|Wondering where to wander in Shanghai? We’ve got you covered.|
Hongmei Lu in Gubei is perhaps better known as “Laowai Jie”, or Foreigner Street. It’s actually a conflation of two streets: Hongmei Lu proper, and its pedestrian street extension (the “Laowai Jie” part), full of just about everything you could ever need to fulfill your foreign cravings.
Just to list a few places you can find here: Shanghai Brewery, Fat Cow (burgers & milkshakes), Souper Fresh (healthy salads and soups), City Shop (Western grocery chain), Franck Provost (French hair salon chain), Body Concept Pilates, Curves, The Sanctuary, and Dragonfly Retreat.
With all the options available, it’s no surprise so many foreigners choose to live in this area. If you’re looking for great Korean food, you’re just a few steps away from all the delicious options in Korea town, and if you’re looking for shopping, check out the Pearl Market.
Find it: Line 10, Longxi Lu
Art aficionados and those simply looking to while away an afternoon will enjoy the galleries along Moganshan Lu. Many are free to enter and browse, and the street itself is full of examples of Shanghai art.
Find it: Line 7 (or 13) Changshou Lu is a long walk away, so either take the metro and then the bus (13, 63, 768, 837, 948) or simply tell a cab: Moganshan Lu, Xi Suzhou Lu
Shibo Dadao (Expo Avenue)
Shanghai’s famous for its Bund views, but few people make the effort to see it from the other side. Hop on over to Pudong (c’mon, just once won’t kill you) to see what life looks like from the other side of the fence, er, river, as it were.
Expo Ave was home to the World Expo back in 2010, but it still hosts plenty of big events. Music festivals like JZ and Strawberry Festival are hosted in the beautiful Expo Garden Park, and Mercedes Benz Arena welcomes big international names.
If you want to get wintry in Shanghai, Expo Ave’s Ice Town is open until March.
Once the weather warms up and you have a whole, big, beautiful day to spend, take a bike ride from Puxi’s Xuhui Riverside to Pudong’s Expo Park to experience the Bund from both sides.
Find it: Expo Ave is really, really long — the park and Mercedes Benz Arena are at the south end near Line 8, China Art Museum, or tell a cab: Shibo Dadao, Zhoujia Du Lu.
Nanjing Xi Lu/Huaihai Lu
Nanjing Xi Lu and Huaihai Lu offer very similar things, just in different parts of Puxi. If you’re in the French Concession or Xintiandi areas, you’re likely to find Huaihai Lu’s long procession of shops. If you’re in Jing’an, you’ll find a familar line up on Nanjing Xi Lu. If namebrand shopping is your thing, walk along either of these main roads.
Nanjing Xi Lu fake market, Han City
On Nanjing Xi Lu, you’ll also find a large fake market just a couple blocks east of the Nanjing Xi Lu metro stop (Line 2). Right behind the metro stop, on Taixing Lu, you’ll find Zhong Plaza, a great place for eats and drinks. Further west, you’ll find Jing’an Temple and all its high fashion shops, Wheelock Square and more (metro Lines 2 and 7).
Likewise, Huaihai Lu’s got Xiangyang Park across from the iapm mall and next to the Kwah Centre, and the loop, if you will, of bars and restaurants on Donghu Lu, Fumin Lu, Xinle Lu and Changle Lu. And that’s just one small part of Huaihai Lu — if you’re really up for a hike, continue east on Huaihai Lu and trek through Xintiandi all the way down to Yu Gardens (Yu Yuan) and the Bund (you can also hop on the 911 bus route for RMB2).
Find it: Nanjing Xi Lu (Jing’an Temple: 2 & 7, Nanjing Xi Lu: 2), Huaihai Lu (Shaanxi Nan Lu: 1 & 10, Huangpi Nan Lu: 1, Yu Yuan: 10)
Jinxian Lu is so tiny that if you blink, you might miss it. But it’s everything we love about the French Concession, just south of Jing’an if you decide to wander up to that neighborhood instead. Jinxian Lu itself contains tons of options: Southern Barbarian (delicious Yunnan food with great booze options), Royal Orchid Thai Massage, Citizen(charming cafe and cocktail bar), Osteria (Italian restaurant), tons of little boutiques, and crowd-pleaser Hunan restaurant, Di Shui Dong.
If you find yourself getting restless on Jinxian, simply head east and find yourself on Maoming Lu, then head north up to Jing’an where you’ll find Nanjing Xi Lu’s Zhong Plaza and everything else at that massive metro stop. Jinxian Lu is also sandwiched between Changle Lu and Julu Lu, two of Shanghai’s best street for boutique shopping.
Find it: Shaanxi Nan Lu (Lines 1 & 10), Nanjing Xi Lu (Line 2)
Deeper into the heart of the French Concession, you’ll find Wulumuqi Lu. On the stretch of Wulumuqi between Fuxing and Anfu, you’ll find some favorite expat haunts: food importer extraordinaire Avocado Lady occupies a little storefront on Wulumuqi just south of Wuyuan, and between Fuxing and Anfu Lu on Wulumuqi you’ll find a few Chinese restaurants full of expats and locals alike. Across from the Avocado Lady, don’t miss the tiny and fabulous Italian restaurant, La Vite.
Wuyuan Lu and Anfu Lu have lots to explore as well. Head west on Wuyuan and the first place you’ll find is Zen Massage — if they’re all filled up, head a bit further down to find Yu Massage. Head east on Wuyuan and you’ll find speakeasy-themed cocktail bar Senator, and a bit further down you’ll find Fat Mama.
