Browse Our Travel Ads
Receive Our Newsletter
Use Our Search Engine
Discover Hermail.Net
Where's Journeywoman?
Her Travel Tales
Her Cities of the World
She Travels Solo
She Loves to Cruise
The Older Adventuress
She Travels to Learn
Her EcoAdventures
She's a Biz Traveller
She Shops the World
She Travels with Kids
GirlTalk Cyberguides
Men Have Their Say
Travel Love Stories
Tour Guides Worldwide
Restaurants Worldwide
Books She Suggests
We Love Our Sponsors
She Visits Spas
JourneyDoctor Advice
Letter to the Editor
Send a travel tip
Media request
Speaking Engagements
Want to Advertise?
Bloggers We Recommend



To Market, To Market in Beijing


Eileen Reagan, from Brooklyn, New York has had the wonderful opportunity of actually living in Beijing for an extended period of time. That meant she has had to learn the ground rules for shopping in a country that has elevated the act of bargaining to an absolute art. Eileen writes...

I've spent the better part of the last two years in Beijing, a city that is changing by the moment. Last week I came home in the evening walking past a half mile of tin-shelter shops, markets and businesses. This morning, I went there for eggs and the entire area was leveled. These quick transitions give new meaning to the adage, “if you see something you like, buy it now.” However in China, it should be “ buy it right now but bargain a lot first.”

Shopping in Beijing and most of China is great fun if you are prepared to bargain and haggle for everything, even in some of the local department stores. Forget the international shops, their prices are fixed and they are only for the really, really rich.

Learn your numbers in Chinese...

Chinese numbersTo begin, even though a fair amount of English is spoken in the big cities, not knowing the Chinese words for numbers and prices will cost you a lot of extra money. Before you leave home, learn your numbers in Chinese. When I go to the market, I try to listen carefully to the vendor’s first price. Then I counter with, “ Too expensive for me.” Then the seller will say something like "You say" which means...make me an offer. I, then, compliment the article again, say it is much too expensive and begin walking away. The Chinese bargaining system has now begun.

Bargaining brings success....

Too much!As a foreigner never, ever offer more than 25% of the originally stated amount. Don't be afraid to insult anyone, Chinese merchants expect you to bargain but they don't think that you know how much you can reduce the price. (They have no idea that you are a savvy Journeywoman) Let them make the next move.

Expect to be quoted at least three or four times the amount that a Chinese person would be told, but never, ever end up actually paying more than half. If the seller won't bargain then try another stall. Many of the markets have venders selling the exact material for totally different amounts. In the final analysis, feeling satisfied that the price suits you is all that matters.

For example, I was quite happy to bring the "first" price of 195Y(Chinese dollars) down to 55Y and buy myself a very pretty watch. Then my neighbor came over with the same watch that she had bought for 20Y. However, I didn’t fret because I paid only 200Y for my North Face jacket, while my roommate paid 375Y for hers. That’s what makes shopping fun.

P.S. from Jane L. in Beijing: Feel free to bring some U.S. $1's or $5's as a way to get a lower price when shopping in markets. If you've bargained hard and still can't get what you want, offer the $5.00 bill and then walk away holding the money. Merchants will generally call after you to come back. They will want the hard currency.

Happy bargaining, ladies!

Chinese Money Matters...

  • calculatorIn Beijing, stores are open daily from 8:00 am to 6:00 and sometimes 7:00 pm. Markets tend to open the same time but have more flexible closing hours.

  • Need more cash? Banks in China are open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday to Saturday. They close from noon to 2:00 pm for lunch

  • In department stores where you are able to use a credit card, be sure to put the local currency sign (yuen) before the total credit card amount so it won’t be mistaken for dollars.

  • Pack a pocket battery calculator which should come in handy when
    bargaining. For faster approximate calculations make up your own mini
    card with current exchange rates. i.e. One U.S. $ = ? yuen Ten U.S. $ = ? yuen

  • Keep your valuables well protected. Expect hoards of people to share sidewalk space with you -- under these conditions, a fanny pack is a perfect invitation to pickpockets.

  • theifAs in any large city one must watch their valuables and never display large amounts of money openly. Use a neck-style or other secure bag for passports and excess money. Then, just carry a small amount of money in a concealed change purse. This way you lessen the risk of being the victim of pickpockets or "snatchers" prevalent in the Beijing streetmarkets, and (very important)... the vendor doesn't see a lot of money which helps your bargaining power even more.

(From Journeywoman files,Dr. Jane Liedtke, and The Treasures and Pleasures of China, Impact Guides.)

For more info on shopping in China click here





Back to Gal-Friendly City Sites



free newsletter | gal-friendly city sites | go-alone travel tips | love stories
travel classifieds | ms. biz | journey doctor | women's travel tales | she goes shopping
what should I wear? | letters to the editor | the older adventuress | travel 101 | girl talk guides
women helping women travel | her spa stop | her ecoadventures | best books
travel with kiddies | shopping | cruise holidays | awards and kudos | home|
search engine