There're so many Granny's Dumplings in Zhujiajiao, you'll be spoilt for choice. This traditional snack has become a tourist commodity -- everyone is jumping on the bandwagon and saying that theirs is the oldest, tastiest, most traditional, most famous... whatever!
Anywhere you look, there'll be the namesake "granny" sitting prominently in the storefront, making her dumplings while chit-chatting away with the staff and any other people who happen to be in the vicinity. Almost every store will have the obligatory photos plastered all over the place, proudly announcing that they were interviewed by some TV programme or magazine, etc. Or perhaps they just did some nifty Photoshopping... ;)
This particular one that I've picked out is the tastiest one going by what locals say. Don't get sidetracked by all the fancy packaging on the various stores, just remember the address and street number.
Dumplings in many parts of China are triangular-shaped but the ones here are somewhat cylindrical and pillow-shaped. Each dumpling is bound by 4 separate pieces of straw (some say to increase the fragrance) rather than the usual string, before being steamed to tasty perfection.
Another local specialty sold here is the zha1 rou4 -- literally "bound-up pork". This is pork which has both lean and fatty parts, which's simply bound up in the same leaves as the dumplings (but without the glutinous rice) and then cooked in the local sauce. Priced at only 1 RMB per piece, this is an inexpensive little snack.
What to buy: There're various kinds of filling for the dumplings: pork, pork with chestnut, pork with salted egg yolk, red bean paste, plain etc. Price ranges from 1 RMB for the plain and non-meat fillings, to 2.5 RMB for pork, 3.5 RMB for pork with chestnut, and 4 RMB for pork with salted egg yolk. The best is said to be the pork with salted egg yolk, so that's the one to buy if you're only hungry enough for one.
Don't forget to get the zha1 rou4 as well!
The food can be vacuum-packed for free, so no worries about bringing them back home.
What to pay: A dumpling and a piece of zha1 rou4 should cost between 2 to 5 RMB.
Traditionally, vegetables and soybean products were preserved during season so that people could still enjoy them in winter when no crops are harvested. Today, these preserved foodstuffs are still popular with Chinese for breakfast, especially in conjunction with porridge. A little bit of something could go with a whole lot of plain porridge, so it's particularly good for those wanting to save money!
What to buy: This shop is especially known for their fermented beancurd preserve. It might not sound very appetising (in fact, I'm not a fan of it myself) but it's highly popular among locals, so you might want to try a teeny-weeny little bit to see if it suits your taste. If not, you could at least say "been there, done that"!
Otherwise, you might find the preserved dates or other preserved vegetables easier to stomach.
What to buy:
The admission ticket is the 1st thing you'll have to buy when you get to Zhujiajiao. There're 3 different prices, with different sights included.
The basic 4 sights which are covered by any admission ticket are Kezhi Garden, the Qing dynasty Post Office, Yuanjin Buddhist Temple and Tongtianhe Chinese Pharmacy. These are the only 4 which are included in the 30 RMB admission ticket.
The next most expensive, at 60 RMB, also includes the City God Temple, Y-Art Gallery, Shanghai Qianhua Art Gallery and Shanghai Handicraft Exhibition Hall.
The most expensive admission ticket which costs 80 RMB covers all of the sights mentioned above, plus a short boat ride.
If you're not interested in the other art galleries and such, then I would pick to get the 30 RMB admission ticket. I personally think the other places weren't worth the extra money.
A short boat ride, if bought separately, costs 60 RMB. The boat should be able to hold at least 4 passengers.
I didn't see the other types of admission ticket, but the 80 RMB ticket is a postcard which has 0.8 RMB of postage already included, so you could post it to anywhere in the country for "free". Of course you'll need to add more stamps if you want to post it overseas.
What to pay: Anything from 30 to 80 RMB, depending on which package you choose.
What to buy:
There're a number of small shops selling kitschy notebooks ("Communist-style" or featuring Zhujiajiao), nostalgic postcards (featuring Zhujiajiao and Shanghai), matchboxes and other little knick-knacks in Zhujiajiao. These are good souvenirs, especially if you need to bring back little keepsakes for people back home -- unbreakable, small and easy to carry.
What to pay: Generally about 10 RMB for a pack of 5 postcards, or 10 RMB for a notebook.