China has come out of its Communist shackles for some time now. Consumerism is the new buzz-word in Beijing and shopping is the new favourite national sport! You won’t find boring State-funded Departmental stores anymore, although the Friendship Store exists till date as a gory reminder of the China that used to be.
As soon as you step out of the Peking International Airport, the cacophony and the hustle-bustle of the commercial districts at the Tiananmen Square and the Dongfang Guangchang Streets would reach out to you. Get ready to shop and have a blast while you’re in Beijing, remember to keep your car safe with airport parking Stansted at the space you booked in advance!
An Overview of the Shopping Scene in Beijing
The Western markets are making themselves known in Beijing and most of them have already replaced quaint Chinese shops with megamalls, multiplexes and steel structures oozing with panache and class. However, if you want to get a feel of the traditional Chinese markets, you’ll find them hidden in the maze too. The open air markets at the Wangfujing Dajie (near the Forbidden City) and the Chinese architecture malls at Qianmen Dajie (near Tiananmen Square) are wonderful places to shop for “Made in China” produce that falter in quality and are available at dirt cheap rates.
The Markets in Beijing
Going shopping in Beijing is an experience in itself. You not only shop but can also indulge in people watching and gaze at the vibrancy with wonder and awe. The markets are laden with chaos, inexpensive merchandise and trinkets, with aromatic Chinese fries and street food beckoning to you. It doesn’t really matter if you actually buy anything here: the interesting things you see are a priceless experience.
The Yaxiu Fuzhuang Shichang, Hong Qiao Shichang, and the Panjiayuan Jiuhuo Shichang are fascinating markets to venture into. You get a number of souvenirs ranging from cheap pearl jewellery, handicrafts, watches, luggage and apparel, to spices, fresh fruits, furnishings, teapots and ceramic crockery. Haggling skills are crucial for a successful shopping spree and you have to keep lowering the price as far as possible. If, after you specify an amount, the vendor turns away in disgust, well done! That’s the lowest possible price you’d get the merchandise for.
Shopping like a Local in Beijing
The locals never turn to the markets listed above. They go to shopping markets unknown to tourists and expats, where the price is slightly higher, the scene is more chaotic and the goods are of higher quality. In short, if you’d like to shop without the “Made in China” experience, you must head to markets like the Tianyi Xiaoshangpin Pifa Shichang, the Jin Wuxing Baihuo Pifa Cheng and the Baoguo Si Wenhua Gongyipin Shichang.
As a rule, most markets in Beijing open at 9 am and shut down at 9 pm. Also, while you can buy a myriad of fake items in Beijing, check with your customs officials to see what your country allows you to bring home. Knockoff goods are banned in most countries like the USA and the UK.
Beijing is a tremendous shopping ground and if you are a shopaholic, you’d come here more frequently to look around for trinkets and merchandise at cost effective rates. For a carefree trip, make sure you book a space at Luton airport parking
beforehand to keep your car secure while you holiday in Beijing.
Photo by troshy on Flickr