Visiting Shanghai and want to know more about sex in the city?
The largest city in China, Shanghai has a population of close to 34 million people and is the country’s economic and financial hub. With its ultra-modern skyline, traditional pavilions and colonial architecture, it is a city that blends its history with its future and celebrates diversity in its culture. Shanghai is a bustling metropolis that is a popular tourist destination, both for leisure and business, that offers a rich and vibrant entertainment scene.
In this guide we explore what the city has to offer its visitors who are seeking adult entertainment, from the best erotic massage and escorts, to brothels, strip clubs and more.
- 1 Prostitution in Shanghai
- 2 Shanghai Escorts Guide
- 3 Sex in Shanghai
- 3.1 Brothels
- 3.2 Karaoke Bars/KTVs
- 3.3 Love Hotels
- 3.4 Hostess Bars
- 3.5 Swinging Clubs
- 3.6 Erotic Massage Parlours & Sauna Clubs
- 3.7 Strip Clubs
- 3.8 Street Prostitutes & Red-Light Districts
- 3.9 Sex Shops
Prostitution in Shanghai
Prostitution in China is illegal but is largely considered a necessary evil by the authorities. Infringements of the law are usually dealt with as an administrative infraction rather than as criminal activities. The exception to this is in organised prostitution and associated crimes such as trafficking, running a brothel and pimping. Illegal sexual acts are also dealt with severely.
Soliciting and advertising are also illegal but also carry penalties of fines rather than imprisonment.
China’s prostitution market (despite being illegal) is the largest in the world and generates around $73 billion each year. The figures on how many prostitutes work in the country vary is believed to be around the 5 million mark. As China’s largest and most well-developed city, the number of prostitutes in Shanghai is believed to exceed 500,000.
Most prostitutes in Shanghai are Chinese but the city also attracts sex works from other Asian countries as well as Europe. After the local ladies, the most common nationality found in Shanghai is Russian (and other Eastern European women).
In much the same way as other aspects of society, prostitution in China has an imbedded hierarchy. A seven-tier system, the top two (known as Baoernai and Baopo) refer to mistresses, concubines and escorts. At the third level are the Santing or women who are hostesses in entertainment venues that mainly provide company but also offer personal sexual services. The fourth tier are the Doorbell Ladies, not escorts but women who telephone men in hotel rooms to solicit their services directly. Fifth level prostitutes are known as Falangmei and relate to the work that women provide in more direct adult venues like massage parlours, saunas, spas and barbershops. Street girls or Jienü are sixth tier with rural prostitution (known as Xiangongpeng or ‘down the work shack’) being the lowest level.
Policing in Shanghai is quite lax and as long as the procuring of personal services is done discreetly and without breaking other laws (e.g. public decency and age of consent), most visitors will not experience the ‘long arm of the law’.
Over a quarter of Chinese men (26%) have visited a prostitute and, in cities like Shanghai, it is not uncommon for this to be a part of their work-related activities. Certainly the city has adult venues which are set up for business meetings and entertaining.
The price of sexual services in Shanghai varies depending on where the customer goes, who he selects and what he is paying for. Basic services from a street hooker can cost as little as 120 RMB ($20 USD) but in more touristy areas, this is more likely to be around 400 RMB ($63). You will also need to factor in the cost of a love hotel as most major hotels do not allow guests to bring hookers back to their rooms.
Good quality massage parlours that cater to foreigners start at around $100 but you can find those that charge less.
Escorts are generally charging an average of $200 per hour.
Prices can be negotiated with hostess girls but these will be similar to an escort plus the cost of drinks and any entertainments you take part in together (KTV).
Shanghai Escorts Guide
Shanghai has thousands of options for an escort and a variety of ways to book one. Some hotels can organise an escort for you directly whilst others attract the services of ‘ding dong’ girls who call hotel rooms late in the evening to offer ‘massage’. There are a mix of agencies and directories covering all bases, with our selection of the widest choices being:
Hourly rates for an escort in Shanghai do vary but you can expect the average out call to cost $150 to $200 per hour.
Most of the premium agencies are price by enquiry only but you can expect to pay at least $400 per hour (in some cases $800+)
See more: How To Hookup in Shanghai
Sex in Shanghai
Sex in Shanghai is easy to find if you know where to look. There are red light areas to the city where prostitution is rife and you can pay for sex in a huge variety of venues from barbershops to saunas, massage parlours to nightclubs, karaoke bars to hotels. The options are wide open for most visitors to the city. In some hotels, the ladies of the night will find you. Single men staying alone in small hotels can expect their telephone to ring late at night with the offer of a ‘massage’. These hookers who are locally known as ‘Ding Dong Girls’ are usually provided with the details of suitable clients by these locally run venues.
