Shopping - Fodor's Beijing (Full-color Travel Guide) (2015)

Fodor's Beijing (Full-color Travel Guide) (2015)


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Shopping by Neighborhood

Shopping by Neighborhood

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Dongcheng District | Xicheng District | Chaoyang District | Haidian District

Updated by Yuan Ren

Shopping is an integral part of any trip to Beijing. Between the hutongs, the markets, the malls, and the shopping streets, it sometimes seems like you can buy anything here.

Large markets and malls are the lifeblood of Beijing, and they’re generally open from 9 am to 9 pm, though hours vary from shop to shop. If a stall looks closed (perhaps the lights are out or the owner is resting), don’t give up. Many merchants conserve electricity or take catnaps when business is slack. Just knock or offer the greeting “ni hao” and, more often than not, the lights will flip on and you’ll be invited to come in. Shops in malls have more regular hours and will only be closed on a few occasions throughout the year, such as Chunjie (Chinese New Year) and October’s National Day Golden Week.

Major credit cards are accepted in pricier venues but cash is the driving force here. ATMs abound, however it’s worth noting that before accepting any Mao-faced Y100 notes, most vendors will hold them up to the light, tug at the corners, and rub their fingers along the surface. Counterfeiting is becoming increasingly sophisticated in China, and banks are reluctant to accept responsibility for ATMs that dispense fake notes.

The official currency unit of China is the yuan or renminbi (literally, “the people’s currency”). Informally, though, the main unit of currency is called kuai (using “kuai” is the equivalent of saying a “buck” in the United States). On price tags, renminbi is usually written in its abbreviated form, RMB, and yuan is abbreviated as ¥. 1 RMB = 1 Renminbi = 1 Yuan = 1 Kuai = 10 Jiao = 10 Mao = 100 Fen

If you’re looking to bargain, head to the markets; Western-style shops generally go by the price tags. Stalls frequented by foreigners often have at least one employee with some degree of fluency in English. In many situations—whether or not there’s a common tongue—the shop assistant will whip out a calculator, look at you to see what they think you’ll cough up, then type in a starting price. You’re then expected to punch in your offer (start at one third of their valuation). The clerk will usually come down a surprisingly large amount, and so on and so on. A good tip to note is that there’s a common superstition in Chinese markets that if you don’t make a sale with your first customer of the day, the rest of the day will go badly—so set out early, and if you know you’re the first customer of the day, bargain relentlessly.


Strolling the old hutongs (alleyways) of Dongcheng is one of the simplest pleasures to be found in Beijing. This area is rife with them and, despite a local council that’s itching to modernize, many remain relatively unscathed—and filled with households that have lived there for generations. Efforts to reinvigorate some of the hutongs have resulted in a thriving boutique culture, with Nanluoguxiang the first to receive the attentions of tourist dollars. Its bohemian mix of hipster-chic stores, silk shops, and Old China wares attracts huge interest. Next to bask in the limelight was the quieter, but no less hip, Wudaoying Hutong, opposite Lama Temple. Today both command high rents and almost as much attention as nearby Houhai. For some truly unusual finds, try exploring some of the lesser-trod tributaries off Gulou Dongdajie, such as Baochao, Fangjia, and Beiluoguxiang instead.


Beijing Postcards.
Dongcheng District | 156/1145-3992 | | Station: Zhangzizhonglu.

Lost & Found (Shīwù zhāolĭng).
Stylish and sensitive to Beijing’s past, American designer Paul Gelinas and Chinese partner Xiao Miao salvage objects—whether they’re chipped enamel street signs from a long-demolished hutong, a barbershop chair, or a 1950s Shanghai fan—and lovingly remove the dirt before offering them on sale in their treasure trove of a store. This branch is tucked down a tree-lined hutong where imperial exams once took place, and there’s another a few doors down. | 42 Guozijian, Dongcheng District | 010/6401-1855 | Mon.-Thurs. 10:30-8; Fri.-Sun. 10:30-8:30 | Station: Yonghegong | 57 Guozijian, Dongcheng District | 010/6400-1174 | Mon.-Thurs. 10:30-8; Fri.-Sat. 10:30-8:30 | Station: Yonghegong.

Zi’an Print & Graphics (Zí ān Bānhuà).
Exquisite Chinese and European prints (from Y50) decorate the shelves of this adorable little store on Fangjia Hutong. Owner Zi’an is an avid collector of graphic art, engravings, and ex libris (aka bookplates—the small prints sometimes pasted into the front of books). Many of the works on display here date from the 19th century onwards, and nearly all have links to China’s past, depicting everything from life during the Three Kingdoms period to the Opium Wars. | 30 Fangjia Hutong, Dongcheng District | 131/4649-3917 | Tues.-Sun. noon-6 | Station: Beixinqiao.

