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Shopping in Shanghai is a cultural experience in and of itself. Clothing from small local shops tends to come bedazzled and printed with nonsensical English phrases. These can be a fun souvenir for friends and family back home who will get a kick out of the "Chinglish" that is still so prevalent in Shanghai.
If gag gifts aren't going to cut it, there are plenty of options for heavy-duty shopping. The winding back alleys of Tianzifang are a nice place to while away an afternoon among art galleries, silk shops, and small souvenir stores. Tianzifang is an arts enclave that manages to retain its authenticity thanks to its shikumen houses, which epitomize 19th- and 20th-century Shanghai. There are plenty of cafes here, too, so you can break from shopping for afternoon tea.
Nanjing Xi Lu (or Nanjing West Road) offers an upscale shopping experience that rivals Chicago's Michigan Avenue and Paris' Champs-Élysées. From the cavernous Louis Vuitton on one corner to the several Gucci outlets flanking smaller Miu Miu, Tom Ford and Lacoste stores, this street drips with decadence, and you'll pay for it; the mark-ups in China are staggering. You'll also find some mid-range shops, including Zara, H&M and Gap, and price here are just slightly above those in the U.S. At the heart of this retail mecca is Plaza 66 — the ultimate convergence of luxury shopping. The five-story building is home to Hermès, Prada, Versace and flagships of stores like Dior and Cartier. Across the city, Pudong’s equivalent is the six-story IFC mall. Inside its diamond-like glass walls, peruse racks at Chanel, Burberry and Dolce & Gabbana.
Although most tourists flock to the Bund to stroll the water, there are a few luxury shops hidden away. Visit the first floor of The Peninsula Shanghai to try on updated takes on the classic Chinese cheongsam in Shanghai Tang. Duck into an alleyway just off the Bund to get to the flagship boutique of Annabel Lee. The home-grown company specializes in embroidered silk scarves, purses, cosmetic bags and other lovely accessories. On your way back from the Bund, stroll down Fuzhou Lu, which is lined with stationary shops hawking cutesy stickers and calligraphy supplies in equal measures.
Shanghai may be known for its designer labels, but it's also known for its knock-offs. Located across the street from JW Marriott is the city’s most popular "fake market," where a lookalike Louis Vuitton or Longchamp purse can be purchased for what seems a pittance when compard to the real thing. Items here range from low-quality fakes to seemingly identical designer goods. Everything from watches to Ugg boots are available, but you must come prepared to haggle.