What is the best thing to bring home from Shanghai?

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Low prices and an abundance of goods make it easy to leave Shanghai with a suitcase full of trinkets destined to fall apart before you even make it off the plane. Avoid all the tackiness and instead opt for an authentic piece of the Chinese tradition with one of these classic souvenirs:

1. Chopsticks. They're portable, practical and available almost anywhere. The craftsmanship found on the chopsticks made in Shanghai rivals that of anywhere in the world. Bring a set of traditional wooden ones home for your foodie friends or choose an extravagant ivory pair for a striking decorative piece.

2. Handmade traditional Chinese goods. Take advantage of the country's rich artisan tradition by bringing home something that is available only in China. Hand-strung pearls (Hongqiao International Pearl City offers the largest selection) and silks make great gifts because they are easy to pack and truly represent the Chinese culture. Delicate paper cuttings are another good lightweight souvenir (frame them when you get home). The intricate red or black cutouts depict nature scenes, opera characters and more; many act as good luck charms. For something out of the ordinary, visit the Cen brothers, whose family has been making woks by hand in a tiny outdoor workspace for nearly 70 years, and have one of these incredible creations shipped home.

3. Communist memorabilia. Sure it's kitschy, but who doesn't love a good Mao mug or communist propaganda poster to commemorate a bygone era? You can find them in the Tianzifang arts area and the gift shop at the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre. You can also purchase a "little red book" containing quotes from Chairman Mao from any number of small shops or pop-up flea markets. Like anything in China, these so-called relics vary widely in authenticity, but even the fakes can provide an interesting glimpse of history.

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