A Guide to the Best Markets in Chengdu

A Guide to the Best Markets in Chengdu
By Michael Webster , eChinacities.com

There have been a number of times when I have heard Chengdu expats complaining that Chengdu doesn't have X, Y, or Z. While there are certainly areas in which Chengdu is lacking, often it's more of an issue of knowing where to look. There was a time when the conversation had turned to Chengdu's lack of good herbs and spices, and the sad fact that they were so incredibly expensive at the local import store. However, there is a market where every herb and spice under the sun is sold and they really aren't expensive at all. I'm pretty sure that the proprietor of the import store is buying them at this same market, packaging them and marking them up to foreigner prices. Chengdu markets can be an affordable and inviting option to getting what you need at a price you want to pay.

Songxian Qiao Antiques Market 送仙桥艺术城View In Map
That being said, let's go ahead and start with junk...or antiques as some people prefer to call them. In the old Chengdu days, before we became civilized, antiques were sold by street vendors on Renmin Nan Lu. Now that we are civilized, you have to go to Songxian Qiao, near DuFu's Thatched Cottage. Since everyone who comes to China needs Mao pins and little red books, consider yourself pointed in the right direction. Quick tip: Be wary of vendors whose English is a little too good. I decided I needed one of those bone chess sets with the Qin Dynasty characters and the first vendor I went to looked at me and said, “Three hundred American dollars.” Needless to say I shopped around. 

Add: Qingyang Shang Jie, Chengdu
地址: 成都市青羊上街送仙桥艺术城
Opening hours: About 10:00-18:00
Getting there: Go east from Dufu’s Cottage, it will be on the left.

Sansheng Xiang Flower Town 三圣乡花卉市场View In Map
If you decide your rustic flat needs a little floral brightening, or if you just want to walk amongst vivid colours and fragrant aromas for a day, the flower town is a great little day trip away from Chengdu. You can find it about halfway to Longquan, close to the Sichuan Normal University's extended campus. Every kind of flower you can think of but could never name in Latin can be found here. If you want to bring prosperity to your home, you need a money tree. You can also purge your home of bad chemicals with Lv Luo (绿萝), which can be planted in earth or kept in a water vase indefinitely. You can also come back in different seasons to pick up perennials: chrysanthemum in autumn and plum blossoms in winter. The place is massive, so wear comfortable walking shoes that don't fear a little dirt. 

Add: Sansheng Village, Chengdu
Opening hours: 06:00(or a little earlier)-19:00
Getting there: Take Chenglong Da Dao from Chengdu towards Longquan, it's about 10 minutes from the 3rd ring road

Seafood Market (plus Flower and Bird Market)View In Map
In the post-Wright brothers economy, even a land-locked city like Chengdu gets fresh seafood daily. Just around the corner from the Qingshiqiao Carrefour is a street littered with water tanks in which all kinds of fish are waiting to prove how delicious they are. You can take them home live if you want to risk your young ones skipping dinner in favour of a new pet turtle, fish or lobster; or you can have them professionally clubbed and chopped for your viewing pleasure. There is a certain “top of the food chain” type of satisfaction to ordering the death of living creatures, isn't there? The seafood market is also a great nighttime hangout because after hours the vendors will start frying up mussels, oysters, squid, salmon and anything else they are worried won't last until the next day.

Flowers for your home are also available here, but not in the same level of abundance as the Sansheng Xiang flower market. Various herbs and spices are also available if you want to save yourself the markup at the foreign imports shops.

The birds that you see for sale on this street are not for eating. Here you can find most varieties of the Chinese birds that old Chengdu men keep in cages and take for walks in the parks; some of the birds can even be taught to issue strings of profanities in English or Sichuan-hua. Some of the more exotic species, such as parrots and cockatoos, can also be purchased here. The Wood Thrush is the bird most famous for its beautiful singing.

Add: 6 Daye Lu is the Seafood building, the whole street is the market.
Opening hours: 08:00-18:00, and the night barbecue starts after 20:00 if the city management isn't bothering them that day
Getting there: Head north from the back door of the Qingshiqiao Carrefour


Dafa AV/Electronics Market 大发电器市场View In Map
As a raving audiophile, I was overjoyed to discover the AV market in Chengdu. Since Chengdu's “Millionaire per capita” rate is steadily climbing, more and more really high-end stereo and home theatre systems are finding their way into Chengdu homes. They have stores there where the cheapest speakers are 80,000 RMB. I'm happy to say that when I set foot into one such store, I was looked down upon, condescended to and brushed off just as I would have been at a high-end store in LA or New York. Most of the shops there have sample home theatre rooms that are optimized for acoustics and can give you some serious eargasms. Don't go there expecting anything too cheap, but if you need to keep your neighbours on the verge of insanity with a powerful subwoofer and crystal clear 7.1 surround sound, then you will find what you're looking for here.

Add: Dong Yulong Jie (downtown just behind the Holiday Inn) 
Opening hours: 09:00-17:30
Getting there: Take bus No.80, 101A, 101 or 106

Computer Markets
Chengdu is the same as every other city in China in that it crams all its computer vendors into large, crowded shopping centers with few exits and lots of fire hazards. This is also where you go to get your pirated DVDs and video games. There are several of these monstrosities in Chengdu, but the most common are @World at the Renmin Nan Lu and 1st Ring Road intersection, and BuyNow at the intersection of 1st Ring Road and Kehua Bei Lu. Most of the vendors there are the same, so it doesn't really matter which location you go to.

@WorldView In Map
Add: Renmin Nan Lu and 1st Ring Road Intersection, Chengdu
Getting there: Subway line 1 to Provincial Gymnasium

BuyNow View In Map
Add: Mozi Qiao, 1st Ring Road and Xinnan Lu Intersection, Chengdu  
地址:成都市新南路一环路交界处 磨子桥 百脑汇
Opening hours: 09:00-17:00
Getting there: Take bus No. 6, 12, 19 or 27

Cell Phone MarketView In Map
Yes, you can buy a cell phone at any store, but if you need the “imported” cell phones with WiFi capability, then you'll want to go to Taisheng Lu. At the very north end there is the same kind of large shopping center as the computer cities, where it’s a maze of tiny stalls upstairs. That's where you will find all the good stuff that fell off the truck in the neighbourhood of Hong Kong.

Helpful hint: For electronics, cell phones, computers, etc., always check the price on Taobao first. Sometimes you'll be able to find the same merchant from these markets, they almost always have a Taobao store as well, but usually the Taobao price is a lot lower than the Laowai price.

Add: Taisheng Nan Lu, Chengdu
Opening hours: 09:00-17:00
Getting there: Head north from the Yinhe Dynasty Hotel and take the first right and second left, you'll be on the cell phone road. Follow the shops at street level until you see a large building across the road, that's where the good stuff is. (Actually there are a bunch of those larger buildings, just like the computer markets, always go to the second floor and above).

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Keywords: Chengdu markets bargain shopping Chengdu shopping Chengdu


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