Hongqiao Market (Pearl Market), Beijing
Name Pearl Market is somehow misleading. This big market offers everything, from pocket knifes, copy watches, sports wear, bags, shoes to actual jewelry.
It is somehow chaotic – but so is every market in China (the ones locals visit are even harder to pick through). On ground floor you can find some electronics, basic photo equipment, copy watches and other small stuff (pocket knives, thermos for tea…). On second floor they have shoes, women’s and men’s clothes, bags and some sporting goods – remember when bargaining - they are all fakes! At the top of the store they keep pearls, other jewelry and souvenirs (lamps, stamps, coins, kites, silk craft…).
What to buy: You can make the best deal buying pearls and copy watches (they are really cheap here, if you know how to bargain).
For other stuff you can make a better deal on other more local markets.
What to pay: Allways BARGAIN. As low as I could get:
better (fake nike, addidas...) shoes - 50/60 RMB
fake bags - 40 RMB
men's T shirts - 30 RMB
women's shirts - 10/30 RMB
pearls - 6 RMB for the small necklace, 30 RMB for a string of pearls
copy watches (rolex, brightling) - 120 RMB
copy watches (CK, DKNY, Gucci) - 30/50 RMB
Remember, they will start with the skyhigh prices - don't get discouraged - BARGAIN!
Hongqiao is a Beijing shopping favourite, not because it is relaxed but because it has just about anything you could possibly want. However, with the recent crackdown on fake branded products, many of these are carried under the counter.
Hongqiao is known for its pearls and there are plenty of pearl shops here: do remember that these are freshwater pearls though, which are a lower quality than saltwater pearls!
Although the ground floor (and the basement fish stalls) are a seething mass of people al day every day, the crowds get less as you go higher up. There are some classy shops on the upper floors.
Note that several buildings nearby are now part of an 'extended' Hongqiao and you may get better bargains there.
There is a shop around the corner (actually behind the main Hongqiao - entrance where the car-park ramp comes out) which has vast amounts of toys, electronic games, sports goods and stationery.
What to buy: You name it, they have it. There are some nice silk tablecloths and napkins on the ground floor.
Hongqiao is also good for binoculars.
What to pay: If you behave like a ditzy tourist, you will pay ditzy tourist prices. The trick is to know the going China rate for things, which is difficult to know unless you live here. Push hard, and walk away at least once.
At the pearl market you will shop 'til you drop. Clothes, shoes, watches, DVD's, silks, pearls, electronics... And almost everything is genuine copies.
But the quality is good and the price is right.
If you know how to bargain for it that is. And bargain you must. For absolutley everything.
The whole place have three stories jam packed with everything you never knew you wanted.
But even you you didn't know it yourself, you can be sure that the salespersons know.
And they will let you know it. Try to walk by a stall and they will grab something, anything, and try to convince you that this is what's missing in your life. Some will even grab your arm to make sure you will come look at their goods.
Loads of good deals can be made here, and if you like to shop, no not miss it!
What to buy: Buy clothes, lots and lots of clothes.
But everything is available here so you don't have to limit yourself to anything.
What to pay: Depends on you bargaining success.
Five storey building with everything you need. In the basement there's a food market - not a food court - the ground floor offers you electronics and luggage, on the first floor you'll find clothing for men and women, the second floor is filled with clothes, antiques and pearls, the same on the third, but mostly antiques and cheap freshwater pearls here and on the fourth you'll find exlusive pearl stores where even Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Mrs Putin have been photographed shopping (or maybe just looking). It's an old indoor market place, but we found the clothes cheaper here than on Yachow (new)market.
What to buy: Pearls, I guess. But we went for sports gear like Canadian Goose and North Face outfits.
What to pay: It's all about bargaining, but I bought one Canadian Goose jacket, one North Face jeans for skiing and a North Face jacket for 610 RMB. Initially they asked 900 RMB for a jacket. If I just wanted one piece I think I could get it for 250 RMB.
It's another market I like , but mainly for pearl shopping . This is a 3-4 story building right in front of Tian Tan park, quite central located.
They have also those stuff as YA XIU has. Some antique also good here but a bit expensive.
They have extremely nice girls selling pearl , most of them are bilingual or multilingual . No worry for the language when bargain.
The worst is to get help by calculator!
My boss said we will have good business if our sales staff are as good as these girls!
What to buy: Pearl is the speciality of this market. These are sweet water pear from southern China provinces. These girls are very skillful and doing things very quick. They can re-make the pear necklace/bracelet as the design you like. Just tell them what you want!
The qulity is not bad general speaking, people like to bring them back to their country for the cheap price and not bad quality . It's the perfect gift from China!
The bargaining skill : reference to "YA XIU"
The Red Bridge Market is a very big store for the tourist to buy souvenir, antiques, and other interesting stuff. Even the local resident like to go shopping here. The former president of US, Bill Clinton, visited the market when visiting China.
