Shanghai is strategically positioned in the middle of China’s east coastline and the eastern tip of the river of Yangtze. Despite not being the capital of China, it boasts as the city with the largest population in the country. With over 24 million people living in an area of 6,340.5 square kilometers, it lands on the sixth spot as the largest city in the world. It is known as the center of China’s commercial and financial industry, not to mention a popular destination for travelers around the globe.
With its favorable location, the city was forced to open to the foreign trade after the British victory over China in the First Opium War. Shanghai flourished as a center of trade between the West and East and was the financial hub of the Asia Pacific. In 1949, the Communist Party takeover limited trade to socialist countries, and the city’s commerce declined. The recent economic reforms in the 1990s aided the return of foreign investment and finance to the city, making Shanghai a giant major shipping and trading city today.
Shanghai’s Fuzhou Road Red Light District was once Asia’s most infamous RLD. But, in 1949, the Chinese government made attempts on banning prostitution to shut down the trade going all around Shanghai. However, there are now an estimated 21 RLDs in the central districts of Shanghai alone. Establishments in these areas are disguised as hair and massage parlours but these businesses actually cater to clients who want to explore the wild side of the city. Narrowing down the staggering list of Red Light Districts to a list of ten, the RLDs in Shanghai include:
Chaojiadu is known to be a special RLD in Shanghai for it is the sole red light district granted to operate by the government. Most girls found in this district come from China.
Address: Chaojiadu, Changshou Road, Wuning Road South
Jingan is where the upmarket entertainment businesses and the cheapest establishments meet. It is just up to clients to decide which brothel to go to amidst the chain of brothels found in this district.
Address: Jingan district (静安区)
Price of Services: 200-1000 rmb
This Red light district has seen rapid expansion in the recent years and has been continually on the rise as an entertainment district. With brothels popping on every corner and an increase in working girls at night, this RLD is becoming increasingly popular.
Address: Hanghua village (航华新村) area
Price of Services: 120-400 rmb
The coverage of this RDL is so massive that it almost entirely covers the south-western side of Shanghai. Xinzhuang and Minhang have been recently integrated into this RDL, making it colossal.
Address: Most of the Meilong(梅陇) area. along with Xinzhuang (莘庄), and Minhang (闵行)
Price of Services: 100-700 rmb
Prostitution in this RDL has only been recently developed. The major reason for such development has something to do with its strategic location. This district is becoming a hip location as well.
Address: Fengzhuang Road (丰庄路) in the west of Shanghai
Price of Services: 150-400 rmb
West Pearl "Rainbow Bridge”
This district is a bit special due to its long history in Shanghai, but with more attractive RLDs appearing, it is having a hard time competing. Nevertheless, it is still a unique and special area that is worth a visit.
Address: Hongqiao area (虹桥地区), and Shuicheng Road (水城路)
Price of Services: 150-1500 rmb
Xianan Road became the most famous red light district of Pudong due to its service’ low cost.
Address: Xianan Road (下南路) in Pudong district
Price of Services: 50-100 rmb
New Railroad Station
As one of the older standing RLDs in Shanghai, it has proven to be a place worth going to with its consistent track record. There is even a stretch of street where almost every store offers sexual services.
Address: Around the new railroad station, such as Zhongxing Road (中兴路), Zhonghua new Road (中华新路), Datong Road (大统路), Hutai Road (沪太路) and Hengfeng Road (恒丰北路).
Price of Services: 150-300 rmb
With large-scale urban infrastructure destruction dampening the industry for the past year, this red light district has started to rebuild new shops, most of which have recently reopened. This area is slowly on its way to a comeback.
Address: Beixinjing (北新泾) area
Price of Services: 50-300 rmb
East Baoxing Road
Since 2006, this RDL has been on a steady decline. Many shops have closed and people fear that this RDL will cease to exist years from now.
Address: East Baoxing Road (东宝兴路) area
Price of Services: 50-350 rmb
History of the RLD
Long ago in Shanghai, chains of brothels were just as legal and pervasive as the shrines in the city. Neighborhoods back then were a mixture of business establishments which also cater to paid entertainment, prostitution. Fuzhou Road, the original location of Shanghai’s Red Light District, was lined with brothels, with over 20,000 Girls wearing seductive outfits who would lure men inside for a few hours of hedonistic pleasure.
In 1949, there was a report that stated there were more than 20,000 prostitutes working in more than 400 brothels, but today these brothels are long gone. Shanghai’s former Red Light District is now considered the city's cultural center.
Shanghai is surprisingly safe for such a massive city, but there are still some things that one needs to be careful of that are worth mentioning. There’s a good reason why KTV bars that are deserted must be avoided. Another thing to avoid is following someone that says they have pretty girls for you at a certain location. You might get way overcharged for anything they offer, and then muscled into paying. Lastly, as all big cities, be aware of the surroundings and keep a low profile.