It is worth remembering that not all sex venues in Shanghai welcome foreigners and though many report that they speak English, often this is at a very basic level only. Certainly if it comes to dealing with very specific requirements then you may need a good translation tool to help you.
Brothels are not legal in China but erotic massage parlours or saunas offer an almost identical service (see below) and certainly one that will be familiar to most Western men.
The Chinese equivalent to a brothel are hair salons and barbershops. You can find these kinds of venues in the red-light areas of Shanghai (see below) and can cost as little as $20 to $25 for quick service. Men are often solicited from the streets directly by pimps or the girls themselves so you won’t have too much difficulty in distinguishing which salons are which.
Karaoke bars (or KTVs) are very common across Asia and are a popular form of family entertainment. Many of Shanghai’s KTVs are simply karaoke entertainment venues but those in the red light areas may also offer more adult services as well.
Similar to a hostess bar, visitors can pay for women to accompany them in a private karaoke room. You generally pay for the room for a few hours as well as drinks and the company of your hostess. Unlike a massage service or brothel, this is a more upmarket way of getting any kind of service with much of the pleasure derived from the attention of the ladies, some kissing and touching. Don’t expect to get any kind of service in the KTV itself but most of the girls will be amenable to going to a love hotel after the singing is over. However, not all will offer ‘home service’.
They are a more expensive way to pick up a prostitute but offer more of a GFE than a quick and simple bang.
Look for KTVs that offer ‘girl’ or ‘special’ KTVs.
Be aware that many of the women in these venues do not speak good English.
The best time to visit a KTV is between 6pm and 7pm to ensure you get a good choice of girl. Any time after 9pm and all of the pretty girls and best English-speakers will be booked. There are hundreds of these kinds of establishments in Shanghai so you won’t need to look for long.
Prices vary but expect to pay:
- Depending on the size of your group, a flat fee of around 500 RMB ($79) to 1000 RMB ($158) for the room.
- 300 RMB ($47) to 600 RMB ($94) per girl – company only.
- 200 RMB ($32) to 300 RMB ($47) for a DJ girl – controls the screen and choice of songs
Some places charge a mamasan fee on top and you should factor in the price of drinks and tips for the towel boy who brings hot cloths every so often.
Home service generally costs from 1500 RMB ($236) so an evening out can quickly add up.
There are KTV agents who can organise your night out for you in advance and often have packages available for large groups. This way you don’t have to handle negotiations directly with the mamasan and you definitely get what you ordered. Sometimes you can even save money by using these agents.
See our guide: how KTV clubs work (for beginners)
Love hotels are a common feature in Asian cities and are a result of overpopulation and high cost of housing meaning that many young singles live with their families. When it comes to having sex with a partner, the option of doing so in a shared room or small apartment meant that any alternatives were better. It is common for teenagers to use public parks and you will find many signs around such areas warning that sex is prohibited.
Love hotels rent rooms by the hour at varying charges depending on their facilities. Some are high-end boutique establishments where the cost for a few hours is as much as a whole night at other venues. In the red-light areas you can find some quite seedy places that are relatively cheap. Usually clean but basic, the cost here can be as little as $10 for a few hours.
If you pick up on the street or in a bar then your ‘date’ will probably already have a love hotel in mind and usually one that she has an agreement with over costs. It is not uncommon for the rates to be higher if you let the prostitute choose your hotel.
You can find love hotels all around Shanghai but the cheapest and most convenient are where the demand is…in the red light districts.
You can even arrange to stay overnight or for the entire duration of your trip at a love hotel. However, these venues are notorious for ‘ding dong’ girls calling the hotel rooms’ telephones late at night. This might be exactly what you are after and such venues can even make suggestions about some of the best places to pick up around the area including those that many sex tourist guides to Shanghai do not include.
Hostess bars are another uniquely Asian venue and are places where prostitutes are paid by management to entertain men in their bars. By pairing men up with women that are paid to be attentive and make sure they have a good time, the chances are that the men will stay at the bar longer and drink more. It’s a win-win situation for the bars and the girls as, very often, guys will drink far too much to expect anything else and the girls can earn a lot of money without having sex. However, the hostesses will accompany customers to a love hotel for a price just make sure you don’t drink too much at the bar beforehand.
The red-light areas are notorious for their hostess bars and you will quickly know you are in one when a woman in sexy clothes sidles up to you asking for a drink.
They are a more expensive way to pick up a prostitute and the cost of drinks in these bars is higher than regular bars to cover the cost of the hostess. However, they are a great way to spend an evening if you can afford it….and hold your liquor.
Swinging does take place in Shanghai but due to restrictive ‘group licentiousness’ laws on private orgies and sex clubs, such activities take place very discreetly. A university professor was jailed for three and a half years in 2010 for setting up a swinger’s club.
