Open-market shopping is a truly Chinese experience. Sprawling, chaotic, and full of colour and sound, the markets of Nanning are the best places to find a good bargain, as well as being ideal for practicing language and learning more about the local culture.
These markets are less centralized entities, and more loose conglomerations of individual sellers. Shopping in this style takes a certain amount of patience and adventurousness. Whether haggling for a bolt of cloth or turning over watermelons for their weight, shoppers will find themselves caught up in a unique exchange – a part of the massive web of informal buying and selling that makes up Chinese daily life.
Nanning’s famous Bird and Flower Market recently closed to make way for railway tracks. Even though the rumours say that it will re-open soon, nothing has yet materialised.
1) Nanning Fabric Market 南铁布料市场 View In Map
Anyone can buy shirts at the mall, in the market however it is more of a challenge. Nanning’s fabric market caters to both bargain hunters and those looking for an undeniably personal touch. On the first floor, linen and cotton hang in long rows. Here, fabric vendors sell wool for business suits, pillow-case prints and light summer silks. Tailors occupy the upper floors while those on the fourth level sew home furnishings.
It’s good to come with a plan, or better yet, a photograph of what you want. Begin by walking the aisles of fabrics. Once you have some ideas of what you want, go upstairs and speak to a few tailors. Most lay out design books, which customers can look through to choose a pattern. The tailor will be able to tell you how much fabric is needed for each pattern, and will send you back downstairs to haggle for the needed material. Fabric is sold by the metre, or mǐ (米). Then, fabrics in hand, submit yourself to the tailor’s measurements, and haggle again for the price of your new clothes. Linen pants should cost around 30 RMB; traditional Chinese dresses between 50-100 RMB; a self-designed dress around 60 RMB.
Add: Bai Cang Ling Building, Hengyang Xilu and Di Dongkou Lu, Xixiangtang District, Nanning
Opening hours: 9:00 - 18:00
By bus: No. 8, 48, 61, 75, 608 and 610 all stop at Hengyangdidong Lukou Zhan (衡阳地洞路口站), a hundred metres from the market entrance.
2) Macun 麻村 View In Map
A man held up a ripe lychee between his fingers. When he split it open, the clear flesh glistened. “Fresh,” he announced proudly as he handed it to me. And indeed, the produce arrives fresh to this open-air grocery market each morning. Vendors display an immense variety of food, from pickled lotus root to pig’s feet.
With a larger seafood selection than most Nanning markets, Macun offers customers the chance to pick their fish or crustacean from the tank. It also has a sizeable meat market. A cut of beef brisket costs between 15-20 RMB/500 gr.. Don’t expect fillets or a T-bone; the common cuts here are brisket, loin, brain, tongue and liver. Macun also has a good selection of spices, including chili, star anise and other rarer items. Prices tend to be slightly cheaper than elsewhere given the market’s central location.
Add: 64 Minzu Dadao, Qingxiu District, Nanning
地址: 南宁市青秀区民族大道64 号(民族大道园湖南路口)
Opening hours: 08:00 – 23:00
Getting there: The market is underneath the 7 Days Inn, at the corner of Minzu Dadao and Yuanhu Nanlu.
By bus: No. 6, 11, 34 or 79 stop at Macun (麻村).
3) E-Plaza 电子料技广场 View In Map
Clean, spacious and loud, the E-Plaza is Nanning’s major electronics hub. Shops ring the walls, and its centre is crowded with a network of stalls and cubicles. Most of the brands found in E-Plaza are name-brand items: Nokia, Canon and Apple. If you are interested in knockoffs you can try and talk to the men squatting on the street outside the market. The plaza shops seem to focus mostly on computers and cameras, but sound systems, printers, mp3 players, and other electronics can also be found. Expect prices comparable to the Western market price. The cheapest point-and-shoot digital cameras begin around 1000 RMB, and SLR cameras run in the multiple thousands. However, markdowns are common, and shop owners are often willing to bargain, especially if a customer buys multiple items. The top floors of the plaza houses shops that can help you out with electronics repair and troubleshooting.
Add: 14 Xinghu Lu, Qingxiu District, Nanning
Tel: 0771 531 3896
Opening hours: 09:30 – 18:30
4) Wu Li Ting (五里亭)View In Map
Residents of the outlying University district needn’t go into the city centre for good markets. Wu Li Ting, just down the street from Guangxi University, is a vibrant, bustling place to buy groceries.
Sprawled beneath a leaky canopy, the vendors of Wu Li Ting sells mangosteen, catfish, fresh melon and pork tenderloin. Old women squat on their mats, fans of green vegetables spread in front of them. While not as big as Macun, the market still carries a variety of raw foods. Vendors can change daily, as does their seasonal fare. Produce is cheap and fresh; tomatoes cost 2 RMB/500 gr., and mangoes 3 RMB/500 gr..
Wu Li Ting has fewer spices and a smaller meat market than Macun. Its real strength is in fruits and vegetables, which spill off the stalls enthusiastically. Almost any fruit available in southern China – including lemons – can be found here.
Add: 68 Daxue Lu, Xixiangtang District, Nanning
Opening hours: Roughly 7:00 – 21:00. Hours vary seasonally; closes at dusk.
By bus: No. 604, 76, 34, 33, and 31 all stop at Wu Li Ting (五里亭)
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Keywords: nanning markets nanning vegetable and fruit nanning shopping nanning electronics shopping
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