Due to prostitution and strip clubs being illegal, Shanghai doesn’t have the conventional form of Adult entertainment. You must go to places disguised at karaoke bars to find what you desire. Still, the city offers a variety of vibrant and vivacious places to party and relax. Some of the stimulating entertainment you can expect in Shanghai are hidden strip clubs, street prostitutes, escort services and agencies, and discrete brothels and sex clubs.
Escort Services and Agencies
The list of escort services in Shanghai is practically endless. There is an impressive amount of agencies to choose from, which cater to every taste, every desire, and every fantasy down to the smallest detail. A simple web search will provide you with the contact information for all the agencies.
The market for prostitution is Shanghai is enormous, and there is plenty of supply to fill the demand. To find girls on the street who will exchange a little love for some money, go to Nanjing and Fuzhou Roads and walk around. You’ll find many ladies that will offer you “massages” with obvious sexual intentions. Additionally, you can walk around any of the listed Red Light Districts to find many girls walking on the streets.
Even though prostitution, and therefore brothels, are illegal, they are still very prevalent. You can easily locate brothels by the very conspicuous massive window, lit with a neon pink light with a scantily dressed woman sitting inside. Many KTVs, as mentioned above, function as brothels as well.
While strip clubs are not popular in Shanghai, karaoke bars like the ubiquitous KTVs, fill the void. There are two types of KTVs; the first type is strictly a karaoke bar, while the second is a karaoke bar that operates in similar ways to a strip club. It extremely easy to determine which one you’re in based on whether or not there are scantily dressed young and attractive girls. The latter type of KTV allows you to hire girls to dance with you and many have extra options that can be made between the girls and customers.
With so many prominent Red Light Districts, it may be surprising to find out that the sale of sexual intercourse is illegal in the city of Shanghai. In 1991, there was a decision on strictly forbidding the selling and buying of sex, and the law was revised in 1997 to focus on punishing third-party involvement. Surprisingly, the death penalty is allowed to be used in exceptional cases of organized prostitution activities. Despite this apparently harsh position of the law, prostitutes are generally treated as pseudo-criminals by the Ministry of Public Security. Police use a strong presence as a deterrent against prostitution, and the majority of those apprehended are released with a warning and/or a fine. Due to this very relaxed enforcement of the law, the number of prostitutes in Shanghai has been increasing rapidly.
Specific Laws for Gays
In China, LGBT persons face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Same-sex sexual activity has been legal since 1997, but same-sex marriage is still not legal. Additionally, same-sex couples are still not recognized legally in any way and both joint and step adoption by same-sex couples is not legal. There aren’t even any anti-discrimination laws in employment and the provisions of goods and services. People in China do have the right to change their legal gender, but transgender persons face intense social ostracism in China. With the government not helping LGBT persons have equal rights in China, life can sometimes be a little more difficult for those in this community.22
As the world’s fastest-growing city, Shanghai has a world renown nightlife scene. There are so many options in China’s largest city, that it is difficult to know where to begin. From clubbing on The Bund, to sipping on a cocktail in the quieter French Concession, Shanghai has something for everyone. Here are a few of the most popular areas and activities to enjoy in Shanghai:
Although people in the LGBT individuals face some legal challenges with marriage and adoption, there is no shortage of entertainment for the gay community. From dance clubs to saunas for gays, there’s plenty to do in the vibrant city of Shanghai.
General Attitude towards Gays
Most gays in cosmopolitan cities like Shanghai live anonymous lives and blend into society. Gays tend to not broadcast their sexuality and because of this, there is a little prejudice against them in the workplace, as they are for the most part invisible. Even if an employer or colleague learned about the sexual orientation of their coworker, their attitude would most likely be one of indifference. There is no gay bashing and gays tend to live normal lives without experience much prejudice.
Location of Shanghai’s Gay Scene
The city’s gay scene is mostly concentrated in the charming French Concession. Located west of the historic Old City and south of the Jingan neighborhood, the French Concession has three popular nightspots for those in the gay scene: Eddy’s, Shanghai Studio, and Transit Lounge. These three locations make up the so-called “Gay Triangle”.
Saunas and Massages for Gays
If you’re looking for a great place to sweat, Shanghai has you covered. With a vast amount of saunas and massage parlors for gay, you’re sure to have a fun and relaxing time with like-minded men. We narrowed to list down to a handful of the best saunas and spas in the city:
Dance Clubs for Gays
Due to the laid-back mentality of the Chinese toward the gay community, it’s not surprising that the gay club scene is so vibrant in Shanghai. As one of China’s leading cities for LGBT nightlife, Shanghai provides a plethora of internationally ranked clubs the cater to the gay community. Here is a short list of some of the best Shanghai has to offer: