Hongqiao and Gubei don’t necessarily come up often in conversations on the best places in city to hang out, particularly when it comes to newbies. But the area, which includes Shanghai’s own Koreatown and is home to many of the city’s Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese inhabitants, has a lot going for it. It’s well worth spending a day or two and getting a feel for; while you’re there, here are seven spots and services to hit up.
Hong Mei Entertainment Street (aka Laowai Jie)
Whether this is “hidden” or not is up for debate; it’s probably a mecca for all the expats living out in the Hongqiao hinterlands, but it’s position far away from the center of town means that it’s way off some people’s radars. Think of it sort of like a more upmarket Yongkang Lu, minus the weekly debauchery and plus a few good burgers. It’s your best bet for booze and western food in this region, with places like the really popular Fat Cow along with chains like Blue Frog and Big Bamboo, plus some more exotic stuff like Indian food at Delhi Darbar. The street itself is Lane 3338 off Hongmei Lu, close to Yannan Xi Lu.
One of the best parts about heading out to Gubei and Hongqiao is getting to see a part of the city, however small, that is a genuine historical enclave for a foreign population. Gubei in particular is sometimes known as “Korea town” and is full of great Korean bars and restaurants. There’s a small pedestrian street that runs between Jinhui Lu and Hongxin Lu that is packed with small authentic spots. You seriously haven’t lived until you’ve spent a night in the company of nothing but fried chicken, Korean BBQ and soju. The best way to get there is to take Line 10 to Longbai Xincun or Ziteng Lu; the area surrounding both is worth exploring if you have a spare evening or afternoon.
You can thank the area’s East Asian expat population for this one too; that’s a part of the world that has got the whole bathing thing down, so obviously this part of town is where some of Shanghai’s best bathhouses are. 24 hour Korean space New Star at 258 Jinhui Nan Lu is a popular one and often considered the best of the bunch, but there’s a large bounty of Japanese spots in the area too that aren’t hard to find with a little research.
Shout outs to our friends at Smart Shanghai for discovering this one. Cages Gubei is a recently opened sister venue to the Cages in Jing’an which functions as a combination sportsbar and batting cage spot. That means that along with the chance to improve your swing you get to munch on standard bar food and swill what is apparently a decent beer selection; they have pool and darts as well. The place is kind of hidden away, but the address is 1838 Gubei Nan Lu, Building 2, Suite 204.
Hongqiao Flower & Bird Market
A big market with both indoor and outdoor areas, the Hongqiao Flower and Bird Market is a great slice of local life thats a lot of fun to wander around even if you aren’t looking for any flora or new winged friends. This place is bright, colorful and literally full of life. It’s at 718 Hongjing Lu, not far north of Longbai Xincun station.
New Hongqiao Center Garden
A small oasis of green out in Shanghai’s wild west, aka Hongqiao, the New Hongqiao Centre Garden is an off-the-beaten path treasure and probably a blessing for those in the area looking for a bit of tranquility in which to take advantage of the sunlight. It’s all based around a central lake and is great for that nature-in-the-heart-of-the-city vibe; you still can’t escape the views of skyscrapers from inside, but they take on a different feel when viewed from a picnic blanket, wine in hand. You can find it right by Yili Lu Station on Line 10.
Yep, we’re way out west too. BottlesXO, your one hour delivery service for high quality wines in Shanghai, delivers throughout Hongqiao and Gubei whether you’re at home, at a restaurant or even in a park. That’s definitely essential in our book.
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Happy ordering, and happy exploring!