WARNING: Deception is the only real “art” practiced by the charming “art students” who will approach you at tourist destinations and invite you to their college’s art show. The artworks are, in fact, usually mass-produced copies. If you want to support Beijing’s burgeoning art scene, explore the galleries of Dashanzi (798 Art District), Caochangdi, or drop by one of the galleries listed in Chapter 6.


Mega Mega Vintage.
In Gulou, the only real currency is “vintage.” Fresh-from-the-factory retro T-shirts have their place, but nothing can replace leafing through the racks at Mega Mega Vintage in search of gold. Distressed denim, classic tees, leather bags, and old-style dresses crown a collection that rises high above the “frumpery” peddled by countless copycat boutiques. | 241 Gulou Dong Dajie,Dongcheng District | 010/8404-5637 | | Daily 1:30-9:30 | Station: Beixinqiao.

Plastered T-Shirts.
Now over 15 years old, this store is a must-visit for anyone in search of that rarest of all things: a souvenir you’ll actually use when home. Stop here for T-shirt designs that capture the nostalgic days of Old Peking, as well as retro posters, notebooks, and even thermoses from the ‘80s. It’s fun and kitschy, and everything costs around Y100. | 61 Nanluoguxiang Hutong, Dongcheng District | 136/8339-4452 | | Daily 9:30 am-11 pm | Station: Nanluoguxiang.

Woo (Wŭ).
The gorgeous scarves displayed in the windows here lure in passersby with their bright colors and luxurious fabrics. In contrast to those of the vendors in the markets, the cashmere, silk, and bamboo used here are 100% natural. The design and construction are comparable to top Italian designers, while the prices are much more affordable. | 110/1 Nanluoguxiang, Dongcheng District | 010/6400-5395 | Daily 9:30 am-10 pm | Station: Nanluoguxiang.

The Ultimate Beijing Shopping Tour

Day 1 (weekend): Can’t sleep from jet lag? No worries. Rise before dawn and join the hordes at the Panjiayuan antiques market for Beijing Shopping 101. Spend some time on a reconnaissance tour of its vast collection of stores before making any purchases. Bags in tow, head directly across the street to furniture market Zhaojia Chaowai and hit the fourth floor for ceramics and more Old China trinkets. Next, direct a pedicab driver to Beijing Curio City for all manner of kitsch and souvenirs. From here, take a cab to haggle hard for knockoffs and cheap silk garments at Silk Alley. Have lunch, then make the trek to Qianmen and Dashilan for a walk down old streets newly renovated for modern shoppers. Travel their length on foot (or take the Qianmen tram); by this time of day its shops will begin to close and it’s time to head back to your hotel.

Day 2: Kick off the day by sampling tea from the seemingly infinite number of vendors peddling their wares on Maliandao Tea Street. Buy clay or porcelain service sets and loose tea leaves galore. Then take a cab to Qing Dynasty-style shopping street Liulichang for calligraphy, scrolls, paintings, and more. Linger here a while before returning to modernity and heading to Wangfujing. Then, if its mix of malls, snack shops, and souvenir stalls doesn’t wipe you out, take a cab to Hongqiao Market for a pearl-shopping spree.

Day 3: Start the day in the heart of Beijing’s lake district on the picturesque Yandai Xiejie, beside Houhai. Ethnic garments and Communist relics litter its stores. Afterwards, stretch your legs along the nearby, boutique-packed Gulou Dongdajie until you reach Nanluoguxiang, the popular shopping hutong. Affordable local designs, cute and ironic T-shirts, and gorgeous scarves abound. After one lap, continue east until you reach Yonghegong Dajie; here you’ll find the quieter Guozijian and Wudaoying hutong, and plenty more stores to sate your lust for trinkets. From here, grab a taxi and hit Sanlitun for a visit to Yashow Market and, next door, Sanlitun Village. Designer boutiques and chic malls scatter what used to be just a bar district. Shop, shop, shop, and then drop—wherever you land, a waiter will appear to offer you an ice-cold jianyi kele (Diet Coke) or Tsingtao beer.


Malls at Oriental Plaza (Dōngfāng guăngchăng gòuwù zhōngxìn).
This enormous shopping complex originates at the southern end of Wangfujing, where it meets Chang’an Jie, and stretches a city block east to Dongdan Dajie. It’s a true city within a city and certainly geared toward higher budgets. Some of the more upscale shops include Kenzo and Armani Exchange; ladies should check out the boutique from iconic Chinese-American designer Anna Sui for clothes, accessories, and makeup. | 1 Dongchang’an Jie, Dongcheng District | 010/8518-6363 | Daily 10-10 | Station: Wangfujing.


