Some people say the Silk Market (Xiu Shui) is for foreigners and Xidan is for Beijingers. But whatever you are looking for, shopping is good sport and a pleasure for those who like to search for bargains. Big shopping centers in Beijing contain just about everything anyone could imagine. Many offer free concerts, fashion shows or other entertainment. Lufthansa, SOGO and Chung-yo are favorites, but so are the renovated Wangfujing and Xidan areas, Beijing's most modern shopping malls. For more down-to-earth shopping, why don? you try Beijing's open-air markets? In these places, successful shopping requires patience, time, a good eye for a bargain and bargaining skills.
This street is named for the 10 princes mansion and their sweet-water well that was built during the Ming Dynasty. It was forbidden in those days to dig wells at random near the Imperial Palace. According to the principles of Chinese geomancy, the position of a building or tomb in relation to its natural landscape affects the fortune of its occupants. Drilling into the earth near the emperor's home without allowances for fengshui (wind and water) might have brought ruin to the royal family. As the only well in this neighborhood, and because it was prized as a scarce commodity, the well was closely monitored by the resident aristocracy.
The street, forever a trendsetter, has been reformed to a mostly pedestrian shopping mall, although bus services still use the street otherwise closed to vehicular traffic.
The best-known shop is the Beijing Department Store. To the north of the department Store is the One World Department Store, which features a collection of Chinese and foreign name brands and fine quality products. Sun Dong An Market is the largest market in Beijing with 100,000 square meters of floor area housing more than 200,000 kinds of goods.
Subway: Line One, Wangfujing Subway Station; Bus: 1,2,4,5,10,20,37,728
Qianmen-Dashilan Shopping Area
Dashilan street was a commercial center of Beijing more than 500 years ago. Its old shops and small stalls are preferred by Beijingers.
As the first and oldest commercial street in Beijing, the Qianmen-Dashilan shopping area has developed along with the fortunes of Beijing. Many laozihao (Chinese time-honoured brand businesses) are located here where they have welcomed customers for generations. Now the centuries-old shopping area is experiencing renovation and is looking forward to yet another new century.
Subway: Line 2 Qianmen Station; Bus: 2, 5, 9, 20, 44, 726, 820
The Chung-Yo Department Store and the Xidan Market provide an ideal shopping, dining and entertainment environment. Chung-Yo's business is usually brisk. It offers monthly promotions, such as its Teacher's Day promotion on September 10, a "Clone Competition" (Chung-Yo takes photos of families and selects those that resemble each other the most). Discounted prices cause even the thriftiest of consumers to open their wallets without a thought. All the world's name-brand products are abundant here, which reflects Beijing's growing cosmopolitan presence. Rock'n'roll, shouting assistants, fashions make Xidan a paradise for shoppers.
Beginning this month, shoppers can enjoy "Open-air shopping", two corridors will link the four shopping centers. One is between Chung-Yo Department Store and the Pacific Department Store; the other lies between Huawei Mansion and its opposite building. Shopping promotions are being featured.
Subway: Line One, Xidan Subway Station; Bus: 1, 4, 10, 102, 603, 728, 808
Silver Street is in the Dongdan Beidajie. It is where all the franchised foreign name-brand shops are concentrated.
Jianguomenwai Dajie is famous for its colorful metropolitan scenes. The street is lined with star-rated hotels, office buildings, fancy restaurants, beauty salons and shopping centers. The well-known shopping centers are Friendship Store, SCITECH Plaza, Guiyou Department Store and the China World Shopping Mall.
Just outside the Second Ring Road in western Beijing, there's a multitude of discount markets selling everything from tools to toys. There are some great prices on clothing and small electronics, but haggling is required at every small stall. The biggest and most comprehensive in the area are Wantong, Guanyuan and Tianyi.
New Silk Street
Corner of Xiushui Dongjie and Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District
9 a.m.-9 p.m.
+86 10 5169 9003
Subway: Line 1, Yong'anli Station
Synonymous with a visit to the city, the old Silk Street was a treat of all treats for bargain-hunting tourists. Today, development in the area has made way for bigger and brighter things and one of those is the New Silk Street, a composite of the traders and wares of the old alley now spread out on three floors of this comfortable, safe new building on Jianguomenwai Dajie, Beijing's main drag.
As before, the New Silk Street offers great values on fine cashmere and silk of all types and designer labels are available at knock down prices. The new Silk Street keeps respectable hours, so beat the rush and get there early. Nearby shopping malls offer plenty of places to rest from your busy day's activities where you can sip designer coffee or catch a quick bite at any one of the Chinese or western restaurants in the area.
Sanlitun Bar Street, Chaoyang District
+86 10 6417 6668
Opened in 2003, the Tongli Studio is a complex combining novel boutiques, restaurants, bars, and galleries. High-quality and delicate artistic merchandise are its major attractions.
58 Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang District
8:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
+86 10 6416 8945
Bus Line: 115, 113, 406, 701, 117, 416, 403
Also of interest to bargain hunters in Beijing, the Yashow Market is a big draw for the tourist with some bucks to spend and some serious shopping to do. Centrally located, Yashow is surrounded by the bars, restaurants and cafes of the Sanlitun area, the most popular eating and drinking area for tourists in the city, which makes extended bouts of shopping even easier.
The Market itself offers every imaginable article of clothing. If it's on the market, Yashow will have it or a version of it at the very least. Try shoes on the ground floor, custom-fitted suits on the third, and fashion clothes for young and old on the floors in between. Also on the lower ground floor, luggage and hats add variety to the shopping experience.
The famous Liulichang street lies in Hepingmen since the Qing Dynasty for 200 years. There, those who failed in the imperial examination usually sold their books and inkslabs, and the declined families' heritages exchanged money with their antique collections. It became gradually a market consisted of about 100 shops dealing in traditional works and articles.
Works of Chinese calligraphy and traditional Chinese paintings, old wood block-print books, Chinese ink brushes, inkslabs and paper for calligraphy known as the for treasures of the study and other scholars traditional tools can be found in Liulichang.
Rongbaozhai, being the most important shop there, has more than 300 years' history and a fine copy technique for old Chinese painting.
Tourism-administration-designated stores are specially open for overseas guests but an increasing number of local residents also shop here because of the stores unique stock and good service. They are ideal places to buy arts and crafts, antiques and other Beijing specialties. Money changing, postal and consigning services are often offered.
Century-old stores, like those in Beijing's hutongs (alleys) and siheyuan (courtyards), have become part of the city's history. Their fame and location in some of the most bustling downtown areas keep them busy but, at the same time, the stores are small and offer a relatively poor shopping environment.
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