Lai Tai - Lady Street, Beijing
The Ladie’s Street (nu3 ren2 jie1) is located near the Lufthansa business district.
In here there are hundreds of stalls selling all fashions of women's clothes, shoes and jewelry. And a lot of stuff from Hong Kong and South Korea as well. If you want, you (lady/miss) can even get manicures and pedicures as well as massage and other beauty treatments.
You can also take your friends with you since there are plenty of cafes “in the streets of the street” to enjoy a Chinese style lunch (Sichuan, Canton, Hunan, Hangzhou, Xinjiang,etc.). There are also teahouses and Japanese and Korean restaurants. And you can even buy some flowers in the adjacent flowers market.
Don't worry, shopping information is broadcast in Chinese and English, alternating with "ladies music".
What else could you ask for?
What to buy: Woman's stuff.
What to pay: If your bargaining skills are good, only a few hundred.
Lai Tai is best known for being on the absurdly named 'Lady Street' and next to an alleyway called 'Lady Dressing Plaza'. It's common for areas or streets in China to have these kinds of functionally accurate, yet bizarre names!
Lai Tai is a big hanger full of plants, flowers, xiaoshan and aquarium shops: it's the horticultural Silk Market.
Yet below the roots of all these plants is two full floors of small shops. The first mezzanine floor has a lot of good jewellery shops, a number of shops selling porcelain and bags, and a good number of nail salons. At the back is an avenue of shoe and luggage shops.
Go down one floor further and there is a huge area of clothing shops, including some that sell ethnic clothing and even one with US army surplus.
What to buy: Lai Tai manages to avoid attracting tourists altogether, and is nowhere near as crowded as Hongqiao or Jilin Plaza.
Most of the shoppers are locals, and most of the foreigners work nearby.
Lamps are a particularly good bargain in Beijing, and there are plenty of lamp shops around. The best one is way out in the suburbs (near Pinnacle Plaza at the Wenyu river, if you really are a lamp fanatic) but there is a good shop in the Lai Tai area, in the long row of shops. It's just a couple of shops to the left of the entrance to the Bar Street. The gas patio lamps and heaters in the photographs are actually from the shop next door.
Most of the lamps are made on the premises, and there is a huge variety of shapes, styles and sizes. Many of them have a good solid feel, but are mainly modern. These are not the chintzy cloisonne lamps in the tourist shops, but classy lamps, many with shades made from home-made paper. Prices from RMB200 upwards.
The new Laitai flower market is one of the biggest non-clothes markets on the east side of Beijing, although yu can find plenty of clothes in the huge underground market below it!
Lai Tai is a good place for particulary cold days, as the huge range of flowers, plants and orchids is interesting, even if you are not buying.
At the back of the building, and on the right hand side, there are about 20 shops selling aquariums and aquarium equipment.
Note that the best area for cut-flowers - at cut rate prices - is hidden away behnd those aquarium shops in a long hall running along the northern side of the building.
The Chinese love their flowers and love their aquariums, so this is a good place to see Beijing people haggling over the prices of both. It's certainly a good couple of hours people-watching!
Note that the ol, smaller Lai Tai still exists behind Durty Nellies on the south side of the Liangmahe, opposite the Lufthansa Centre.
What to buy: Orchids, house plants, cut flowers, outdoor plants (at the southern side), and fish - for watching, not eating.
Some of the more esoteric species here include huge discus fish, sharks, jellyfish, rays and lionfish.