If there is anything in Beijing you fancy so much about then buy it immediately. Never say 'I'll buy it next time' or 'I'll come next week before leaving'.
It is amazing how things and places change so quickly and this is true especially in Asia. Well, people who live here know what I am talking about. What today is a crowd restaurant tomorrow might be a hair saloon. It might also happen that you wouldn't be able to find anymore the place you wanted to visit again.
Therefore, if you see something that you dearly would like to buy, do it right away.
Fun Alternatives: If you don't buy what you like right away at least try to get a business card from the shop or write down its address and telephone number.
Most big stores and supermarkets have fixed prices but in small places where they don't show prices you might be ripped off. When shopping try not to carry any backpack or lots of bags with you because people will notice right away that you are a tourist.
Unique Suggestions: You should be very fluent in saying 'duo shao qian', that means, 'how much'. If you pronounce it very accurately they will probably think that you live in Beijing, so they might not rip you off.
As I said, don't carry any bags or backpacks with you.
Dont get ripped off in the famous Silk or Pearl Markets be it for clothes - tailor made suits - trainers - silk - Pearls
Unique Suggestions: Know the prices and GO WITH A LOCAL CHINESE
Fun Alternatives: Hi I just recently travelled through China and obviously while in Beijing I wanted to take advantage of some seriously cheap shopping prices especially at the famous Pearl and Silk Markets. I met a really cool English guy while staying in my hostel and he recommended his friend take me if I payed him for his troubles
Believe me you can save a packet going with a local as the Chinese are hard bargainers (at the least he can tell you the price you shud pay and let you do the bargaining urself with an advantage). He put me in touch with his friend Lee who spoke perfect English and believe me I saved the money I paid him in the first sale, he knew all the shop owners and literally escorted me round and negotiated everything. In one shop we waited until the previous American customers had left and I paid a third of what they paid for the same style jeans they just bought and this was after watching them seriously barter down the shop owner. I SERIOUSLY SERIOUSLY RECOMMEND THIS!!! especially if you wanna save a lot of money and if you want to buy a few things.
Anyway Zak's a cool guy and happy to help his friends so mail him
One thing to get the hang of is haggling. Street stalls and markets will charge westerners ten times what they would to someone from the east. One example of price elavations was when I bought a bag from a stall near the Wangfujing Road.
I'd watched a Chinese girl buy a bag for 20r, and I approached and asked for one myself. The storeholder held up her calculator with 300r (£22.50) on it. I eventually haggled her down to 80r which I was happy to pay, but it shows how vastly inflated prices for westerners are.
Unique Suggestions: It's worth learning the art of haggling, it can be so much fun. We spent the last couple of days in Beijing going to what we called the 'tat' markets and buying gifts and souveniers. Be prepared for people winding necklaces around your neck and thrusting items into your face. The knack is offering a ridiculously low price compared with their high price and enjoy the face pulling and sighing until you meet in the middle.
Be warned though, if you show an interest in something the sellers can be quite determined even if you don't really want it. A girl chased us down the street once with a large plastic dragon that I inadvertently gazed upon. The price on it had been 450r but the lowest she went to was 15r, I guess because we were walking away.
Tea ceremonies might not be as free as you first think. If you drink enough or spend enough time they will want some money.
At first you're invited with the notion that you will not have to pay for some tea. After sitting down you'll be treated with a lot of tea and a host that will not let you get up for anything in the world. Her hope is that you'll be sitting a long time, so she can beg for money (since you drank so much and spent so much of her time)
Unique Suggestions: Don't sit long, or just say no.
Beijing and other crowded cities in China are great bargaining scenarios either if you want to buy or just watch and pretend you are puzzled to the point you cannot help but smile and walk away. However, bargaining can become addictive. If you succeed once or twice you feel like baragaining everywhere. One piece of ADVICE: make sure you want to buy if you bargain more than a handful of minutes. If you leave once don't go back to give them another illusion as a friend did: they get fed up because THEY are trying to sell and YOU are trying to excercise your bargaining skills.
Unique Suggestions: Eat and drink while you are at it: local crepes and great soups are served to all to take a brake in the stroll.
Fun Alternatives: If you really are interested in staying in such bazar-like environment (specially down town) ask about the things they sell, and learn from it: the names, the more than 50 ethnic chinese minorities represented on the figures, the name of the 4 opera masks, in one word, mythology and contemporary traditions. Tell them you already have most of what they are offering and instead ask them to speak about it. Great excercise especially if you are studying chinese. Bare in mind: smile back, they won't bite!
We all shop, that's a fact of life in this age of consumerism. There' s the weekly groceries where everthing has been auto-piloted, there's the mortgage where you are the most alert and careful, there's the comfort shopping where prices don't really matter as long as you're satisfied and then there's the bargain hunting shopping. People like to brag that they've managed to squeeze vendors out of their last cents as if they are comparing handicaps.
