Shopping in Beijing
Throughout nearly all markets in Beijing, haggling is essential. Especially when browsing through large, "touristy" shopping areas for common items, do not put it beneath your dignity to start bargaining at 15% of the vendor's initial asking price. In fact, in the most "touristy" markets final prices can often be as low as 15%-20% of the initial asking price, and "removing a zero" isn't a bad entry point in the bargaining process. After spending some time haggling, never hesitate to threaten walking away, as this is often the quickest way to see a vendor lower his or her prices to a reasonable level. Buying in bulk or in groups may also lower the price. How high or low the vendor sets the asking price depends on the customer, the vendor, the product's popularity, and even the time of day. Vendors also tend to target visible minorities more, such as Caucasians or people of African descent.
There are a number of interesting markets around Beijing where you can find all kind of cheap (and often fake) stuff. Some of the most popular places are Xizhimen in Xicheng District, Silk Street or Panjiayuan in Chaoyang District and Hong Qiao Market in Chongwen District.
As an alternative to the markets you can go to some of the shopping areas lined with shops. This includes Nanluoguoxiang in Dongcheng District and Qianmen Dajie Pedestrian Street, Dashilan and Liulichang in Xuanwu District.
If you are looking for traditional Chinese food shops try Yinhehua Vegetarian in Dongcheng District, Daoxiangcun, Liubiju or The Tea Street in Xuanwu District and Chongwenmen Food Market in Chongwen District.
Visiting hotel shops and department stores is not the most characterful shopping in China, but worth a look. While generally significantly more expensive, they are less likely to sell truly low quality goods. The old style of Chinese retailing is gradually being transformed by shops with a better design sense and souvenir items are getting better each year. Silk clothing, table settings and so on and other spots around town, are worth a look, as are porcelain, specialty tea and other traditional items. Some of the most popular areas for this kind of shopping are Wangfujing and The Malls at Oriental Plaza both in Dongcheng District as well as Xidan in Xicheng District.
The carpet business is strong in Beijing and you will find all manner of stores selling silk carpets and other varieties.
This area has several large malls as well as streets lined with shops. Get off at Xidan subway. You can find all kind of goods here, but clothing shops are dominating. In many of the places you will have to bargaining, and will also be able to find some quite cheap stuff. It is more popular with locals than Wangfujing as it is cheaper and less focused on international brands. Very busy on weekends.
- 77th Street Plaza.
- Beijing Capital Times Square (首都时代广场; Shǒudū Shídài Guǎngchǎng), 88 Xi Chang'an St (西长安街88号; Xīcháng'ānjiē), . 9:30AM-9:30PM. Shopping center focusing on international brands.
- Grand Pacific (君太百货; Jūntàibǎihuò), 133 Xidan North St (西单北大街133号; Xīdānběidàjiē), , e-mail: [email protected]. 10AM-10PM. Has a good selection of less expensive brands and attracts primarily younger shoppers. The shopping mall appears bright and clean and it is usually not too crowded. Here you can find makeup, clothes and sports. Restaurants include Bread Talk, DQ, Pizza Hut and Sizzler.
- Joy City (大悦城; Dàyuèchéng), 130 Xidan North St (西单北大街130号; Xīdānběidàjiē), . This mall opende in 2008 is the largest in Xidan and you can find almost everything here including an enormous cosmetic shop. The building has an impressive glass facade and inside the feel is spacious despite the hords of locals browsing here.
- Xidan Department Store (西单商场; Xīdān Shāngchǎng), 120 Xidan North St (西单北大街120号; Xīdānběidàjiē), . Government owned mall with a history of more than 70 years. It has been redecorated several times over the years but still appears a bit old fashioned. The prices are good though.
- Xidan Mingzhu Market.
- Xidan Shopping Center.
- Xin Hua Bookstore.
- Zhong You Department Store (中友百货), 176 Xidan North St. Has a lot of fake brands (mostly clothes). Very affordable if you bargain hard.
- Xizhimen (西直门 Xīzhímén). One of the most popular markets for locals is located in Xizhimen, next to the zoo. To get there, in front of the zoo (Beijing Zoo stop on subway line 4) there is a new huge building, which is just another big market, but behind it, there is the wholesale market, with the best prices, and a lot of genuine goods (clothing). This market is much more local than others listed here, and is perhaps not ideal for the less adventurous traveler. There is also a similar market nearby in the pedestrian underpass under the parking lot at the Yushuguan Bridge with good bargaining possibilities.
- Sihuan Mixed Goods Market (四环综合市场; Sìhuánzōnghéshìchǎng), Sihuan Hutong, Deshengmenne St (德胜门内大街四环胡同; Déshèngménnèi Dàjiē Sìhuán Hútòng). 7AM-7PM. Raw food whole sale market.
- Wukesong Camera Market.
- Beijing Commodity Market, 259 Fuwai Rd (subway Fuchengmen), . M-F 7:30AM-5PM, Sa-Su 7:30AM-5:30PM. 40,000 sqr meter large market offering a wide range of products including fashion, gifts, leather goods and toys.
- Tian Zhao Tian Market. Jewelery market.
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