Shanghai walks: The Old Town

Get a taste of history and street food in the Old City

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Starting point Dashijie station
End point Xintiandi station
Walking time 1 hour 30 minutes
Note Last entry to Dajing Temple is 4pm, so start this walk before 3pm if you want to go in. The Dongtai Lu antiques market has shifted its location. Stay tuned to this page - we will be updating it as soon as we can.


Take exit 2 from Dashijie metro station and turn right. At the first intersection, cross Jinling Lu and continue south on Xizang Nan Lu. You’ll soon pass 光明中学 (Brightness Middle School) on your left, an old brick building with brown shutters that surrounds some swish-looking basketball courts. The school was built in 1913 for students of a French-Chinese lycée, previously on Nanjing Xi Lu, that was founded in 1886.

Q. How many stars are there on the side of the building above the school’s name?


Continue south on Xizang Lu, resisting the Hong Kong Tsui Wah restaurant you pass on your left, until you reach Shouning Lu. Turn left and meander east along Shouning Lu. It’s crayfish season at the moment and this is the best place to get it.

Note the crammed restaurants selling buckets of chilli-tossed crustaceans and bottles of Tsingtao to wash them down. While the hygiene may look dubious it’s definitely worth stopping and donning some plastic gloves for a light lunch. Try the medium spiced crayfish (zhongla xiaolongxia) at Xiangbadao (香吧岛), 51 Shouning Lu.

Q. How much does one jin of crayfish cost at Xingbadao?


Continue to the eastern end of Shouning Lu, past the yellow ducks hanging outside the popular 老广东菜馆 (Old Cantonese Restaurant). Cross Renmin Lu and you’ll see the white walls of Dajing Temple, on the corner of Dajing Lu. Built in 1573-1629, this is the city’s last remaining Zhengyi Sect Taoist temple from eight that were originally built.

It’s now owned by the Taoist Association and is fenced in by one of the last remaining parts of the Old City wall. The temple (open 9am-4pm daily; 5RMB/adult tickets, 2RMB/concessions), is a cool and quiet spot that features a glorious three god shrine on the second floor.

Q. What colour is the flag on the temple’s flagpole?


On leaving the temple, turn left (south) on Renmin Lu. The next main crossroad is Fangbang Lu; turn right on Fangbang and walk straight until you hit a T-junction. Find the faded red arch that marks the Liuhekou Lu entrance to the Dongtai Lu antiques market. It’s on the opposite side of Xizang Nan Lu and up half a block to the right (north).

Q. At the first stall on the left you’ll see a large black padlock on the ground with what number on it?


Walk straight along Liuhekou Lu and you’ll get deeper into Dongtai Lu market, the best place to go for iconic Shanghainese knick-knacks and antique treasure such as porcelain Mao figurines, watches and propaganda posters. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves, dig deep and haggle hard.

Find number 11 Dongtai Lu, where a destination tea shop is run by a sweet couple who serve up pots of rose tea for 10RMB. The owners are liberal with samples and encourage you to try-before-you-buy at this serene spot. Highlights include green tea from Longjing and Yunnan puer tea.

Q. Which is more expensive, jasmine tea or white tea?

Getting home

Come out of the tea shop and turn left, heading south on Dongtai Lu until you reach Zhizhong Lu. Turn right and walk west, passing pretty Taipingqiao Park on your right. After about ten minutes you’ll hit Madang Lu, with signs that will guide you to Xintiandi metro station (Line 10).