A common misconception about China is that it is unfashionable with many designer rips offs and tacky copycat produce, but more so recently full of the nouveau riche who have money to burn looking to purchase the latest Louis Vuitton.
The second biggest economy in the world has a vast array of shopping malls and markets to rival any in London and New York.
I discovered there’s more to China than the misconceptions. Yes it is full of new billionaires but it is also full of quirky boutiques, many independent home grown designers and markets that are hundreds of years old. All at a price a Primark shopper wouldn’t baulk at.
My Beijing weekend shopping spree was an exciting shopping experience to say the least, every mall and market was full of unique fashionable purchases. Before I left I was advised by friends to pack light and to take a big suitcase.
Most places I travelled to via taxi, you can hail them down on a sidewalk and most trips will cost you around £2. My trip to Wudaiko cost just over £4 as it was a bit further out. Also depending on what time of year you go, Beijing can get quite dusty and windy so I would advise wearing suitable clothing and footwear.
Places to visit:
Silk Street Market – Multi-storey indoor market
Notorious for tourists this market is well worth a visit, but stressing the importance of haggling at every possible purchase before you buy. Each floor dedicated to leather goods, silks and tailors, Jewellery and accessories, casual clothes and evening wear and much much more. Many items of which can be bought at wholesale prices. Be warned as it can get very busy on the weekends and the sales assistants can be quite insistent.
Nanluoguxian – Small boutiques and specialist shops
Set in a traditional Beijing alley Nanluoguxian is a tranquil meander a vast difference from Silk Street Market. Not much room for haggling here but you can still find a bargain to take home. Still a hot spot with the tourists, this alley hides many gems and locally designed arts and crafts. I would describe this place as the Fengshui of shopping.
Panjiayuan – Antiques market
Not just a typical antiques market, it also sells huge amounts of ethnic jewellery. The traders here many of which are not local, have travelled from areas as far as Tibet to sell handmade items of semi precious and precious stones.
Wudaiko – Korean imported fashion
Wudaiko was a 20 minute cab ride from Beijing City, a local student haunt it resides an underground culture of fashion. Korean fashion has always been innovative and is hugely popular amongst the young and trendy Chinese. A multi-storey mall just full of clothes for men and women directly imported from Korea. My purchases here were wardrobe items I would not be able to obtain in London.
The Place – Hi tech modern shopping mall
Connected underground this double sided shopping mall has many of its local high street brands as well as a few international recognisable brands, with cute cafes and haute couture
Useful shopping tips:
-Learn how to haggle. Always start at a 10th of the asking price. Walk away if the price is not to your liking, they will more than likely call you back
-Save on suitcase space and pack lightly
-If you’re not a plastic bag person similar to me, take some empty Longchamp bags with you
-Take a cab, public transport is very cheap but can get very busy and uncomfortable. But steer clear of rush hour. The traffic in Beijing can be ridiculous at timesA