Shanghai Qibao Old Town is a charming little ancient quarter. The town has more than a thousand years of history. It’s near Qibao Metro Station on Line 8, and it’s less touristy than Yu Yuan Garden. In my opinion, you can get a more authentic and pleasant experience In Shanghai Qibao Old Town. Walking from the metro station to Qibao is like travelling back in time. Once you are out of the metro, you will see some large shopping malls. Yet, after a couple of blocks, you will find yourself standing in the middle of history.
Of course, there are still a good amount of visitors in Shanghai Qibao Old Town. But it’s not crowded at all if you just remind yourself that you are in China. At least, you won’t find street vendors blocking your way on purpose and trying to sell you things. (They do that in Yu Yuan.) Qibao is just not as commercialised. If you plan to visit Qibao while you are in Shanghai, you may ask the following question:
Do I need a ticket to enter Shanghai Qibao Old Town?
No, you won’t need an entrance ticket just to walk around the town. But if you want to learn some history about Qibao, you can buy a ticket at a small ticket booth on Hengli Road. It allows you to enter several historic buildings. The ticket only costs 20RMB.
I mentioned about the ticket to one of my colleagues, and she didn’t know you could even get into the buildings. I think it’s well worth it if you are into culture and history. Those historic buildings were empty when we were there. I assume most of the people have no idea about the ticket. Well, better for us!
Some people say Shanghai Qibao Old Town is too small, and there’s nothing to see. I disagree. I like its quaintness, and there are several things you can do in Qibao. It was perfect for us since other attractions were full with people during the holidays.
Below are some of the things I found the most compelling when we were in Shanghai Qibao Old Town:
Of course, the beautiful scenery
The buildings in Qibao doesn’t look as polished as the ones in Yu Yuan. I think that’s why makes the town charming. It was a cloudy day when we visited, but that didn’t make Qibao any less attractive.
Get some art: Memorial Hall of the Artist Zhang Chongren
I might have heard Mr Zhang’s name before, but I didn’t know much about him. I found a sculpture of one of my favourite French composers, Debussy in the hall’s collection. That was a lovely surprise. An exceptional artist, Zhang used to study at the Royal art academy in Brussels, Belgium. He also became good friends with the creator of the Belgium cartoon character, Tintin. Zhang helped created the Chinese character in one of the comics. Impressive artworks.
Eat some local delicacy: Salt oven baked quail eggs
In Shanghai Qibao Old Town, there are countless small eateries in those narrow streets. We were strolling down one of the streets, and several locals tried to pass by us. They were carrying a gigantic white “something.” We were intrigued by the white “something” because we have never seen something like it. We decided to stop and check out what it was.
That white “something” turned out to be an oven built by salt. I am not sure if this is a local Qibao thing, but guess what was baking inside of the salt oven? Quail eggs! We bought a box of quail eggs that were freshly out of the oven. A box was only 10RMB, and it was yummy!
Learn some history and culture
I love learning about local history, so going into the historic buildings was fun for me. They use wax statues to show the everyday lives of Qibao locals from the past. I strongly recommend you to buy the joint ticket if you also love stories related to culture and history like I do.
I’ll leave the rest for you to explore. Visit Shanghai Qibao Old Town if you ran out of things to do in the city. Take an afternoon and enjoy the place. It will be one of the loveliest escape during your stay in Shanghai.
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While I still have your attention – If you are planning to visit Shanghai, you might be interested in my other posts:
Also published on Medium.