IELTS Crowded place cue card

If you are worried about the IELTS speaking exam, cue cards can be a great help. Of course, you can’t take a cue card into the exam with you, but you can use them to get an idea of what topics might come up, to find out about new vocabulary and to practice speaking by…

IELTS Speaking part two: a crowded place

Describe a crowded place you have been to. 
You should say: 
-Where you went
-What it was like
-When you went
-And talk about what this place made you feel. 

I’d like to tell you about the time I went to Nanjing Road in Shanghai. Even though I grew up in London, Shanghai always feels even more bustling. The main high street there is called Nanjing Road. It’s a long street that runs through most of the city centre. In fact, it’s so long that there are special electric cars that will take you from one end to the other. Both sides of the street are full of malls and department stores. Each of the malls is full of shops and restaurants. I think you could spend a whole day there and not see everything. 

I went fairly regularly when I lived in Shanghai in 2018. I lived in a suburb, so if I wanted to go shopping, it was a great place to visit as it lets you shop around. Whenever I went there, there were so many people, it created an electric atmosphere. It is so exciting to be in a place where so much is happening. At the end of Nanjing road, you can reach the old colonial waterfront. It’s a beautiful palace to grab a milk tea or an ice cream and relax after a long day shopping. 

Part three places questions

What is a popular tourist spot in your country? 

One popular spot is York. It’s a small city in the north of England. After London, it’s the most visited city in the country. It’s famous for its old town. The centre of the city is mostly old buildings which don’t look much different to how they did 200 years ago. It also has a well-known cathedral which is beautiful and full of history. 

What place do most people go shopping in your country? 

Although malls are popular in many countries, I think most Brits like to go shopping on the high street rather than in a mall. Unless the weather is awful, it’s nicer to be outside. Also, malls can be a little soulless and sterile

How have the places people go to relax changed in the last 50 years? 

I suppose a lot of places people like to go to relax have stayed the same in England. People still love to go for a walk in the park or hang out with friends in the pub. However, I think there are some differences. These days, people are more likely to go to the gym to let off some steam. It’s also popular to go to a yoga studio to help yourself find some peace.


As always, I’ve underlined some interesting and useful vocabulary above. You can find a list of those words below in the same order they appear in the answer.


If a place is bustling, it means it is full of people and activity.

City centre

A city centre is a way to refer to the most important and busy part of a city, even if it’s not actually in the centre. Americans might be more likely to say ‘downtown’.


A mall is a building with lots of shops and restaurants inside where you can walk from shop to shop without having to go outside.

Department store

A department store is an old-fashioned shop that sells lots of things in different departments. For example, in London, we have John Lewis, which sells everything from fridges and TVs to menswear and fabric.


A suburb is an area of a town or city that is away from the centre. These are usually mostly places for people to live and have less exciting things to do than the city centre.

Shop around

If you shop around, you go to several places to find a better price or a higher quality item.

Old town

This is another way of saying ‘historic area’.


A cathedral is a large church that has a bishop. They are in charge of churches in an area.

High street

‘High street’ refers to a street or sometimes an area with lots of shops. Unlike a mall, high streets are outside.


If a thing, person or place is soulless, it lacks personality.


Usually sterile is used to mean ‘perfectly clean’, especially in a place like a hospital. However, in this usage, it’s a way of saying a place is a bit boring. It’s saying that the place is so clean that it has no character.

Let off steam

If someone lets off steam, they are getting rid of their frustration.

Next steps

If you enjoyed this cue card, you might also want to check out our guide to IELTS speaking. There is also a an IELTS essay about shopping you may find useful.

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