Best Places to Buy Souvenirs and Shop in Beijing
- Souvenirs: Peking Glass Snuff Bottles, Eight Treasures Inkpads, Beijing Dough Toys, Blue Glaze Cloisonné
- Antique Markets: Panjiayuan Antique Market, Beijing Curio City, Liulichang Ancient Cultural Street
- Beijing Specialist Shops: Ruifuxiang (Silk Clothes Shop), Shengxifu (Hatter Shop), Neiliansheng Shoe Store
- Major Shopping Centers: Galaxy SOHO, Wangfujing Business Center, Xidan Business Center, Qianmen Street, Xiushui Street, Solana Shopping Mall, Shin Kong Place Department Store, Dongfang Xintiandi, Sanlitun Village, Yaxiu Clothes Market, Silver Street, Hongqiao Market
- Chinese Medicine: Beijing Tongrentang, Henian Drug Store, Deshou Drug Store
- Shopping for Computers and Electronic Products
- Shopping for Tea
- Book Stores
- Shopping for Flowers: Beijing Lai Tai Flower Trade Center
1. The Best Souvenirs to Bring Back Home
1) Peking Glass Snuff Bottle 内画鼻烟壶
The Peking glass snuff bottles are a traditional Chinese handicraft with a history of about 200 years. They are popular in China and abroad for their unique workmanship and exquisite artistry.
Reportedly, snuffing tobacco was introduced into China during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and the snuff bottles represent a combination of Chinese and foreign cultures. They are not only a container for tobacco but also a form of art, collected by wealthy businessmen and influential officials.
The snuff bottles are made of special materials, such as jade, and have a unique shape. Ones painted on the inside are particularly famous and admired by collectors. They are also called reverse painted due to the technique.
This difficult method uses a very thin bamboo brush, inserted through the narrow neck of the bottle and angled to make the required brush strokes. The object has to be painted in reverse order since the first drop of paint to touch the glass will be in front of subsequent brush strokes. Thus the details must be painted before the subject: Eyes first, then face, then background, etc. The “reverse” of how typical painters work.
Most of the paintings inside the bottles are Chinese style, with vivid pictures, simple colors, and elegant layouts, giving them a great collection value. Moreover, the bottles also represent Chinese tobacco culture, and provide a historical source for tobacco culture research.
Recommended Shopping Places:
AIKA International Collections Exchange Market 爱家国际收藏品交流市场
- Location: No. 31 West Road North Third Ring, Haidian District, Beijing (北京市海淀区北三环西路31号 )
2) Eight Treasures Inkpad 八宝印泥
The famous Eight Treasures inkpad was invented in 1683 and made by the Zhangzhou Stationery Factory. It is known for bright, unfading colors and very clear, fire and sunlight proof prints. It has a variety of usages, including signing important contracts and historical records. It is also a must-have for painters and calligraphers.
The Eight Treasures Inkpad is made from musk, plum, cinnabar, vermillion hue, natural jade, and special oils. The entire process consists of around 30 stages, and maturing takes 6-10 months before the inkpad is finished.
Recommended Shopping Places:
Beijing Glass Ancient Culture Street
- Location: South Side of Peace Gate Xuanwu District Beijing (北京市宣武区和平门南侧)
- Tel: 010-63017989
- Opening Times: 09:00—18:30
- Transportation: Take city bus no. 14, 15, 16, 25 or 45 and get off at Glass Street Station, or take subway line 2 and get off at the Peace Gate Station.
3) Beijing Dough Toys 北京面人
The Beijing Dough Toy is a traditional Chinese folk handicraft, which became popular in the beginning of the 21st century.
The dough toy is made of wheat and sweet rice flour, and with a small bamboo knife the artist shapes the dough skillfully into people and animals in a short time. Among the figures are beautiful princesses, adorable children, and various historical people.
The dough toys are small, making them one of the best souvenirs. As it is an ancient handicraft, tourists can find them at temple fairs during the Spring Festival.
Recommended Shopping Places:
Ancient Beijing Street 老北京一条街
- Location: Floor B1, New Dong’an Market, No.138, Wangfujing Avenue, Dongcheng District, Beijing (北京市东城区王府井大街138号新东安市场B1层)
- Tel: (010)58176688
- Opening Times: 09:00—21:30
- Transportation: Take subway line 1 and get off at Wangfujing Station, which has a direct exit to the market, or take the city bus and get off at Dongdan Station, Dengshikou Station or Wangfujing West Station.
4) Blue Glaze Cloisonné 景泰蓝
Famous blue glaze cloisonné is a unique traditional handicraft of Beijing, the origin of this type of cloisonné. It can be traced back to the Yuan Dynasty about 1,000 years ago, and became popular during the Ming Dynasty.
As for the production procedure, red copper is used to make the body, and then thin copper wire is laid to form figures. After that, colorful enamel is used to fill in the image, and finally come firing and polishing. It can be said that the blue glaze cloisonné is a collection of all traditional Chinese handicrafts, as one piece represents copper, porcelain, and traditional painting and sculpture arts.
