Whether you're a collector, new to the world of erotic accessories or just an amused bystander, a day trip to the Suzhou Creek Sex Toy Market (Kǎixuánmén Dàshà, 凯旋门大厦) in Shanghai will no doubt hold at least a few surprises, and who knows—maybe even a few Christmas gifts.
Sex Toy Shopping Chinese-Style
At first glance, the four-story market looks just like any other urban stall-stuffed specialty market. The first three floors are primarily made up of Traditional Chinese Medicine pharmacists, though their offerings are a bit more R-rated than you might find on any given street corner. Venders hustle powders, pills and all kinds of alleged performance-enhancing substances—all legal, of course, and sold with such conviction you'll find it hard to pass up (that's what she said).
On all four stories you'll find an assortment of negligees, from scanty lingerie to a smattering of oddly-themed sexy costumes right next to the old classics: sexy cop, sexy nurse, sexy bǎo'ān (保安), sexy schoolgirl, sexy Bamboo Compass editor, etc.
But the real meat of the place can be found on the fourth floor, where the offerings get a little raunchier and the browsing a little more high stakes. The top floor houses some of the more visually startling wares, so don't bring your grandmother (unless, of course, she's a hip, newly-single swinger and you don't think it would be awkward), what with the dildos, anal-beads, cock-rings and all.
And you're most definitely going to want to be very involved in the browsing process, so bring your best Chinese skills or your less-than-squeamish Chinese scholar-friend so that you can ply the shopkeepers with questions about the ins and outs of their products. Many of the proprietors are vocal and knowledgeable, so it has the potential to be a very enlightening visit for the more prudish or traditional visitor. It's a bit like school, but for sex; and unlike school, you can probably smoke cigarettes with the owner while he explains to you how to use that sex-swing that brings to mind torture scenes from a mid-80s horror flick.
It may also bring to mind the proprietor's dalliances in the realm of love, which is potentially even more terrifying and, depending on his breath, incapacitating. Inquire at your own risk.
So by all means, head down and get your rocks off at the Suzhou Creek Sex Toy Market in Shanghai. You can find it at 428 Tianmu Zhong Lu (Tiānmù Zhōng Lù, 天目中路) near the intersection with Xizang Lu (Xīzàng Lù, 西藏路), just a short walk from the Metro Line 1 Xinzha Lu Station (Xīnzhá Lù Zhàn, 新闸路站).
Tell Xiao Wu I said hello, and thanks.