One of the things that continue to amaze me about China is the sheer scale of things, I come from Australia where there is 21 or so million people on an island almost as big as China, but in just one of Chinas many many big cities, Shanghai, for example, there is almost just as many people. Shanghai has a population of almost 20 million.
So the city planners have to think big, and they only have limited space to do it in! The size of some of the shopping centres I have seen in China simply makes my head spin, the city blocks that a ‘shopping area’ can consume, while also reaching skyward, is just as mind boggling. But it’s all about numbers, there is just so many people to feed, clothe and now also cater to the emerging Chinese middle class with their growing desire of consumerism.
Nanjing Road is one of China’s most popular and well-known shopping streets. And it too is on a scale that just makes your head spin, it’s almost 6 kilometers long, packed with large modern malls and a variety of shops. How do all these shops survive? Some say that over a million people a day visit this street, which is not too hard to believe after walking along here for a few minutes, there are people everywhere!
The east section of Nanjing Road is a pedestrian street and even though it’s probably three car lanes wide, it’s still packed with people, the shops are full of people, the many restaurants are full of people, looking up to the second floor of many buildings you can see even more people shopping and eating.
Most of the big western luxury brand names have stores here, and you won’t have to walk far to find McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut or Starbucks. The Shanghai First Food Store contains many of them, along with more interesting local restaurants and also bustling food market in the building.
Side streets feeding off Nanjing Road have many interesting shops too and are worth strolling around. At first, some may appear not that friendly to a westerner, but most shop owners couldn’t care less where the next yuan (dollar) comes from and I always found them helpful and welcoming.
Nanjing Road Map
On the map, I have outlined the pedestrian section in blue and included my picks for the top five places to stay on Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street.