Guilin is a relatively small city, and many of the shopping places are located along Zhongshan Road (中山路), a major road and city center of Guilin. Besides some big departments, there are also some interesting small markets and pedestrian streets. As a city famous for its beautiful landscape, Guilin is famous for landscape paintings, paper fans and some other art crafts and souvenirs.
Guilin's three treasures are Guilin Sanhua Liquor, Guilin Fermented Bean Curd and Guilin Chili Sauce. They are one of the top choices to buy when you visit Guilin. Because the name of Guilin literally means "Forest of Osmanthus", there are many products made of or from the fragrant osmanthus (桂花, pronounced as /gway-hwua/), such as osmanthus tea and osmanthus sugar.
Luo Han Guo (罗汉果, pronounced as /lwo-han-kwo/ ), is a kind of dried brown fruit with round shape, hard but thin shell, and the size of a small orange. It is has long been used as a natural sweetener in China due to its flavor and lack of food energy. It has also been used in traditional Chinese medicine. Its inside soft substance is often used to make tea, which can relieve sore throat and chronic coughing. All the local specialties can be found in large supermarkets or local specialties stores.
Where to Buy
Clothes & Shoes
Guilin Department Store, Dream Island Department Store and Sino-Japanese joint venture Niko Niko Do are the up-market department stores of the city. They all locate along Zhongshan Road from south to north. They offer clothes, shoes and bags with good quality. The three department stores all have food supermarkets on their underground floors. At Niko Niko Do, there is a small section selling imported foods, candies, chocolates, cheese and so on. Zhengyang Pedestrian Street next to city central square has some small boutiques selling ethnic crafts and clothes, and there are some restaurants with local Guilin food.
Bagui Building standing opposite city central square is very popular among local girls. It offers clothes and bags that are considered fashion by the local girls and are at reasonable prices. There is also an underground market called "Little Hong Kong" under the city central square. The underground market is a maze of alleys with lots of stalls selling not very good-quality clothes, bags, shoes and trinkets at low prices. Always remember to bargain unless when you are shopping at department stores.
Souvenirs and Crafts
The night market along Xichenglu Pedestrian Street (西城路步行街) is a good place to take a leisurely stroll and pick up some souvenirs, art crafts and trinkets. At nightfall, you will see lots of red tents lining in two long rows, selling various kinds of handicrafts, local specialties, souvenirs and snacks. If you want to do some souvenir shopping, then this is your little paradise. Even if you just want to take a look around, it is very relaxing to wander up and down between the stalls accompanied by the cool breeze coming from the nearby lakes. The real fun of the market may come in finding some souvenirs or in the experience of haggling and hustling with the locals.
- Opening hours: 19:30 - 23:00 daily
- Nearby sights: Banyan Lake and Cedar Lake, the Sun and Moon Towers
- Available commodities:
Handicrafts (e.g. embroidery balls, brocades, furnishings)
Local products (e.g. flutes, snacks, pickles, local specialties)
Porcelain and ceramics products (e.g. tableware, smoking pipe)
Chinese seals, paintings, and calligraphy
Accessories (e.g. scarves, jade, pearl, trinkets)
…And much more!
- Beware of pickpockets.
- Remember to bargain, no matter what quotation the stall owner offers.
Guangxi Normal University Art Shop: This art shop is an extravaganza of masterpieces collected over a long period of time; some of the paintings are centuries old. It contains three exhibition halls with paintings from masters from different periods and from different painting schools. There are also lots of fine paintings done by the university students.
- Location: inside of Guangxi Normal University, the location of the Solitary Beauty Peak
The small town of Fuli close to Yangshuo is a very small town famous for hand-painted paper fans. This ancient town faces the Li River and is surrounded by mountains on three sides. A vast majority of locals in the town are involved in this ancient craft.
These fans are excellent quality and look beautiful, decorated with painted Guilin landscape, flowers, birds, insects and traditional Chinese girls. They range from the small hand fan for everyday use to large canopies that make very good wall decorations. Bill Clinton, former President of the United States visited Fuli Town during his China trip in 1998. His visit made this town famous, and he called their paper fans "natural air-conditioners". Paper fans are also widely available in Yangshuo and Guilin, and the best place to buy is either in the town, or at small boutiques.
Books & Videos
Guilin Book City, about 2 minutes walk north of city central square along Zhongshan Road, is the largest book store in Guilin. Videos are on the underground floor, and books are from the second floor and above. Stationeries and maps are available on the second floor on the left of the elevator. The books are mostly Chinese, but there are also some English, French, German, Vietnamese, and Korean books. Imported English books are available, and you can also find some books which help learn Chinese.
Wa Yao International Tourist Merchandise Wholesale Market
Wa Yao International Tourist merchandise Wholesale Market is the largest wholesale and retail market of fine arts craftwork in Southwest China. It sells almost everything, such as clothing, house wares, antiques, stationeries, souvenirs, crafts and daily necessities. It is where individual buyers from other shops go for their needs, and many local peoples also go there shopping for low-priced daily necessities. Because it is a wholesale market, commodities are priced lower than normal retailing prices. If you look for quality brands, this is not the right place to go.
- Transportation: Public bus No.11, 12 and 28
Niko Niko Do Shopping Mall
Niko Niko Do Shopping Mall is a big, modern business building combining retail, recreation, and catering in one. Tourists here can find various daily merchandise, domestic appliances, clothes, shoes, cultural and sport necessities, clocks, watches, hardware, enamelware, plastic products, staple food, sugar, snacks, silver and gold accessories, and over 60 categories of pearl craftwork. In addition, there are Xinhua Book Shop, Hairdressing Hall, Coffee House, Catering Street, and Game Play Entertainment Paradise.