Using regional differences to your advantage is one of the perks of travelling. Here are a few tips if you're coming to Shanghai.
At the fabric market near the Nanpu Daqiao Station you can get a Dress shirt that fits like a glove for 110 RMB (about 18 Dollars at an exchange rate of 1 to 6.2). The collar, fabric, cuffs and length are all yours to choose. You can and should always haggle. The more you buy, the better prices you will get, so it’s a good idea to bring a few friends. I bought a suit and two shirts there for 1200 RMB.
The quality is top notch, and isn’t it just a lot cooler to have tailor-made clothes? They are even cheaper than regular shirts. A good one at H&M costs 249 RMB and it doesn’t fit nearly as well.
A quick tip: Don’t try to drive the price too far down. They might choose cheaper material than the one you agreed upon if they don’t make a profit from it. The prices above are the result of reasonable negotiations.
Just like you can get tailor-made clothes for a fraction of the European or American price, you can also have glasses or sunglasses made for you at the glasses market near the Shanghai Railway station. You can choose the frame and the lenses and also have your vision tested.
One pair of glasses costs around 400 RMB.
I’m a vegetarian, so I take vitamin B12 supplements. A bottle of 100 vitamin B12 pills costs 2 RMB in the pharmacy. No prescription needed.
Since there is basically no copyright in China, you can find DVD stores everywhere selling the latest movies for really cheap prices. Streaming videos on western websites doesn’t work very well, so buying DVDs is usually a better option. The chain Big Movie has a very broad selection. You can even find German and French movies there, as well as films that are currently in theaters.
A train to Suzhou costs 39 RMB. If you want to go to Beijing you pay 550RMB, and it’s just as fast as taking a plane when you factor in the waiting time at the airport and the time it takes to get there. Travelling by train is very cheap and efficient in China. There are almost never delays and the seats are quite comfortable.
Food in Restaurants!
Eating out can be even cheaper than cooking yourself. A filling portion of fried rice is between 8 and 12 RMB. If you go out with friends, you can order lots and lots of dishes and everyone only pays between 20 and 40 RMB in restaurants like Grandma’s or Yueban.
Bonus: 3 Things You Should Not Buy in Shanghai
The government has imposed a tax on goods like Prada bags or Swarovski jewelry, soyou’re better off buying those things abroad. That’s what a lot of the Chinese do, too. A big part of their vacations in Europe is shopping. Some high-end stores in Paris even have Chinese employees that cater exclusively to those luxury tourists.
Cars are much more expensive in China than in other parts of the world, and getting a license plate is a nightmare. In Beijing, distributing plates works like a lottery.
Also, you’ll most likely be stuck in traffic a lot of the time, so it’s much cheaper and more convenient to take the metro or a scooter. That also means you don’t have to worry about parking spots.
It’s just incredibly expensive. Sure, we all get our cravings sometimes, but if you buy it on a regular basis you might find a whole lot of month at the end of your money.
Do you have some other suggestions? When you’re living abroad it’s always a good idea to leverage the differences, so maybe you also found some tricks and loopholes.