Wangfujing Street, Beijing
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Guess it's inevitable. You have to get here somehow. Even if you have zero dollars and have nothing to buy, you'll take a glance at least once.
The shopping artery of Beijing, rivalling Xidan to the west of the city. Wang Fu Jing Street [王府井大街] is off-limits to cars and other motor vehicles (aside from the blue-coloured tour trolley). Come here and see modern boutiques and shopping malls, sip coffee in Starbucks and star-gaze at branded goods.
The street was named during the Qing Dynasty, when a well full of sweet water was discovered. As there were eight aristocratic estates and princess residences in the area, soon after, the street received its name: "Wang Fu" (=aristocratic residence), "Jing" (=well).
The landmark Beijing Hotel (looking remarkably Socialist) marked the start of the street from the south which is about where you will get out after exiting Wang Fu Jing subway station. At the north end, turning left, will connect you to Dong Hua Men Night Market.
Old and new buildings tried their best to squeeze the life out of each other along the street, with side alleys branching off, loaded with the fruits of restaurants. One of the main side branches will lead you to the Wang Fu Jing Street of Snacks.
What to buy: Anything money can buy you.
What to pay: How deep is your pocket?
Wangfujing has been recently refurbished and it's now a prestigious and popular shopping haunt of both locals and foreigners. There are heaps of big name stores here as well as a huge foreign languages book store at number 235. The street is open late and it's fantastic to wander down the street after dark looking at the pretty lights!
It's extremely easy to get here, you can walk, catch a bus, taxi or the subway. It's very central and you'll find yourself back here again and again.
What to pay: The prices here are a little bit more expensive than the markets but you will be able to find anything and everything in a convenient location.
There are dozens of local shops in an alley directly north of Wanfujing. (Behind the store with the huge video screen.) Silk, Coisseme (spelling?), pottery...lots of typical Chinese crafts. GREAT deals if you know how to bargain. (Pay up to 1/5th of asking price.)
What to buy: Silk, art, pottery. Also, this area appeared to have very good looking street food. It appeared more safe to eat than other less frequented Beijing street vending areas.
What to pay: 20% of what they ask. Very cheap deals are available. For example, I bought 5 nice Coisomme pens for 25 quai.
Rui Fu Xiang started in 1893. It is original store was located in Qian Men traditional neibhorhood, however, recently, the entire neighborhood is under renovation thus all traditional stores would be either relocated or simply disappear.
Fortunately, while you will not see its traditional house in Qian Men, it has a branch on the most famous shopping street: Wang Fu Jing street.
Business hours: 9:00-21:00
What to buy: Silk fabric and silk appearal and other products (more traditional style than contemporary ones).
In addition, they will make you traditional silk outfit on site as well. Price varies depends upon materials, styles - fancy ones with sophisticated embroderies are very labor consuming: Chinese labor is no longer the cheapest in the world, especially not from the stores on this street.
What to pay: Price varies. The price is not the cheapest (as VT Confucius said, prices of silk in Suzhou could be cheaper: always cheaper at the producing places), but very reasonable. E.g., price for a great selection (in terms of pattern, texture, thickness, colors etc) of silk fabrics (great quality) is around $10/m (or less so per yard for those who knows nothing about metric system), same thing could easily cost 3 if not 4 times that much in USA.
Ready made silk clothes are NOT cheap. But there are so many other stores on the street,(and in Beijing) for a cheaper price.
Finally, our last day in China; we went shopping in Wang Fu Jin, a popular shopping areas with all kind of local and foreign brands. The shopping malls were so modern and HUGE and even the streets looked so clean. I think the govt really meant business when they announced to clean up the streets for the Olympic 2008!
What to buy: Everything....clothing, accessories, bags, cosmetic, toys, stationary, electrical & electonics, food, drinks, books, and the list goes on and on....
What to pay: Depending how much you have in your wallet!!!
6 floors of Chinese art products, offering a one-stop shopping for souvenirs and collectibles.
What to buy: 1st floor: Jewelry. 2nd floor: Glass, fans, caligraphy, figurines, gold statues, and jade. 3rd floor: Woodcarvings, vases, lacquerware, ivory and bronze carvings. 4th floor: Jade, ceramic, glassware, and tea pot. 5th and 6th floors: Shoes, clothes, glasses and sportswear.
3 floors of foreign languages books.
