Shopping in Beijing
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Shoppers are well catered for in Beijing, whether one is looking for antiques, souvenirs or bargains. From glitzy malls to huge markets, there is plenty to explore.
Throughout nearly all markets in
Beijing, bargaining is essential. Especially when
browsing through large, "touristy" shopping
areas for common items, do not put it beneath your
dignity to start bargaining at 20% to 40% of the vendor's
initial asking price, depending on what that is. After
spending some time haggling, never hesitate to walk away,
as this is often the quickest way to hear a vendor lower
his or her prices to a reasonable level.
New World Shopping Center at ChongWenMen
The New World shopping center is actually 2 large interconnected centers. The second (south) one (from ChongWenMen subway), opposite the SoShow cinema, has an ice skating rink (about 50 yuan, including skates, for 90 minutes in the evening).
The top of this center
has a food court. A little south from ChongWenMen subway
The true clothing market, where many Chinese buy, is located near XiZhiMen, next to the Beijing Zoo. In front of the zoo there is a new huge building, which is just another big market; behind it, there is the wholesale market, with the best prices, almost no need to bargain, and a lot of genuine goods (clothing).
In addition, a new mall has opened where the three tall oval-roofed towers meet the Line 13 subway station.
The Malls at Oriental Plaza
This giant (only 2 levels but very long) shopping center is to be found east of Tian'anmen Square, next to Wangfujing Street (between Wanfujing and Dongdan subway stations).
Here is expensive but provides you with
a lot of buying opportunities, from diamonds to real (yet
affordable) DVDs and international music CDs - and the
selection of food outlets in the basement is excellent.
The pedestrianised highstreet runs from the western end of the Oriental Plaza shopping center next to Wangfujing subway, north to SunDong'An Plaza, another huge indoor shopping center.
The highstreet has many outdoor places to sit under an umbrella with a cold beer, coffe or icecream during the summer and there are often exhibitions and events taking place there too.
Also notable here are the huge Wangfujing Bookstore (east side, southern end), the equally large Arts and Crafts Store nearby (to the left of the McDonalds), and the also huge basement food court (entrance is just to the left of the Art and Craft store entrance).
Politely decline the 'art students' you
are sure to meet here. For a huge selection of original
art, head for the upper floors of the Arts and Crafts
Store, which has good prices, and no bargaining.
West of Tiananmen square. Several large malls running north of Xidan subway station. Look out for the markets, they are good. Bargaining is a must! There are also three department stores, plus food courts, and the huge Xidan Bookstore to the east of the sculpture garden and subway.
Also, don't miss the excuisitely labyrinthine underground shopping malls. One way in (and down) is from the sculpture garden, as shown below.
Further, across Chang'An avenue from
the sculpture garden, on the south side, is the Times
Square shopping Center, with a beautiful multi-colored
glass dome above the atrium.
Golden Resources Shopping Mall
Near Yuanda Bridge / Yuanda Road, by
the west fourth ring road (XiSiHuan) in Haidian District.
This mall covers 680,000 square meters, the largest in
Asia; indeed, one of the top 3 largest in the world. Multiple stories, snaking alleys - it's huge!
China World Trade Center
Guomao subway. Here you will find a lot
of expensive stores and some international convenience
stores in this easy to get lost sprawling underground
center. Has an ice rink.
Silk Street (Xiu Shui Market)
8 East Xiushui Street Jianguo Men Wai Dajie. YongAnLi subway stop.
The Xiu Shui market reopened for
business in a shiny new air-conditioned five storey
shopping mall in 2005, replacing the original outdoor
market that had become far too small for the number of
visitors it attracted. Now bigger and better, it
has become the inner city's one stop tourist shopping
paradise. Aimed mainly at foreign visitors. You can find
luggage, leather bags, clothing and Chinese artwork among
SanLiTun YaShow Clothing Market
Located at 58 Gongti Beilu, this is
very similar to Silk Street (see above) with slightly
better prices. Food court on top floor.
Pacific Century Shopping Mall
Primarily, one large
department store. Food court on top
For the more technologically-oriented tourist, ZhongGuanCun is a must. Located close to Peking and TsingHua universities, this area is dubbed the 'Silicon Valley of China'. Sells everything from speakers to computer parts at low prices.
There are general shopping malls too, including 'Gate 8' which includes a multi-screen international cinema (Haidian HuangZhuang subway station, lines 4 and 10).
Not far from ZhongGuanCun, WuDaoKou is another shopping district that includes a large clothes market.
Also called the 'weekend market' or 'dirt market'. This is China's largest and possibly its most entertaining flea market. It operates all week, but most people visit there Saturdays and Sundays. It is located near PanJiaYuan bridge, on the eastern third ring road. It begins early, around 7am in summer and 8am in winter (4:00 am at the weekend!)
This market includes antiques (plenty of both genuine and fake varieties) and large sections selling modern porcelain, jade, carved stone and wood, paintings, furnitures and other decorative items, used books, maps and even Cultural Revolution artefacts (though some are copies made in recent years). There are also sections selling Tibetan goods, ethnic textiles from Yunnan and Guizhou provinces, etc.
Well worth a visit, unless you are
allergic to crowds. Remember to bargain hard! Many of the
merchants can provide a shipping service for large items
to main ports arond the world.
Antique stores, selling chinese paintings, handicrafts, used books and other items.
This place was the most popular and fantastic place in old Peking, but was closed in the 1960s. It was re-opend in the mid 1980s. In the Chinese New Year, there is a 15 day folk fair there. LuiLiChang is not far from HePingMen subway station (west and a little south).
GuWanCheng (Curio City)
On the 3rd ring road, just beyond Pan
Jia Yuan, this 4 storey white building houses the more
upmarket variety of Chinese antiques, with prices to
match. The management have been making determined efforts
to stamp out fakes and low quality items in recent years,
and to some extent they have succeeded, but the rule that
applies to all antique shopping in China still remains in
force: let the buyer beware.
This market is not far from the Temple
of Heaven (main east gate), and worth visiting for the
state-run silk market, but more especially for the pearl
market in the building opposite. The top two floors of
this market are filled with jewelry, and this may be the
best place in China to buy pearls, coral, turquoise,
amber and other semi-precious stones. The presence of a
large number of stalls keeps the prices fairly keen, but
shop around, keep a smile on your face and bargain hard.
Lufthansa Shopping Mall (YanSha)
Primarily, one large
department store. North east third ring.
Hotel shops and Department Stores
Not the most characterful shopping in China, but worth a look. The old style of Chinese retailing is gradually being transformed by shops with better design sense and souvenir items are getting better each year (look out for our range of postcards when in Beijing - Novotel Peace in Wanfujing, Novotel XinQiao in ChongWenMen, Kempinski hotel, and other hotels). Silk items (clothing, table settings and so on) such as those sold by Emperor (Kempinski Hotel and other spots around town) are worth a look, as are porcelain, specialty tea sets and other traditional items. But remember to look around cheaper places so you can compare quality. Bargaining is not entertained in department stores, but you should bargain in hotel shops. Some government hotels have government run shops - here the prices may not be bargained but are already cheap.
Carpet stores: the carpet business is
strong in Beijing and you will find all manner of stores
selling silk carpets and other varieties. For Tibetan
carpets try Torana Gallery at the Kempinski Hotel, one of
the few places selling carpets that are actually made in
Include IKEA and Carrefour.