Since Beijing is the origin of this type of cloisonné, it can be bought everywhere in the city. Products range from temple tablets, hall screens, and chairs to chopsticks, earrings, and toothpick holders.
Enamel Factory 珐琅厂
- Location: No. 10, Anlelin Road, Chongwen District (崇文区安乐林路10号)
- Transportation: Take city bus line 7, 610, 803, or Yuntong 102, and get off at Liulijing Station, or take 986 or Yuntong 202, and get off at Anlelin station.
- Gongmei Building at Wangfujing (王府井的工美大厦): Take subway line 1 and get off at Wangfujing Station.
- Xiushui Street (秀水街): Take subway line 1 and get off at Yong’anli station.
- Yaxiu at Sanlitun (三里屯雅秀): Take subway line 10 and get off at Tuanjiehu Station.
2. Top 3 Antique Markets You Should Not Miss
1) Panjiayuan Antique Market 潘家园旧货（古玩）市场
Panjiayuan Antique Market is located southwest of Panjiayuan Bridge, South Road, East Third Ring. It is the largest antique market in China, and the cheapest antique market in Beijing.
As the most popular antique market, shops are open every day. Panjiayuan Antique Market covers an area of 48,500 square meters and had six zones: the stall zone, the ancient building zone, the ancient furniture zone, the modern collection zone, the stone sculpture zone and the restaurant zone.
In Panjiayuan Antique Market tourists can find various collectables, such as antique furniture, ancient paintings and books, jade, porcelain, ancient and foreign money, bamboo carvings, Buddhist keepsakes, folk clothes, and cultural relics.
- Location: No.18, Huaweili, Chaoyang District 朝阳区华威里18号
- Tel: 010-67741869
- Opening Times: 08:30—16:30
- Transportation: Take city bus no. 36, 51, 64, 713, or 802 and get off at Huaweixili or Panjiayuan Station.
2) Beijing Curio City 北京古玩城
Beijing Antique Street is the largest antique exchange center in Asia, and a paradise for collectors and antique lovers. It is also an art gallery for tourists, to enjoy Chinese culture.
Beijing Antique Street covers an area of 26,400 square meters and holds more than 600 traders, selling ancient furniture, calligraphy and paintings of famous people, jade sculptures, etc.
Beijing Antique Street also has the so-called top ten antiques, which are white jade, crystal decorations, Shoushan stone carvings, snuff bottles, ancient carpets, bronze Buddha sculptures, clocks, porcelain, Tibetan cultural relics, and folk clothes.
- Location: West side of Huawei Bridge, No.21, South Road, East Third Ring, Chaoyang District (朝阳区东三环南路21号华威桥西侧)
- Tel: 010-67747711
- Opening Times: 9:30—18:30
- Transportation: Take city bus line 28, 51, 300, 352, 386, 378, 730, 830, or 810, and get off at Huawei Bridge or Zuo’an Station.
3) Liulichang Ancient Cultural Street 琉璃厂古文化街
Liulichang Street is named after a factory that produced glazed tiles right here in ancient times. It became a famous traditional cultural street during Qing Dynasty, when people from all over the country gathered here to attend the imperial exams.
Over the years the street has become a center for cultural products. Presently, there are around 100 shops. They typically sell ancient paintings and calligraphy, books, writing brushes, ink sticks, paper, ink stones, collectively called the Four Treasures of Study.
Other items for sale include:
- Stone sculptures and porcelain: Yungu Room and Huizhen Room
- Four Treasures of Study: Laixun Room and Yide Room
- Jewelry: Zhenhuan Room and Zhenyun Room
- Musical instruments: Lehai Room and the Guyi Room
- Stone inscriptions: Guanfu Room and Qingyun Room
- Lanterns: Wensheng Room
- Carpets and wall carpets: Jinchang Room
- Location: South side of Peace Gate, Xuanwu District
- Tel: 010-63017989
- Opening Times: 09:00—18:30
- Transportation: Take city bus no. 14, 15, 16, 25, or 45, and get off at Liulichang Station, or take subway line 2 and get off at Peace Gate Station.
3. Beijing Specialist Shops
1) Ruifuxiang Silk Clothes Shop 瑞蚨祥
Beijing’s Ruifuxiang Silk Clothes Shop opened in 1893, selling silk, wool fabric, cotton cloth, fur, and Chinese style clothes. Clothes made to order are the specialty of Ruifuxiang, famous for their materials and great tailoring. Here, tourists can choose the fabrics and wait for the clothing to be made.
- Opening Times: 09:00–21:00
- Location: No. 5, Dashilan Street, Xicheng District, Beijing
- Tel: 010-63035764
- Transportation: Take city bus line 1, 4, 10, 104, or 803, and get off at Wangfujing Street.
If you want to buy a Qipao, see Where to Buy a Qipao or Have One Tailor Made in Beijing.
2) Shengxifu Hatter Shop 盛锡福
Shengxifu Hatter Shop at Wangfujing Avenue is one of the most famous shops in Beijing. It opened in 1911 and many famous people have supposedly ordered hats here, including Chairman Mao and Premier Zhou.
