Tianzifang – Discover Local Culture and Explore the Former French Concession in Shanghai
September 25, 2019
The vibrant city of Shanghai is a tourist hotspot for many reasons. Besides enjoying a lovely stroll at Yu Yuan (豫园), savouring street food and local delicacies, catching the marvellous sunset from the top of one of the skyscrapers, and taking in the spectacular night view from The Bund, you should also add Tianzifang (田子坊) into your itinerary. I got bored after visiting a few of Shanghai’s massive shopping malls, so a change of atmosphere at Tianzifang was much needed. It was an unforgettable experience getting lost in this former French Concession made up of a warren of narrow alleys, lined with souvenir stalls, quaint cafés, bars, design studios, boutiques and street food.
In the 1920s, Tianzifang was the wealthiest residential area in Shanghai, before it was developed into the largest French Concession in China in the 1940s. Although it is no longer a French Concession now, you can still admire the European style conserved buildings from the early 20th century when wandering around Tianzifang. Moreover, most of the original buildings with authentic Shikumen (石库门) architecture are still standing strong. Shikumen, translated as “stone gate”, is a style of housing unique to Shanghai that blends Chinese and Western structural styles. To my amazement, I learnt that there are over 20 varieties of well-preserved Shikumen buildings in Tianzifang.
When you’re feeling tired from all the walking around Tianzifang, just pop into any one of the cafés for a cup of refreshing iced coffee or tea. If you do not want to spend an exorbitant price dining at restaurants, there are a few affordably priced food stalls in Tianzifang offering street food and local Shanghainese cuisine. I love the Shanghai Scallion Oil Noodles (葱油拌面)!
Tianzifang has indeed transformed itself from traditional residential architectures and factories into an artsy district, aesthetically-pleasing neighbourhood and tourist attraction. It’s definitely worth a visit.
Address: Lane 210, Taikang Road, Da Pu Qiao, Huangpu, China
Direction by Subway:
Take Subway Line 9 and get off at Da Pu Qiao Station. Exit 1 is the closest to Tianzifang.
Direction by Bus:
Take bus number 17, 24, or 304 and get off at Jianguo Zhonglu Ruijin Erlu Station or take bus number 41, 96, 104, 146, 301, 864 or 955 and get off at Ruijin Yiyuan (Ruijin Hospital) Station.