Shopping in Xi’an is among the many sites and highlights to include as part of your travels in and around this vibrant, lively city. In fact, you’ll find shopping in Xi’an offers a lovely fusion of luxury shopping a la SKP - a high-end shopping ‘cathedral’, old-world tradition like the kind to be had at the locally popular Kaiyuan Shopping Mall, as well as street markets and tiny bespoke shops offering unique handcrafted artworks. Whether you’re after the latest in high street fashion for your holiday, a cheesy tourist souvenir, or a beautiful memento to take home from your travel adventure in China, we’re certain this list will make short work of your shopping needs.
If you’re anything like the ChinaTours.com team you love a good treasure; something extra special that immediately transports you back to a time and place when you discovered a new and interesting keepsake. In a city with a history and culture as rich as Xi’an’s, the challenge will be choosing, so let’s jump in with this delightful list of Xi’an shopping treasures.
If there is one thing those with a penchant for purchases should know it’s that markets, especially in cities like Xi’an, offer wonderful places to discover a trinket or memento that is a little unusual and special. In this summary list here, we’ve captured the advice of our guides on the ground who are dedicated market lovers.
Huajue Lane at Muslim Quarter
Nestled within the Muslim Quarter near the Great Mosque, the narrow Huajue Lane is a typical souvenir market, selling antique replicas, local handcrafts, Chinese silk products, paintings and calligraphy works. It’s the perfect place to give your haggling skills a workout too, so come feeling confident.
Xicang Market was established late in the Qing dynasty. Originally it was a market for flowers, birds, fish, and insects. Today, it’s a market for just about everything. Expect to find plants, old books, magazines, secondhand objects, daily utensils, as well as birds, fish and Chinese crickets. For an experience of local Xianese life, spend a happy couple of hours absorbing the energy and observing the antics of vendors and their customers.
Xi’an Town’s God Temple Market
Located close to City God Temple at West Avenue, is the Temple Market. Originally famous for handicrafts, stationery, sewing odds and ends, and other small commodities, the market has gained a new lease on life since the City God Temple was renovated. It continues to attract both locals and travelers. Allow a couple of hours to wander here without feeling rushed.
A mere stone’s throw away from the South City Gate, alongside the city wall, Shuyuanmen is a street tastefully reconstructed in the style of the Ming and Qing dynasties. On both sides of the street, are stores and shops that sell Chinese art, calligraphy, paintings, and other authentic traditional handicrafts. Our pick for lovers of bespoke anything? Stay cool with a classical Chinese fan customized with Chinese calligraphy, or have a Chinese seal made with your name written in Chinese on it. The more adventurous can learn to play the xun, the oldest musical instrument in China.
Xiaodongmen Antique Market
Originally a flea market and going by the moniker ‘Ghost Market’ because people came to trade secondhand goods and antiques after midnight, Xiaodongmen is now an antique market frequented by local antique collectors who are out hunting for ‘treasure’. Expect the hustle and bustle of a genuine market appreciated by locals and anyone who loves the unusual.
Saturday Flea Market at Tang West Market
The International Antique City at Tang West Market is the largest antique market in northwestern China and the Saturday Flea Market here is popular with local people who are hobby antique collectors. Scour through stalls selling coins, porcelain, jade, paintings, calligraphy, old watches, out of print books. You can even expect to find your own copy of the ‘red book’ if that interests you too.
Northwest International Tea City
Opening in 2015, the Northwest International Tea City is a wholesale center for tea and teaware. Unlike other traditional wholesale markets, Tea City is a modern stylish complex housing tea shops and food. Of course, you’ll find virtually every kind of Chinese tea here, from leading brands to unusual and difficult-to-find teas.
Jianguomen Old Market
Located within the Xi’an City Wall in the southeast corner, the Jianguomen Old Market is a destination fondly regarded by locals as the place where many happy childhood hours were spent. The original wet market has been upgraded and redeveloped as a cultural and creative area that houses the market itself, as well as cafes, bars, restaurants, homestays, art exhibitions, and bookstores.
Serious shopping in Xi’an
We’ve covered bespoke and beautiful, but what about serious, hardcore shopping that is only possible in larger shopping precincts? Relax, we have that covered too. As a commercial mecca for centuries, it’s hardly a surprise to find some of China’s most significant shopping centers in key locations around Xi’an, so grab your bags and let’s direct you to these cathedrals of commerce.
Bell Tower Area
Located at the very center of Xi’an City, the area around the Bell Tower was once the main destination for local Xi’anese to do their shopping. Apart from numerous department stores and shopping malls, foodies can expect to be satisfied too with the Muslim Quarter, Dongmutoushi, Luomashi, and Zhubashi all within easy walking distance. If you only have one or two days in Xi’an, make this your number one shopping stop.
South Gate Area
Located just 2 kilometers from Bell Tower, the South Gate area is another hot spot for shopping in downtown Xi’an. Regardless of whether your taste is high-end luxury or high street functionality, you’ll find both ends of the spectrum and everything in between at SKP and Wangfujing Department Store, while Chinese cultural souvenirs can be found in Shuyuanmen Street.
Originally starting as a farmer’s market in the 1980s, the Xiaozhai Area has expanded to include the Xiaozhai Intersection such that it is now the center of south Xi’an city. Catering in large part to the predominantly student and university population, access is easy with convenient public transport options available. If there are teens and tweens in your travel group, Xiaozhai Area is heaven. Think fun, fashion, and personalized style. The shopping highlight here for young people is the popular Xi’an Saga International Shopping Mall, which is located at the northeast corner of the busy Xiaozhai Intersection.
Jiefang Road Area
Jiefang Road is one of the main roads in downtown Xi’an. The Xi’an Railway Station is located at the north end of Jiefang Road, which has retained its position as one of the busiest commercial areas in Xi’an since the 1950s, not least because of the landmark famous Xi’an MINSUN Jiefanglu Department Store. If you arrive empty-handed expect to leave loaded up.
Formerly named Xi’an Hi-tech Industries Development Zone, this area is Xi’an’s answer to Silicon Valley. After 30 years of development, it has established itself as an important commercial precinct in Xi’an. It abounds with shopping centers, cafes, restaurants, and international hotels. Among the long list are some stand-out choices: Gaoxin Wanda Plaza, Zhongda International Shopping Mall, the Golden Eagle Shopping mall, and Century Ginwa Gaoxin Shopping Center. Serious shoppers can easily pound the pavement in the Gaoxin area for a day.
Located in the southeast of Xi’an, Qujiang is a newly developed district that combines the arts, luxury shopping, and tourism. Sound like shopping heaven? Locals think so. Datang Everbright City, Xi’an Joy City, Qujiang Intime City, and Qujiang Creative Cultural Centre are all popular with Xi’anese and tourists alike.
If there’s one thing you can be guaranteed of while traveling around China it’s coming face to face with seriously big shopping malls. Catering to a vast population, it’s any wonder that shopping real estate appeals not only to investors but to the shoppers themselves. It would be fair to say that when it comes to visiting a shopping mall in Xi’an, the motto is ‘go big or go home’, because they are, well, really big. Here we share our ‘best of’ list for the shopper who prefers the latest and greatest in modern shopping experiences.