Shaoxing Road to Taikang Road – A walking tour is Shanghai’s French Concession
This walking tour will take you down two pleasant streets in Shanghai’s old French Concession where have many great cafes and interesting shops are now located. This leisurely walk allows time to duck in for a coffee, walking some more, then stop for a glass of wine or a snack. You will see the colorful life of locals and glean some of Shanghai’s colorful history as well as enjoy a leisurely stroll.
The tour begins at the corner of Shaoxing (pronounced “shao shing”) and Shanxi Nan ("shahn shee nahn") Roads. This walk is very stroller-friendly and you can go any time of year.
Walk down the Shaoxing Road enjoying the street scenery and see what people doing on the street. Amazing things can happen anytime and you never know what you will witness the next moment on the street in China.
There are a lot of shops on the way but do not miss Shaoxing park, #62 Shaoxing Road. Locals usually gather here to exercise, chat, play cards or games or just sit and listen to the birds. It’s a wise choice for you to walk slowly to explore the sights in the park such as the stone wall background, lakeside rocks and rockeries and cliff double waterfalls. You can also sit down and have a look around.
Porcelain and Tea
After visiting the park, go back out the entrance and stop into the little tea house that adjoins the park. You will also see a porcelain shop with porcelain from Jingde town, the porcelain capital of China. The owners are very friendly and you can even step into the back room to enjoy a pot of tea. The price of the porcelain is reasonable as well.
Lunch at the Vienna Cafe on Shaoxing Road.At noon, if you’re feeling a little hungry, cross the street to the Vienna cafe (26 Shaoxing Road) where you can enjoy authentic Viennese coffees and cakes. This little Viennese jewel is tucked into a narrow house but once inside you will forget you left Shanghai outside. If you do not really like the Viennese food, continue down Shaoxing Road to the Old China Hand Reading Room (27 Shaoxing Road), run by two well-known local architecture enthusiasts who have published lots of books on the European and Art-Deco heritage in Shanghai. Stop into the Reading Room and browse through the wonderful books about Shanghai’s architecture.
Continue Your Walk from Shaoxing Road to Taikang Road, Go on walking east on Shaoxing Road until you come to the end of the small street. You will find that you are at the crossroad of Shaoxing Road and Ruijin Er Road. Then turn right on Ruijin Er Road and walk to the south.
Ruijin Er Road also has interesting street-life and people going about their daily business. This street is busier than Shaoxing Road but it has wide sidewalks and is easy to walk down. Continue walking south on Ruijin Er Road. At the Jianguo Road intersection, cross the street to the other side of Ruijin Er Road and then cross Jianguo Road; continue south on Ruijin Er Road and the next small street on the left-hand side will be Taikang Road, pronounced “thai khang”. Ask the way to the locals if needed.
Taikang Road is a typical Shanghai lane community that is full of the noise and the smells of families living within whispering distance of each other. The northern side of the street is full of interesting shops selling various items from tin cups to huge pomelos. However all the old houses on the south side of the street have been knocked down and a huge construction site is currently there getting ready to build a high-rise or housing compound. Anyway, enjoy this walk until you see the lane 210.
Taikang Road Lane 210
You’re at the Taikang Road Lane 210 when you see a big Chinese gate. This lane hase been home to local and foreign artisans for many years.
The area's first act of transformation began in 1999, when world-renowned painter Chen Yifei and several other artists and fashion designers set up studios in old factory workshops here. Around 100 shops and cafes moved in after the early buzz proclaimed the area to be Shanghai's next SoHo. Development stopped a few years later after the district announced plans to tear down the old buildings and warehouses to create space for a commercial real estate development. It’s still fun to take some time just to browse the shops and explore the area.
First Stop down Alley #210: Nest, Your next stop could be the Nest on the 2nd floor at the International Artists Factory which is a collective of designers who use responsible manufacturing in their beautiful creations. The Nest offers customers a quiet place to feel good about spending their money. Full of accessories and furnishings for the home, it is a large warehouse space where you can browse. The designer’s creations are grouped together with a short profile about the designer and their thoughts behind their creations. The Nest also hosts gatherings in the evenings, if you're in town, you might be interested in stopping in for a glass of wine and some information on the green movement in China.
The International Artists Factory is on the right-hand side of alley #210 after entering it from Taikang Road. There's a cafe on the first floor and head straight through and up the stairs, there are lots of special design shops in the building.
Continue Shopping and Eating down the alleys off Lane 210, Taikang Road, There are countless shops and cafes down the alleys off Lane 210 on the Taikang Road. It’s a lot of fun just to wander and stop in where you like. As you turned down lane 210, you are on the main artery of this area. On the left there are several interesting - pottery workshop, specialty jewelers, Deke Ehr’s photo studio and a silk-robe shop where the owner takes old silks and transforms them into beautiful robes and sashes. On the right there are more shops including Marion Carston, a wonderful jeweler and Cho Lon, an import shop for all things Vietnamese.
Continue to go left off the main laneway into a courtyard. The oldest and most established of the shops and cafes on Taikang Road will be found here. Woo Cashmere on the left side of the courtyard is a wonderful place to stock up on cashmere and silk scarves and wraps. Kommune cafe on the right has been there for years and serves a perfect latte as well as delicious lunch and snacks.
If you want to see or buy some tea, teapots or Buddhist statuary, there are several shops from which to choose. Go to the next set of alleys by entering Kommune and going through the back exit or going back out the courtyard, turn left down the lane again and then hang the next left into a little alley. Keep going back and you will find a warren of other shops and cafes such as Bohemia Cafe serving home cooked food and great wines, NuZi which imports from New Zealand and S&Q Decor, sell wonderfully bright porcelains and tableware.
This brings your stroll through Shaoxing Road to Taikang Road to an end.