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Shanghai

shanghai shoppingKnown as the Paris of the Orient, Shanghai is a dream for fashionistas with its high-end shops selling an A to Z of designer names. Those seeking an authentic Chinese souvenir can find Shanghai lacquer items, jade and silk paintings. The best budget souvenirs are wood carvings and Chinese calligraphy, where your name or the recipient's is written in ink on scrolls, jewelry and other wares. Youngsters will love one of the omnipresent cuddly pandas that come in all sizes.

A word to the wise: China is notorious for counterfeit goods, and Shanghai has whole markets dedicated to fakes. Street hawkers can be annoying when they start following you around with armfuls of knock-off watches, bags, jade jewelry and assorted items and pester you to buy. If you're tempted, don't be surprised if that "Rolex" has stopped ticking by the time you get home.

While individuals will have personal views on the rights and wrongs of fake products, anyone who buys them should be aware of the legal issues. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol allows travelers to bring back one article of each type of counterfeit product (one watch, one bag, etc.), provided they are for personal use and not for sale. It is illegal to sell counterfeit goods, and anyone caught bringing back several, or large numbers, of the same items will have them confiscated and could be subjected to a fine.

Flex your plastic on Nanjing Road, the main shopping street that stretches more than three miles from the Bund to People's Square. East Nanjing Road, closest to the Bund, is home to some of Shanghai's grand old department stores and leads into West Nanjing Road with its upmarket malls, designer shops and five-star hotels. When you've shopped until you've dropped, there are plenty of places to take a break, from familiar fast-food chains to authentic Chinese restaurants.

Shanghai's other famous shopping street is Huaihai Road, a bit swankier than Nanjing Road; this is the spot to search out luxury brands and browse upscale department stores.

Historic Fuzhou Road has been called Shanghai's "cultural street" and is fun for a browse if you're looking for books, music and art (although there are plenty of souvenir shops here too).

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