FAMILY | Hongqiao Market (Hóngqiaó shìchăng).
Hongqiao, or Pearl Market, is full of tourist goods, knockoff handbags, and cheap watches, but it’s best known for its three stories of pearls. Freshwater, seawater, black, pink, white: the quantity is overwhelming, and quality varies by stall. Prices also range wildly, though the cheapest items are often fakes. Fanghua Pearls (No. 4318), on the fourth floor, displays quality necklaces and earrings, with photos of Hillary Clinton and Margaret Thatcher shopping there to prove it. Fanghua has a second store devoted to fine jade and precious stones. Stallholders in the market can be pushy, but try to accept their haggling in the gamelike spirit it’s intended. Or wear headphones and drown them out. | 9 Tiantan Lu, east of the northern entrance to Temple of Heaven, Dongcheng District | 010/6711-7630 | Daily 9:30-7 | Station: Tiantan Dongmen.


Pi’erman Maoyi (Pí’ĕrmàn màoyì gōngsī).
If you’ve always wanted to have shoes made just for you, this traditional cobbler is highly rated by Beijing expats. If you’re in the city at least two weeks—you can have a pair of shoes or boots made for very reasonable prices. Bring in a photo or a pair that you wish to copy, as the cobbler doesn’t speak much English. | 37 Gulou Dong Dajie, Dongcheng District | 010/6404-1406 | Daily 9:30-9 | Station: Beixinqiao.

WARNING: Fakes abound—and that includes jade, antiques, cashmere, pashminas, silk, and leather as well as handbags and Calvin Klein underwear. Many foreign tourists and local people buy fakes, but keep in mind that the low price generally reflects poor quality, often in ways that aren’t immediately apparent. Never buy fake beauty products or perfumes, as these can cause serious skin irritation, and reserve your big purchases for accredited shops or merchants who can prove the quality of their product. Some countries limit the number of knockoffs you can bring back through customs, so don’t go overboard on the handbags or DVDs. If you’re buying authentic antiques, just ask the vender for a receipt embossed with an official red seal.


Daxin Textiles Co. (Dàxīn făngzhī).
For a wide selection of all types of fabrics, from worsted wools to sensuous silks, head to this shop. It’s best to buy the material here and find a tailor elsewhere, as sewing standards can be shoddy. | Northeast corner of Dongsi, Dongcheng District | 010/6403-2378 | Station: Dongsi.


Xicheng is best known as the home of the Forbidden City, but it also has a few choice shopping areas. Located to the south of Tiananmen Square, Qianmen might not rank high on the authenticity scale, thanks to a pre-Olympics renovation, but it still offers plenty of color (as well as brand names)—a ride on the tram down what is one of the city’s oldest shopping streets is a must. To the east lies the similarly spruced-up Dashilar area, a series of shiny hutongs (alleyways) that are a bit too clean to be real but house old-school Chinese medicine stores, silk shops, and “ancient” souvenirs aplenty.

Head northwest of the Forbidden City and you’ll find Beijing’s lake district of Shichahai, comprising Qianhai, Xihai, and Houhai. The latter is surrounded by a morass of hutongs that include Yandai Xiejie, a side street packed with stores and hawkers pushing jewelry, clothes, Mao-shape oddities, and plenty of stuff you don’t need but simply can’t resist. Meanwhile, farther west of here lies Xidan, a giant consumer playground swarming with high-rise malls and bustling underground markets stuffed with cheap clothing and accessories—it’s the go-to place for Beijing’s young and fashionable. At 13 stories, Joy City is the largest mall, while Mingzhu and 77th Street are best for market browsing. And for those who are especially flush with cash, Galeries Lafayette is luxury-brand heaven, with the likes of Alexander McQueen, Jimmy Choo, and Gucci.


Tongrentang (Tóngréntáng).
A first-time consultation with a Chinese doctor can feel a bit like a reading with a fortune-teller. With one test of the pulse, many traditional Chinese doctors can describe the patient’s medical history and diagnose current maladies. Serving as official medicine dispenser to the imperial court until its collapse, Tongrentang now has branches all over the city. At its 300-year-old store in Dashilan you can browse the glass displays of deer antlers and pickled snakes, dried seahorses and frogs, and delicate tangles of roots with precious price tags of Y48,000. If you don’t speak Chinese and wish to have a consultation with a doctor, consider bringing along a translator. | 24 Dashilan, Qianmen, Exit C, Xicheng District | 010/6701-5895 | Daily 8:30-5 | Station: Qianmen.

WARNING: Chinese medicine can be effective, but that’s unlikely to be the case when it’s practiced by lab-coated “doctors” sitting behind a card table on the street corner. If you’re seeking Chinese medical treatment, visit a local hospital, Tongrentang medicine shop, or ask your hotel concierge for a legitimate recommendation.


