Inger Meyer and Margareta Hedlund recently spent 4 days shopping in Beijing.
Here is their story as told by Inger Meyer.
We just came back from a wonderful shopping trip to Beijing, China. I managed to get all my Christmas shopping done, what a relief! Both Margareta and I have been to Beijing before, so we had already seen all the tourist attractions like The Great Wall, The Forbidden City, The Ming Tombs, etc. These places are fantastic and should be experienced by everyone at least once in their lifetime. BUT this trip was not about sightseeing, it was all about shopping. We shopped from early morning to late at night for four days straight. It was exhausting but also a lot of fun.
We had to buy new suitcases to get all our newly acquired purchases with us home. We bought winter jackets, leather coats, pants, shirts, pashima shawls, mink shawls, pearls, designer suits, Game Boy games, toys and a lot more. Everything we bought had popular brand names like Timberland, Tommy Hilfiger, Hugo Boss, North Face, Donna Karan, Anne Klein, Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Prada, etc. The list goes on, you name it and they have it. Of course most of the clothes are copies, but itís hard to see a difference. Their selection is great and they have all the latest styles.
We were lucky enough to meet up with Margaretaís old friend Susan one day. She is Swedish and used to live in KL, but moved to Beijing two years ago. She was nice enough to spend a whole day with us and she took us to some really cool markets that we otherwise never would have found. I thought I would tell you a little bit about each market we visited; you can use this as a shopping guide for YOUR trip to Beijing.
SILK MARKET: Iíll start with this market because everyone has heard about it and all the tourists go there. Actually itís my least favorite market. Itís very crowded, itís outside and the prices are very high. You have to bargain very hard, and try to knock at least 70-80 % off the price, and itís still more expensive than the other markets. The good thing about the silk market is they have a good selection. You pay a fraction of the price you would pay in Scandinavia. You can buy mostly clothes here.
LIDO MARKET: This one of my favorite markets. Even though the selection is not that good you can get some great bargains and itís never crowded. The Lido Market is indoors, it is one loooong hallway lined with stalls. When youíve reached the end of the hallway you catch a cab and go on to the next market. You can buy clothes, souvenirs and some antiques here.
ALIEN STREET (Lao Pangi Yi): This is actually the Old Russian market. Itís also an indoor market, you can get good prices here, but itís very crowded. You can buy clothes, shoes, leather goods and bags here.
FUR MARKET: Two blocks away from Alien Street you find the fur market. One whole street is lined with shops that sell the most beautiful fur coats, jackets and hats, mostly mink and chinchilla. You pay less than half of what you would pay in Scandinavia.
PEARL MARKET (Hong Qiao Market): If you like pearls this is the place to go. Actually this market was great; you can find a lot of things here that the other markets donít have. I saw some beautiful winter coats and jackets with fur lining or fur collars. On the first floor they have all kinds of knick knacks and souvenirs, on the second floor thereís clothes, on the third floor they have antiques and cheap pearls. But donít buy your pearls here; you have to continue to the fourth floor. It can be a bit tricky to find since the escalator stops at the third floor, you have to find an elevator to take you there.
When you step out of the elevator on the fourth floor itís like entering a different world. Itís very quiet; hardly any people and the jewelry shops look very exclusive. But looks can be deceiving, here you can get great prices on pearls (about 50-70 % less than you would pay in Scandinavia). The selection, service and price are outstanding. You get to choose what size, color, quality and style you want. Both Margareta and I had beautiful necklaces with matching bracelets and earrings made. We also bought a lot of our Christmas gifts for family and friends here. I recommend ďSHARONíS STOREĒ. Check out their Internet site www.sharonpearl.com.
There is also a small toy market behind the Pearl market, where you can buy just about anything for your kids. We bought Game Boy games for 15 RM each.
RITAN OFFICE BUILDING: This is an old office building, or actually several buildings they have converted into a market. This is like no other market. Here you can buy designer labels like Anne Klein, Donna Karan, Dior, etc. You can get beautiful suits, evening wear and footwear. The prices are higher than the other markets and itís hard to bargain here, you might be able to knock 20-30% off the price. We were told that they donít sell copies, itís the real thing. Everything looked very nice and the quality was very good, but you never know. You should check out the building where they sell evening gowns.
SANLITUN YASHOW (Qi Lin Da Sha): This was our favorite market and the only one we kept coming back to. In the four days we spent in Beijing we went to Sanlitun Yashow three times. They had a good selection of clothes, shoes and bags at very good prices. You can easily knock 80% off their starting prices. They also have some nice fabric shops, and next to them tailors, where you can have anything made in a day or two.
ORIENTAL PLAZA: We wanted to see a Chinese shopping centre and were recommended Oriental Plaza. Itís enormous and very fancy, kind of like KLCC, but bigger. The shops were nice and you can buy nice clothes here, but everything is very expensive, about the same prices as in Scandinavia.
WANG FU JING STREET: Beijingís famous shopping street is located next to Oriental Plaza. If you exit the shopping centre to the left you are on Wang Fu Jing Street. This avenue is superb for strolling and window-shopping. Most shops stay open 7 days a week from about 9am to 8pm, or later. The side street to Wang Fu Jing Street is absolutely charming. You can buy lots of food and souvenirs here but you should go after dark when the street is all lit up, it was beautiful. The nicest experience of our trip was spending time there.
Iím going to stop here. I think I am going back to Beijing next year to visit some more markets, and to do my Christmas shopping. In closing, Beijing is only 6 hours away from Kuala Lumpur. We always stay at the Radisson SAS hotel because of their fantastic breakfast buffet; it will keep you going all day long.