Shanghai audio tour: Gangsters, Lane Houses, Secret Gardens: The French Concession's Hidden History

Gangsters, Lane Houses, Secret Gardens: The French Concession's Hidden History

Walking Tour

90 mins

About the Tour

IMPORTANT: In China, there is a GPS offset that makes your position on Google and Apple maps incorrect. This issue doesn't affect the offline map, so if you turn off WiFi and data you'll be able to track your position on the route.

Exploring Shanghai’s Former French Concession is a pleasure for visitors and residents alike. It’s a place set apart from the modernity of the rest of the city with tree lined streets that inspire lingering strolls. This tour is all about exploring the lesser known parts of the Western concession. We’ll go in search of preserved mansions, Art Deco lane houses and uncover the stories behind the buildings and the people that lived there. I’ll tell you about how the foreign concessions came to be in Shanghai and introduce you to the colourful characters that made their fortunes here, including one or two gangsters. I’ll also tell you how the days of the French Concession finally ended.

On this walk you can look forward to:

• The grandest mansion ever built in the French Concession
• A secret garden built for a concubine
• The site of a gruesome murder that scandalised China
• Luxury apartments with a dark history

• The biggest gang boss in Shanghai and his strange superstition
• How to drive in Old Shanghai
• Opium dealers and opium thieves

Along the route there are plenty of places to stop for a drink or a bite to eat, including some nice cafés and bars in the courtyard in Ferguson Lane.

Tour Producer


M David

I've lived in Shanghai since 2009 and like nothing more than strolling around the city, discovering the hidden corners and showing people around the places that i love.

I love exploring, finding out the stories behind how the city has developed and I hope to be able to share some of the hidden gems with you.

Major Landmarks

  • Ferguson Lane

  • Normandie Apartments

  • Hazelwood Mansion House

  • Lilac Garden

Directions to Starting Point

Start at Jiaotong University Metro Station Exit 7 which if you’re arriving by metro is on Line 10 and Line 11. If arriving by taxi, direct the driver to the junction of Huashan Lu and Huahai Lu (华山路靠近淮海路). Metro Exit 7 is on the north east corner of the junction.

Show Directions
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Places to stop along the way

Ke Ling Museum, Boxing Cat Brewery (Fuxing Road) for craft beer, Ferguson Lane (376 Wukang Road) for drinks or a bite to eat.

Best time of day

Best to take the tour during daylight hours when you’ll be able to enter the lanes and gardens. In summer it can be hot so try and avoid the middle of the day.


At most places we will cross roads at designated pedestrian crossings. Wait for the green signal to avoid jaywalking fines! Also look out for scooters and cyclists who have a habit of not stopping at red lights.


Really excellent tour around the French concessions. I was taken to many hidden gems that really surprised and impressed me. Highly recommend.

Posted by Yao , 3 months ago
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Gangsters, Lane Houses, Secret Gardens: The French Concession's Hidden History