You will find bookstores everywhere in China, but most of their books would be in Chinese. Beijing Foreign Languages Bookstores is located in Wangfujing Da jie, you can find foreign languages' books here, mostly in English. If you are looking books related to Chinese culture, customs, history, travels, maps in English, this is the place to get them.
Opening hours: 9:30am-9:30pm.
What to buy: Foreign Language Books especially in English.
What to pay: Less than what you pay in other countries.
The trips to the Graet Wall and tombs always include a stop in a jade factory (I read it in VT prior to go, and... got it there).
The usual quick look at some people working (nothing new, I had already seen it, in Thailand, or India, or... both), and a technical explanation about the process and the different qualities of jade. That's serious and useful!
Then... it's up to you, to buy or not. The prices are high (shh... I escaped... and Fernanda didn't notice yet that there was no jade in our containers back home... shh!) and the display very appealing.
If you don't have my luck (this time... only this time!), why not to use the good technical information in a cheaper place?
There's an interesting demonstration of the craftsmen cutting jade sculptures . I was surprised to learn that only men can carve the jade. Women can polish only. Hummmm
Prices here are set in stone!!! We tried but no bargaining. This is of course a tourist trap but the pieces were lovely and I did buy a nice necklace for $55.00 . It is multi colored jade and even though its not the best deal in China, now that I'm home I'm really happy I did buy it!
Qianmen Street has always been a lively shopping area with souvenirshops as well as famous shops for tea, jewelery or clothes. But is was also crowded with cars and busses. Now it was changed into a pedestrian street with renovated houses alongside. Here you can find some of the most famous teashops, boutiques of Gucci or Zara. There are also some nice restaurants and teahouses.
This market was amazing. As well as the usual array of stalls, selling touristy souvenirs and local crafts there were some food stalls selling many weird and wonderful delicacies. For sale to the brave customer were scorpions on sticks [some were still alive and wriggling on their sticks] and some interesting looking insects on skewers.
What to buy: Chinese crafts and weird and wonderful exotic food.
Qianmen Street resembles a late Qing-dynasty street scene and is close to traffic. There is a tram operating between both ends of the street. You can find some high end shops on both sides of the street. Moreover, there are many small shops on paralel and side streets where you can find anything you can imagine. As you guess, the main street is expensive, but the side streets offer prices competing with Silk Market.
What to buy: Various
We found Wuyut'ai tea shop while coming back from the Lama Temple (which was closed by the time we got there). They sell beautiful tea services, tin cans and of course, tea: herbal tea, medicinal tea, in blocks, by the kilo, etc.
What to buy: Tea and/or accessories to have tea.
What to pay: What it costs, I'm unsure of whether haggling is ok considering that the price was fine to begin with.
Here is just a rough idea on the prices we paid for stuff bought in Beijing:-
Set of 10 decorative chopsticks = 10rmb
3 medium sized pandas that say "I love you" = 30rmb
30 minutes on Hotel pc = 10rmb
One hour foot massage at Dragonfly = 135rmb
Taxi to Da Dong Roast Duck Restaurant = 18rmb
Roast Duck dinner for 2 = 334rmb
Silk table runners bought at Mutianyu = 50rmb each
T-Shirt from Mutianyu "I climbed the Great Wall" = 15rmb
Chinese purse mirrors = 10rmb each
Chinese doll = 50rmb
Bottle of water = from 2rmb-5rmb
Playing cards from Temple of Heaven = 10rmb
Real CK boys undies = 60rmb each
This excellent model shop is located just down the road, east of the Drum and Bell Towers. If you're into model cars and such like then this place is for you. The street is also home to several musical instrument shops.
The complex is over 2 floors, and there are over 100 individual shops here.
Goods range from new camera's and equipment in general, to 2nd hand camera and lens shops, all manner or other photography equipment.
I was taken here by my guide for the day and he helped me locate what I wanted. This was a huge bonus as most store keepers have only rudimentary english skills.
I got the zoom lens I was after for 1/2 the price it was costing in Australia, so I was totally stoked.
What to pay: Less than you home country.
I booked a tour to the Badaling Wall and did not realize that a visit to a silk shop and a jade shop were included.
Beijing Dong Wu Silk Museum is a government-owned silk shop. At first an employee explained to us everything we should know about silk production and then we were presented blankets and pillows made of silk, then we went to another floor where employees tried to sell us silk clothes for men and women, neckties, bags, slippers, undies. Quality of the goods is very high and so were the prices.
What to buy: A good buy in this shop, I consider, is anything you need for your bed - if you are allergic to dust. etc. You won't be able to find blanket and pillow made of 100% silk everywhere.
