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Beijing has several shopping districts offering a mind-boggling variety of goods. The traditional shopping districts have always been Wangfujing Street, Qianmen Street, Dongdan and Xidan Commercial Street, but now Jianguomen Outer Street and Chaowai Street have risen to the top in terms of having the latest and most luxurious items.
Shopping at outdoor markets remains a not-to-be-missed experience for foreign travelers. Check out Panjiayuan Collection Street, Xiushui Street, and Liulichang Street for local specialties such as cloisonné, ivory carvings, jade pieces, lacquer carvings, antiques, and fresh water pearls.
You can find good deals in markets around the Beijing on items like jade, pearls, tailor-made clothing or knock-off designer clothing and accessories. The most popular markets are the Silk Market (Silk Street), and Yashow clothing market, but as a result prices start much, much higher than at other markets like the Pearl Market (which sells much more than just pearls) or the Zoo Market.
Speaking of the Zoo Market, if you have a Chinese-speaking friend, this is where you'll get the best deals. You can try it on your own, but it is much trickier as generally shop attendants do not speak English there.
China Highlights tours offer great flexibility to allow for shopping time, with ABSOLUTELY NO SHOPS on our itineraries unless specifically requested.
See our guide to Christmas in Beijing if you plan to be doing you Christmas shopping in China's capital this year.
The Peking glass snuff bottles are a traditional Chinese handicraft with a history of about 200 years. They are popular in China and abroad for their unique workmanship and exquisite artistry.
Reportedly, snuffing tobacco was introduced into China during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and the snuff bottles represent a combination of Chinese and foreign cultures. They are not only a container for tobacco but also a form of art, collected by wealthy businessmen and influential officials.
The snuff bottles are made of special materials, such as jade, and have a unique shape. Ones painted on the inside are particularly famous and admired by collectors. They are also called reverse painted due to the technique.
This difficult method uses a very thin bamboo brush, inserted through the narrow neck of the bottle and angled to make the required brush strokes. The object has to be painted in reverse order since the first drop of paint to touch the glass will be in front of subsequent brush strokes. Thus the details must be painted before the subject: Eyes first, then face, then background, etc. The "reverse" of how typical painters work.
Most of the paintings inside the bottles are Chinese style, with vivid pictures, simple colors, and elegant layouts, giving them a great collection value. Moreover, the bottles also represent Chinese tobacco culture, and provide a historical source for tobacco culture research.
Recommended Shopping Places:
AIKA International Collections Exchange Market 爱家国际收藏品交流市场
The famous Eight Treasures inkpad was invented in 1683 and made by the Zhangzhou Stationery Factory. It is known for bright, unfading colors and very clear, fire and sunlight proof prints. It has a variety of usages, including signing important contracts and historical records. It is also a must-have for painters and calligraphers.
The Eight Treasures Inkpad is made from musk, plum, cinnabar, vermillion hue, natural jade, and special oils. The entire process consists of around 30 stages, and maturing takes 6-10 months before the inkpad is finished.
Recommended Shopping Places:
Beijing Glass Ancient Culture Street
The Beijing Dough Toy is a traditional Chinese folk handicraft, which became popular in the beginning of the 21st century.
The dough toy is made of wheat and sweet rice flour, and with a small bamboo knife the artist shapes the dough skillfully into people and animals in a short time. Among the figures are beautiful princesses, adorable children, and various historical people.
The dough toys are small, making them one of the best souvenirs. As it is an ancient handicraft, tourists can find them at temple fairs during the Spring Festival.
Recommended Shopping Places:
Ancient Beijing Street 老北京一条街
Famous blue glaze cloisonné is a unique traditional handicraft of Beijing, the origin of this type of cloisonné. It can be traced back to the Yuan Dynasty about 1,000 years ago, and became popular during the Ming Dynasty.
As for the production procedure, red copper is used to make the body, and then thin copper wire is laid to form figures. After that, colorful enamel is used to fill in the image, and finally come firing and polishing. It can be said that the blue glaze cloisonné is a collection of all traditional Chinese handicrafts, as one piece represents copper, porcelain, and traditional painting and sculpture arts.
Since Beijing is the origin of this type of cloisonné, it can be bought everywhere in the city. Products range from temple tablets, hall screens, and chairs to chopsticks, earrings, and toothpick holders.
