Xīntiāndì information

Shànghǎi , China
2 blocks between Taicang, Zizhong, Madang & South Huangpi Rds; 太仓路与马当路路口
Getting there
Metro: South Huangpi Rd, Xintiandi
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With its own namesake metro station, Xīntiāndì has been a Shànghǎi icon for a decade or more. An upscale entertainment and shopping complex modelled on traditional alleyway (lòngtáng ) homes, this was the first development in the city to prove that historic architecture makes big commercial sense. Elsewhere that might sound like a no-brainer, but in 21st-century China, where bulldozers were always on standby, it came as quite a revelation.

Well-heeled shoppers and al fresco diners keep things lively until late, and if you’re looking for a memorable meal or to browse through some of Shànghǎi’s more fashionable boutiques, you’re in the right spot. The heart of the complex, divided into a pedestrianised north and south block, consists of largely rebuilt traditional shíkùmén houses, brought bang up-to-date with a stylish modern spin. But while the layout suggests a flavour of yesteryear, you should not expect much in the cultural realm. Xīntiāndì doesn’t deliver any of the lived-in charm of Tiánzǐfáng or the creaking, rickety simplicity of the Old Town. Beyond two worthwhile sights – the Shikumen Open House Museum and the Site of the 1st National Congress of the CCP – it’s best for strolling the prettified alleyways and enjoying a summer evening over drinks or a meal.