Seasons Place (Jīnróngjiē gòuwùzhōngxīn).
If you’re staying at one of the business hotels in Beijing’s Financial Street area, this ritzy mall can fulfill any international luxury-brand needs you may have. Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Versace are here, as is the Beijing branch of Hong Kong’s fab department store, Lane Crawford. | 2 Jinrong Jie, Xicheng District | 010/6622-0581 | | Daily 10-9 | Station: Fuxingmen.


Baoguosi Temple Antiques Market (Bàoguósì shōucángpĭn shìchăng).
This little-known market, atmospherically set in the grounds of Baoguosi Temple, is a smaller, more manageable version of Panjiayuan. It sees very few foreigners, and no one will speak English, but armed with a calculator, stallholders will get their point across. As well as memorabilia from the Cultural Revolution, look out for stalls that sell original photos, ranging from early-20th-century snaps to people posing with their first TVs in the 1970s. | Guanganmennei Dajie, Xicheng District | 8223-4583 | Daily 9:30-4:30 | Station: Caishikou.


Beijing Silk Shop (Bĕijīng qiānxiángyì sīchóu shāngdiàn).
Since 1830, the Beijing Silk Shop has been supplying the city with bolts of quality silks and other fabrics. There are tailors on-site to whip up something special, and the second floor has ready-to-wear clothing. To reach the shop, walk all the way down Dashilan then head directly onto Dashilan West Street. | 50 Dashilan Xi Jie, Xicheng District | 010/6301-4732 | Daily 9-8:30 | Station:Qianmen.


Tea Street (Măliándaŏ cháyè pīfā shìchăng).
Literally a thousand tea shops perfume the air of this prime tea-shopping district, west of the city center. Midway down this near-mile-long strip looms the Teajoy Market, the Silk Alley of teas. Unless you’re an absolute fanatic, it’s best to visit a handful of individual shops, crashing tea parties wherever you go. Vendors will invite you to sit down in heavy wooden chairs to nibble on pumpkin seeds and sample their large selections of black, white, oolong, jasmine, and chrysanthemum teas. Prices range from a few kuai for a decorative container of loose green tea to thousands of yuan for an elaborate gift set. Tea Street is also the place to stock up on clay and porcelain teapots and service sets. Green and flower teas are sold loose; black teas are sold pressed into disks and wrapped in natural-colored paper. Despite the huge selection of drinking vessels available, you’ll find that most locals drink their tea from a recycled glass jar. | Maliandao Lu, Xicheng District | South end of Maliandao Lu near Guang’anmen Waidajie | Station: Xuanwumen.


Three Stones Kite Store (Sānshízhāi fēngzhēng diàn).
For something more traditional, go fly a kite. Here, for three generations, the same family has hand-painted butterflies and birds onto bamboo frames to delight adults and children alike. They’re a far cry from the run-of-the-mill types you can find elsewhere. | 25 Di’anmen Xidajie, Xicheng District | 010/8404-4505 | | Daily 10-9 | Station: Shichahai.

How to Buy Pearls in Beijing

All the baubles of Beijing could be strung together and wrapped around the Earth 10 times over—or so it seems with Beijing’s abundance of pearl vendors. It’s mind-boggling to imagine how many oysters it would take to produce all those natural (and cultured) pearls. But, of course, not all are real: some are fake.

The attentive clerks in most shops are eager to prove their products’ quality. Be wary of salespeople who don’t demonstrate, with an eager and detailed pitch, why one strand is superior to another. Keep in mind the following tips as you judge whether that gorgeous strand is destined to be mere costume jewelry or the next family heirloom.

Color: Natural pearls have an even hue; dyed pearls vary in coloration.

Good Luster: Pick only the shiniest apples in the bunch. Pearls should have a healthy glow.

Shape: The strand should be able to roll smoothly across a flat surface without wobbling.

Blemishes: We hate them on our faces and we hate them on our pearls.

Size: Smaller pearls are obviously less expensive than larger ones, but don’t get trapped into paying more for larger poor-quality pearls just because they’re heftier.

The cost of pearls varies widely. A quality strand will generally run around US$50 to $200, but it’s possible to buy good-looking but lower-quality pearls much more cheaply. As with any purchase, choose those pearls you adore most, and only pay as much as you think they warrant. After all, most women could always use an extra strand of good-looking fakes. Also, if you plan on making multiple purchases and you have time to return to the same shop, go ahead and establish a “friendship” with one key clerk. Each time you return, perhaps bringing someone else along, the price will miraculously drop.