Enamel Factory 珐琅厂
Panjiayuan Antique Market is located southwest of Panjiayuan Bridge, South Road, East Third Ring. It is the largest antique market in China, and the cheapest antique market in Beijing.
As the most popular antique market, shops are open every day. Panjiayuan Antique Market covers an area of 48,500 square meters and had six zones: the stall zone, the ancient building zone, the ancient furniture zone, the modern collection zone, the stone sculpture zone and the restaurant zone.
In Panjiayuan Antique Market tourists can find various collectables, such as antique furniture, ancient paintings and books, jade, porcelain, ancient and foreign money, bamboo carvings, Buddhist keepsakes, folk clothes, and cultural relics.
Beijing Antique Street is the largest antique exchange center in Asia, and a paradise for collectors and antique lovers. It is also an art gallery for tourists, to enjoy Chinese culture.
Beijing Antique Street covers an area of 26,400 square meters and holds more than 600 traders, selling ancient furniture, calligraphy and paintings of famous people, jade sculptures, etc.
Beijing Antique Street also has the so-called top ten antiques, which are white jade, crystal decorations, Shoushan stone carvings, snuff bottles, ancient carpets, bronze Buddha sculptures, clocks, porcelain, Tibetan cultural relics, and folk clothes.
Liulichang Street is named after a factory that produced glazed tiles right here in ancient times. It became a famous traditional cultural street during Qing Dynasty, when people from all over the country gathered here to attend the imperial exams.
Over the years the street has become a center for cultural products. Presently, there are around 100 shops. They typically sell ancient paintings and calligraphy, books, writing brushes, ink sticks, paper, ink stones, collectively called the Four Treasures of Study.
Other items for sale include:
Beijing's Ruifuxiang Silk Clothes Shop opened in 1893, selling silk, wool fabric, cotton cloth, fur, and Chinese style clothes. Clothes made to order are the specialty of Ruifuxiang, famous for their materials and great tailoring. Here, tourists can choose the fabrics and wait for the clothing to be made.
If you want to buy a Qipao, see Where to Buy a Qipao or Have One Tailor Made in Beijing.
Shengxifu Hatter Shop at Wangfujing Avenue is one of the most famous shops in Beijing. It opened in 1911 and many famous people have supposedly ordered hats here, including Chairman Mao and Premier Zhou.
Shengxifu also sell hats to the U.S., Germany, France, Canada, and Singapore.
Neiliansheng Shoe Store is the largest handmade shoe-making company in China, famous for its cloth shoes.
The headquarters has a Qing Dynasty style layout with yellow tiles and red pillars, reminiscent of the image of a bustling ancient shop.
Neiliansheng Shoe Store was founded in 1853 to make shoes for officials. The Chinese character "Nei" stands for the government while "Liansheng" means "getting promotions". Therefore, all officials wear these shoes as a way to pray for a promotion, and this is how the shoe store got its name.
Qianmen Street is located to the south of Tiananmen Square. It is Beijing's original commercial center from 600 years ago; today, it largely deals in Chinese traditional products.
With urban development under the Ming and Qing dynasties, Qianmen Street evolved into a major shopping and entertainment-based commercial district. After renovations in 2008 the stores in this century-old shopping district are now lined up side by side in the style of the Hutongs.
This is a good place for souvenirs, such as stone or jade chops carved with your name. The Lao She Teahouse is located to the west of Qianmen Street, and is a good place to sample Chinese teas, read, or watch a traditional show.
Xiushui Street has a silk market (open 9am to 9pm) brimming with some of the finest silk products, as well as an amazing array of name-brand clothes and bags, such as Reebok, Adidas, and Gucci.
However, very few of these top labels are the real thing despite their uncanny resemblance. This is probably why serious shoppers usually avoid this market, but there are still a lot of interesting things to see and to do here. Xiushui Street is also one of the few places in Beijing where foreigners can purchase clothes and shoes in larger sizes.
The fun of the place may not come from searching for the perfect bag, but from the haggling. "No price is fixed" is the golden rule here. The more you haggle, the better price you get, even 30 percent of the original price.
The 2.7 kilometer (1.7 mile) long Silver Street is on Dongdan Beidajie (东单北大街). The number of shops on Silver Street seems countless. The range includes clothing stores, jewelry stores, household goods stores, bakeries, restaurants, cinemas, and hair salons. Each is different, and it is a pleasure just to walk down the street to window-shop.
