Old School Shopping—An Introduction to Guangzhou's Markets

Old School Shopping—An Introduction to Guangzhou's Markets
By Beth Green , eChinacities.com

For centuries, Guangzhou's markets have enticed travelers. Unlike the Western shopping culture that bred the department store where a variety of goods are available under one roof, in ancient Asia tradesmen would base themselves and their wares around a particular district—a quirk evident in Guangzhou's shopping streets even to the present day. In old times, sellers might hawk their goods from carts pulled up to the street corner, but nowadays in urban Guangzhou, you're more likely to find your bargains inside a shopping mall-looking building complete with air-conditioners and colour TVs for bored shop assistants. But, no matter what it looks like outside, the old bargains still persist.  And whether you've been bitten by the shopping bug or not, walking through Guangzhou's streets browsing wares and looking for deals is a fantastic way to get to know the city better.

Here's a list of a few interesting stops for Guangzhou shoppers. When going to the markets keep in mind that some vendors prefer to sell wholesale and if you only want one or two items of something cheap, they may decline to sell to you at all, but it never hurts to ask. Each vendor along a particular market street will make their own hours, but generally most places are open between 10:00 and 18:00, with some of the more traditional areas or food vendors opening a little earlier. Hot property areas like Beijing Road may have stores open as late as 22.00.

Old School Shopping—An Introduction to Guangzhou's Markets
Qingping Street Market. Photo: travelpod.co.uk

1) Qingping Street Market清平市场
The most famous of Guangzhou's old markets must be the Qingping Street Market, a winding street north of Shamian Island. Proving the point that Guangdong people will eat anything that moves, sellers offer bundles of dried centipedes, bushels of dried seahorses, crucified dried lizards and other questionable delectables along with more familiar dried foods. Farther north are pet shops selling fish, turtles, kittens, puppies, pet food and pet accessories. The street runs into a traditional Chinese medicine market along Liu’er Sanlu and Zhuji Lu around the Affiliated Guangzhou Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Browsing these market stalls makes for a great day out, especially for photographers. It's just across the Inner Ring Road from Shamian Island, so combining the two areas is a nice day trip.  

Getting There:
By subway: Take metro Line 1 to Huangsha Station, exit D.

Old School Shopping—An Introduction to Guangzhou's Markets
Photo: topchinatravel.com

2) Hualin Lu Jade Market华林路玉器市场
Another shopping experience that will take you back in history is a trip to the Hualin Lu Jade Market near the Changshou Lu Metro Station. Walk down twisting lanes of stalls full of jade and jadeite and bargain or visit the more modern, air-conditioned versions nearby. Antiques and other curios can be found in a few back-alley stalls. If you fancy some jewelry—a beaded necklace or bracelet perhaps—some vendors will make it to your specifications. While here check out the Hualin Buddhist Temple, a shady retreat from Guangzhou's busy shopping streets. 

Getting There:
By subway: Take metro Line 1 to Changshou Lu Station. Follow Changshou Xi Lu to Wenchang Nan Lu, turn right and look for Hualin Lu on the left.

Old School Shopping—An Introduction to Guangzhou's Markets
Photo: examiner.com

3) Fangcun Tea Market 芳村茶叶城
Teas from all over China can be had at the Fangcun Tea Market, an enormous grouping of shops, malls and stalls along Fangcun Dadao in southwest Guangzhou. Let the vendors invite you in to sample a blend or two, browse tea pots and tea accessories to create your own personal tea set. 

Getting There:
By subway: Take metro Line 1 to Fangcun Station, exit C. Turn right and follow the signs over the bridge.

4) Wende Lu Culture Street 文德路文化街
Artists and art lovers will enjoy Wende Lu Culture Street. Shops along this street sell art supplies, from miniature brushes to gigantic ones that could be used as brooms, as well as all kinds of papers and frames to cap off your masterpieces. Prefer to hang someone else's artwork on the wall? No problem, there are plenty of shops selling paintings of many different styles, especially grouped in and around No. 71 Wende Lu. It's only one street down from Guangzhou's most famous pedestrianised fashion shopping street, Beijing Lu.

Getting There:
By Subway: Take metro line 1 or 2 to Gongyuanqian station near Beijing Lu. From Beijing Lu walk east along Zhongshan Lu then turn right on Wende Lu.

5) Haizhu Square and its vicinity
The area around Haizhu Square is full of shopping opportunities. Directly across the street from exit D of Haizhu Guangchang station on line 1 is the Haizhu Accessories Market, a warren of small stalls selling silk flowers, costume jewellery, holiday decorations and a huge variety of other small things. Across Yide Lu from the accessories market is the Guangzhou Metropolis Shoes City, a multilevel building full of footwear that takes up most of the block. Across Jiefang Zhong Lu from the shoe shops you can find Daxin Lu Music Instruments Street. Here musical instruments ranging from the violin to the gu zheng will keep any music lover happy.

Getting There:
By subway: Take metro line 1 to Haizhu Guangchang Station.

6) Zhanxi Lu Fashion Street  站西路                     
Behind the Guangzhou Long Distance Bus Station is the Zhanxi Lu Fashion Street as well as a huge market dealing in watches and timepieces. Wholesalers and retail vendors sit side by side selling men's and women's fashion from the multilevel malls that line the west end of the street, while watch shops are mostly along the east end of the street.

Getting There: 
By subway: Take metro line 2 to Guangzhou Railway Station metro stop, Exit F. Walk up the small hill past the post office. 

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Keywords: Guangzhou shopping street markets of Guangzhou qingping street market old Guangzhou markets.

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