Shanghai Nights

Shop till you drop in this retail paradise

By: Christopher Batin

This is the first Image
Even though the best bargains are in
the early morning, shopping at night
on Nanjing Road is not to be missed.
For several days, I had been sightseeing Shanghai’s group-tour hot spots, and had extended my stay two days to explore Shanghai on my own. I contacted Hayoyi Zhu at Jin Jiang Tours, and he recommended that I hire a tour guide. Agents can earn additional income if they advise clients of the option of a few free shopping days with an independent guide who can accompany them to the best shopping malls and destinations.

Individual tour guides, like Mandy Fan, earn their pay with their advanced people and language skills. She was adept at traveling by bus, train and subway knowing what to take and when to go, and how to get there fast. And until I learned the ropes, she would negotiate a price with a shopping vendor far lower than I could obtain. Guides also arrive and depart directly from your client’s hotel.

“You don’t find too many personal tour guides, because guides can make far more in commissions in taking large groups,” Zhu said. “But the good ones are worth the investment.”

What I discovered was a real taste of Shanghai that I had not seen on the structured tours.

Often, the journey to the destination was as much fun.

“It’s important to take the taxi at day’s end, as lugging the goodies to your hotel is not wise on public transportation,” Fan said. Here are some of the shopping highlights we discovered.

Grand Gateway (Gang Hui) Mall
Gang Hui is one of the largest malls in Shanghai, with seven floors of shops and stores. Look for “Shanghai Street,” and other themed streets, that offer traditional products and goods. Take in the many celebrations and shows during the holiday seasons.

Hong Qiao City Center
This mall is built on the Japanese model that promotes fashion, relaxation and city life. Don’t pass up the subterranean supermarket. Expect the best food court in the area, where you can order everything from high-priced shark-fin soup to fast food.

Super Brand Mall (Zheng Da)
Located in the Lu Jia Zui financial district, Zheng Da offers shoppers 10 upper floors and three basement floors of shopping, Internet cafes, cinemas, beauty salons, fitness centers and bars, a complete one-stop shop for checking out the local life. The mall’s fifth floor is called “The World of Food” and it offers excellent Chinese cuisine, as well as food from other parts of the world.

South Friendship Store
This is a good place to try if you discover you need something while on your trip. One of the great models of shopping malls in Shanghai, it offers a travel agency, post office, pharmacy, beauty salon and bank, as well as a great food court with low prices and superb food. Open from early morning to late evening.

Yatai Fashion & Clothing Market
Near the Science and Technology Center Museum, this is my favorite. Clients can buy any type of clothing and myriad arts and crafts, silk goods, traditional Chinese dress and artwork of all kinds. Bargain hard. Very hard. Never want something so much that you can’t walk away from it. Start at a third of what they are asking. Go early in the morning, when it is considered good luck for many store owners to make a first sale, and many are eager to do so.

Nighttime on Nanjing Road
While shopping is less crowded during the day, there is nothing that can compare to the excitement of Nanjing at night. Shops light up, and the flashing lights and neon strobes make Las Vegas seem sleepy. Go early and stay late, but be prepared to walk to find a cab for the return trip to the hotel.