Aside from eating, drinking and cavorting, shopping has to be one of the Beijing expat’s most favoured pursuits. There are miles of shiny marble-floored malls filled with couture boutiques with stylishly near empty shelves in Beijing, as well as tourist traps – ala Panjiayuan or Houhai – filled with the ubiquitous little red books and other China tour paraphernalia. Overlooked by many expats however, are the places that thousands of Chinese people shop every day.
Beijing has a multitude of markets offering a cornucopia of wares from the downright cheap and practical to the beautiful, the bizarre and the kitsch. Beijing’s lesser known markets are colourful and chaotic places that many will just enjoy a visit to even if they are just window shopping. Have you ever wondered where you can buy a Louis Vuitton patterned dust pan and brush, or a USB powered foot warmer? If so, then read on. In fact, read on anyway; you may just learn of a place that sells that item that you have been hunting for in Beijing for quite some time.
The market previously at Super Bar Street
What’s on offer: Audio and visual equipment used mobile phones and computers, computer accessories, furniture, vintage clothes, all manner of strange gadgets and gizmos.
Since the much lamented demolition of Nuren Jie Super Bar street, people have been at a loss when seeking out a number of items on their shopping list. Previously, visitors to the street’s two story indoor market were treated to a spread of all kinds of items ranging from somewhat sinister “self defence” devices (swords, baseball bats, brass knuckles), to downright wrong (Celine Dion records). Luckily, much of the market that was housed in Super Bar Street has been relocated just a stones throw to a site behind the Sheraton Great Wall Hotel. People that enjoyed the somewhat dubious but cheap “used” cell phones, the stalls with all manner of vintage audio and visual equipment, CDs and vinyl records – yes that’s right, you can buy records in Beijing – second-hand laptop computers and all manner of accessories can still find these things at the new location. The market really was a nerd’s paradise and much of its wares are still on offer. To entice females to the market, should they not be on the look out for an original 1970’s Sony 12 track mixer or a telescopic sight for their hunting rifle, there are also vintage clothes stores.
Beijing 258 Electronic Market 北京258电器大世界View In Map
Add: 10 Zaoying Nali, Maizidian, East 3rd Ring Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Tel: 010 6500 3022, 5123 5688
How to get there: Take the Line 10 Subway to Liangmaqiao. Walk southeast until you pass the Great Wall Sheraton then take a left. Follow the road for approximately two blocks – the electronics market will be on your right
Huilongguan Trade Market and Dazhongsi Market
What’s on offer: Kitchen appliances, clothes, decorations, stationery, cleaning materials, toys, pets, plants, fabric and furniture.
There are a number of markets in Beijing which are pretty much all purpose markets. A particular favourite is Huilonguan Market which is comprised of nearly 20 huge halls which resemble aircraft hangers. The site lacks charm – it looks extremely grim especially in the winter; however, go inside one of the buildings and you will find an Aladdin’s cave of junk, some of it is tacky and ugly some of it useless, sure, but it is almost guaranteed that you will find something there that tickles your fancy. Most importantly all of it is extremely cheap, being almost as excellent a value as what can be found on online shopping site Taobao, but having the added bonus of being right there in front of your eyes before you buy it.
One thing to bear in mind though, quality of the products does vary greatly so a little investigation is required before any purchase. Huilonguan Market, like Dazhongsi Market, situated more handily on the west Third Ring Road, is a perfect place to pick up all of the odds and ends required for setting up a convenient and comfortable home, all in one venue and at the lowest price.
Huilongguan Trade Market 城北回龙观商品交易市场View In Map
Add:North side fo Huilongguan Community, Changping District, Beijing
Tel: 010-8171 9855, 8179 6388
How to get there:
Subway – Take the Line 13 to Longze Station. From there it’s a short rickshaw or taxi trip. Or take the Number 43 bus to Huilongguan Park – the market’s entrance can be found by taking the road north of the crossroads at the parks north east entrance
Dazhongsi Market 爱家国际收藏品交流市场View In Map
Add: 31 Beisanhuan Xilu, Haidian District, Beijing
Tel: 010-5162 1200, 8212 0871
How to get there:
Subway: Line 13 Dazhongsi Station
Bus: 300, 361, 601, 730, 731, 836 and get off at Dazhongsi Station
Laitai Flower Market
Laitai Flower Market is quite well known amongst expats in Bejing however it is still worthy of a mention. The market is probably the best place to buy plants in town; it is also a great place to find aquatic pets. The sheer range of plants and flowers at the market is just overwhelming. Anyone wishing to make their apartment that little bit more green and leafy can’t go wrong with paying a visit. As in all the other markets, prices are agreed on through bargaining, so keep your wits about you when shopping.
Laitai Flower Market 莱太花卉市场View In Map
Add: 9 West Maizidian Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Tel: 010 64636554
Bus – No. 416, 405, 707, 682, T3, to the Laitai Flower Market Stop
Subway: Line 10 to the Liangmaqiao Stop
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