Fiona Travels from Asia

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert

Visit Shanghai Marriage Market | What you should know

Visiting Shanghai Marriage Market is one of the best things to do to explore local life in Shanghai. Unlike other love markets in Asia where young people look for dating partners, marriage markets in China are dominated by parents who gather to find potential spouses for their children.

I know. It blew my mind when I first got to know the concept behind marriage markets in China as well.

Shanghai Marriage Market is one of the most popular marriage markets in China and we’ll find out why below. If you’re interested in visiting this special event, read on to learn more about what you should know before arriving.

Shanghai Marriage Market is one of the most popular marriage markets in China
Shanghai Marriage Market is one of the most popular marriage markets in China

Where is Shanghai Marriage Market?

The Shanghai Marriage Market takes place at People’s Park (Renmin Park) in Huangpu District. To get to People’s Park, you can take the metro Line 1, Line 2 or Line 8 to People’s Square Station.

The market is open from noon to around 5 pm every Saturday and Sunday. Upon entering People’s Park, you can immediately recognize it from the sight of dozens of colorful umbrellas lined up nicely.

What do people do at Shanghai’s Marriage Market?

At the Shanghai Marriage Market, local parents and grandparents display their sons and daughters’ hand-written “resumes” with the view of finding them a spouse. Each resume is often displayed on top of an umbrella for ease of viewing. Interestingly, I noticed that most resumes on display at Shanghai Marriage Market were from women looking for husbands.

While some parents showcase their children’s resumes, others just go around and “shop” for their perfect daughters or sons-in-law. Upon finding a match, the parents will exchange contact info and arrange a date for their sons and daughters. Imagine your parents taking the hassle out of dating for you! Pretty fascinating, isn’t it?

Parents look for potential sons and daughters in law at Shanghai Marriage Market

What makes Shanghai Marriage Market so popular?

Why do people take part in marriage markets in China?

Having your children well married is of crucial importance in China. Traditionally, there are unofficial “milestones” in life that people expect you to reach, like getting married at 25 years old, having children by the age of 27, and buying a house before reaching 30. Accordingly, if your son or daughter still remains single by that age, you’d better freak out and secure a slot at one of the popular marriage markets.

Furthermore, marriage markets in China nowadays allow people to maintain the age-old customs of match-making and arranged marriages. In the past, Chinese parents played a key role in deciding whom their children could get married to, whereas the children had little or no say in that matter. In particular, the parents would discuss their son or daughter’s qualities with the match-maker, who then would find them another family with similar requests. While such practices are less popular nowadays, Chinese parents still want to take an active role in their children’s dating. That’s how marriage markets still come in handy today.

Shanghai Marriage Market at People's Park
Shanghai Marriage Market at People’s Park

What makes Shanghai Marriage Market so popular?

Now that you’ve understood the reasons people take part in marriage markets in China, you may also guess why the Shanghai Marriage Market is one of the country’s most popular.

Shanghai is a national center of commerce and trade with the second-highest average monthly income in China. With such a high standard of living and ample career opportunities, there’s no wonder why people want to get married here. As real estate prices in Shanghai have rocketed over the past few years, it’s also much better to tie the knot with someone who, or whose family, already owns a house here.

What do people write on their “resumes”?

The majority of these resumes are written in Mandarin, in which the children’s Zodiac sign, occupation, physical appearance, monthly income and assets are clearly stated. There are also particular requirements for the other side, such as a minimum annual income, minimum education level, and specific physical traits. You know, being tall and stuff.

And no, you are not mistaken. Shanghai’s parents seem not very discreet about what they offer and what they hope to receive.

Parents put their children’s “resumes” on top of their umbrellas at Shanghai Marriage Market

One interesting thing I noticed at the Shanghai Marriage Market is that in the resumes, the parents made sure to mention whether they held a Shanghai household registration book (Hukou). While the Chinese government has implemented substantial reforms to eliminate the discrepancy between urban and rural hukou owners’ job and education opportunities, it still seems that a Shanghai hukou is still deemed more desirable in terms of finding a spouse.

Tips for visiting Shanghai Marriage Market

  • Don’t take photos of the resume! Most parents won’t like it and will chase you away.
  • Com here with someone who can read Mandarin (if you don’t know the language)! That will allow you to understand all the interesting stuff that people write on those resumes.
  • And of course, it’s an outdoor market so remember to dress comfortably! Check the weather forecast beforehand to avoid rains as well.

Have you been to Shanghai Marriage Market? How did you think of this experience? Let me know by commenting below!

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