Okay, maybe this isn't exactly a "tourist trap," but western tourists do get ripped off when shopping in Beijing. When I was hunting for postcards in the Xindongan Shopping Center, I entered a small shop which sold postcards for Y10 a packet (after they figured out I was from America). I ended up buying two packets for Y18, but then walked next door, where they were selling the same postcards for Y5 a packet. So be sure to bargain with each shopkeeper over everything; the price they're selling at is usually twice of what it's worth.
Fake DVDs are everywhere in Beijing. You can buy them in s[pecialized shops, in the stret and even in supermarkets. Most of them are of bad quality and you should avoid buying them as it is very annoying to watch 2/3 of a movie before finding out tht the last 1/3 of the dic is corrupted. Also, the US and most EU countries consider it a violation to bring back even only a few DVDs.
Unique Suggestions: Avoid new releases as normally these will be of even more shabby quality. Generally speaking if you really want to buy fake DVDs, ten you should buy only movies which were already released on DVD in the West as then it is likely tnha the quality should be better.
Aslo, you may want to ask the shop to try them for you on their DVD player and you should check them for scratches. Buy them only in shops and keep the receipt. This way, if you check them later at your hotel and you notice some problems then you can go back and exchange them. generally the shops will take back DVDs with problems (although not always).
Anyhow, I have stopped buying DVDs because even if I live here and I could go and exahnge them, it is a pain.
I get more e-mails on this topic than any other.
From CDs to DVDs to T-shirts to boots and jackets. It's all here. Everywhere. Nowhere is cheaper or beter than anyone else, no matter what any China shopping guru tells you.
However, there are some points worth remembering.
Those of us who live here generally stock up on decent clothing, DVDs, CDs, T-shirts, boots and jackets when we travel overseas.
1) The quality of the fake stuff you buy here is crap. Seriously bad. Watches that are 30 minutes slow within 3 hours of purchase. Boots that are peeling apart within 24 hours. Socks that wear through on the second outing. A suitcase which fell to bits on the way back to the hotel, 80 metres from the shops.
2) It is really difficult to find places to buy 'ordinary' gear, and damn near impossible to buy proper CDs and DVDs within 1,000km.
Be warned that the 'savings' on all the fake stuff are largely an illusion. Especially if you pay anywhere above 15% of the initial asking price. Even then it's marginal.
Also be aware that bringing fake goods into many countries is now a criminal offence and you can face heavy fines or worse.
The clothing (especially) looks good but, trust me on this, it falls to pieces fast. Real fast. I do ot have a single item of clothing bought in China that is worth the cheap rice I paid for it.
Caveat emptor. Customs officer emptor.
Unique Suggestions: Buy unbranded gods if you want cheap goods. Let's face it...why are you spending precious holiday time buying cheap copies of $120 sneakers? Is it really that important?
DVDs? Yep. Buy 50 of them here. 45 will be unwatchable (low DVD production quality), and the other 5 will be unwatchable (low film production quality).
CDs? The sound quality is poor. The choice is poor except for music that a Chinese CD-making middle man in a backstreet shop in Xiamen thinks you will like. He, by the way, thinks that Kenny G, Richard Clayderman and Yanni are great. He thinks you do too.
Fun Alternatives: Buy original stuff at home if you want value.
Buy fakes in China is you are a cheapskate but are keen to impress people with a Rolex or a Omega watch. Do have your excuse ready when people ask where it is a month later when it has fallen apart though.
Well, as you know, when you go shopping... it depends on the person helping you... but when I was trying to buy a purse... the lady gave me a lower price in a calculator and then pointed at a guy in front of me and changed the number almost 2x the amount and pointed at him.....so just remember to bargain...... at least half what they are asking for.
Unique Suggestions: Bargain, bargain, bargain.....
Silk Road Shopping area in Beijing is worth the trip if you make sure to bargain and watch what they put in your shopping bag. I wanted to buy a pashmina shawl and the lady tried to substitute the one I wanted with a cheaper model.
Unique Suggestions: Watch what you buy.
Tour groups inevitably end up at a "factory" where you can learn about how a select product is made. The main purpose of these places is to sell you their products though.
"Factories" can actually be really interesting and fun to go to, just try not to get buyers remorse.
Unique Suggestions: Participate! ...When I went to a silk factory, I got to help make a silk blanket with some friends. It was a lot of fun.
Fun Alternatives: I recomend going to the factories to learn about how the products are produced and to get a little insight into the culture. You might want to skip the store area of the factory though so you don't make any impulse purchases.
What I found out was that they try to pass of the same stuff that you can get in the smaller stores at a much higher price. And they are more pushy too!
Unique Suggestions: Be firm on your price.
Fun Alternatives: Shop in the smaller shops.
The reason I'm putting this into the tourist trap section is because it ends up being yet another shopping opportunity. The factory itself is really very interesting watching the craftmanship that goes into making cloisonne. The detailed work done by hand is carried out by teams of women in what looks to be poor working conditions. They work for at least 8 hours a day for very little pay.