Shanghai has its share of hu2tong4, (called long4tang2 in Shanghai), entire neighbourhoods made up of narrow alleyways that are a relic from olden days and is more a hallmark of Beijing.
For backpackers the Blue Mountain Youth Hostel in Shanghai is a good place to stay as it is in an authentic Chinese environment (forget about spick and span restaurants, you want to see the real China, don't you?) and is just a stone's throw away from the Luban Lu metro station. You don't have to go far to see the elderly folk doing their morning tai chi chuan ritual or have an idea of what the locals have for breakfast. The friendly and cheerful staff go out of their way to help travellers with useful information.
With a clientele comprising almost 100% of the local population as it is still not mentioned in tourist guidebooks to Shanghai, the huge local market near the Laoximen underground station (Line 8) is quite an eye-opener. If you are looking for a cellphone or would like to see an unimaginable variety of insects put up for sale in teeny weeny wicker cages, this is the place to go. However you will have to wander in tiny alleyways in this "old city" neighbourhood of Shanghai where the poorest of the poor live. Next page
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