The Old City -Hidden Secrets
Image by Airunp under Creative Commons License.

China, Shanghai Guide (A): The Old City -Hidden Secrets

Step back through Shanghai's history, from the tranquil and magnificent Ming dynasty Yu Gardens, through streets echoing with Shanghai's past. See temples, an ancient tea house, then tour through the lanes of the old city only the locals know, and see how daily life is lived. Spend time hunting for curios and treasures at the Dongtai Lu Antiques Market, ending your walk in the calm tranquility of the ancient Confucius Temple.
This article is featured in the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" on iTunes App Store and Google Play. You can download the app to your mobile device to read the article offline and create a self-guided walking tour to visit the attractions featured in this article. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Walk Route

Guide Name: The Old City -Hidden Secrets
Guide Location: China » Shanghai
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 km
Sight(s) featured in this guide: Yu Gardens   Huxintin Lake Pavilion   Commodities Market   Town Gods Temple   Fangbang Lu Old Street   Bird and Insect Market   Dongtai Lu Antiques Market   Confucius Temple  
Author: Fiona Reilly
Author Bio: Fiona lives and breathes life in Shanghai, spending as much time as possible out on her bicycle enjoying the traffic and avoiding copy watch sellers. She loves the fascinating lanes of the Old City and the tree-lined streets of the French Concession. While living in Shanghai she hopes to become expert in the art of making those famous soup-filled dumplings, xiaolongbao, and to have a taxi driver understand her appalling Chinese. Just once.
Author Website: http://www,
Yu Gardens

1) Yu Gardens

This beautiful Ming dynasty garden will be the starting point of our tour. These gardens were established nearly 600 years ago by a city administrator, who wanted to make a quiet place to relax. Outside the gardens the bazaar is full of noise and bustle, but inside it is quiet and tranquil, with meandering paths, entrancing pavillions and still ponds, filled with auspicious goldfish. Of course fish are very important in Chinese culture, because the word for fish, yu, sounds the same as the word...
Image by MojoBaron under Creative Commons License.
Huxintin Lake Pavilion

2) Huxintin Lake Pavilion

If you have ever wondered where the inspiration for the little Chinese house on a blue Wedgewood willow pattern plate comes from, look no further. This exquisite pavilion sits in the middle of an ornamental lake and is reached on either side by the Bridge of Nine Turnings, whose zigzags are designed to prevent the entry of evil spirits. Apparently evil spirits, and in particular Chinese evil spirits, have trouble turning corners, so once you’re over the bridge you can enjoy the pavilion in...
Commodities Market

3) Commodities Market

Locals love this indoor market and I do too – it sells everything from safety pins to wigs, and the stores on the ground floor are a great place to find lanterns, traditional Chinese decorations, and Chinese games and mah jong sets. Need a pair of Year of the Tiger underpants? The second floor is the place to buy those, along with inexpensive jade jewelry, shops selling nothing but Chinese silk tassels, and a number of stores specializing in wedding paraphernalia. You’ll know these by the...
Town Gods Temple

4) Town Gods Temple

If you have a business in Shanghai, then you need to offer up some incense to the Taoist Town Gods at this temple. Intriguingly, the three town gods were all once real people - Qin Yubo was a scholar, Huo Guang a chancellor and Chen Huacheng was a qing dynasty general, all born several hundred years apart but deified after their deaths and assigned the task of watching over the city of Shanghai. Together they can be seen in other places around the Yu Gardens Bazaar, keeping an eye on all those...
Fangbang Lu Old Street

5) Fangbang Lu Old Street

This part of Fangbang Lu gives you a glimpse into Shanghai's past. Walk through this winding lane, and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells as you pass. This is where local people live, eat and work. There are wonton stalls, outdoor restaurants, rosewood furniture restorers, a tiny temple, and fruit shops selling all kinds of intriguing fruits. As you walk past the noodle stall at number 638, take a look at the noodle pullers making Langzhou hand-pulled noodles, a specialty from Western...
Bird and Insect Market

6) Bird and Insect Market

This is one of Shanghai's most popular markets, and it’s open every day. The entrance is a little hard to find, hidden between two pet shops on the street front, but if you just follow the flow of people you'll find it easily. Inside, it’s literally buzzing with the sounds of thousands of crickets for sale. Some large, some small, the crickets are sold as pets and to take part in cricket fighting, an ancient Chinese hobby that is alive and thriving today. Look out for the tiny...
Dongtai Lu Antiques Market

7) Dongtai Lu Antiques Market

I could spend hours here every weekend, and I frequently do! This antique market is full of treasures both old and not so old. You’ll need to bargain hard when you find something you like! Look out for interesting jade pieces, old acupuncture models, and woven bamboo wedding baskets. You can also see the popularity of mao memorabilia – mao era statues, teapots, badges and posters line most of the stalls, while the shops in the rows behind the stalls sell the real antiques. As you walk along,...
Confucius Temple

8) Confucius Temple

This temple pays homage to the Chinese scholar Confucius, and has been a school and place of worship since the 12th century. The courtyards are peaceful and lined with huge magnolia trees. Outside the first small temple you will see a statue of Confucius, and notice the nearby trees are covered in red ribbons and cards. Visitors to the temple write their wishes on the back of the card and tie it to the tree for luck, and in the hope their wishes will be granted. This is where the tour ends, so...

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