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by Johanna Levenius, People & Places editor

The real shopper’s paradise, though, is Shanghai’s local markets, and these can be found throughout the city. The most popular of these is the Shanghai Xiang Yang Shìchang Market, west from the Bund side of Nanjing Road. The Copy Market, as only the local westerners call it, offers a wide variety of clothes, bags, and everything else an imaginative shopper can envision, including a food market in the back. The vendors sell their merchandise out of rooms connected in a row of buildings. It is an open air market, so in winter it is very cold.

Visiting the local markets can be a tedious process because the locals constantly shove their merchandise in your face. You can’t step out of a taxi without someone coming up to you hawking DVDs, watches, or bags. Just stay firm with them. They’ll laugh and leave you alone — for a few minutes at least.

One thing the Chinese are good at is tailoring. Take a trip to one of the local fabric markets and be amazed at what they can make for an affordable price. They can make a copy of your favorite pair of pants, the one you’ve worn and washed so many times that they are starting to fade and tear. Just bring them to a tailor and they will make a new pair for about $10, which includes labor and fabric.
In addition to shopping, Shanghai has a surfeit of sights. At the end of Nanjing Road is the city’s passion and its past, the Shanghai Grand Theatre and Museum.

Take a cab from there to the Yu Yuan Garden, a 400-year-old garden in Shanghai’s Old Town, an oasis of peace and comfort. Make sure to visit the Hu Xin Ting Teahouse also know as the Mid-Lake Pavilion Teahouse, located in the middle of a lake filled with hundreds of goldfish. This is one of China’s most famous teahouses, having been visited by both Queen Elisabeth II and former President Bill Clinton. Yu Yuan Bazaar offers some great local shopping.

New meets old in Xiantiandi. This is an upscale area of town where there are many modern restaurants and shops. Yet Old Shanghai is just around the corner. The market here sells a lot of Chinese artifacts—mostly copies—out of old and gray houses. Old men and women play mahjong, and clothes hang out of windows on sticks drying along with the meat for the evening dinner. In the distance, over the ancient roofs, a clutch of skyscrapers hover by the river.

Beyond the Huangpu, on the Pudong side, with the skyscrapers, is one of Shanghai’s modern symbols, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. It’s not quite the tallest building in Shanghai, which now has the third-tallest building in the world, but visitors can go up to an observation deck that provides a 360-degree view of the city.

The Shanghai Ocean Aquarium is found right next door, a glass dome that invites visitors to walk beneath overhead tanks full of marine life.

The city is always awake. There is always something going on, and the experience is amazing. Seeing the old customs mix with a new lifestyle is fascinating.

All photos courtesy Johanna Levenius


The Oriental Pearl TV Tower offers a stunning panoramic view of Shanghai. Next to it is the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium.

A hairdresser, running his business on the streets of Shanghai.

A group of women playing mahjong.

The Shanghai Xiang Yang Shìchang Market, or by many called the copy market, is a popular place for tourists to visit.


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