The vast Chaoyang District is the area to shop in Beijing, although given that it’s the size of many cities, that is somewhat understating things. It stretches all the way from downtown to the airport, encompassing 798 Art District, Sanlitun, and the Central Business District areas. Its consumerist joys lie mainly in its collection of labyrinthine markets and ever more futuristic malls, with a smattering of boutiques in between. Parkview Green and Indigo are just some of the more impressive examples of shopping malls to dot this part of new-look China. Elsewhere, shopping highlights include Panjiayuan Antique Market, Silk Road Market, the indie stores of 798, and the local capitalist’s mecca that is Sanlitun Village.


The Bookworm (Shūchóng).
Thousands of English-language books fill the shelves at this pleasant café in the heart of Sanlitun. Read for free over a coffee or a simple bistro meal, or join the lending library for a fee. The Bookworm is also a good spot to buy new international magazines and best sellers. This is a popular venue for guest speakers, poetry readings, film screenings, and live-music performances. The kitchen offers a three-course set lunch and dinner. For a quick bite, sandwiches, salads, and a cheese platter are also available. | 4 Sanlitun Nan Lu, set back slightly in an alley 50 meters south of the Gongti Beilu junction, Chaoyang District | 010/6586-9507 | | Daily 9 am-midnight | Station: Tuanjiehu.

Page One.
Spread over two floors, this newest addition to the popular Page One chain is huge, and when it opened, was open 24 hours a day. Soon, however, the realities of such an epic endeavor hit home (it’s located on Bar Street), and normal business hours now apply. As the most comprehensive English language bookstore in the city, there’s a little bit of everything here. The second floor has a large area dedicated to arty stationery, gadgets, and funky knickknacks, along with a large selection of children’s titles and magazines in English. What isn’t here? Many places to sit, so take your seat on a step on the wide staircase, along with the rest of the booklovers. | Sanlitun Village South, No.19 Sanlitun Rd., Chaoyang | 010/6417-6626 | | Mon.-Thurs. 10-10, Fri.-Sun. 10-midnight | Station: Tuanjiehu.


Fodor’s Choice | Best New China.
Showcasing an eclectic collection from more than 100 homegrown designers, Best New China makes a bold statement about China’s emerging fashion. Many of the clothes, shoes, and accessories here are created by subtly tinkering with tradition—they have been given a twist of modern chic while remaining distinctly “period.” The store’s celebrity founder, Hong Huang, has been a driving force behind the concept, and also helped create its celebrity following. From high-fashion to simple linen and even gargoyle art, there’s something for just about everyone. Prices start from under 100 yuan for accessories to a few thousand for clothing. | Floor B1, Sanlitun Village North, Chaoyang District | 010/6416-9045 | | Station: Tuanjiehu.

Candy & Caviar.
Chinese-American fashion designer Candy Lin owns and operates this gem. From her peaceful and professional store, she designs for both men and women—her label has attracted a celebrity following, including from the Black Eyed Peas and Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou. Expect lots of sharp tailoring, stark colors, and relatively high prices. | 921, Bldg. 16, China Central Place,89 Jianguo Lu, Chaoyang District | 010/5203 6581 | | Mon.-Fri. 9-5:30 | Station: Guomao.

Dong Liang Studio (Dòngliáng Gōngzuòshì).
Prices begin at steep and climb to positively perpendicular at this boutique. A visit here is key for anyone wanting to get under the skin of the local fashion scene. Its stock reads like a who’s who of rising Chinese designers, with clothes by Vega Wang, He Yan, Manchit Au, and many more. | Shop 102, Bldg. 2, Central Park,6 Chaoyangmenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District | 010/8404-7648 | Daily 11-9 | Station: Yong’anli.

Fei Space (Fēi).
Fei Space more than holds its own against the other galleries in the 798 Art District, with a funky interior design and eclectic selection of clothes and housewares. Some of the fashion brands are unique to the store (including the first foray into China by Topshop and Topman), and all of them are uniformly stylish—and expensive. That includes the collection of jeans by Victoria Beckham. | B-01, 798 Art District,4 Jiuxiangqiao Lu, Chaoyang District | 010/5978-9580 | Daily 10-7.

Heyan’er (Héyán fúzhuāng diàn).
He Yan’s design philosophy is stated in her label: “bu yan bu yu” (“no talking”). Her linen and cotton tunics and collarless jackets speak for themselves. With their earth tones, aubergine hues, peacock patterns, He Yan’s designs echo traditional Tibetan styles. | 15-2 Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang District | 010/6415-9442 | Daily 9:30-9:30 | Station: Dongsishitiao | Holiday Inn Lido,6 Fangyuan Xilu | 010/6437-6854 | Daily 9:30-9:30 | Station: Sanyuanqiao.

