Xīntiāndì

Top choice area in French Concession

Image by IMAGEMORE Co, Ltd. Getty Images

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 historical architecture makes big commercial sense. Elsewhere that might sound like a no-brainer, but in 21st-century China, where bulldozers are always on standby, it came as quite a revelation.

Well-heeled shoppers and alfresco 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 Shíkùmén 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.


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