"Beijing Shopping can Sometimes Require a Battle Ready Will"
The Beijing shopping experience is changing almost daily. Shopping in Beijing has changed greatly ever since 'Shopping Beijing' was uttered by the first female more than 2 billion years ago (We are all living by their clock, you know).
What used to be the most famous shopping locations for tourists also used to stock many unique and interesting things for sale. The Beijing Shops, Malls and Markets are in their same famous locations but are mere shadows of their former selves even just a few years back.
The locations may not have changed but the merchandise they sell certainly has.
Few of the precious little souvenirs of old can be found while shopping in Beijing at the Chinese markets of today.
Their racks are usually filled with cheap Chinese trinkets that break easily and smell awfully harmful.
Bartering for a better price used to be an almost funny exchange between a foreigner and a shopkeeper. Bartering while Shopping Beijing Markets today can get violent and physical affair.
Shopkeepers may be struggling to keep up with rising rents and low quality merchandise but it hurts business in the long run.
Then you have the very popular Pirated and 'Imitation Items' that used to be openly displayed. Not so anymore. The police have literally driven them underground. You won't see them except tucked away in the back alleys. This used to be how many of the struggling vendors of today used to make most of their money.
People who call out to you from street corners are trying to lead you to these places that are filled with fake watches, handbags and famous clothing labels. This is the only way foreigners seem to get themselves in trouble while shopping in Beijing. Never follow a stranger at night no matter how desperate you are to get a fake Rolex for your Pal back home.
They will usually lead you to a room in the basement of a neighbor's house, who rents out the space for a fee. It seems that only fake golf clubs and silk shawls remain easy to find in the open markets while doing your Beijing shopping.
Few of the deals in the Beijing Markets of old can still be found today. As with all uniqueness, it seems to be leaving the land. You can still find some good affordable markets but Beijing shopping also offers a real look at the people and culture of Beijing.
If you travel to Beijing to do any kind of shopping then you'll expect to find something Unique and at a bargain price. That is less and less the case as China becomes the exporter and manufacturer of ... well ... everything.
These days, most everything can be bought online anyway. Sites such as Ebay.com let you buy whatever you want and have it shipped wherever you'd like.
There is no need to fly to Shanghai to go shopping in Shanghai.
Even some of the most obscure items I found in Beijing are for purchase on Ebay for decent prices.
But nothing compares to actually being there, experiencing the foreign sounds and smells while browsing through the shops filled with:
You must be very careful of what you buy in the markets listed below. They are filled with great deals but also with great scams and rip-offs. The vendors offer no refunds so inspect your purchase extensively before you leave the store.
Barely 1 in 10 vendors in the Beijing shopping markets can accept Credit Cards. After the Olympics, that number should go way up but I wouldn't give them my card numbers.
There are just too few regulations to protect you in China.
The following are some of the more popular Beijing Markets begging a visit from people who travel to Beijing.
Authentic Antiques are not a large part of the Beijing shopping menu. The best place to shop for Chinese antiques is in Hong Kong, because of restrictions placed on the removal of Chinese antiquities by tourists who travel to Beijing.
This has resulted in a flood of fakes hitting the market in the Mainland. The Antique markets are notorious for trying to sell fakes at authentic prices.
Walking away during the Haggling seems the only way to get the price down and the truth out. Just do it all with a smile and you'll win every time.
Travel to Beijing and you'll find a number of Beijing shopping markets that specialize in clothing.
The Hongqiao Pearl Market, for example, is a large indoor market spread over three floors. You can find a variety of different types of items here, from fashionable clothing to bracelets, wallets and other types of accessories.
Many of the clothes, even though they bear designer names, are fakes. They are still of decent quality, however, and if authentic labels aren't important to you, then you should be able to find some good, cheap clothing.
It is also near the Temple of Heaven and is open daily from 8:30 to 5:00.
Another very popular clothing market is the Xiushui Silk Market, located close to the Jianguo Hotel on Jianguomen Waidajie.
While the products here are top notch, always make sure to haggle to get the best price you can.
Most of the vendors start their prices outrageously high, and if you don't negotiate, you'll end up spending far more than you should.
Travelers looking to try some authentic and interesting food should head out to the Donghuamen Night Market. There is great variety of traditional Chinese cuisine and everything is priced well for the budget traveler.
Those who want to try some of the exotic foods can make a meal of scorpions and a variety of seafood. For those people with tastes that appeal to the more mundane there are also noodles, dumplings, and more.
If you travel to Beijing then the different markets are a good place to have an authentic Beijing experience.
Best Budget Beijing Shopping by Location
Get info on budget hotels by location in case you fancy a certain area of the city to do your Beijing shopping.
Wangfujing is located almost dead center of Beijing City. It's very near Tiananmen Square so you can get there by the subway.
Get on Line 1 of the Beijing subway and get off at Wangfujing subway station. Follow the exit signs that take you directly into Oriental Plaza.
