Posted by: David Stewart | January 18, 2009

Hidden Shanghai

I was in Shanghai last month for a business trip. Given the proximity to Christmas, I decided it might be wise to hunt for gifts before I left. I had heard that Yu Garden in the old town area of Shanghai had some special displays for the season, so I headed down there.

Sure enough, amidst the touristy oldish buildings in the market area were some special shops set up. But I struck out on gifts.

Yu Garden, Shanghai


The guy below saw me checking out his cooking, and went “Baaaah!” I guess that means it was mutton.

 Yu Garden, Shanghai Yu Garden, Shanghai

I had heard that there is an active Buddhist temple in the Yu Garden area, but after more than a dozen visits, I had never run across it. Finally this time I did see the “Temple of the Town God”.  It was quite an active place with people burning incense.

 Temple of the Town God, Shanghai

Having struck out on the gift hunt, I decided to walk westward from Yu Garden before trying to find a taxi ride home.

This area of old town still contains some of the old residences, which is where the majority of Shanghai’s population lived up until a few years ago.  Last summer, I went on an early morning run through this area, where chamber pots are emptied and live ducks lined up on the sidewalk.

I was surprised to run across a very active little street market.  I had never seen this little piece of hidden Shanghai, but it was fun to run across such a lively place where urban renewal had yet to intrude.  Below are displays of teas and what I think was wine.

  Shanghai street market Shanghai street market shaghai street market

Shanghai is indeed a city of contrasts – high-tech, high-rise, fast-paced business and old-time living history, often standing side-by-side.


  1. It’s a great little place the Yu Yuan markets – have you been into the gardens next door? Part of the same complex and really quite nice – surprisingly hidden away in the middle of Shanghai like that.

    Great photos, it’s a very photogenic area

  2. Hi Marcus – yes, the gardens themselves are really huge, easy to get lost in.

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