The area also has traditional handicrafts such as cloisonné, bronzes, paintings, and carvings. Another famous handicraft, snuff bottles, can also be found on Silver Street. Genuine snuff bottles from the Qing period are a desirable target for serious collectors.
This four-floor store offers Chinese clothing in various styles and colors. Ruifuxiang, a famous shop selling qipaos (traditional Chinese dresses) is located on the third floor. They have many traditional silk products on sale, and you can have your qipao tailor-made to your specific requirements.
Beijing Hongqiao Market is in the south central area of Beijing, just east of the Temple of Heaven. It is an indoor mall with a seafood market in the basement, and is three floors high.
It is filled mainly with cheap electronic goods like portable CD players, VCD players, camcorders, batteries, sunglasses, electronics and household phones.
The items for sale tend to be from real "no-name" brands of Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Thai companies that do not try to cater to brand-conscious consumers.
Beijing's largest mall, completed in 2012, is worth going just for the architecture, which wouldn't look out of place in a Sci-Fi movie. Shopping is expensive, but some of the restaurants and coffee bars are reasonable. More>>
Solana Shopping Mall is a nice place to pass time, as there is not only shopping, but also restaurants and bars. Products are middle to high grade.
This store offers various luxurious brands in a nice environment and considerate service; there is a place for resting with coffee on every story. There are many kinds of grocery products, clothing, and toiletries.
This store offers many famous clothing brands, both domestic and international, and the building is a landmark in Wangfujing. In addition to shopping, visitors also can enjoy delicious food and catch a movie.
Beijing Sanlitun Village Flagship stores for many famous brands, especially sports brands, are in Sanlitun Village. It is very popular among Beijing young people as well as tourists.
Beijing Xidan Shopping Center is on the bustling Xidan Commercial Street, a famous center with 70 years of history. This market covers a range of prices levels by providing middle and high quality commodities.
Many new shops like Xidan Shopping Center, Xidan Bazaar, Chung-Yo Department Store, and Huanan Mansion have recently been launched. Many world-famous, name-brand products are available, making Xidan a paradise for shoppers.
Tongrentang, founded in 1669, is the most famous drug store in China. Since 1723, Tongrentang has been the official drug store for the government, and it is famous for its medicines. In 2006, Tongrentang Chinese Medicine Culture was placed on the China Nonmaterial Cultural Heritage list.
Beijing Henian Drug Store was built in 1405 and has a history of several hundred years, preserving Chinese health culture. Its characteristic products include medical liquors, dew drinks, regimen teas, herbal cuisine, medical porridge, and ginseng products. Presently, the Henian Drug Store is a protected unit in the Chinese Non-material Cultural Heritage.
Deshou Drug Store was built in 1934. During the 1930s, it became famous in Beijing. The drug store sells Chinese and foreign medicine, nutritional products, medical equipment, and ginseng products. It also has a traditional Chinese medicine clinic.
Known as "China's Silicon Valley", Zhongguancun is Beijing's high-tech center because of its many universities and IT-based companies.
Markets sell every kind of computer part that you can imagine. The Zhonghai electronic market sells used computers, parts, and notebooks, and second-hand parts sell at low prices if you do not require the latest model. In addition, many markets offer reasonably priced computer repair services.
Maliandao is in the southwestern part of Beijing. The street specializes in anything associated with tea, including teacups, teapots, and tables and, of course, many different types of tea.
The two most popular indoor markets are a newly built market in the southern part of the street and another market called Maliandao Tea City or Tea Joy Market.
Tea City is a four-story building with three floors reserved for tea, and DV cameras, SLR cameras and other photo-related goods on the fourth floor.
See our article on The Best English Language Bookstores in Beijing.
Founded on 1998, Beijing LaiTai Flower & Plant Co. covers 55,000 square meters, and includes Beijing LaiTai flower shopping mall, LaiTai flower auction center and LaiTai Flower Street. It is the largest northern flower distributing center, and offers multiple services including wholesale flowers, retail flowers, export-import businesses, domestic trade, and flower auctions, among others.
Our Beijing tours include free time in the evenings for shopping. Our tours will not take you on un-scheduled shopping detours. See our ABSOLUTELY No Shopping Guarantee.
If you would like the assistance of our guide (for translating, recommendations, and help with getting the right price) and private transport for a Beijing shopping trip let us know and we can tailor-make your tour. Contact us.