Art, Culture

Shanghai – the NYC of Asia

Shanghai – the NEW YORK CITY of Asia, equipped with the best fake market in the WORLD.

Never did I expect to love this city so much. I’ve actually never considered residing in NYC, but after being in shanghai just a few days, I was ready to declare it as my new home. Anything and everything you could ever want/need is in Shanghai. And in the off chance that they don’t already make what you’re looking for, you can have it created exactly to your specifications for almost pennies on the dollar.

Does this mean you’re sacrificing quality? Not always. If you know what you want and can spend a little time in shanghai, you can find the best place to make it for you.

There is of course a fake market, where quality is more commonly questionable. This is still a must see on your visit as you will not experience something like this anywhere else in the world. The market is actually presented in the form of a 4-5 story shopping mall with many small “shops” on each floor. This is somewhat of an overwhelming experience if you step into it not knowing what to expect, but if you go in ready to haggle and with some items in mind, you’ll likely have a great time.

Just remember there are many floors, you will see the same item several times and therefore have the upper hand in all negotiations. My general rule of thumb is that I will never pay more than 1/4 of their initial asking price. That may seem a little harsh, but with the right approach you can make this happen almost every time.

For those of you that are new to the haggling world – I’ll give a bit more guidance…

  • when you find an item you like, first step is to ask “how much”?
  • at this point they’ll likely whip out the trusty calculator to show you the starting price
  • if they don’t have a calculator, you should offer your calculator on your phone – or have them write it down on a piece of paper
  • once the first figure is down, take a good look at it, but always shake your head and say “too much”
  • from here this can go two ways – either they will ask “how much?” Or you can ask “what’s your best price” – “best price or better price” are terms that every shop owner will know
  • keep playing the “too much” card and when you finally respond to their “how much?” Make sure it is less than 1/4 of the starting (or 1/3 if they started at a good price – this rarely happens as they are expecting the negotiation)
  • from here they may act offended, but most of the time it’s just part of their game, stay firm to the price you believe is appropriate
  • if they aren’t coming around, start to walk away and see what happens. 9 times out of 10, the price will drop with every step you take from the shop and you will hear them yelling after you with lower and lower prices
  • if they were ever planning to come down to your number, you’ll finally here “ok, ok” with your price
  • if they don’t come around, and you cannot find the same item elsewhere (not very common) you can re-attempt later, just return to the shop and repeat “what’s your best price?” You can see how low they’ll go and determine if you feel the item is worth it
  • if you are taking the items back with you in a suitcase, go ahead and fill the thing up ­čÖé if not, remember that shipping costs can be astronomical. Keep that in mind when determining the price that each item is worth…

Have fun and take it all as part of the experience! It’s cool to see what they’ve got in their market – and a whirlwind of a day. So grab a coffee and your poker face – it’s time to get┬ásome cool gear at a steal ­čÖé

You can get to the fake market on line 2 (the green line), get off at West Nanjing Road and walk nearly half a mile to get to 580 West Nanjing┬áRd. ┬áThe building should be on your left hand side, it’s large, orange, has steps leading up to it and signage reads “HAN CITY” on the top of the building.

Outside of the market there are also shops in practically every neighborhood that will custom make suits, shirts, dresses, leather, items for the home, etc. I also recommend bringing samples of things if you really want specific things made and if that’s too cumbersome, at least pictures. They are great copycats, just be sure they have a reference of what to copy if that’s your plan. ┬áAnd on top of all the custom creations, every major retailer is present in the city, in at least one location.

If you’re not into the shopping scene at all, no worries, there is so much more to the city than that. A vibrant expat community, cool music scene, underground parties, beautiful skyline and city walks, Chinese circus/acrobatics, arts district, brilliant food options, and just about anything else you can think of!

Top areas to visit are:

  1. Luwan (French Concession & Xintandi)
  2. Huangpu (the Bund and People’s Square
  3. Jing An (Jade Temple)

Read more about the neighborhoods here before your visit and be sure to catch the Bund at night time – there are river boat cruises nightly (tickets must be purchased at the illuminated station downtown before 9pm). ┬áThe 24/7 tourist line can update you on prices and timing – 962288.

Please do not miss Shanghai on your visit to China, there’s a reason why more than 200,000 expats call it their home.

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