The Red Phoenix (Hóng fènghuáng fúzhuāng gōngzuòshì).
In this cramped-but-charming Sanlitun showroom, the fashion diva Gu Lin designs embroidered satin qipaos, cropped jackets, and men’s clothing for stylish foreigners and China’s xin xin ren lei (literally the “new, new human being,” referring to the country’s latest flock of successful young professionals). | 30 Sanlitun Bei Jie, Chaoyang District | 010/6417-3591 | Mon.-Sat. 9-11 and 1-6 | Station: Nongzhanguan.

UCCA Store (UCCA Shāngdiàn).
The 798 Art District is home to a burgeoning collection of housewares, fashion, and design shops. The most innovative of these is an offshoot of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), located just one door down from the gallery. Clothes, posters, ingenious knickknacks, and artist Sui Jianguo’s iconic (and pricey) “Made in China” plastic dinosaurs make it a must-visit for anyone in the area. | 798 Art District,4 Jiuxianqiao Lu, Chaoyang District | 010/5780-0224 | | Daily 10-7.


Beijing Xinshiweiye CD DVD Shop (Běijīng Huáshíwěiyè CD DVD Shāngdìan).
Easily the most reliable DVD store in the city, this store has plenty of oldies as well as the usual “just released in cinemas” Hollywood blockbusters. Look for the “CD DVD Shop” sign out front—the stall is otherwise unlabeled. Because of the many pirated titles among its merchandise, the shop is occasionally raided by police (this isn’t be too arduous for them, as it’s only a 10-second walk from the nearest station). If that’s happened recently, you’ll find largely bare shelves with nothing but the odd black-and-white classic on display. Usually normal service is resumed pretty fast. DVDs start at Y10 each; box sets range from Y60 to Y500. | Shop 3, East Yashow Market,58 Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang District | 010/6417-8633 | Daily 10-9 | Station: Tuanjiehu.

Buy Now Computer Shopping Mall (Baìnaŏhuìdiànnaŏ guăngchăng).
Buy Now (or Bainaohui) is home to hundreds of stalls selling laptops, PCs, iPods, speakers, phones, and just about any electonic malarkey you can imagine. Both real and knockoff goods tend to be mixed in with each other, so choose wisely. Some stall owners will bargain, others won’t, but it’s always worth a try. | 10 Chaoyangmenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District | 010/6599-5912 | Daily 9-8 | Station: Hujialou.

Kuntai Shopping Mall (Kūntài shāngchéng).
Sitting above Walmart in this mall are cameras, tripods, flash memory, phones, and MP3 players (called MP-San in Chinese). If you forgot the USB cable for your digital recorder or need extra camera batteries, this is the place. Bargain hard and you’ll be rewarded. | 12 Chaoyangmenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District | Daily 9:30-7:30 | Station: Dongdaqiao.


Spin (Xuán).
This trendy ceramics shop near the 798 Art District features the work of several talented Shanghainese designer who take traditional plates, vases, and vessels and give them a unique and delightful twist. Prices are surprisingly inexpensive. | 6 Fangyuan Xilu, Lido, Chaoyang District | 010/6437-8649 | Daily 10-7.


Shard Box Store (Shèndégé).
The signature collection here includes small to midsize jewelry boxes fashioned from the broken shards of antique porcelain. Supposedly the shards were collected during the Cultural Revolution, when scores of antique porcelain pieces were smashed in accordance with the law. Birds, trees, pining lovers, and dragons decorate these affordable ceramic-and-metal containers, which range from Y20 to Y200. | 4 Ritan Beilu, Chaoyang District | 010/8561-3712 | Daily 9-7 | Station: Yong’anli | 2 Jiangtai Lu, near the Holiday Inn Lido | 010/5135-7638 | Daily 9-7 | Station:Sanyuanqiao.


China World Mall (Guŏmào Shāngchéng).
Nothing embodies Beijing’s lusty embrace of luxury goods quite like China World Mall, which is home to a giant branch of the Hong Kong designer emporium Joyce. The average spend here must run into millions of yuan. However, for smaller budgets, there are plenty of cafés and affordable restaurants; the cinema is decent, and there’s also a good ice rink for kids. The mall is open every day, from 10 am to 9:30 pm. | 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District | 010/8535-1698 | Station: Guomao.

Indigo (Yítígăng).
Located just on the edge of Dashanzi (798 Art District), this complex is one of the city’s many impressive “super malls.” Light, airy, and with a few new stores still not open, the mall houses brands that include the GAP, H&M, and Sephora as well as the the Parisian Bread and Butter and homebred earthy fashion house JNBY; there is also a branch of the excellent Page One bookstore. The indoor garden isn’t much to write home about, but a gigantic outdoor park area might be when it’s finished. | 18 Jiuxianqiao Lu, Chaoyang District | 010/8426-0898 | | Daily 10-10.

