23 wonderful things to do on Xiangyang Lu

A tour of Xiangyang's best bits, working your way from north to south


Xiangyang Lu caters to all needs imaginable, from international DJs at underground clubs to mind-blowing hole-in-the-wall eats while serving up a dose of that infectious Former French Concession charm that you just won't be able to get enough of.

1. Grab a post-work drink at one of the Former French Concessions best all-rounders, Kartel Wine Bar. Offering a solid happy hour, a stunning panoramic view of Jingan district and a mulled wine chalet come the winter months (yes, you read that right), Kartel is a top choice for a fuss-free bevvie.


2. Discover emerging Chinese rappers at Ninja, the recently-relocated ninja-themed (yeah, that's right) hip hop club originally located on Maotai Lu.


3. Laugh until your sides split at Kung Fu Komedy Club, China's first ever dedicated stand-up comedy venue. With a regular line-up of Chinese and expat comedians as well as regular international acts, KFK offers a packed schedule of showcases, spotlight shows and open-mic nights.


4. Hit ALL, the resurrected, reinvented and reinvigorated successor to Shanghai's beloved Shelter. Pulling in an eclectic selection of local and international acts, ALL has continued to pioneer the clubbing scene in Shanghai since its doors opened. Expect techno, house, tech house, drum 'n' bass, boundary-breaking hip hop and much more.

5. Leave your dignity at home and head to Perry's with the pre-teens for unfathomably cheap beers and buckets of suspect cocktails – the gin and tonic isn't actually too bad – for just 30RMB. If you can cope with chart-toppers cranked up to 100, sickly clouds of cigarette and shisha smoke and rowdy students, you'll be rewarded at least with a nice buzz before moving on to somewhere more suited to your demographic.

6. Treat your inner oenophile at Project Wine, an unassuming and unpretentious wine bar with a good selection of wines and an unrivalled atmosphere perfect for weeknight drinks away from the madding crowd. The best bit? A happy hour deal of buy-one-get-ones on all wines by the glass or bottle before 10pm. May your liver rest in peace.

7. Slip into hip all-day-breakfast-style cafe Egg for a quiet coffee or secluded Sunday brunch. Choose from a short, nicely curated menu of hearty dishes – think waffles, pancakes, grains bowls, shakshouka and avocado toast – and your pick of coffees, teas and kombucha.


8. Satisfy your hankering for Chinese snacks, quick-fixes and street foods all in one convenient intersection. The Xiangyang Bei and Changle Lu cross-street offers everything from wonton soup and legit Sichuan-style mala tang to after-dark street-side chao fan and chuan'r.

9. Pig out on the original Midnight Burger at the hamburger joint's relocated branch right into the wee hours of the morning (around 2am, that is). If you aren't much of a night owl, the pet- and kid-friendly joint has a new and souped-up brunch, lunch and daytime menu with a selection that goes above and beyond the original hamburger trio.


10. Practise your Instagram skills and watch the likes roll in with a well-framed shot of Shanghai's blue-domed Russian Orthodox Cathedral. Built in the 1930s for the French Concession's booming Russian community – believed to have once hit over 25,000 members – the stunning example of Kremlin-inspired architecture hasn't seen a religious service since the early '60s.

11. Learn the ancient taoist art of tai chi or the principals of meditation at 9clouds Daoist Studio. A private members club with over 400sqm of studio space, the centre offers reasonably priced programmes and courses for those who really need to get in touch with their qi.


12. Get a regular dose of Korean classics when a trip to Seoul is just a pipe dream. Super crispy fried chicken, cheesy buldak hot plates and Korean-style hotpot at Chuncheon Chicken will put an end to those pesky cravings.

13. Finally landing in China's best city (that's right Beijing, you heard correctly), Moka Bros is set to spread its fine-dining inspired healthy eating concept down south after a number of successful ventures in the capital.

14. Smash a gourmet burger at Beef & Liberty, a top-notch American-inspired hamburger joint imported to the Mainland from Hong Kong. Choose from seven delicious burgers, including a straight-up beef patty (80RMB), a slow braised barbecue pork number (88RMB) and a falafel burger (78RMB). 'Brunch?' we hear you say? Breakfast Hamburger – that is all.

15. While away an hour or two with troupes of ballroom dancers and synchronised ayis at the newly renovated Xiangyang Park. Featuring a stunning tree-lined boulevard, classical-style pavilion and the odd concert or exhibition, the park is an oasis on the otherwise frenetic Huaihai Zhong Lu.

16. Forget Spread the Bagel and do breakfast the traditional way, right at the intersection of Xiangyang and Nanchang Lu. A string of stores wrap around the southeastern corner of the cross-street, serving up everything from xiaolongbao to freshly-pulled Lanzhou lamian to all the bing your heart should so desire. No idea where to begin? Join UnTour's Street Food Breakfast Tour with a Shanghai food expert for a better understanding the area's best eats.


17. Spoil yourself from morning 'til night with all-American classics at Al's Diner, such as blueberry pancakes, all-day breakfasts, chicken and waffles, chilli and more. If a slap-up meal isn't on the agenda, swing by Al's Bakery and grab a cup of coffee and a funfetti cookie or a slab of red velvet cake (or Gracie's Ice Cream cone) on-the-go.


18. Stock up on craft beers from trendy neighbourhood bottle shop Beer Bank. While it may not be in the leagues of better-known stores such as Beer Lady (All Hail!) or Dr. Beer, Beer Bank's small, nicely curated selection is ideal for beer-lovers in a bind.


19. Battle it out with the lunchtime crowds at famous Shanghainese joint Lao Di Fang and experience the freshly pulled noodles that have become the stuff of legend. With noodles hovering around the 10RMB mark and under, take your pick from local legends such as xiancai mian and congyou ban mian.

20. Enjoy a traditional tea ceremony and pu'er tea at Da Ke Tang. Hidden within a nondescript lane, this stunning concession-era villa that embodies the Jazz-era glamour of 1930s Shanghai now houses a fancy traditional tea house specialising in Yunnan's pu'er variety, brewing up a range that runs from the ordinary to the spectacular. No scams here, but be warned that there's a 150RMB minimum spend so only serious tea fiends need apply.


21. Wake up and smell the coffee at the Xiangyang outpost of Manner Coffee. Choose from the standard selection of coffees or a drip coffee with beans from Yunnan, Sumatra, Guatemala, Kenya and more. Coffee nerds can pick up beans to grind at home, as well as good-quality paraphernalia to impress coffee nerd friends.


22. Revive that forgotten New Year's resolution and get exercising with a flashy new bike from Speedcat. With a good selection of mountain bikes, city bikes and fixies, there's something to suit every budget and ability. A standard fixie starts from 1,500RMB so ditch the Mobike and snag your own.

23. Kick back with a cappuccino and a French pastry at the original Bread etc. The café offers a great selection of croissants, cakes and sweet and savoury breads alongside a full menu of light bites and hearty meals. Go for the salmon Benedict on a croissant if you're feeling brunchy or one of the best shakshoukas in town if you're chasing something with a little more body.

How to get there? Reach Xiangyang Lu by jumping off at Shaanxi Nan Lu or Jiashan Lu Stations.

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