Before you set out, a few rules:
1) Never go to the market hungover, for this is worse than 9,000 demons ripping apart your flesh.
2) It is not uncommon for hawkers to ask for prices 32x higher than the actual price, so bargain hard. That said, don't ask for an unreasonably low price -- this is 2015. For some of the more specialized places like the tea market, bring a friend who knows the game.
3) Don't trust electronics like USB drives, unless you're at an electronics market (and even then, be careful).
4) When you first move here, there is a temptation to buy everything, just because it's cheap. Think twice -- you'll probably end up throwing most of that away in a few months.
5) Returns are usually impossible.
Good For: Pearls, Shoes, Accessories, Clothes. Hongqiao -- home to Laowai Jie 101, Koreatown, all kinds of imported grocery stores, DVD shops, and lots of posh shopping malls. And about three minutes away from Laowai Jie 101 by foot, you've got the pearl market. Guess what they sell here.
Good For: Halal Foods, Snacks, Cakes, Full Lambs We've got a full article dedicated to the Muslim Market, which has been running for years. Tons of good food, furs, and photo opportunities here. Definitely worth a visit on a Friday. Note: The market has been on and off over the past few years -- we cannot guarantee it will be there on any given Friday.
Good For: Children's Clothes and Shoes, Children's Photography Stalls, Toys, a Fun Playground. This one is like a smaller, cleaner version of Qipu Lu, but only for children. Been there since 2001. Toys are definitely cheaper here than at Carrefour.
Good For: Picking up Electronics, Laptops, Video Games, Phones, Headphones This place used to the best place to buy electronics. Now there are only a few reasons to go. One is a really nice headphones shop you'll have to seek out. They've got a bunch of high-end models by brands like Sennheiser and AKG, and some really good cheap earbuds. The other reason is video games. Lots of those up in here, including modded / chipped consoles, and you can test the games on their big-screen TVs.
Good For: Flowers and Plants, Potting, Chinese Antiques, Wedding Supplies This is the largest spot in downtown for plants, flowers, trees, and herbs. They've got like 400 stalls with all kinds and sizes of flowers and plants, including some rare imports. And if you buy some large trees, they can arrange the delivery for a small fee.
Good For: Cheap cheap Clothes, Korean Clothes, Shoes, Accessories, Wigs, Watches, Thieves. In the '90s, this was the biggest clothing market in town. Aunties and sisters would fight viciously over the clothes, spend 10 hours digging for the best items, then walk away at sunset with suitcases and shopping bags stuffed with their finds.
Good For: Cheap crap AP Plaza is Pudong's biggest "fake market", located underground in Metro Line 2's Science & Technology Museum station. The northern half of AP Plaza, called Xinyang, is a collection of stalls, touts, and greedy salespeople out to rip-off unsuspecting tourists with fake, Fake, FAKE goods of all stripes. As a general rule of thumb, offer 10% of the original asking price, and settle for somewhere between 10% and 30%. Bargain hard, carry cash, and be prepared to walk away from a bunch of stalls before settling on a price.
Good For: Glasses, duh. The 3 story market is one of the best places in town to buy glasses - custom made glasses are still one of the few products that's much cheaper in Shanghai than back home. Over a hundred shops sell glasses, sunglasses (prescription and non-prescription) and contacts - from cheap plastic frames to copies of the latest-ish fashions from overseas.
Good For: Tea Leaves, Tea Sets, Chinese Antiques Do you know about tea? If not, better bring someone who does, lest you get fleeced. The tea market has around 150 stalls slangin' thousands of varieties of leaves, a lot of which ain't cheap. But if your tea game is strong, there's lots to find here, like rare Pu'ers and that Da Hong Pao.
Good For: Photography, Filmography The six-story market is the place in Shanghai for all your photography needs, whether you're a novice or a pro. The first two floors are packed with shops selling big brand names, the other floors are good for second hand cameras, specialist equipment, accessories, repair services and foreign books on photography. Bargaining on new cameras is usually not possible.
Good For: Electronics, Home Security, KTV Gear, Bizarre Finds This is the finest, most colorful electronics market in Shanghai. We've got a whole article dedicated to this place. With the Xiangyang Lu / Fuxing Lu market gone (R.I.P.), this is the spot to buy blank CDs, AV cables, personal massage devices, fake cigs, boomboxes, pipes, medicinal liquor, roach traps, and bike locks all in one noisy, dirty, beautiful place. There's way more than just electronics here -- we've found Vietnamese Lizard Wine, pepper spray, and pilates balls.