Beijing is one of the most modern and efficient cities in China, however in my past few months of living here I have found that modernization and efficiency does not (in my view) extend throughout all areas of society, so if you’re preparing to visit Beijing for the Olympics you may want to keep in mind the follow tips so you are not caught totally off guard.
1.Going to the Toilet:
When you are out away from your hotel and not visiting the newest shopping mall or restaurant please be aware that toilet paper may not be provided in the stalls. This is certainly one tip you want to remember. In most cases there is a large roll of paper next to the entrance to the restroom, at other times there is no paper or at lease none you want to touch. So to be on the safe side remember to bring some small packets of tissue that can fit in you purse or pocket easily and make sure everyone in you group gets at least one.
Along with your small packet of tissues you should include a small packet of sanity wipes to clean your hand and face or wipe off surfaces you are eating on. I can go on and on about this topic, but just to put things in perspective think about the care you take cleaning after your own family member in your home; now think about a thousand people coming over and touching everything in your house. Get the picture!
This place is not part of our tour package. I must thank VTer Confucius for recommending me to this place. On the last day, which is supposedly our free and easy day, our tour guide told the group that he can bring us to see ice sculpture and Temple of Earth at a small fee. However, as I need to meet up with a friend staying at Beijing, I didn't join the rest of them. Although I had requested him to bring the group to this place, he told me that there is nothing much to see which is definitely not true! Thus, I asked my friend to bring me to this flea market - Pan Jia Yuan. It is really an eye-opener as the place is huge. You can find many things here, mainly antiques, and many interesting ones! Although I heard that most of the antiques (or all?) here are fake ones but this place is definitely worth a visit. For those who loves to read, this is an alley in here with many stalls selling books.
The birdmarket called Guan Yuan Hua Niao Shi Chang was a place we frequented because it was where my friend bought food for her lovebirds.
An interesting place where one can buy not only birds but also all sorts of creepy crawlers: crickets, snails etc
Watched the locals and their pet birds. And we also explored the hutongs next to the market.
I enjoyed going to this sprawling flea market. It's got everything from paintings to furniture to jade to Mao memorabilia. I think it's a must see for Beijing visitors.
It's hard to tell real antiques from fake ones so buyers beware...
Ok I admit, I'm one of the (multitudes of) people who buy them fake DVDs.
5-6 yuan from the bicycle-riding vendors or 8-10 yuan from the shops. The catch is: it may not play, may be a moviehouse recording, or has a wackily mispelled title.
If you ever visit Beijing in June and see a Merry Christmas Happy New Year streamer on a shop window, I wont blame you if go looking for the day's paper. No, you are not time warped. That's just the locals keeping in step with the western tradition but dont know when to stop.
In 2003, it was hard to find a decent Christmas decor around Beijing. My choices were limited to metallic and plastic ornaments. But I found this raggedy Santa in a shop at the South Cathedral in Xuanwumen. I hung it on my doorknob to remind me of home.
The first time I went to Beijing the Silkmarket was an outdoor market.
Where you could find all kind of fake stuff. Especially clothes.
The last time we planned to go to the Silkmarket. But this time they drove us to a shopping center that was under construction.
So we ended up on another shoppingcenter that sold cheap and fake stuff.
A vast walking area next door to Ladies' Street. Right across you can find souvenir items and beautiful crockery at reasonable prices - mostly less than RMB10. My favorite shop is the one shop tucked in the corner further back from the main street area where they mostly cater for export items.
The flower market is located across the street within a giant building. Any type of house plants, gardening equipments, fresh flowers - including that rare-looking tulips, deep red roses, calla lilies are all there.... Don't forget to bargain the price.
A common stopover for visitors to Beijing is the central food market in the city.
Actually its a must see.
The market itself though is not what I would call a 'local market' by any means and is mostly catered to the fascination of foreign tourists with the weird and wonderful sights and smells of the Chinese diet unheard of in the West.
The range of food is astounding, everything from scorpions to goats testicles to turtles with the shell removed.
One thing I will never forget is a particularly horrible smell, unique in its vileness, and unlike anything I have ever or ever want to smell again.
