When you’re travelling, there’s nothing quite like a bit of retail therapy to recharge the batteries, and at Nanjing Road you can be confident of finding your goodies, for it is the most famous shopping street in Shanghai and one of the busiest in the entire world!
Located in Shanghai city centre, Nanjing Road runs in an east-west direction, with the eastern part running from The Bund to People’s Square, and the western part from People’s Square to Jing’an District. At over 6km in length it is the longest shopping district on the planet and is said to attract 1 million visitors each day! It is incredible to believe that in 1937, a Chinese fighter jet dropped a bomb on Nanjing Road in an effort to lighten its load under heavy pursuit from the Japanese jets. This bomb caused immense damage and killed over 600 people…
I walked to Nanjing Road from The Bund, but most people arrive at People’s Square Metro Station, which is located underneath Nanjing Road. However, be warned that this station is the busiest Metro station not just in Shanghai, but in all of China! It was a Tuesday afternoon when I visited Nanjing Road, and I had not long came from the Yuyuan Gardens. It wasn’t as busy as I had expected, although it was still considerably busier than I had experienced at Wangfujing Road in Beijing, for example (this is the capital’s busiest shopping thoroughfare). Your traditional luxury brands were abundant here but there were also many local sellers plying their trade. There really is something for everyone at Nanjing Road!
One of the things I like most when travelling is to people-watch and understand how the locals go about the business. To my surprise, Nanjing Road was full of wealthy Shanghainese people, and they outnumbered the tourists comprehensively. On this day, I didn’t buy anything apart from a few friendship bracelets and some fast food, but I took enough photos to give me a lifetime of memories.
There is a tram service which for a small fee can drive passengers the length of the shopping street, although I did not take this service myself. However, with the length of Nanjing Road being over 6km, perhaps many tourists would prefer this option! One of the things I noticed with Shanghai is everything is oversized, from its shopping streets, to its skyscrapers, and of course the People’s Square and People’s Park.
Towards the end my trip to Nanjing Road, I noticed what looked like a Chinese theatre, but it didn’t seem to be open. It reminded me of some retail therapy elsewhere in the world, such as in London, where after your shopping you could stop off to watch a West End show in the theatre there. I wonder if the Chinese are trying to copy that concept here at Nanjing Road?
I don’t think I am due to return to Shanghai any time soon (maybe not ever), so it is important to me to have good memories of the place. I did get to try a Shanghai McDonald’s meal, and it was an interesting experience – although it was difficult to order as the cashiers couldn’t speak English and I am not good enough in Mandarin. I had to point at what I wanted to buy and they in turn pointed as the cash register to show how much money I owed them. I ordered a Spicy Chicken McFillet Burger (or something like that, but I forget its exact name), and it was very tasty. Just what a needed after a spot of Shanghainese shopping at Nanjing Road!