Vibrant markets brimming over with antique bargains, designer shops with softer-than-soft bamboo dresses, street stalls selling steaming dumplings, entire retail floors covered in freshwater pearls... a weekend of shopping in Shanghai is one of the most varied and exotic you'll find anywhere on this planet of ours. Thousands of travellers stay at hotels in Shanghai, just for the retail experience.
Quirky indie shops
As much as a Shanghai weekend is a terrific escape, you'd need months, if not years, to explore the city's thousands of unusual indie shops. For an eco-friendly designer outfit, pop into NuoMi (196 Xinle Lu). Everything is made of natural materials, including silk, bamboo and soya, and there's a selection of knits handmade by local grannies. While we're on the environmentally-aware bandwagon, make the Eco Co-op, 485 Fengin Lu, your next stop. You'll discover a selection of stationery, bags and homewares from a variety of brands, all designed to keep our world alive for as long as possible.
Other indie favourites include hidden vintage boutique Lolo Love, 2 Yongfu Lu, home to Gatsby-style flapper dresses, china dolls and old typewriters; the Xinlelu.com Showroom, 87 Wuyuan Lu, where clothing and accessories made by local designers are on display; and Movie Star, 407 Dagu Lu, where more than two thousand vintage and art house DVDs are on sale.
Hitting the mall
As you can imagine, Shanghai specialises in providing a great shopping experience- as in multi-storey complexes sprawling over acres. Take, for example, Cloud Nine Mall. It's a 238 metre tall skyscraper, housing 58 floors and hundreds of shops, entertainment facilities and eateries. You'll find it at 1018 Changning Road, just west of Zhongshan Park. It's definitely not difficult to miss.
Another must-visit on any Shanghai shopaholic's itinerary should be the Super Brand Mall, 168 Lujiazui Xi Road, Pudong. It's one of the city's oldest malls and still one of the most popular. Every day, locals and tourists swarm there in their hundreds of thousands to peruse the thirteen floors of stores and sample from the 70+ cafes and restaurants.
If you're brave enough to venture beyond the air conditioned comfort of shopping centres, and you should be, what's an overseas holiday without a little adventure? You can lose hours in Shanghai's many markets.
One of the most fascinating is the Yuyuan Bazaar, 218 Anren Street, Huangpu District. Having operated in the same spot for more than a hundred years, it's a journey into Shanghai's retail history and a chance to experience the city's colourful street life. Think strange bottles containing the secrets of Chinese medicine, delicate umbrellas made of silk, goldfish hoping for a new home and gorgeous bamboo furniture.
If you're looking for a luxurious gift, head to the Hong Qiao New World Pearl Market, 3721 Hongmei Road, Minhang District. Wander through rows and rows of beautiful pearls and don't be afraid to haggle with vendors for the right price. There's also a bunch of stalls selling a mix of treasure and trash on the first and second floors.