Forget sight-seeing, you could spend a week shopping in Beijing. From frenzied markets stacked on several floors selling everything from cheap clothing to cheap pearls to lovely laid-back alleys full of quaint shops, Beijing has it all. Read on for some of my favorites.
- Description: Everything you've ever dreamed of owning from China and more.
- Address: Panjiayuan Market (潘家园旧货) is in the southeast corner of the Third Ring Road, just east of Longtan Park. In Chinese: 潘家园桥西.
- Opening hours: Mon-Fri 8:30am-6pm; Sat-Sun 4:30am-6pm.
- Comments: Life-sized terracotta warriors? A scorpion encased in clear plastic and made into a key chain (or lovely pendant)? Seven-foot blue and white porcelain vase? They have it all as well as things you'd actually bring home (though kids love those scorpions). From pearls and beads to old Peking Opera costumes, this place is a treasure trove.
2. Yandai Xiejie (Old Pipe Street)
- Description: Outdoor alley shopping in an old neighborhood.
- Address: Yandai Xiejie (烟袋斜街) near Houhai. (“Yandai Xiejie” is actually the name of the street and folks will know what you’re talking about.) Pronounced “yan die shee-ay jee-ay”. The address in Chinese is 烟袋斜街.
- Opening hours: Daily 10am till late.
- Comments: This street was originally the site of long-stemmed pipe vendors (thus the name). Located in an 800-year old hutong neighborhood that hasn’t been bulldozed for the Olympics or otherwise, you can get a feel for an ancient neighborhood while browsing through antiquities, minority shops and art galleries. There are plenty of cafés and bars to assist you should you need refreshment.
- Description: Another quaint outdoor alley full of shops in an old neighborhood.
- Address: Liulichang Street near Nanxinhua Street. Liulichang (“lyoh lee chahng”) market is near the Hepingmen Peace Gate “heh ping muhn why dah jee-ay”. Here’s the address in Chinese: 琉璃厂文化大街, 和平门外大街.
- Opening hours: Daily 9am-6pm.
- Comments: Similar in nature to Yandai Xiejie, Liulichang is a street chockablock with curio, books, tea and antique shops. An area where scholars and academics liked to congregate in Ming times, the shops are filled with related objects such as calligraphy scrolls, ink stones, Chinese brush art and old books. Famous shops include Rongbaozhai, Qingmige, China Bookshop and Haiwangcun.
4. Xiushui (Silk Street Market)
- Description: Shopping mall crammed with stalls selling cheap knock-offs, toys and Chinese crap.
- Address: 8 Xiushui Dongjie, Jianguomen. In Chinese: 建国门秀水东街8号.
- Opening hours: Daily 9am-9pm.
- Comments: If you are looking for a relaxed, browsing-type shopping experience, DON'T GO THERE. This is dog-eat-dog survival-of-the-fittest type shopping. Hawkers will lure you in and will drive hard bargains. Keep your wallet safe from pickpockets. If you're after knock-offs, cheap clothes, toys (3F), and other Chinese crap, then this is it. You'll come out loaded down but keep your wits about you and bargain hard!
5. Hong Qiao Pearl Market
- Description: THE place to buy pearls in Beijing. But lots of other goodies to make it fun for everyone, not just Mom.
- Address: Near the Temple of Heaven, Hongqiao Market (红桥市场) or “hong chow sheh chahng” is located at 36 Tiantan Donglu, Chongwen. In Chinese: 天坛东路36号.
- Opening hours: Daily 8:30am-7pm.
- Comments: Choose your floor based on what you want: the ground floor has watches, mobile phones, sunglasses and more. Fake? Yes!! Whatever you do, don’t believe them. Nothing is real, so bargain hard. The second floor is all clothes, stall after stall of fake jackets, shoes and bags. It’s cheap but you should check quality. The top floor is your pearl heaven. Go crazy, but find out how to buy pearls here.
- Description: Hip alley full of backpacker cafes, great eats and unique shops.
- Address: Address: Nan Luo Gu Xiang near Gu Lou Dong Da Jie. Here's the address in Chinese 南锣鼓巷.
- Opening hours: Daily 9am till late
- Comments: This has been a very nice recent discovery. A pedestrian alley, this is a hip sister to Liulichang. There are cafes with open air seating, cool restaurants and some very funky shops to find great souvenirs for back home.
- Description: Modern development full of international name-brands.
- Address: Courtyard 19, Sanlitun Road, Sanlitun Area. Chinese address: 三里屯路19号院，城市宾馆北面.
- Opening hours: Daily 10am-10pm
- Comments: If you're looking for Chinese curios, then there's no reason to visit the Village. The Village comprises lots of familiar brands such as Adidas' flagship store as well as Apple's. Do go to see what your favorite stores back home have for the Chinese market.