Meander east or west down Anfu Lu and once again you’ll find yourself in a foreigner haven. West you’ll find places like Sunflour Bakery & Cafe and Mia’s Yunnan Kitchen. East you’ll find wine bar Enoterra.
Find it: Shanghai Library (Line 10), walk east down Fuxing Lu, turn north on Wulumuqi
We don’t necessarily advocate going out of your way to see Yu Gardens (Yu Yuan). In fact, we adamantly advise you to avoid it on national holidays. But we very much recommend you make time to explore the backstreets of Old Town, if only to seek out the delicious street food you can find on Sipailou.
It’s not easy to find, especially if you start from Yu Garden and attempt to head east in search of it. If you’re new to the area or just visiting, you can try finding Sipailou yourself by starting from Zhonghua Lu, turning west down Fangbang Lu (a tiny, bustling old street just north of Dongmen Lu), and searching for the big arches that mark the entrance to Sipailou. Actually, perhaps the best advice is simply to follow your nose to the delicious smells of strange and beautiful food cooking.
If you have a free evening and empty belly but sense of direction is not your strong suit, call up the guys at UnTour Shanghai and get them to show you around the best streets for local food in Shanghai.
Find it: Take a cab to Dongmen Lu, Zhonghua Lu, then head north on Zhonghua Lu and take an immediate left on to the bustling old street that becomes Fangbang Lu and leads you to Sipailou. Alternatively, take Line 10 to Yuyuan and head east through the maze that is “Old Town” Yu Gardens (Yuyuan).
If you’re seeking something ridiculous, look no further than Qipu Lu. It’s a great place to find cheap clothing (in fact, the name of the street comes straight from the English: “cheap” became “qipu”). We advise checking this place out if you’re on a budget, or if you need a costume for Halloween or a fancy dress party. One winter we accumulated a fair amount of animal onesies from Qipu Lu and spent the rest of the season warm and cozy (but somewhat inconvenienced every time we had to use the bathroom, so make sure to find the onesies with the butt flaps).
We digress. What were we talking about? Oh right, Qipu Lu. This place is easy to find (you can’t miss it as soon as you step off the metro), but once you’re in, you won’t get out easily. This place is labyrinthine, so take a note from Theseus and bring a ball of yarn, or drop M&M’s behind you to leave a trail, or just enjoy getting lost in the thousands of stalls that make up the market.
Find it: Tell a cab Qipu Lu, or simply take Line 10 or 12 to Tiantong Lu. You’ll see the market as soon as you get off the metro.
Yongkang Lu/Danshui Lu
Yongkang Lu has its detractors, that’s for sure, but it still has not been unseated as the number one place to day drink in Shanghai(probably much to the locals’ chagrin). Check out a full list of the bars and restaurants on YKL.
Find it: Tell a cab Yongkang Lu, Xiangyang Lu or take Line 10 or 1 to Shaanxi Nan Lu and head south on Xiangyang Lu.
Some have called Danshui Lu the new Yongkang Lu, and while it doesn’t quite have the chops to dethrone YKL yet, Danshui Lu’s future sure looks bright drunk. We like Beer Bear and Encore. Find a full list of Danshui Lu spots.
If you get bored at Danshui Lu, keep heading west down Fuxing Lu until you reach Sinan Mansions for more fun.
Find it: Tell a cab Danshui Lu, Fuxing Lu, or take Line 10 to Xintiandi and walk west on Fuxing one block, then head north on Danshui.
Ah, Yongfu Lu. Perhaps like Yongkang Lu, some may argue that Yongfu Lu instead belongs on a list of Shanghai’s worst streets (see below). Love it or hate it, tons of people come here to party. Shanghai’s home for underground music, Shelter (literally a converted old bomb shelter) calls Yongfu Lu its home, as does el Coctel and the Apartment. Around the corner on Fuxing Lu, you’ll find other fan favorites like Wooden Paradise, JZ Club and Arcade.
Yongfu Lu may be a den of iniquity, but hey, some people are into that.
Find it: Tell a cab Yongfu Lu, Fuxing Lu or walk from Line 10 Shanghai Library (head north on Hunan Lu, then take a right on Yongfu Lu. Follow it past where it crosses Fuxing Lu).
Worst Streets: Nanjing Dong Lu, The Bund
If you come to Shanghai for a holiday, you will go to Nanjing Dong Lu. We will try to tell you it’s not worth it, that it’s a shitty area full of shitty tourist traps (and some literal traps, like people trying to scam you into paying RMB3,000 for tea). We’ll tell you it’s packed with visitors from all over China and all over the world, all trying to take pictures of mundane things like the Apple Store or your Western face.
You’ll also want to see the Bund, which, okay, fair enough, you should do just once to take pictures and say you’ve seen it. But don’t say we didn’t warn you. Nanjing Dong Lu and it’s easterly course towards Zhongshan Yi Lu (the Bund) is one of the most overpopulated, overpriced spots in the city (and the site of the infamous New Year riots that resulted in the deaths of so many people trampled by an overwhelming crowd).
If you’re gonna make the trip, choose to go early on a weekday to avoid crowds as best you can (you won’t completely, though).
Find it, if you dare: Take Line 2 to Nanjing Dong Lu, walk west to see People’s Square, or east to reach where it ends at the Bund (Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu)