Chengdu shopping, just like shopping in so many other parts of China, is a veritable Aladdin’s cave of delights.
Now we will cover Chengdu shopping malls in this tribute to commerce, fashion, food, and fads. But more importantly, we’ll also take you down the lesser-known alleys and out-of-the-way alcoves that only Chengdu locals frequent. To visit, one must simply be ‘in the know’. And once you’re done with this article about Chengdu shopping, you will be exactly that.
One caveat though.
You won’t find famous Chengdu food discoveries here. We’ve covered that elsewhere. Yes, it’s true. Chengdu is famous for its food. It just isn’t possible, however, to count the vast array of local Chengdu food specialties like Sichuan peppercorns, pixian doubanjiang (bean paste), chili powder, hot pot soup base, and myriad other famous food snacks. Notwithstanding custom import limitations around foods in many Western countries, we think your bags will be filled with so many other treasures from your Chengdu shopping expeditions, there probably won’t be room for much else.
So, with that out on the table, let’s jump into shopping in Chengdu like a local.
Who doesn’t love a good travel treasure from their holidays?
Let’s face it, beautiful travel memories are not only stored in our minds long after the holiday is over. They are frequently things that hang on walls, sit on shelves, or drape across a couch. The ChinaTours.com team is a fan of any travel ‘thing’ that is both beautiful and memorable, and while budget bargains have their place, a unique and delightful treasure is something else entirely. Here’s our list of beautiful take-home travel memories, found only when shopping in Chengdu.
Chengdu Markets: Pounding the pavements for bounty and bargains in Chengdu
Markets in China are unlike markets anywhere else in the world. A devoted shopper can expect to find all manner of travel memory treasures for the return trip home, much like ancient travelers trekking the Silk Road centuries previously. Here we’ve highlighted Chengdu’s best markets, so be sure to add these destinations to your shopping itinerary.
Songxianqiao Antique Market
Having first opened its doors in 1998 and conveniently located just a short distance from Sichuan Museum, Songxianqiao is the place in Chengdu for authentic jade jewelry, coins, porcelain artworks, traditional Chinese calligraphy and paintings, and antique Chinese furniture. Expect to while away hours here, exploring the eclectic collection of items that are as curious as to their sellers.
Kowloon Plaza is a relative newcomer among Chengdu’s shopping destinations. Momentously opened in 1997, the year of Hong Kong Handover, the 11-story plaza is a shopping place with both wholesalers and retailers who sell a diverse array of clothing, electronics, suitcases, leather goods, and food. If a bargain is what you love, this is your place.
Daxinan Tea Market
We’ve already talked about the fact that tea is a big deal in China (read up on must-know Chinese tea facts here ), so no need to expand on that here. What you do need to understand, however, is that tea is to China what wine is to France. Tea is so important that it’s traded like other commodities. Today, that trading continues at dedicated tea markets like the Daxinan Tea Market in Chengdu, one of the largest of its kind in southwestern China. Read more
As a visitor here, expect to see shops drying, packaging, and processing tea leaves of every shape and size, as well as wholesalers and retailers selling tea and tea wares - every kind imaginable, from budget to bespoke prices. Although located on Chengdu’s northside, local Chengdu families and businesses make the trek across the city to buy tea of course, and to stock up on any tea-related items.
Among the many food markets throughout Chengdu city providing the daily food needs of locals, Yulin Market is a stand-out example. Selling everything from spices, fruits, dry goods, vegetables, and meat, expect to be inspired - and hungry! With a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, the many food stalls and restaurants are a great option for a meal or two while visiting the area. Yulin Market is also host to some of Chengdu’s most famous and favorite foods.
Hehuachi Wholesale Market
Already famous over 30 years ago, Hehuachi retains its position as one of Sichuan’s biggest bazaars. It is now the destination for wholesale business. It hosts several markets in modern shopping malls, which in China take the form of high rises. Within these commercial meccas, you’ll discover specialty shops and stalls selling everything from clothes, shoes, fabric, homewares, furnishings, toys, daily necessities, handicrafts, and souvenirs. Locals say there is ‘no job too big or small that can’t be satisfied by shopping at Hehuachi. And the bonus? Low prices are not found in regular commercial outlets.
