World ? Asia ? China ? Shanghai

Shanghai: Markets

Some of Shanghai's most interesting shopping experiences are provided by its colorful street markets and alley bazaars. Curios, crafts, collectibles, antiques, jewelry, and coins are all here for those who are willing to bargain hard, but perhaps the most common item you'll find in the markets these days is designer-label clothing, much of it knockoffs (copies) with upscale labels sewn in, although some items are factory seconds or overruns (sometimes smuggled out of legitimate brand-name factories). Many of the markets also sell fresh produce, seafood, spices, and other consumables to residents, along with snacks and drinks. At all such markets, cash is the only means of exchange, and pickpockets are plentiful, so keep all your valuables in a concealed pouch or money belt. If you're purchasing goods from an outdoor antiques market, be aware that not all older (pre-1949) items sold at such markets will have the red-wax seal attached. A stern Customs inspector, finding an old item without a seal, might confiscate it.

Dongtau Lu Antiques Market (Dongtai Lu Guwan Shichang) -- This largest of Shanghai's antique markets has hundreds of stalls and many permanent shops along a short lane, located on Dongtai Lu and Liuhe Lu, 1 block west of Xizang Nan Lu, Luwan (about 3 blocks south of Huaihai Lu). Dealers specialize in antiques, curios, porcelain, furniture, jewelry, baskets, bamboo and wood carvings, birds, flowers, goldfish, and nostalgic bric-a-brac from colonial and revolutionary days (especially Mao memorabilia). When it rains, most stalls aren't open, but the stores are. Daily from 9am to 5pm.

Fuyou Market -- If you like rummaging through lots of junk for the chance to find the rare real nugget, this is still the best place to do it in Shanghai. This favorite for weekend antique and curio hunting, located in the Cangbao Lou (building) at Fangbang Zhong Lu 457 and Henan Nan Lu (the western entrance to Shanghai Old St. in the Old Town Bazaar, Nanshi) is also called a "ghost market" because the traders set out their wares before sunrise (when only ghosts can see what's for sale). Come as early as possible on Saturday or Sunday morning, preferably the latter, when vendors come in from the surrounding countryside. The goods are various and few are polished up; many of the items are from the attic or the farm, though increasingly also from some factory backroom that churns out modern pieces that are then scuffed up with mud to look old. Porcelains, old jade pendants, used furniture, Qing Dynasty coins, Chairman Mao buttons, old Russian cameras, Buddhist statues, snuff bottles, and carved wooden screens are just a few of the treasures here, none with price tags. Three floors of the market building are open daily from 9am to 5pm; the weekend market (on the 3rd and 4th floors) runs from 5am to 6pm, but tapers off by noon.

South Bund Fabric Market (Nan Waitan Qing Fang Mianliao Shichang) -- This popular fabric market, originally known as the Dongjiadu Fabric Market, moved from its original Dongjiadu location in 2006, hence the name change, though some taxi drivers and hotel concierges may still refer to it by its old name. Now relocated to nearby Lujiabang Lu 399 (intersection with Nancang Jie; tel. 021/6377-5858) in the southeastern corner of the old Chinese city, this former outdoor market, a favorite with expatriates, has moved indoors. Hundreds of stalls still sell bales of fabric at ridiculously low prices (though prices have increased slightly since the move), from traditional Chinese silk and Thai silk to cotton, linen, wool, and cashmere, though the heavier fabrics are only carried during the colder months. Many shops have their own in-house tailors who can stitch you a suit, or anything else you want, at rates that are less than half what you'd pay at retail outlets like Silk King. Come with a pattern. Turnaround is usually a week or more but can be expedited for an extra fee. Daily from 8:30am to 6pm.

Temple Of Town God Market (Chenghuang Miao Shichang) -- This daily market starts out in the basement of the Huabao Building (Fangbang Lu 265, Old Town Bazaar, Nanshi), but on weekends it spills into the courtyards of the temple and nearby Yu Yuan pedestrian mall. It offers hundreds of vendors and hundreds of chances to bargain for curios, collectibles, and an occasional museum-quality relic. It's open daily from 8:30am to 9pm.

Vendors Behaving Badly

When visiting the Fuyou Market, be very careful when navigating your way through the makeshift vendors on the third and especially fourth floors; many are itinerant peddlers here for the weekend who merely display their wares on the ground wherever they can find space. Shoppers with large bags or heavy packs should be especially vigilant, as a careless swing of an arm or even a tiny push from the crowd can cause bodies to topple and wares to go flying. This has happened before and will happen again (whether by accident or design). If you are the hapless soul who ends up damaging something (even if you were pushed by someone else), you will be held responsible. This is open season for vendors who, smelling blood, will claim that you've broken their precious Tang Dynasty vase (when it has just come from the factory backroom), and cite a ridiculously marked-up charge that you must pay. Fortunately, the Fuyou Market now has a supervising manager familiar with the quality and price of the goods on sale to monitor and mediate precisely such incidents. Should you ever find yourself in such an unlucky situation, don't attempt to bargain your way out; immediately consult the supervisor (jiandu) whose office is in the small alley just east of the building.

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