Parkview Green, Fangcaodi (Fāngcăodí).
Scattered in and around this giant, green pyramid-shaped “biodome” is a boutique hotel, a mall that doubles as a walk-through gallery, and one of the largest private collections of Salvador Dalí works on display outside Spain. For shoppers, stores by designers Stella McCartney and Mulberry rub shoulders with the likes of GAP; meanwhile a branch of the world-famous Taiwanese dumpling-slingers Din Tai Fung is always worth a visit. Even if designer knickknacks aren’t your thing, stopping by just to gawk at the sheer grandiosity of it all comes highly recommended. | 9 Dongdaqiao Lu, Chaoyang District | 010/5690-7000 | | Daily 10-10 | Station: Dong Daqiao.

The Place (Shìmào tiān jiē).
Shopping-wise you’ll find all the usual suspects here—Zara, JNBY, et al.—even if a lack of good dining spots ensures that you won’t linger too long. However, visitors largely flock to The Place to witness its eye-wateringly gigantic LED screen, which bursts into life every hour in the evenings and shows some pretty stunning mini-movies (the meteorites are the best!) before lapsing back into screensavers and commercials. | 9 Guanghua Lu, Chaoyang District | 010/6587-1188 | | Daily 10-10 | Station: Jintaixizhao.

Sanlitun Village (Sānlìtún Village).
The default destination for all expats, this fashionable complex, split into two zones, gets the nod for its great range of stores at all price points, cool architecture, and fun people-watching. Village South houses the biggest Adidas store in the world, as well as branches of Uniqlo, Steve Madden, I.T, and the busiest Apple store you’ll ever see. The newer and more upscale Village North has designer stores such as Alexander Wang and Emporio Armani. There’s also a good cinema and some great restaurants and bars. | 19 Sanlitun Jie, Chaoyang District | 010/6417-6110 | | Daily 10-10 | Station: Tuanjiehu.

Shin Kong Place.
Just east of the CBD, this sophisticated mall is a quiet, refined refuge—probably because the goods are too expensive for the masses; the luxury and mid-range brands include Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Agnès B, and Club Monaco. If you get peckish, there’s an excellent dumpling eatery called Din Tai Fung. | 87 Jianguo Lu, Chaoyang District | 010/6530-5888 | | Daily 10-10 | Station: Dawanglu.

Solana Lifestyle Shopping Park (Lánsè Găngwān).
This California-style, outdoor shopping complex has a rather enviable location alongside Chaoyang Park, a huge expanse of green space on the east side of the city. It’s certainly something Solana’s impressive lakeside strip of wine bars and terraces takes full advantage of. As for the shopping, it pulls in a decent list of names: H&M, Zara, Stradivarius, and Muji—as well as Demeter’s always-interesting selection of scents—“wet dirt” fragrance anybody?|6 Chaoyang Gongyuan Lu, Chaoyang District | A shuttle service runs from Liangmaqiao station Exit C to Solana every 15 minutes daily from 3 pm | 010/5905-6663 | | Daily 10-10 | Station: Tuanjiehu.


Beijing Curio City (Beĭjīng gŭwán chéng).
This complex has four stories of kitsch and curio shops and a few furniture stores, some of which may actually be selling authentic antiques. Prices are high (they are driven up by free-spending tour groups), so don’t be afraid to lowball your offer. Ignore the overpriced duty-free shop at the entrance. | 21 Dongsanhuan Nan Lu, Chaoyang District | 010/6774-7711 | Daily 10-6 | Station:Panjiayuan.

Fodor’s Choice | Panjiayuan Antiques Market (Pānjiāyuán shìchăng).
Every day the sun rises over thousands of pilgrims rummaging in search of antiques and curios, though the biggest numbers of buyers and sellers are on weekends. With over 3,000 vendors crowding an area of 48,500 square meters, it’s a sure bet that not every jade bracelet, oracle bone, porcelain vase, and ancient screen is authentic, but most people are here for the reproductions anyway. Behold the bounty: watercolors, scrolls, calligraphy, Buddhist statues, opera costumes, old Russian SLR cameras, curio cabinets, Tibetan jewelry, tiny satin lotus-flower shoes, rotary telephones, jade dragons, antique mirrors, and infinite displays of “Maomorabilia.” If you’re buying jade, first observe the Chinese customers, how they hold a flashlight to the milky-green stone to test its authenticity. As with all Chinese markets, bargain with a vengeance, as many vendors inflate their prices astronomically for waiguoren (“outside-country people”).

