There are numerous markets throughout the city. I visited one of the larger ones. It had seperate sections for produce (fruits and vegetables), spices, meats and fish, clothing and beverages. There was also an area where locals can have a bite to eat for breakfast.
The Bird and Insect Market was very interesting. There are many other animals on sale here too. Ones that I have never seen except in zoos! There is also a cricket area, with heaps of bamboo cages and crickets chirping loud enough to deafen you!
There were land tortises walking around, big Iguanas and other lizards, a BOA Constrictor!!, green snakes, little red snakes, strange crabs, strange large snails, squirrels, a Tarantula!!, among the normal animals , there were many aquarium fish, frogs, chicks and ducklings, piglet, hamsters, and rabbits.
I was fascinated by the market. If you like animals and seeing strange animals, you should visit. If you are an animal-rights activist, maybe you should give it a miss...
Chinese name: Guanyuan Shichang.
How to get there: Fucheng Men Metro Stop. (exit B). along the east side of the 2nd ring road (Xicheng).
If you can find this market it is very interesting! I saw alot of people walking inside so I decided to follow !?! Hmmm.... where are they going I wondered? It ended up being a market that had an array of stuff. I have no idea of how to tell you how to get there or even where it was. I do know that it was in Beijing though. LOL Like alot of the things that I see while travelling are just stumbled upon. So I would never remember how to get back to the place again. But I guess that's the fun of travelling. I hope you can find it or a similar one.
There's a night food market in Wangfujing Street. Actually, it's not on Wangfujing street but the first one on the left, when you walk from South to North, it's Donganmen Street.
It's open from 6 to 9 PM every day when the weather is warm enough, ie from Spring to Autumn.
It's pretty crowded as there are at least 30 stands selling grilled skewers, noodles, dumplings etc...
Also, check out the bird and fish market in Northwest Beijing on Xizhengmeng. It's a little hard to find but tell the cab driver you want to go to the Guanyuan markey or Niao shi and show him a picture. Good luck. That's where they sell all kinds of plants and animals, from crickets to rare breeds of cats (in China cats with one blue eye and one brown eye are especially treasured) and all the birds you'll see in the morning at Tai Chi. WARNING: Don't take pictures at this market, no matter how fantastic the sights are. I suspect some of the animals are illegally transported or some kind of illicit activity is going on. All I know is when I snapped a picture (w/o flash) and was spotted I was screamed at by everyone in the vicinity. You'll already stand out as a foreigner there so don't draw extra attention to yourself like that. That made them really mad.
I dont kow about having any local knowlege but the best idea we had was to take a cab about 15 minutes away from the hotel and just start walking around. We found many street markets with great stuff. I was concerned about the language but most merchants with have a calculator which to haggle with you on. The student population (under 20) generaly speak some decent english but they are a bit shy with it.