One of the main perks of moving to China is the relatively low cost of living. If any expats tell you otherwise, they’re lying. The flip side is that it can be incredibly frustrating when you come across certain items that cost the same or more than you would normally pay in other countries. Beer and alcohol, particularly at bars and mid/high-range restaurants, immediately come to mind as do computers, name brand electronics, and cheese. One of the biggest disappointments, though, has been what seems to be the incredibly high cost of prescription glasses. We’ve seen them range anywhere from 500 to several thousand kuai, which seems a little fishy when every other person wears them in this country.
Luckily there is a viable answer out there for the myopic and farsighted among us. Acting on a hot tip earlier this week, we found ourselves at the eyeglasses market beneath the Shanghai Railway Station and just couldn’t believe our eyes (sorry for that one). This place had stall after stall of quality frames one after the other, most carrying entirely unique products. Most of the brands they carry aren’t big-name, not that they’d be real anyways, but the quality is still quite good. If you’re in the market for some contact lenses or sunglasses for the summer, you can find those there as well.
They have the same bogus prices pasted all over the place (1000-2000RMB frames), but when you finally get around to asking for a price it’s so low that you’ll feel guilty even trying to bargain. This particular Shanghaiist picked up two pairs of glasses for a total of 300 RMB, and could’ve dropped that even lower had it really been necessary to press the issue. This was for the whole shabang: eye exam, lenses, frames, etc. Needless to say, we’ll be going back, bringing all of our visually impaired friends and family with us.
You don’t need to take our word for it, go and see for yourself (sorry again).
Shanghai Eyeglasses Market
Shanghai Railway Station
Line 3/4 Exit Number 3