Qianmen area has always been of interest to me and when I first came to China, this shopping area, known as Dazhanlan (but to the locals as Dashilar) was such a busy place bustling with fast food restaurants, Time Honoured Brands (shops which have been here for hundreds of years) and a mish mash of stalls selling anything from chopsticks, to mugs which change colour when warm liquid is poured in, to Mao Memorabilia. It was a fun place to bring guests and you could always get a feel of old China here. What is extremely interesting now is that you can still get that feeling of Old China, but this time from the original Qianmen main street in the 1920s and 1930s. Buildings have been modelled against what they used to look like which I think is extremely fun and is great as a tourist area. It will definitely bring in the crowds.
Throughout this whole area, you can definitely catch a glimpse of how life used to be and exploring all the little hutongs will almost certainly make you feel like you've been transported back to Beijing in the 1920s!
What to buy: Among all the stores on the street the roast duck restaurant Quanjude might be the most famous. Opened in 1864, the Qianmen branch of the restaurant is the original. You'll find the price of a duck here higher than other duck restaurants around town but filled to capacity, Quanjude Restaurant can serve as many as 5,000 meals a day.
Also down the street, but more towards the southern end, you will find Beijing's first H&M clothing Store! This opened at the beginning of May and there were HUGE crowds! I was among them and it was not fun, but it was so exciting to have an affordable foreign clothes shop here that you just had to forget about the throngs of people and grab stuff as and when you saw it!
I would say strangely though the stone buildings along the first couple of hundred metres of the street are completely empty, but in China that is not something new. The buildings will be built and then they'll try and find occupants to fill them up! This street you will also have to remember, was on a time crunch and was literally opened to the public one day before the Olympics started last August so I presume that's also why most of it was empty. After several minutes of walking, the 'Laozihao' (time-honored brand) shops start appearing; these currently include Famous Beijing Snacks, Dumpling restaurants (Duyichu and Goubuli), and perhaps a tea shop here and there.
Your best bet at the moment to actually buy things rather than just look at fun architecture would be to head off the Main Shopping Street and go to Dashilar. This is round the back streets and has lots of great shops for buying souvenirs and has plenty of little snack restaurants too at very local prices.
What to pay: Obviously depending on what you're buying, you must remember that China is still a country of bargaining! The Qianmen Main Shopping Street will eventually have real shops and by that I mean no bargaining allowed, but the side streets that split off it, especially Dashilar area are full of shops where you definitely need to play the game! Never accept the first price and always aim for a third of what they offered you and work up slightly from there!
Teenagers and youngsters in their 20s go to WuDaoKou 五道口 in the northwestern part of the city. It's in the university district. There's a new mall there but I forget what it's called.
Besides the mall, there're many little shops and eateries along the street and in the general vicinity.
There's also a wholesale apparel market nearby called the 五道口服装市场, but it may be a little hard for a tourist to find.
The area is served by a subway station and many buses, but the traffic's often backed up for hours on weekends and during rush hours.
What to buy: You'll find all the latest fashion trends among youngsters here, in particular Korean trends because of the large number of Korean students in the area.
What to pay: Anything upwards of Y50. Prices can go as low as Y20 at the wholesale market.
The Foreign Languages Bookstore on Wangfujing Dajie is worth a visit. Aside from English novels, travel guides and cookbooks, it also carries a line of Foreign Language Press books "dedicated to the editing, translation and publishing of... a great number of China's classics."
The volumes, with titles like 'Selected Chinese stories of the Song and Ming Dynasties', consist of short stories. Titles include 'The Jade Worker', 'The Coutesan's Jewel Box', 'The Ghost Met At Night', and 'The Three Evils'.
The tales are published in Chinese-English bilingual form, with Chinese characters on the left and English on the opposing right-hand page.
Open 0900 to 2030.
What to buy: English translations of Chinese classics. Buy the soft-cover titles, which weighs less and is easier to transport.
.BRING CASH. I went to a big dept store in Beijing and presented my Citibank Mastercard only to be told we don't accept this card...even though they had signs accpting Visa & Mastercard everywhere.
After yelling and screaming at them for 10 minutes, they swiped my card, I signed and went on my way.
Another tip for those who want to know how much something is in there money.
I get an excel spreadsheet. Put the number of RMBs in one column and next column I do the calculation for what it is worth in A$.
so the fist column might go, 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25....100...200...1000 (RMBs)
Second colum will have 18 cents, 90 cents, A$1.80, A$2.70, A$3.60, A$4.50.....A$18.00....A$36.00....A$180.00
So when I go shop at the Silk Market and the girl says 700 RMB for a pair of jeans and look at my spread sheet and see that is A$127.00. I don't try and stand there and think 700 RMB divided by 5.5 RMB/A$ = ???
I do this everytime I travel and it makes shopping a breaze
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