Swinging is more common with expats than the Chinese themselves and it pays to keep your enquiries low-key even in these circles.
The best place to find other swingers (and BDSM or fetishists if that is your thing) is Alt.com or Fetlife.
Erotic Massage Parlours & Sauna Clubs
Erotic massage parlours are one of the best ways for foreigners to access the sex trade in Shanghai and are a familiar alternative to a brothel that doesn’t involve the often complicated and confusing choreography of hostess bars and KTVs.
There are hundreds of salons in the city and most will offer full service as well as a happy ending. Most offer you the choice of meeting the girls one-to-one or you can select from a line-up behind a glass wall (known as ‘fish tank’ style).
If you see a massage parlour and are curious as to whether they provide happy endings, then there are few things to look for:
- Any prices for a massage over 400 RMB ($63) are a good indication that happy ending is included. Unless you are in an upmarket area of the city, a standard (non-erotic) massage should be no more than about 250 RMB ($40).
- Look for the words 养生 (‘yǎngshēng’), 推油 (‘tuīyóu’) or 油压 (‘yóuyā’) on the menu.
- The style of dress of the staff. If they are dressed in overtly sexual uniforms, then this is a big giveaway. Tight, short skirts with low cut blouses are good signs you might be at a place that can service your needs.
Most services are fixed prices whilst others charge simply for a massage and ‘extras’ must be paid for in tips.
Strip clubs aren’t legal in China so the closest action of this kind that you can find is with an escort who is paid to give you a private showing.
There are a few underground strip clubs but these don’t stay open very long in the same location. Some local taxi drivers may be able to point you in the right direction but often they are quite shabby venues and not worth the effort.
Once teeming with burlesque shows in the 1930s, Shanghai had a great venue operated by two Britons, the ‘Chinatown’ but it was forced to close in 2015.
Street Prostitutes & Red-Light Districts
Shanghai is a big city and there are lots of districts where you can find adult entertainment, we’ve provided the details of those areas where you can find either street prostitutes or adult venues. Each area has a different character of its own with some being more up-market or touristy than others. As a result, prices for service vary depending on where you go.
- Chaojiadu (曹家渡), Changshou Road (长寿路) and Wuning Road South (武宁南路): Shanghai’s only official red-light district, Chaojiadu has special government status. The area has a lot of adult entertainment venues as well as a few small malls. Both the streets and malls (as well as bars) are good places to pick up a prostitute in Shanghai. As one of the major hotspots, prices can be higher than some of the other districts on our list but there is a huge choice. Expect to pay around 500 RMB+ ($79).
- Jingan district (静安区): Another of the prime locations for sex in Shanghai, Jingan is a busy place to go after dark and offers everything from nightclubs and bars to KTVs and barbershops. There are many tourists in the dirstruct and prices can be as high as 1000 RMB ($157), however you have a good deal of choice and there is certainly a high standard of woman to be had here.
- Xianan Road (下南路)Pudong: A bit of a low-rent area of the city, services are very basic and quite perfunctory. However, they are cheap and you can get oral from around $10 with full service being around $35.
- Beixinjing (北新泾) area: From being one of the more popular locations in Shanghai to a period of decline, Beixinjing seem, once again, to be flourishing. There are several shops that provide service in the area.
- Central New Railway Station including Datong Road (大统路), Hutai Road (沪太路), Zhongxing Road (中兴路), Zhonghua new Road (中华新路), and Hengfeng Road (恒丰北路): As ever, commuter hubs are a good draw for street hookers and these roads also have a lot of barbershops. Cheaper than the main tourist centre and a good selection, though sometimes not the most attractive.
- West Pearl “Rainbow bridge”, Hongqiao area (虹桥地区) area around Shuicheng Road (水城路).
- Fengzhuang Road (丰庄路): Located to the west of Shanghai, Fengzhuang Road is a relatively new area for prostitution and has been up and coming over the last few decades. It has earned itself a good reputation for a great night out and offers a lot of options for a service. Prices are quite low compared to Chaojiadu but more expensive than Xianan Road.
- Meilong (梅陇) area. along with Minhang (闵行) and Xinzhuang (莘庄): Also known as ‘Prostitute City’, Meilong is a large area in the southwest of the city and has a lot of barbershops, massage parlours and hostess bars. Prices are mid-range and there is a great selection of women available for oral, manual and full service. Hanghua Village (航华新村) in Minhang has been getting lots of attention of late and is reportedly a good place to go for locals.
- Fahuazheng Road (法华镇路), Changning district: A lot of barbershops but also some spas, nightclubs and massage parlours where you can get a good service. It’s less busy than it used to be but is still popular with tourists. Street hookers are low cost but prices in the shops can be as high as $190.
