Beijing offers the devoted shopper an incredible variety, and even if shopping is not your thing, expect to find a memento or two to take home from your travels. While all big brands can be found on Beijing’s high streets, a bespoke treasure requires that you dig a little deeper. Here’s our list of recommended shops where you’ll find something extra special.
Dig a little deeper in Beijing and discover gorgeous artistic treasures that reflect some of China’s finest traditional arts and craftsmanship. Whether it’s porcelain, paper, or preserved fruit, there are so many beautiful discoveries to be made in places where locals are holding a place in history for those wanting a shopping experience that goes beyond the glitz and polish of contemporary high end fashion.
A visit to at least one Beijing market is an essential adventure while in the country’s capital, so here’s our list of the very best.
Panjiayuan Antique Market
Reputedly China’s largest flea market or antique market. Expect to find every imaginable curio or artifact, including genuine and reproduction antiques, vintage items, ancient books, jade objects, calligraphy and paintings, ancient coins, and even copies of the ‘little red book’, once considered mandatory reading for those living during the Cultural Revolution period. It’s fair to say that you can expect the unexpected here.
Panjiayuan Glasses Market
Need to update your glasses while on tour in Beijing? Then look no further than the Panjiayuan Glasses Market. Whether you simply need an eye check, or want to source the latest in eyewear style, Panjiayuan Glass Market is the go-to destination. Expect to enjoy fast service, great prices, and possibly one of China’s largest eyewear marketplace.
Silk Market Shopping Centre
You can’t help but think of silk when China comes to mind, so if you’re in Beijing, the place to get your fill and stock up is the old Silk Market located in Xiushui Street. First established in 1978, the market operated as an open-air venue, however in 1985, under the jurisdiction of the local council, the Xiushui Street market was expanded. Read more
It stayed this way for 20 years during which time the market was wall-to-wall shops and stalls selling silk products, tourist souvenirs and copies of famous brand fashion. In 2005 after yet another revamp, it was turned into the current Silk Market Shopping Center, offering locals and international visitors a better shopping environment.
Hongqiao Pearl Market
Located directly opposite the Temple of Heaven, the Hongqiao Pearl Market is popular among international visitors for its vast selection of pearls and jewelry. But that’s not all you’ll find there. Given that markets and trading seem to be in the DNA of local traders, the pearl market is perhaps a misnomer, because shoppers will find electronics, toys, clothes, and souvenirs.
Maliandao Tea Market
After a very short time in China, you’ll quickly discover just how ubiquitous tea is. Quite simply, it is everywhere. At the Maliandao Tea Market, step into the heart of Beijing’s largest commercial and wholesale tea center. Ever so slightly overwhelming for the non-connoisseur, choose your tea from over 300 merchants selling the full gamut of tea and tea drinking paraphernalia. Or if that seems all too hard, visit one of the many teahouses on site instead.
Sample the food market Sanyuanli where regional tastes can be bought and savored along with Beijingers and ex-pats who love their ‘street food’. This is definitely the number one destination if you appreciate the very best ingredients. Make your selection from a vast array of vegetables, seafood, fruits, fresh meat and other ingredients. If it’s hard to find, we’re pretty sure you’ll get it at Sanyuanli.
Yes, there are many shopping streets in Beijing, however, there is only one Wangfujing Street (or Wangfujing Dajie). It’s one of Beijing’s oldest shopping streets (operating over 700 years) and is internationally famous for its unique shopping culture. Wangfujing Street has a lively atmosphere where you’ll find anything from the quaintest, traditional curio shops to the newest, leading designer stores. It is perhaps best known for Beijing shopping icons like the Art and Crafts Emporium, the Beijing Foreign Languages Bookstore, and Oriental Plaza. And while Wangfujing Street is within walking distance from Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, we recommend walking shoes if you’re planning a serious shopping expedition.
Offering glitter and glamor, we’re pretty sure you’ll find something for everyone at Xidan Commercial Street. You could easily spend the whole day feasting your eyes on the big brands and small boutiques that stand side by side on this modern Beijing shopping street. Every day, locals and foreign travelers alike, swarm here to grab a bargain. At night, Xidan transforms into a fairytale, with its glittering lights and glamorous entertainment. Xidan is located in the Xicheng district and is easy to reach by public transport.
Perhaps the busiest center in Beijing, the central business district is characterized by high-end office buildings, apartments, five-star international hotels, and mega modern shopping centers like China World Mall, Wanda Plaza, and Beijing SKP. Although this inner-city shopping precinct doesn’t have the same charm as Beijing’s markets, it does give shoppers looking for global brand names a single destination where they can find them all in close proximity to each other.
Qianmen / Dashilan
Trend meets tradition on Qianmen Street, so expect to travel back in time to Beijing’s oldest commercial area. Bustling and packed with clusters of old, traditional shops, Qianmen is the complete opposite of Dawanglu. An old-fashioned tram runs through the street, and beautiful vintage lights make it worthy of a late-night stroll. Photo opportunities abound, as does the chance to find anything from traditional Chinese medicine, luxurious silk, and quirky, old bookstores.
Immerse yourself in arts and crafts on Liulichang ‘cultural street’. It really is the ideal destination for art lovers and artists because it’s here you’ll discover high-quality Chinese art, antique books, calligraphy, paintings, and much more. Liulichang ‘cultural street’ is located in the Xuanwu District and is easy to reach by bus or metro.