If you’re the kind of person who can spend a day pounding the pavement, then lace up your walking shoes and prepare for a visit to Chengdu’s major shopping precinct. What you can’t buy here probably doesn’t exist, so come with an empty suitcase (or two perhaps?) and be prepared to shop till you drop.
Located in the city center, the iconic Chunxi Road was built in 1924, it is now the most prosperous shopping district in Chengdu, and is as famous as Wangfujing street in Beijing, Nanjing Road in Shanghai. This commercial shopping street is a must-visit place during a Chengdu trip. There are over 700 shops, including several large and trendy shopping centers and department stores here. Chengdu IFS, Taikoo Li Chengdu, Ito Yokado, and Pacific Sogo Department Store are among the selection. You can also find shops beloved by locals, having endured for generations. Find famous local Chengdu food, jewelry, clocks and watches, glasses, stationery, and way more. Over hundreds of internationally well-known brands launched signature shops here too, so if high-end and luxury is more your thing, you’re well catered for.
Right next to Tianfu Square at Chengdu’s city center is Yanshikou, another prime retail area, with many shopping malls and department stores, catering from high-end to mid-market budgets. The year-round sales promotions in New World Department Store are popular with locals, as is the ‘high street’ clothing at Taihua Clothing City. Accessories and bric-a-brac are in plentiful supply on Ranfang Street, another popular shopping destination for local Chengdu people. Rumor has it that a new business precinct will emerge here soon, along with Chengdu’s first duty-free shop.
Jinli & Kuanzhai Alleys
As the most popular tourist destinations in Chengdu city, Jinli and Kuanzhai Alleys are ‘one stop’ destinations for tourists wanting an experience of local culture, food, and shopping. There’s an abundance of Chengdu souvenirs to be found here, so stock up on take-home gifts like Shu embroidery, panda-themed knick-knacks, ceramics, Sichuan opera masks, and more.
Jianshe Road Area
Perhaps Chengdu’s most famous and popular food street is Jianshe Road. There’s only one rule here: Arrive hungrily! This area has morphed to become the commercial center of east Chengdu, so in addition to the incredible food, other highlights in this district are shopping at INCITY, Wangfujing Discovery, Vanke Diamond Square, and SM City. For something different, visit 339 TV Tower, then wander through Mengzhuiwan for all kinds of boutiques and small shops.
Tianfu Er Jie (Tianfu 2nd Street)
Regarded as the heart of south Chengdu, Tianfu Er Jie has it all when it comes to commercial, residential, and leisure needs. There are over nine business hubs in this area, including Ito-Yokado, Shihao Square, Lu Zhou Li, and Fucheng International Plaza, each offering something different. Many shops have ‘merged’ in the beautiful Dayuan Central Park, which is located close by.
Wuhouci Heng Street
Located in the main Tibetan quarter in Chengdu, just opposite the Wuhou Shrine and very close to Jinli, this small street is home to all things Tibetan. Why? Because Chengdu is the main transit point in China between Tibet and the Central Plains. Wander through tiny shops selling ritual items of significance in Tibetan Buddhism: traditional clothing, rugs, medicine, books, and musical instruments and recordings. Why not take time for a traditional Tibetan meal while you’re here? It’s a little like stepping into a tiny part of Tibet here, not least because the office of the Tibet Autonomous Region is located on Wuhouci Heng Street and most business owners and residents on this street are Tibetan people.
With well over a billion and a half people calling China home, you could say they’ve mastered the art of creating shopping destinations that cater to the many different tastes and preferences of its people. Shopping malls are in plentiful supply in Chengdu. So too are big shopping malls. In fact, China can boast about Chengdu. The largest shopping mall is just one to consider on your visit to this city of shopping.