Shanghai's Best Gifts and Souvenirs

What to buy for your friends and family back home

by Jennifer Stevens | Mon, December 12, 2016

This is the time of year when many Shanghai expats are scrambling to get their holiday shopping finished before flying home to visit friends and family. (Sound familiar?) You're the ones living in an exotic, interesting place—surely you’ll be the ones to bring home amazing and uniquely Chinese gifts for everyone to open, right? The stakes are high, we get it. Luckily, there’s still time, and lots of great stuff to buy. Here are 10 ideas to get you started:

1. All things propaganda (including ornaments) at Madam Mao’s Dowry

If you only have time to visit one place to get all of your shopping done, we suggest you head to Madam Mao's. From Cultural Revolution propaganda posters and Mao Period paintings to unique Christmas ornaments (complete with a printed story and description inside the box), there's something for everyone on your list (they even have baby clothes!).


Where: 207 Fumin Lu (near Julu Lu), 富民路207号(近巨鹿路)

Contact:, 5403-3551

Hours: 10am-7pm, daily


2. ReKindled's candles in traditional Chinese plateware ​

A huge hit with candle lovers, ReKindled pours their scented soy wax into beautiful Chinese teapots and incense pots. You can choose between their traditional scents, ranging form floral, to fresh, and even food (think Vanilla Taffy and Perfect Pumpkin). Through the holidays, limited edition scents are also available, including Christmas Crumble, Berry Basket and Peppermint Fizz. 




3. Feiyue shoes 

These casual sneakers have reached cult-like status in Shanghai, with everyone from hipsters to Kung Fu masters wearing them. And it's no wonder--they're lightweight, flexible, comfortable and cheap. You can find them around town from ¥50-¥100, including both locations of Culture Matters stores. 


Where: 15 Dongping Lu (near Hengshan Lu), 东平路15号 (近衡山路)

206 Wulumuqi Lu (near Wuyuan Lu ), 乌鲁木齐中路206号


4. Shanghai Starbucks Mugs 

The perfect gift for someone who's difficult to buy for. Because, who doesn't drink coffee? Tea? Water? Exactly. The mugs are nice and big (16 oz)  and come in a variety of designs. This is also a great option for the real procrastinators out there, as they are usually at the Starbucks shops in the airport (that is, if you're flying out of Terminal 1, or remember to swing by on your way to Terminal 2).


5. Personalized Shanghai Ornaments

This is the 4th year that LaDiDa Shaghai is doing their personalized Shanghai ornaments. They have four different designs to choose from (above, from top left: Recycle Cart, Scooter, Pearl Tower and Lantern Man), and are available for ¥150 each. A great gift for any family member, or even yourself!  




6. Pinyin Press Everything

Get tea towels, coasters, mugs, t-shirts, pillow covers, plateware, greeting cards, tote bags and even aprons adorned with iconic Chinese patterns (and of course Pinyin). From dumplings to lucky cats, there's a design for everyone. 


Where: Order online at or find items at Madam Mao's Dowery (listed above). 


7. Chinese name stamps (Chops)

Is there anything cooler than having an official name stamp? Whether it's a fancy block made of jade for an important colleague, or a stone animal for your niece or nephew, these are real crowd pleasers. To find them, head to the Old City God Temple at Yuyuan Garden (line 10). There are several vendors, so shop around, and bargain. All sellers will have books to translate English names into Chinese.


Where: Take subway line 10 to Yuyuan Garden Station. Get out at Exit 1.


8. Gift sets from Spin Ceramics 

For someone special, or for someone with great taste in ceramics, there is no better option than a gift set from Spin. Combining modern design with traditional Chinese elements, Spin's designers create unique, handmade pieces worthy of displaying inside and outside your kitchen. The Kung Fu vases, longevity stone carvings coaster set and the dim sum paper weight collection are all great choices for bringing a little piece of Shanghai to your loved ones. 


Where: 360 Kangding Lu (near Shanxi Bei Lu), 康定路360号 (近陕西北路)


Hours: 11am-8pm, daily


9. Shanghai Disney Merchandise and Gift Tickets 

Obviously, we had to include Disney merchandise on our list. However, we're not talking about the standard Mickey and Minnie stuffed animals; the World of Disney store (just outside the park) is selling a limited edition "Old Shanghai" line, evocative of the Art Deco era. Included in the collection are accessories like headbands, pendants, earrings and bags, as well as the plush toys, only with old Shanghai detailing. Another option is to buy Disneyland gift tickets (a bribe to get people to fly to Shanghai?), available through June 30th, 2017 (subject to blackout dates). Prices are ¥370 for adults and ¥280 for children/seniors/disabled on weekdays and ¥499/adult and ¥375/children, etc. on weekends. 


Where: The easiest way to get there is to take the metro, Line 11, directly to the park. 

Tel: 400-180-0000


10. Fake (and Cheap) Everything

For cheap children's gifts (toys, games, backpacks, clothes, etc) or for fake bags and cashmere scarves, head to the A.P Xinyang Fashion & Gifts Market inside the Shanghai Science & Technology Museum metro stop (Line 2). Realistically, you could get all of your gifts here, but be prepared. The vendors are seasoned salespeople, and they will haggle until you want to cry and hide in a corner. But, if you go with the right mindset ("I will get that cashmere scarf for 100RMB!"), you're golden. Remember that you can usually get everything for half (or less than half) of what they're asking, and can get even better deals when you buy in bulk. 


Where: Shanghai Science & Technology Museum metro stop (Line 2)

Hours: 10am-9pm, daily