Saturday, 1 December 2007

Things to do in Shanghai...

After having guests stay with us recently I have made some mental notes of what they like to do.

Some are obvious like shop and eat, and shop some more, and eat some more... go to or just look at the Orient Pearl Tower. :)

Others which may not be so obvious but seem popular are:

1. Go to the fabric market. Get something made. If you want a suit you'll need at the very least a full week though. Simple things can be done in about 4 days. Bargain at least 10% if not 20% off! Start with 70% of the price they quote you. Addresses are listed in one of my older posts.

2. Get a massage. Massage places are EVERYWHERE and compared to almost any other country, are dirt cheap. The place we go to we pay 60 RMB for 1 hour for either a full body massage or foot massage. It is located in the Hongqiao/Gubei/Changning area known as "Little Japan" on Xianxia Lu and Zunyi Lu. It is always busy and they do a pretty good job!

When that's done, shop some more and eat some more ;)

Some places I can recommend are:

1. Xujiahui - where you can get anything under the sun, where there are 6? department stores, and the big Grand Gateway mall. Where the geeks can go crazy at Best Buy (or Metro City or Pacific Digital Plaza), and the foodies can go crazy at the top of Grand Gateway and Novel Place, and the shoe-aholics and clothes-aholics can go crazy at any store. My favourites are Pacific and No.6 department store. I can usually find clothes and shoes in there that I like at reasonable prices. The brands at Grand Gateway are generally way too expensive for me (since they are mostly foreign, mostly European brands). For basic staples (plain coloured tops, pants) Uniqlo (in GG) is great. Lots of easy-to-wear, mix-and-match stuff at great prices.

2. Huaihai Lu - previously known as Avenue Joffre, or the "Champs Elysee of the Orient" this road is about 15km long. Yep, mega long. It's divided up into three parts - West, Central and East. Most of the 'action' can be found in the Central part (which is also the longest). I have pretty much walked along the entire street. It is tiring but the most benefit can be gained (for a shopaholic) by walking across most of length of this street (not in the one go!). There is no point to take a taxi and you can take a bus or the subway but you miss a lot doing that since the stops can be far apart. If you are just randomly browsing it's much better to walk, and walk and... walk. Near Shaanxi Nan Lu, Maoming Nang Lu, Huangpi Nan Lu (and in between) there are lots of department stores and boutiques. This street is also the home of wedding dresses and bridal photography stores. One after another, big glass windows with glittering displays of fancy sequinned, frilled, coloured, embroidered, wedding dresses. Billions and billions of different kinds. They must do a good business because day or night, they are filled with customers looking at their large sample albums. I like to take the 911 bus along this street because it's a double decker one and you can feel like a real tourist sitting at the top and looking out the windows. At 2 RMB a trip it's fun just to ride the bus along the whole length of this road to get a feel of what it has to offer you! :) Once you have pinpointed the places that interest you (I actually marked on a map where my favourite stores were), then you can get out and start pounding the pavement.

3. Dain Ti Hill/Neo Tang Dynasty - crazy Chinese modern fushion cuisine. Really tasty. There are chains everywhere but seeing as I just talked about XJH there is one on the 5th floor of Grand Gateway. Usually it's so popular you have to queue for an hour or so but sometimes you can get lucky and only have to wait 5-10 minutes. There is also one in an expat type mall on Huahai Lu near the Hong Kong Plaza. The one with Delifrance out the front.

4. Lynn - modern Shanghainese cuisine. Now I don't normally like Chinese food much but this place was out of this world. It would have gotten a 10/10 if it weren't for the fact that they allowed smoking. The fish with pinenuts was absolutely delicious. It looks like an expensive type of place too (being right near the Ritz Carlton hotel and Nanjing Xi Lu) but for 4 people we paid 490 RMB including drinks.
99-1 Xikang Lu near Nanjing Xi Lu 西康路99-1号近南京西路

5. Wagas - the good ol' staple. My husband is addicted to this place. Opened by an Australian there are now restaurants all over Shanghai. It serves simple, healthy stuff - sandwiches, wraps, salads, pasta for a reasonable price, and great smoothies and freshly squeezed juices. Everything is really fresh! If you go after 6pm they have specials on the pasta. The one on Huaihai Lu near Huangpi Nan Lu is always busy and easily accessible.


bret said...


I found reading your blogs about Shanghai amusing and inspiring. I am coming to Shanghai / Beijing this August for two weeks with my friend and have taken some notes on what to do (and not to do) while in Shanghai. For someone that has lived the life in Shanghai and is a 'Westerner' (being born in an Anglo country) I am sure you have some tips on where to go and what to eat on the cheap. I would love to get in touch with you and talk more, maybe even thank you in person for your blog when I arrive in Shanghai.


Bret Allan

Johanna said...


I just recently moved to Shanghai and appreciate your insightful suggestions. I am eager to meet other women in the city who enjoy shopping, art and nightlife. Any ideas on places where female expats generally meet up? I have been attending and helping organize the weekly pub crawl on Thursdays (which starts at O'Malleys). It has been a great way to meet a diverse group of western travelers and students.

You can email me at



S said...

Hi Joanna,

Check out Shanghai Dolls, a great group for expats in Shanghai that's girls only :)

S said...