There are two Western style, modern malls in Wangfujing.
The Oriental Plaza is one of the biggest shopping complexes in the world. It's so big that there's a subway station at both ends.
You'll find a lot of Fashion Stores, Cafes and Restaurants, A Cinema, An Apple Computer Center, VW Audi Car Showroom, A Sony Science Exhibition Center as well as a ton of Banks.
Prices in both malls are reasonable but not the lowest in town. The electronics department has some great deals on high-quality authentic electronics.
Other than the Malls, you'll find Souvenir Stores and a side street that's filled with Traditional Chinese Food Stalls.
Wangfujing is not merely another Beijing shopping street but a whole experience. There are often large Exhibitions and Festivals held on the street, attracting a carnival-type atmosphere.
Xidan Area Of Beijing
Just big malls. Worth mentioning for the Electronics though. This is the place to come to find that hard to find gem you've been looking for.
The prices are as good as anywhere in Beijing and you can be guaranteed an authentic brand and not a fake. Just the peace of mind knowing that the shops here in the big malls sell only legitimate brand names might make it worth the trip.
Credit cards are widely accepted and prices are marked on the items so you know where you stand right off the bat. I hate asking the price every time and getting a different sales pitch each time.
Xidan is also a good area to find cheap (yet good quality) clothing stores.
Zhong Guan Cun Area
Located in the North-West corner of Beijing. This is an area split into many small stores that specialize in:
Most of the store employees speak Chinese (it is China!) and only Chinese. If you're looking to buy software or anything else, make sure you know, test and bargain heavily for what you want.
Once you've paid for your purchase you'll never see your money again. Even if you have a legitimate problem. They will refer you to the manufacturer and 90% of them only honor warranties in the country of purchase.
Once you take it to your home country, the warranty is often voided.
It is Just something to keep in mind when making a purchase during your Beijing shopping.
Beijing Shopping for Antiques
Market selling Chinese Antiques but 98% of it is a reproduction of a much more valuable original. Would you still want it, knowing it is a reproduction and at the price offered?
It's located near the Temple of Heaven (which is also a great tourist spot) in Dongsanhuan Nanlu in the South East of Beijing. The best way to get there is by taxi. This market is open at dawn on both Saturday and Sunday.
Occupies both sides of a narrow street filled with restored Ming-era architecture. It's worth coming here even if you aren't on a hunt for Beijing shopping bargains.
Artists come here for the large selection of brushes, paper, and ink stones. You can also find a great selection of antiques here. Again, some are genuine and some are not (especially in the side stalls).
One of the best places to find old or antique artifacts. Antique furniture and curios galore and they will ship it all home for you.
Foreign students do their Beijing shopping at this indoor market in the South Central area of Beijing.
You'll have to bargain between 50%-70% off the original offer price before you'll get a bargain on the cheap no-name or fake Brand Electronics, Sunglasses, Batteries and Watches found here.
Oriental clothing of fine silk and contemporary styles are tailored to your body and ready to be picked up in 24 hours. Great for Gals looking for high-quality Silk Scarves, Jackets, Vests, Pillows, Purses, Coasters And Other Household Items.
The best quality for price Silk outlet in Beijing.
If you like pearls then you can't miss The Beijing Pearl Market. A strand of freshwater pearls can be had for as little as $3USD.
The Beijing Pearl Market is located in a low-rise building opposite the Temple of Heaven.
The first floor is referred to as a 'Wet Market' because any and every moving creature of any kind, is on the menu. You'll have to take it home with you to cook (If they even cook some of this stuff!).
The Second floor is the place to find fabulous bags of every description while the Third floor is home to fresh water pearls and semi-precious stones, as well as antiques, handicrafts and collectibles.
The people with the large wallets head to the fourth floor. Some of the Pearls here are amazing.
Jinsong Market opens only on the weekends and remains open around the clock. The best time to go is late at night when the city is asleep. It is still fun at a reasonable hour of the morning or afternoon but be prepared to see a crowd that use elbows to navigate!
Rows of vendors sections laid out on the concrete floor sell Jewelry, small Antiques and Ethnic Clothing. One of the best places to find that special deal.
This is a market-style shopping mall designed for tourists looking to do some Beijing shopping. Vendors sell all kinds of Replica Clothing, Bags, Designer Labels, Shoes, Jeans, Trousers, Jackets, Shirts, Chinese Souvenirs, Pearls, Chinese Rugs / Carpets, Golf Equipment, Watches, Sunglasses, Silk, Chinese Paintings and even more.
The prices are steep up front but if you can bargain well then the prices can be reasonable and even cheap.
The Xiu Shui Market is located on Chang An Avenue. You can get there on the Subway (Line 1).
Get off at the Yong An Li Station and make sure to follow the signs and exit the subway station via the short underground passageway that leads directly from the subway into the mall.
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