If you happened to be in Beijing twenty years ago, you would probably be disappointed by several small shops and a few department stores. Today, this city is one of the main destinations in the world when it comes to shopping, and basically everything that you can imagine in your head can be found here, whether with a label Made in China, or some of the other most popular designers of the world. Shopping is an important part of staying in the Chinese capital, and no one who has already traveled thousands of kilometers to come here to experience it, should not miss the adventure called bargaining. There is no place where you can buy something without suggesting your own prices. Even if you are not a shopaholic, you will not resist the temptation to buy something while passing through the streets and realizing the fact that the prices can always be changed in your favor. The main advice is to never buy things at the first shop, but better look around, since it is likely that you will find a better offer. Whether you are searching for souvenirs, antiques, jewelry, clothes, shoes, or some technology and different gadgets, it would be enough to visit just one of the huge shopping malls, with hundreds of shops and different places. Do not go home before experiencing the old bazaars and shopping in Beijing in old fashion way.
What to buy in Beijing
When talking about shopping, the main characteristic of Beijing are cloisonné and lacquer ware that can be purchased as souvenirs and something you can decorate your home with. Cloisonné came to Beijing from the Byzantine Empire through the Silk Road in the Ming Dynasty and since then it is one of the main techniques of decorating metalwork objects, turning them into bracelets, jars, plates and other figures. Lacquer ware is also a traditional technique of applying a natural lacquer on a wooden surface and engraving different objects on different sizes and shapes. There is also a long tradition of selling objects of porcelain, jade, pearls, jewelry, and various kind of handicrafts. The quality and good silk can also be found, and there is a large selection of tea. However, you should be careful when buying Chinese antiques since you may have a bad experience of buying the ones that are often false.
The major part of the shopping in Beijing can be done in the traditional market streets and shopping in this city can be an experience itself. Throughout the city there is a huge number of street markets and shopping malls, and these places may be the festival for the eyes, but destruction for wallets, though here you may buy almost everything you need and you don’t need.
One of the oldest business and market street, Qianmen Street (正阳门; Qianmen Station, Exit A or B), keeps Beijing tradition for almost 600 years. After the reconstruction before the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008, it became a perfect blend of traditional and modern, whether talking about the architecture or shopping. It has a lot of shops with traditional Chinese goods, but also modern international brands. It is recommended to visit the street even if you do not plan to buy anything. The walk through the Qianmen Street and side alleys is the most valuable thing you can experience in this street.
For those who want to do their shopping in the international brand stores and modern shopping malls, there is the Wangfujing Street (王府井大街; Dengshikou Station, Exit A) which will comply with their wishes. It has quite a long history, and it is one of the most important places for shopping in China. This street is really crowded with long-history shops, and the fact it preserves its traditional style, still having the modern spirit is quite fascinating. Not many locals can be seen, since it is usually full of tourists.
Sanlitun Village (三里屯太古里, 19 Sanlitun Road, Chaoyang District; 朝阳区三里屯北路 19 号; 9: 00-23: 00; Tuanjiehu Station, Exit A) is the perfect place to shop for branded clothes, shoes, and accessories, and here you may find sports brands, but also some luxury brands. Not far away there is a shopping area named Yashow Market (雅秀服装市场; Yǎxiù Fúzhuāng Shìchǎng) where you can do a lot of bargaining, and buy fake goods.
Beijing is the paradise when it comes to buying antiques, and it is impossible to find something that testifies better about the rich history of this city than these objects of different sizes, shapes and carvings.
Panjiayuan Antique Market (潘家园旧货市场) is the huge place of more than 3,000 stalls covering almost 50,000 square meters, where you can find numerous antiques, such as calligraphy, Buddhist statues, Chinese porcelains, and many more, and the best thing is that here also you can go with bargaining.
Address: West of Panjiayuan Bridge, Chaoyang District (朝阳区潘家园桥西侧)
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 8:30-18:00, Sat-Sun 4:30-18:30
Metro: Panjiayuan Station, Exit A or B
Liulichang Street (琉璃厂大街) is a 750m long street and it has a long history dating from Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. It is maybe one of the best places to experience the rich culture of China, and the place where you will certainly find the antiques that you will be impressed with. Paintings and old books are mostly sold here, and each store can serve as a history lesson.
Address: Liulichang Street, Xicheng District (西城区琉璃厂大街)
Opening hours: 9:00-18:00
Metro: Hepingmen Station, Exit C2
Beijing Curio City (北京古玩城) looks like a giant museum, but it is actually an area of about 23,400 square meters and around 500 stores. You may visit it even if you don’t have plans to buy anything, since it is quite interesting and rich. You may buy things such as porcelain, jade, painting, bronze ware, carving, clocks, jewelry, furniture, and carpets.
Address: 21 Dongsanhuan, South 3th East Ring Road, Chaoyang District (朝阳区东三环南路21号)
Opening hours: 9:30-18:30
Metro: Panjiayuan Station, Exit C1 or C2
Souvenirs and specialty shops
Before 2005, Silk Street (or Silk Market; 秀水街; Xiù Shuǐ Jiē) was a small narrow street crowded with stores, stalls, and visitors where you could find all kinds of international brands and enjoy bargaining with merchants who spoke all languages. Today it is located in a glittering building with escalators and although you may find everything you need, the atmosphere is not charming as it once was, due to which the shopping here was a unique pleasure. In Silk Market you can find not just a great variety of silk, but cashmere too.
Address: 8 Xiu Shui East Street, Chaoyang District (朝阳区秀水东街8号)
Web address: www.silkstreet.cc
Telephone: 5169 9022
Opening hours: 9:30-21:00
Metro: Yonganli Station, Exit A1
Hongqiao Pearl Market (红桥市场), just across the Temple of Heaven is the most famous place for buying pearls, though many other things can be bought there, even some digital products. You can also bargain here, and you should first look for the things in many shops, then decide on what to buy.
Address: 9 Tiantan Road, Dongcheng District (东城区天坛东路9号)
Web address: www.hongqiao-pearl-market.com
Telephone: 6711 9130
Opening hours: 9:30-19:00
Metro: Tiantandongmen Station, Exit A2 or B
When you come to Maliandao Tea Market (or Maliandao Tea Street; 连道茶叶街) you will realize the importance of this hot beverage in Chinese culture. Different kinds of tea, such as jasmine, erlong, green tea and tea sets may be found here in numerous shops side by side, and even the three-floor mall, also with tea shops. You will recognize this place by the statue of Lu Yu, the 8th-century wise man who wrote the very significant book The Classic of Tea, the first book about cultivating, preparing and drinking tea.
Address: 11 Maliandao Street, Xicheng District (西城区马连道路11号)
Opening hours: 9:00-19:00
Metro: Liuliqiao East Station, Exit C (around 2.5 km)