At a first glance, Chongqing is by all appearances an up-and-coming Chinese mega-city. Hidden behind the glitzy façade of towering skyscrapers and swank shopping complexes lies another world – complicated labyrinths of narrow stairways etched into the slopes of the mountain city. Some of these hidden alleys continue to house flea markets and street markets reminiscent of old Chongqing, left untouched by the onslaught of development. While such flea markets may not have much to offer in terms of touristy shopping, they are certainly worth a visit before they disappear in the wake of modernization.
As most of these flea markets are situated near Chongqing’s main shopping belts, visits can be worked in en-route to the glitzy shopping complexes. Given Chongqing’s weather extremes with hot summers and chilly winters, the conventional indoor shopping complexes can provide some relief after nosing around in outdoor markets.
1) Zhongxing Lu Flea Market中兴路跳蚤市场View In Map
Located just on the fringe of Jiefangbei, Chongqing’s main business district, Zhongxing Lu Flea Market is home to a varied mix of street stalls. Despite previous attempts by the local authorities to close down the market, sellers persist in congregating in this winding alley, right off the busy Zhongxing Lu. Make-shift stalls line both sides of the sloping walkways, with merchandise arrayed neatly on portable tables, racks or on the floor. The vast majority of the offerings are rather mundane – used household appliances and electronic goods, apparel and DVDs. But take time to linger and you will discover collectible trinkets like old Chinese comics and coins in between.
The entrance of this flea market is located on the side of the Zhongxing Lu Antique Market. This is a multi-storied building which sells a variety of second-hand goods, ranging from antiques and collectibles to home electronics.
Also worth a visit is the nearby Shibati 十八梯 (also off Zhongxing Lu), an old flight of stairs linking the city centre to the surrounding residential area. Old buildings line the narrow stone steps worn shiny by footsteps of commuters, making it a must-see for photography enthusiasts.
Add: Zhongxing Lu, Yuzhong District, Chongqing
Nearest bus stop/ lightrail station: Jiaochangkou 较场口
Landmarks: CBest Supermarket重百超市, Zhongxing Lu Road Antique Maket 中兴路古玩市场
2) Sanggangyi Lu Flea Market 区三钢一路跳蚤市场View In Map
Tucked behind a row of small shops facing Jianxin Nan Lu is another row of shops, completely hidden from view from the main street. A short flight of steps on either side of this row of shops will take you down to a flea market that is dedicated to selling second-hand clothing. The slight musty smell that pervades the market is the only clue that the neat rows of clothing are indeed pre-loved. By late afternoon, most of the shops will have closed, so do remember to go early.
Add: Sanggang Yi Lu, Jiangbei District, Chongqing (off Jianxin Nan Lu 建新南路)
Nearest bus stop: Guanyinqiao 观音桥
Landmarks: Chongqing Aier Hospital, Guanyingqiao Buxingjie 观音桥步行街
3) Open-Air Stalls Along Wenhua Jie文化街View In Map
This open-air market is perched on a flight of stairs leading down from Xinhua Lu. Offerings are mainly a mix of new and pre-loved clothing and occasional accessories on tables built to accommodate the staircase or in small shops etched into the concrete walls. While most of the merchandise is geared towards casual wear, more unusual offerings include the Qipao (traditional Chinese costume). The friendly old ladies who tend the stalls are very willing to negotiate, despite prices already being very low. Only do take care to avoid a tumble while balancing on the steps to sort through the heaps of clothing. Also watch out for workers carrying bulky machinery parts or building material up and down the narrow space.
Add: Wenhua Jie, Yuzhong District, Chongqing (off Xinhua Lu 新华路)
Some Friendly Advice
To ensure a pain-free experience off the beaten (shopping) track:
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Keywords: Flea markets Chongqing street markets Chongqing hidden flea markets Chongqing hidden alleys Chongqing
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