What to buy: souvenir, antique, silk, pearl
What to pay: It depends what you buy. My advice: when you bargain, offer at least 50% discount when buy antiques.
Another fleamarket with almost of everything... including pearls.
A great variety of fakes and also souvenirs. You find also cheap electronics.
It worths to visit at least one of these markets in Beijing.
What to pay: Bargain always! Normally prices are to be 30-40% of the asked ones.
the shop is huge, very wide choice of pearls, they also show you how to extract pearls from the shell, how many pearls you can find in it, what colors, how to be sure these are real pearls and not some plastic...very important indeed! the girl whom told me all this offered a handful of pearls coming just from a fresh new shell, i didnt know where to put all of them, so i put them in my coat's pocket and from time to time giving them to friends...just occasionally saying..hey! dont you want some pearls:) sometimes they fall from my pocket on the ground...
What to buy: i bought earrings and had a bracelet as a gift, sure i would buy more if i wouldnt have bought pearls in Shanghai a year ago..so i stopped myself:)
What to pay: different prices starting from 5$ till...??? but if you take a lot you always get something for free
What to buy:
Many of the stalls in the Honqqui Market (the Pearl market is on the second floor here) have kites for sale. Great things to bring home for the children or yourself, if, like me, you are a big boy!
More fancy kites can probably be bought at specialist kite shops, but I have never searched for them. On Tienanmen square you will be accosted by kite flyers that want you to buy their kites. Some of the kites look really good, so why not, but bargain hard.
What to pay: The cost less than 50Y for the smaller ones and up.
Here you can buy anything and everything you need. Just remember to bargain a LOT. they will start at 500 and close at 20 .But smile all the time and remember,for you it may be only a few yuan, but for them it is a livelihood.
shop till you drop.
We were met at the door by an enthusiastic pearl specialist who explained all about pearl farming ( in 10 minutes or less). Even though this is a tourist grab , it is interesting if you haven't seen freshwater pearl shucking. I was surprised to see so many pearls in one shell and so many colours. This demo is all about ssales though so you need to be ready from high pitched sales efforts!
What to buy: The rule here is to bargain hard. The ,arkup is high and anyones guess. We were able to get 35% off and I feel we could have done better.I bought gorgeous purple pearls ( kind of a mauve colour really) . I bought the necklace with the detachable braclet and earrings too. They string the pearls while you wait!!
If you are looking for cheap clothes, technical equipment and fakes you should try the HONGQIAO market which is inside a big building with three or four storeys. It is situated closer to the Temple of Heaven. From there it is easy to reach.
What to buy: Not only pearls - clothes, sport clothes, technical equipment, too. Everything which is possible to fake!
What to pay: It all depends on your own bargain skills;-)
Entering Hongqiao market is perhaps one of the wisest decisions you can make in Beijing. I went there 3 times during my stay in Beijing and did not regret a single time.
For a foreigner, perhaps the biggest impediment in China is language, but in Hongqiao, just about every salesperson is fluent in English. According to my observation, shoppers from the western world are not so lucky in bargaining, as Asians are.
I especially loved the numerous shops in the basement and on the ground floor. It's real fun to be dragged inside a shop by cute girls.. :) ... and it becomes virtually impossible to leave without buying anything.
The price quoted initially by the salesgirls is totally meaningless. In most cases, you should target at 10% of the quoted price. Trust me ... it is not difficult at all.
What to buy: There are shops of all kinds in that building. Except for the mobile phones, I found other shops attractive.
Although, this building is not a specialty market for electronics, yet you can buy small electronic gadgets ...
Sports shoes are a special item that you should focus on. Fake brands are everywhere, and it is upto you to make a decision whether to buy a real chinese brand or a fake brand.
What to pay: Focus on 10% rule.. you wont regret it.
The shop assistants may not speak English well but the owner, Ms. Hong Fei, speaks English very well. They will not even try to sell you everything like in some shops. You can take your time and they will even "personalize" your pieces. The owner knows what to do with the pearls and is very efficient in mounting them or putting them together. You need not bargain hard because the shop owner does not overprice. Free bottled water while waiting.
What to buy: Fresh water pearls, seawater pearls, Southsea pearls, Tahiti pearls, Mabe pearls
What to pay: Check around first. I recommend you visit the shops on the 2nd floor and then you go to the 3rd floor to compare prices and consider buying.
We liked the Pearl Market more than the Silk Market: less crowded, less aggressive salers and - in our humble opinion - the same or better quality. The markets are both housed in a large building, several floors of small vendors. There was choice enough and the fourth (or third, as we say) houses the pearls vendors in a light and relative quiet athmosphere. We tried a number of shops, and were best served by a shop owner called Lily, sales booth 23. We bought a necklace of salt water pearls and several small gifts and got a good price (off course, you have to bargain, but she started reasonable).
What to buy: Salt water pearls have a better texture than the more usual sweet water pearls. Lily made them into a necklace, with a knot between every pearl.
What to pay: We paid what we thought was ist value to us.