Shanghai is China’s largest city and the gateway to the country’s trade. It has a wealth of shops and stores with Nanjing Road being its busiest shopping street with 600 shops! There are three other main shopping streets that are worth visiting: Huaihai Road which has shops stocking all the top end designer names at great prices, the other two being North Sichuan Road and Middle Tibet Road. There is a great selection of markets too, so souvenir shopping is definitely not a problem! If you are buying from either a street trader or market stall, a well-humored bargain is expected! Have a look at the top 10 souvenirs to buy in Shanghai.
1. Treat yourself to some Shanghai silk
Silk can be bought everywhere and is available in every color imaginable and in a variety of qualities. There are attractive silk dresses, bed linen, beautiful shawls, evening bags, and jewelry pouches. A pair of silk pyjamas is always a very special gift. If you want to buy a length of silk to make your own dress that is possible too. For the top quality silks, it is worth shopping in the top stores, but for fun, it is great to buy silk either in the Shi Liu Pu cloth market in Dong Men Road – where you can happily bargain or in Silk-King Tianping Road which is a large branch of this chain of stores.
2. Select some calligraphy artwork
There are plenty of samples of this elegant craftwork to be found in the shops of Nanjing Road or in Yuyuan Bazaar. The traditional Chinese characters are brush painted on fabric or paper in ink and these make a handsome wall hanging. Many of the pieces are decorated with lines of Chinese poetry. The smallest but most authentic souvenir is a pair of chopsticks, decorated with calligraphy.
3. Get ready for summer with a lovely fan
Fans have been used in China for centuries and even today, they are a common sight on warmer days. You can buy mass-produced ones, but look out for beautiful silk ones that have been hand-painted in silk with traditional images of birds, flowers, lakes, and mountains. Some fans are decorated with calligraphy. It is possible to have a fan made to your own design by a number of craftsmen in the city.
4. Pack some Chinese tea
There is a wide range of different tea made in China and most of them are only available within the country. The best tea is said to be that grown in the mountainous areas. Black Pu’er tea is the most common type but is quite sweet. Green tea is rich in antioxidants and Dragon Well is an exceptionally good one. There are more than 500 different varieties of tea that are divided into four groups – white, green, black and Oolong. The Chinese buy their tea in tea markets and this is definitely fun to do. There are Montanchun Tea Market and Tianlin Tea Market near Xu Jia Hui which is a collection of small shops – each selling a different kind of tea.
5. Beautiful Chinese tea service
These beautiful tea services are certainly a souvenir from Shanghai to treasure and are available in a range of prices to suit every budget. The teacups are small and rounded and the teapots often have stylish bamboo handles. Some of the designs have grains of rice embedded in the porcelain and these let the light through when you hold the cup up to the Sun. If you know someone who really is a tea lover, there are professional tea sets available that ensure that every cup of tea tastes absolutely perfect.
6. Stock up on some Shanghai treats
The Chinese are the first to admit that they ‘have a sweet tooth’ and so there is an abundance of sweet and biscuit shops! Handmade almond biscuits are very popular and so are the sun and moon biscuits. These are made from pastry and the sun biscuits are flavored with maltose malt sugar, whilst the moon biscuits contain lotus seeds. These biscuits are particularly popular during the Autumn Moon Festival. There are beautiful handmade chocolates and truffles too and a very popular kind of peanut brittle.
One of the most traditional sweets from Shanghai it the white rabbit made from milk butter and sugar which is wrapped in an edible rice paper coating.
7. Try some traditional Chinese medicine
Venturing inside one of the traditional style shops is fascinating as the walls are lined with hundreds of wooden drawers that are all carefully labeled. The Chinese have used numerous natural remedies for more than 5,000 years and these can treat a wide range of minor ailments. The best-known ones are ginseng, ginger root, and ginkgo biloba. Many of the remedies are careful blends of plants, roots, powdered stone, and even animal parts. Ginseng is definitely worth buying as it lowers the blood sugar, balances metabolism and slows the signs of aging.
8. Admire some Chinese artwork
There is a wealth of well known Chinese artists and their work is displayed in the Duojun Xuan Art Shop in East Nanjing Road. Some of the work is very expensive, but many of the artists are up and coming and their work is reasonably priced. Apart from pieces of art of varying sizes, there are lovely hand painted gift cards.
9. Choose a piece of beautiful jade
Jade in China is considered much more important than simply being a stone as it is said to bring the wearer good luck, protect them against evil spirits, to balance their yin and yang and to help keep them have good health. Jade is the most important stone in Chinese jewelry and is engrained in Chinese culture. There are three different colors of jade – green, white and purple. Green jade is by far the most popular and comes in a variety of qualities that are graded according to color – the darker the green, the higher the quality. Jade can be bought everywhere in Shanghai but if you are particularly looking for a high-quality piece, Hongqiao International Pearl Company in Hongmei Road is worth seeking out.
10. Get some hi-tech
China is not the cheapest place to buy hi-tech in Asia, but prices are nevertheless attractive. The Cyber Market in Middle Huaihai Road has an extensive selection of iPods, laptops, tablets and all other types of digital gadgets plus accessories.