Journey Woman

To Market, to Market in Beijing

Jane Liedtke

You will not believe how far your shopping dollars will go in the stall markets of Beijing. Make sure you understand the art of bargaining as well as the the art of keeping your cash safe from pickpockets. Then ask the concierge at your hotel to point you in the right direction for these street markets. It is so much fun!

Silk Alley:
This market located by the US Embassy is being moved indoors but it's still there for now. Look for silk items, knock-off clothes like Northface jackets (can be real - who knows? .... but beware...they may be fake), Beanie Babies (illegal to bring back into the USA but hundreds of tourists do it), traditional silk clothing, blouses, underwear, pocketbooks, etc.

Panjiayuan:
This is a Saturday and Sunday morning antique and collectible market. You name it, it's there!

Hongqiao:
The Pearl Market is in the permanent building at the northeast side of Tiantan Park (Temple of Heaven). You'll find pearls and cloisonnet ware at the top level shops. The first few floors are fabulous as well -- traditional Chinese clothing, knock-off handbags, luggage, beaded evening bags, shawls, children's shoes and clothing. Wow!

Yabalu :
The Russian Market is on the west wide of Ritan Park (Temple of the Sun Park). This is where you'll find fur coats, clothing, hats, bras, toys, bathing suits, and more "stuff" than you can imagine -- all destined for Russia in bulk quantities. Make sure when you bargain they realize you're not buying ten dozen of the item. Speak English as a security measure.

Lido Market:
The market at the north side of the Lido Hotel. Look here for a wide array of things from Northface jackets to silk pajamas to Beanie Babies (illegal ones, of course).

While other markets may come and go in Beijing -- these seem to have some staying power.


Buyer beware...

Remember in these street markets the motto is "buyer beware." Never accept anything packaged in plastic after you've seen the unwrapped product on display. Ask the vendor to "show you" what you are actually getting. When my daughter and I first started shopping we learned the hard way. We came back to our hotel only to find that two of our packages did not contain the product or size we requested.

Carry small bills. Often a street merchant giving you change for a large bill will attempt to hand off counterfeit bills in return. Your inexperienced eye might not pick up the differences and you'll be left with a lot of worthless money. We carried only ten ($2.00 CDN) and twenty ($4.00 CDN) Yuan Renminbi bills. If we had been fooled, the loss would not have been serious.

Understand that if you bargain for a copy of a Chanel or Kate Spade and get it for $10 -15.00, it will not last and last and last. But that's OK. Chances are the purse will be out of style next year and you would have tucked it into the back of your cupboard anyway. Just enjoy this wild and crazy shopping experience!
(Source: Journeywoman.com files)

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