Tianzifang, in the French Concession, is a hip, artsy area of Shanghai full of art galleries, design studios, stylish boutiques, and unique shops. Many bars, cafés, and restaurants here are housed in traditional Shikumen buildings or converted factory spaces. A place for meandering, it’s popular with expats, tourists, and local youth.
Tianzifang is comprised of three main lanes (210, 248, and 274), intersected by numerous small alleyways. It can be easy to get lost here, but for some visitors, that’s part of the fun. You can also get a map at the tourism center at the entrance and plot out your visit in advance. Plenty of cafés and restaurants are around to offer a break and sustenance.
Tianzifang is a popular destination, and a number of sightseeing tours feature a stop here. Tours can be tailored for different interests: art lovers can also stop at M50 and the Propaganda Poster Art Center; shoppers can also stop at Nanjing Road and Old Town Market; and those who want to see Shanghai’s highlights can also stop at the Bund, Yuyuan Garden, and Jade Buddha Temple.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Tianzifang is a must-visit for foodies, shoppers, and art lovers.
- It’s possible to find restaurants offering many different types of cuisine in the area.
- Don’t forget to bring your camera, but be aware that certain shops forbid photos, even of their exterior.
- Many residents still live here, often above the stores; please be respectful of their privacy.
- Tianzifang is not wheelchair friendly, as some of the alleyways are very narrow and the ground can be uneven.
How to Get There
Tianzifang is located in the French Concession. By metro, take line 9 to Dapuqiao Station (exit 1). A number of buses also stop nearby, including buses 17, 24, 41, 96, 146, and 786.
When to Get There
Tianzifang is a popular destination and often crowded. Visit earlier in the day, during the week, for smaller crowds. Most stores and restaurants are open until 9pm or 10pm, and some bars stay open even later.
The Origin of Tianzifang
Huang Yongyu, a famous artist, coined the term Tianzifang. It stems from the name of one of China’s earliest artists, but with the last character changed to mean “lane” or “workshop” and thus, a gathering place for art. A stele with “Tianzifang” hangs over the entrance of Lane 210, and a statue of the ancient artist can be found within.