owners are extremely friendly. Don't be afraid to touch and smell, ask for tastes. Most will invite you in to have a cup of tea, smell the wares and browse at will. The first two floors are all tea, the third floor is a mix of tea and curios. You'll find everything from Long Jing green tea, Yunnan Province Pu'er tea, jasmine, wulong, everything is here.
  • 07 of 13
    ••• Gorgeous orchids for Chinese New Year. © 2012 Sara Naumann, licensed to About.com.
    • Description: 2 floors of flowers, both live and fake, as well as gifts
    • Address: 1148 Changshou Road, near Wanhangdu Road | 长寿路1148号,近万航渡
    • Comments: Go to see the flower culture of China. Especially during Chinese New Year, the flowers and plants are just amazing.
  • 08 of 13

    Mu Lan Hua Ge Antique, Curio and Junk Warehouse

    shanghai shopping antique warehouse
    ••• One of many such views in the Mu Lan Hua Ge Antique and Curio Warehouse in Shanghai's Pudong district. Photo by Sara Naumann.
    • Description: enormous warehouse crammed floor to ceiling with old furniture, ceramics, and junk
    • Address: No. 1788-A Ji Yang Road, near Shang Pu South Road | 浦东济阳路1788号A(近上铺路南面100米).
    • Comments: Make sure you go with plenty of time. A few well-spent hours digging through the piles in this warehouse will surely yield some amazing treasures.
    Continue to 9 of 13 below.
  • 09 of 13
    • Description: Same type of market as #2, but much bigger.
    • Address: Hong Mei Road on the corner of Hong Qiao Road
    • Comments: The market is a little out of the way for the normal tourist who is staying downtown, but if you have time since they are open until late evening, make the trip out. Like Pearl's Circles, vendors have ready-made items for you to buy, but you can do your own designing. Freshwater pearls are a real value in China. Read more about buying pearls in China here.
  • 10 of 13
    • Description: Underground (literally) maze of vendors selling toys, clothing, jewelry and a lot of fake (read counterfeit brand) bags and watches.
    • Address: Science and Technology Museum Metro Stop (Metro Line 2), Pudong
    • Comments: What happened to Xiang Yang market? After that famous "fake" market closed its gates in 2006, many vendors relocated to Yatai Xinyang. This is a great place to buy inexpensive souvenirs: Shanghai t-shirts, chopsticks, cushion covers and pashminas. Let the buyer beware: when it comes to fakes, you get what you pay for (and you probably paid too much).
  • 11 of 13
    • Description: Three floors of fabric and tailors.
    • Address: 399 Lujiabang Road (near the Bund)
    • Comments: Here you can make your couture dreams come true. Great values are qipaos, cashmere coats, and men's shirts. Almost every stall has its own tailor who can whip up whatever you want in about a week. Your best bet is to have something you like copied over in your new fabric. Clothing made from photos or descriptions yield mixed (mostly bad) results. If you can, bring a Chinese speaker with you. Some tailors do speak English.
  • 12 of 13
    toy shop china
    ••• A typical toy shop in a Chinese market. Kevin Frayer / Getty Images
    • Description: basement market full of kids' fashion and toys
    • Address: northwest corner of Pu'an Road at Jinlin Road
    • Comments: If it's cheap kids' clothing or toys you're looking for, hit this market. Sometimes you have to dig around for sizes and quality but there are some good finds, especially for babies and girls. Some vendors sell brand-name clothing such as Ralph Lauren, Jacadi, Gant, Janie & Jack, etc. Toys are a good bargain here, especially if you need to stock up on little surprises for the airplane.
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  • 13 of 13

    Upholstery and Bedding Market

    • Description: enormous market hall full of stalls selling upholstery and bedding fabric
    • Address: 1618 Cao'an Road | 曹安路1618号轻纺市场
    • Comments: A great place to order custom-made bedding like those silk duvet blankets at a fraction of what you pay in the Suzhou silk markets. Custom-made sheets and bedding, upholstery fabric are all good value here.