- Shangnan Road (上南路) and Chengshan Road (成山路), Pudong: A famous red-light district in Shanghai, standards in this area are mid-range and prices are lower than some other parts of the area.
- Rushan Road & Qixia Road, Pudong: Mainly barbershops but the girls here have a reputation for providing ‘superior service’ though not the most attractive of prostitutes in the city.
- Wusong, Wusong (吴淞) area, shuancheng Road (双城路): A commercialised district not far from the Huangpu River, the Wusong district. You can get all kinds of service here but the predominant trade is with the barbershops and street girls.
- Golden Bridge, Jinqiao area in Pudong district (浦东金桥): Slim pickings in this area with a few businesses and street hookers. It is possible to get manual, oral and full service but isn’t the best choice in the city.
- Nanhui Town: Situated in the suburbs of Pudong, the area known as Nanhwei is a budget place to go for sex in Shanghai. Most of the women are mature but you can get a good service for as little as $10.
- Ganquan Village (甘泉新村) (Zichang Road (子长路) and Village Road (新村路): Located in the Putuo district this is a residential area that is known for attracting street girls as well as some small scale entertainment venues.
- Xuanhua Road (宣化路), Zhaohua Road (昭化路), Zuanbang Road (朱安浜路.): Some good looking prostitutes working the entertainment scene here apparently including a nightclub and hostess bars. Oral, manual and full service are all on offer.
- Dahua Village (大华新村) in Putuo district (not Pudong): This area has a notorious reputation for crime and should not be ventured to alone. However, there is reportedly a good deal of street prostitution here and a couple of brothels where service is both cheap but also good. There is apparently a shop called “XinjiangMM (新疆MM)”, which is popular. It is not known whether the area is foreigner-friendly.
- Qibao (七宝): Located to the southwest of Shanghai, Qibao has experienced a period of rapid development and now has a well-developed and thriving entertainment district. Fuqiang Street(富强街) in particular has received good feedback and is one of the districts on this list which is improving all the time. Prices are mid-range and you can expect to find a variety of venues providing all kinds of service from manual to full.
Dongbaoxing Road was a popular hotspot for prostitution but appears to be experiencing a downturn with many shops closed and fewer street hookers in the area.
The city of Shanghai has plenty of sex shops covering a wide range of bedroom needs. Most stock the essential range of accessories, lingerie and costumes and some specialise in the more high-tech toys.
You can find small sex shops in many of the red light areas but most big stores are nestled in the main shopping areas.
Our selection of Shanghai’s finest sex shops are:
1489 Lingshi Lu, by Nanhuayuan Lu
471 Fengzhuang Xi Lu, by Qingyu Lu
This chain brand of sex toy vending machines has two unmanned locations across the city and offers the convenience of 24/7 shopping. Their machines have a surprising number of accessories and you can find them in Jiading and Putuo.
160 Xiangyang Nan Lu, near Nanchang Lu, Xuhui district
A cornucopia of bedroom aids and naught toys, Amy’s Bedroom has nice mix of European and Asian toys, costumes and novelty items. The store is bright and welcoming and has more of a feel of a gift shop than your typical sex shop. The place has a reputation for being female-friendly and covers most bases with some S&M, bondage and high-tech devces.
The store is situated on a busy street but the front window is frosted to give some degree of privacy.
The store is open daily from 11.00am to 11.00pm
Kaixuan Men Sex Toy Market
428 Tianmu Zhong Lu, by Xizang Lu
This traditional Chinese medicine store has one floor dedicated to bedroom toys and sexual health aids. You can find herbal aphrodisiacs alongside silicone sex dolls and imported vibrators.
The store is open daily from 10.00am to 6.00pm.
5/F, 218 Xinle Lu, by Donghu Lu
More of a one-stop adult zone, V-Spot is a sex boutique selling designer sex toys and wine bar/dance studio.
The venue holds workshops on sexual empowerment, sexual health issues as well as pole-dancing and burlesque lessons.
The store is open daily from 11.00am to 11.00pm.
342 Changle Lu, by Ruijin Yu Lu
3822 Hongmei Lu, by Yan’an Xi Lu
A high-end sex toy store where most of the products have been imported, Buccone has two locations in Shanghai. Each are well designed stores with staff who speak a good level of English and who are used to westerners.
You can get some quality products at the store including some high-tech devices at reasonable prices.
113 Changle Lu, by Chengdu Nan Lu
293 Jiaozhou Lu, by Xinzha Lu
A popular brand of sex shops, My Honey also has two locations in the city and stock a good selection of toys, sex aids and clothing. There are also a good range of gadgets and lingerie.
My Honey’s website is available in English and they ship across China.
Featured image via Pixabay.