A strip of enclosed stores forms a perimeter around the surprisingly orderly rows of open-air stalls. Check out photographer Xuesong Kang and his Da Kang store (No. 63-B) for some fascinating black-and-white snaps of Beijing city life, dating from the start of the 20th century up to the present day. Also be sure to stop by the Bei Zhong Bao Pearl Shop for medium-quality freshwater pearls cultivated by the Hu family. Also here are a sculpture zoo, a book bazaar, reproduction-furniture shops, and an area stashing propaganda posters and Communist literature. Stalls start packing up around 4:30 pm, so make sure to get there on the early side. | 18 Huaweili, Panjiayuan Lu, Chaoyang District | 010/6774-1869 | Weekdays 8:30-6; weekends 6-6 | Station:Panjiayuan.

Ritan Office Building Market (Rìtán shāngwù loú).
Don’t let the gray-brick and red-trim exterior fool you: The three stories of offices inside the Ritan Building are strung with racks of brand-name dresses and funky-fab accessories. Unlike the tacky variations made on knockoff labels and sold in less expensive markets, the collections here, for the most part, retain their integrity—perhaps because many of these dresses are actually designer labels. They’re also more expensive, and bargaining is discouraged. The Ruby Cashmere Shop (No. 1009) sells genuine cashmere sweaters and scarves at reduced prices, while Fandini (No. 1011) carries a modern selection of typical “street” clothing for men and women. | 15A Guanghua Lu, east of the south entrance to Ritan Park, opposite the Vietnam Embassy, Chaoyang District | 010/85619556 | Daily 10-8 | Station: Yong’anli.

Fodor’s Choice | Silk Alley Market (Xiùshuĭ shìchăng).
Once a delightfully chaotic sprawl of hundreds of outdoor stalls, the Silk Alley Market is now corralled inside a huge shopping center. The government has been cracking down on an increasing number of certain copycat items, so if you’re after a knockoff Louis Vuitton purse or Chanel jacket, just ask; it might magically appear from a stack of plastic storage bins. You’ll face no dearth, however, of fake Pumas and Nikes or Paul Smith polos. Chinese handicrafts and children’s clothes are on the top floors. Bargain relentlessly, carefully check the quality of each intended purchase, and guard your wallet against pickpockets. | 8 Xiushui Dong Jie, Chaoyang District | 010/5169-9003 | | Daily 9:30-9 | Station: Yong’anli.

Yashow Market (Yăxiù shìchăng).
Especially popular among younger Western shoppers, Yashow is yet another indoor arena stuffed to the gills with low-quality knockoff clothing and shoes. Prices are slightly cheaper than Silk Alley, but the haggling no less essential—don’t pay any more than Y50 for a pair of “Converse” sneakers. Also, don’t be alarmed if you see someone sniffing the shoes or suede jackets: they’re simply trying to see if the leather is real. On the third floor, Wendy Ya Shi (No. 3066) is the best of the many tailors on offer, with a basic suit usually starting out at around Y1,500 (including fabric) after a good haggle. TIP The Lily Nails salon on the first floor offers inexpensive manicures and foot rubs if you need a break. | 58 Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang District | 010/6416-8699 | Daily 9:30-9 | Station: Tuanjiehu.


If you’re in Haidian, the chances are that you’re a student, Korean, or both. An abundance of universities and a large Korean population around Wudaokou make this a rather bustling, fun area, although it’s not worth the journey for that alone—unless you have a penchant for kimchi, cheap shots, and overcrowded dance floors. But, if you’re on your way to the Summer Palace or Beijing Zoo, it’s worth stopping by, if only to wind down with a massage at one of the many cheap Korean joints. Inexpensive and cheerful boutiques and restaurants are in abundance, while the usual mainstream chain stroes can be found farther east at the shopping malls in Zhongguancun, which is also home to Beijing’s largest IT and electronics market.


AIKA International Collection Market (Ài jiā guó jì shōu cáng pĭng jiāo liú shì chăng).
Collectors can spend hours perusing the quiet halls of this large antiques, jade, art, and calligraphy market that’s just under the South Fourth Ring Road, beside the Big Bell Temple Museum. | 31 Beisanhuanxilu, Haidian District | 010/82132704 | | Daily 9:30-7 | Station: Dazhongsi.

Zhongguancun Electronics City (Zhōngguāncūn diànqì chéng).
There’s little in the world of IT and electronics that can’t be found in Hailong, Dinghao, and the other multistory malls around the Zhongguancun subway station. Before you buy, make sure you compare prices among a few of the stalls (literally hundreds may be offering the same product or serices). Never accept the initial quote without driving a hard bargain, and don’t hesitate to pit sellers’ prices against each other—it’s the thing to do when the competition is this intense. | Zhongguancun Dajie, Haidian District | 010/8266-3883 | Daily 9-7.

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