What to buy: 1st floor: Chinese books in foreign languages, foreign language learning, map references, politics & economics. 2nd floor: VCD, DVD, software, and educational books. 3rd floor: Imported publications and dictionary, art & literature, children's books, and magazine.
Bored of the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square? Wangfujing Street, Oxford Street shopping Chinese-style, is two blocks east of the Imperial Palace. This is Beijing's premier shopping street, though it's not as good/fun as similar places in Shanghai or Hong Kong.
What to buy: Dongfang Xintiandi, a vast upmarket shopping mall containing the usual designer stores, is located here. There are also a large Chinese bookstore (limited English books), a cloth market (interesting), an outlet specialising in Jingdezhen chinaware (bargaining required) and a food street.
What to pay: This really depends on how much you can afford!
For western style asian shopping experience go to Wangfujing Street. It is the 'gold street'. You will see young and rich citicens spending money like hell.
What to pay: Anything is for sale and everything is expensive. Prepare to pay the same prices as at home.
Wangfujing street is dedicated to shoppers. You can find modern shopping mall and department store as well as small independent stores a long the street. There you can find clothes, jewelry, souvenirs, food, and many others.
I visited some of the souvenir stores there and bought a few things. Remember to bargain when you go to the souvenir stores because the price they tell you often much higher than the normal price. I was able to bargain until the price became 25% of the initial price they told me.
Wang Fu Jin is a famous shopping district. It's like, a street with malls and smaller shops all along it. I personally would not do much shopping there, but it is an enjoyable place to just wander around and look at stuff. There are a lot of more posh stores; it seems like a shopping area for the more well-heeled. My experience was that there were more English signs than at other shopping sites we had visited, more brand names and store names that were familiar from home; it seemed a bit more clean and 'nice'.
If you are like me and think "what's the point in going to expensive, 'nice' places when in a city where cheap shopping is prevalent?", there are also cheap stores around, including side streets where vendors sell cheap food and souvenirs in stalls.
What to buy: We found some cool shops in Wang Fu Jin that had "10 yuan" tables, where everything is 10 yuan. You can find some real bargains, some marked down from over 200 yuan. These are good places to buy Chinese souvenirs, things like enamelware, jewellery, and dozens of miscellaneous things, from tiny replicas of swords to gold ink paintings.
Of course, not all of it is real, but some of it seems to be. If you have been on tours then you have no doubt been dragged to those big stores that sell crystalware, jade, enamelware, silk, whatever, and their sales pitches usually feature a briefing on "how to tell that this is genuine -whatever-".
Some things I particularly liked buying were enamelware - you can get it cheap, it's not usually too big or heavy, and it looks cool and it's very Chinese... I also love these little translucent bottles you can buy that feature paintings. They paint these bottles from the -inside- using special brushes, and it's quite amazing and very cool. They are also a souvenir that it would be difficult to fake, as far as I can tell.
If you're going to Wang Fu Jin I'd recommend not eating beforehand because there are lots of nice, cheap eatables to be found. ^_^.
What to pay: Depends what kind of store you go into, darling. ^_^.
Wangfujing Street is the central shopping street in Beijing. Here you find big departement stores, souvenir shops and shops for just everything. Part of it is a pedestrian area with kiosks and places, where you can sit and watch the people. Skulptures along the street enjoy the people.
This mall is absolutley huge. And it is filled with clothes of all types, from chineese sport brands to big international fashion brands. Even if you don't want to shop for anything you can spend some time just exploring the giant mall and maby grab something to eat from one of the many restaurants.
In the basement of the mall there is a small street packed with souvenirs and small fun stuff worth taking a look at as well.
What to pay: Prices are pretty high, relatively speaking. Still, like the rest of Wangfujing street, there are deals to be had.
If you go down the snack street at Wangfujing Dajie in the evening there are
lots of stalls selling souvenirs. There are plenty of tasty snacks as well.
Walk among the stalls scouting for gifts for friends, family and why not yourself.
I don't know if this happens every night, but I think it's on special days.
Can't tell you wich though. You'll have to find that out for yourself! :-)
Anyway: loads of different souvenirs, lots of people and great snacks.
Absolutley worth an evening of exploration.
What to buy: Souvenirs, souvenirs, souvenirs...
What to pay: Don't pay too much here, most of the things here are pretty cheap.
Take some time to haggle as well.