Could this be the result of a completely natural cooking process or a mistake, makes you wonder.
I have since been informed by VTer 'Sugarpuff' ( thanks! ) that this unique smell is the result of lambs intestines and rotten bean curd ( tofu ).
Still to see what is capable of being eaten is well worthwhile.
We also saw some market stalls fishing used plates out of the bins and rewashing them to be used again, a different spin on recycling.
The highlight? Well for stomach turning value, I think the most unsettling food item I saw were baby birds with the beaks still attached and the thought of grinding up the beak in ones mouth should be sufficiently challenging to your stomach.
Bottom line : go, take your camera, open your eyes and take a big deep breath.
Bought a traditional chinese blouse... looks like qibao but its not... Opening price at RMB 350. Deal closed at RMB70. Since I am in sales I think price negotiation is not a big issue. Well I do hope I get a good bargain.... but what is important is that I really love the blouse and its embroidery .....
The trick - just walk away and these vendors will pull you back asking you to offer a price. However don't offer a ridiculously price of RMB 10 or 20 bucks, unless ur prepared for the swearing and cursing ....
Just one road to the East of the Temple of Heaven you can find Hongqiao mMarket. It is a silvery tall building and you can track it down by a penetrant smell of fish coming from it.
This market is noted on most touristy city maps and well worth a visit - even if you are not interested in pearls.
The market is designed like a department store. On the bottom floor you find watches, optical equippment (e.g. binoculars), mp-3-players, USB-sticks and the like. On the second floor there are suitcases, garements, clothes etc. On the third floor you find fashony clothes and chinese traditional clothes and the fourth floor features jewelery (mostly pearls) and traditional Chinese thich-and-that like Go games, calligraphy, dragons, antiques.
I like the market the best for its BASEMENT FLOOR. This is a huge fish and seafood market with an incredble variety of things you might never have seen before. Eel, shrinp, octopus, shells, clams, and fish organs ...the smell is penetrant, but to walk through there (mostly Chinese people) very interesting.
The pearls in the fourth floor are partially excellent quality - many colleagues of mine have asked jewellers at home, after they brought home neclasses they bought for maybe 20€ and would have paid for the tenfold in Europe. But you need to bring a person to judge good pearls or need to read about it beforehand.
In general the seller tend to name a beginning price the tenfold of what you should pay.
Here some ideas:
Do not pay more than:
- 160 Yuan for a fake North Face Jacket
- 300 Yuan for a pearl necless
- 50 Yuan for a pair of fake Puma or Diesel sneakers
- 80 Yuan for a pair of pants
- 40 Yuan for a sweater
- 10 Yuan for any fake watch
- 100 Yuan for a pair of fake leather shoes
- 10 Yuan for a CD or DVD
Whether or not you plan to spend any money, you'll be hard-pressed not to leave the Silk Market without purchasing some form of gift!!
The streets can be immensely crowded but you can spend hours just wandering, ear-wigging on the destructive haggling battles and seeing what there is to offer, and being lucky not to escape without being involved in one yourself!!
One important thing, just keep your wallet in a safe place, as you maybe the unfortunate victim of a professional at work....
I strongly advise this as a must-see if you have afew hours free, and a craving for a gift to take back home.
It's a market open from 16:00 - 22:00.
You can get there all kind of Chinese food together with things like
3. Sea stars
6. Silk worms
7. Sea horses
8. a bunch off additional things that I don't know the english names
You don't have to eat it, however some stuff tasts better than it looks.
In the late 1960s, with the cold war at its peak and strained diplomatic relations between the US, Soviet Union and China, the Chinese built huge civil defense systems, especially in northern China. One of the remnants from this period is the Underground City.
Today the Underground City is much like its counterpart above the surface - there are factories, warehouses, shops, hotels, theaters, rollerskating rinks and clinics. This subterranean city covers an area of 85 sq km and much of it was constructed by local citizens and volunteers under the guidance of the army.
This multistorey building in Beijing's biggest antique market, well worth browsing around, evne if you have no intention to buy, for the sheer range of second hand goods, sometimes in advanced stages of decay, on sale.
Open weekdays but it's as its biggest and best at weekend between 6 am and 3 pm.