Shengxifu also sell hats to the U.S., Germany, France, Canada, and Singapore.
- Location: No. 180, Wangfujing Avenue, Dongcheng District (东城区王府井大街180号)
- Opening Times: 09:00–21:00
- Tel: 010-64079375
- Subway Line: Take subway line 1 and get off at Wangfujing station.
3) Neiliansheng Shoe Store 内联升
Neiliansheng Shoe Store is the largest handmade shoe-making company in China, famous for its cloth shoes.
The headquarters has a Qing Dynasty style layout with yellow tiles and red pillars, reminiscent of the image of a bustling ancient shop.
Neiliansheng Shoe Store was founded in 1853 to make shoes for officials. The Chinese character “Nei” stands for the government while “Liansheng” means “getting promotions”. Therefore, all officials wear these shoes as a way to pray for a promotion, and this is how the shoe store got its name.
- Location: No.34, Dashilan Street, Xuanwu District (宣武区大栅栏街34号)
- Opening Times: 09:00–21:00
- Tel: 010-63013041
- Transportation: Take city bus line 1, 4, 10, 104, or 803, and get off at Wangfujing Station.
4. Major Shopping Centers
1) Qianmen Street 前门大街
Qianmen Street is located to the south of Tiananmen Square. It is Beijing’s original commercial center from 600 years ago; today, it largely deals in Chinese traditional products.
With urban development under the Ming and Qing dynasties, Qianmen Street evolved into a major shopping and entertainment-based commercial district. After renovations in 2008 the stores in this century-old shopping district are now lined up side by side in the style of the Hutongs.
This is a good place for souvenirs, such as stone or jade chops carved with your name. The Lao She Teahouse is located to the west of Qianmen Street, and is a good place to sample Chinese teas, read, or watch a traditional show.
- Location: Stretching from Zhengyang Gate in the north to Tiantan Road in the south
- Transportation: Take bus 17, 22, or 120, or subway line 2, and get off at Qianmen Stop
2) Xiushui Street 秀水街
Xiushui Street has a silk market (open 9am to 9pm) brimming with some of the finest silk products, as well as an amazing array of name-brand clothes and bags, such as Reebok, Adidas, and Gucci.
However, very few of these top labels are the real thing despite their uncanny resemblance. This is probably why serious shoppers usually avoid this market, but there are still a lot of interesting things to see and to do here. Xiushui Street is also one of the few places in Beijing where foreigners can purchase clothes and shoes in larger sizes.
The fun of the place may not come from searching for the perfect bag, but from the haggling. “No price is fixed” is the golden rule here. The more you haggle, the better price you get, even 30 percent of the original price.
- Location: Chaoyang District
3) Silver Street 银街
The 2.7 kilometer (1.7 mile) long Silver Street is on Dongdan Beidajie (东单北大街). The number of shops on Silver Street seems countless. The range includes clothing stores, jewelry stores, household goods stores, bakeries, restaurants, cinemas, and hair salons. Each is different, and it is a pleasure just to walk down the street to window-shop.
The area also has traditional handicrafts such as cloisonné, bronzes, paintings, and carvings. Another famous handicraft, snuff bottles, can also be found on Silver Street. Genuine snuff bottles from the Qing period are a desirable target for serious collectors.
4) Yaxiu Clothes Market (Sanlitun Road)
This four-floor store offers Chinese clothing in various styles and colors. Ruifuxiang, a famous shop selling qipaos (traditional Chinese dresses) is located on the third floor. They have many traditional silk products on sale, and you can have your qipao tailor-made to your specific requirements.
- Closed due to construction work: January to April 2015
- Address: 58 North Gongti Road, Chaoyang District (朝阳区工体北路58号)
- Tel: 010-6416 8945 / 6415 1726
- Average price per person: 167 yuan
5) Hongqiao Market 虹桥市场
Beijing Hongqiao Market is in the south central area of Beijing, just east of the Temple of Heaven. It is an indoor mall with a seafood market in the basement, and is three floors high.
It is filled mainly with cheap electronic goods like portable CD players, VCD players, camcorders, batteries, sunglasses, electronics and household phones.
The items for sale tend to be from real “no-name” brands of Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Thai companies that do not try to cater to brand-conscious consumers.
6) Galaxy SOHO Mall 银河
Beijing’s largest mall, completed in 2012, is worth going just for the architecture, which wouldn’t look out of place in a Sci-Fi movie. Shopping is expensive, but some of the restaurants and coffee bars are reasonable. More>>
7) Solana Shopping Mall 蓝色港湾国际商区
Solana Shopping Mall is a nice place to pass time, as there is not only shopping, but also restaurants and bars. Products are middle to high grade.
- Address: 6 Chaoyang Gongyuan Road, Chaoyang District (朝阳区朝阳公园路6号)
- Tel: 010-5905 6666
- Average price per person: 332 yuan
8) Shin Kong Place Department Store 新光天地
This store offers various luxurious brands in a nice environment and considerate service; there is a place for resting with coffee on every story. There are many kinds of grocery products, clothing, and toiletries.
- Address: Huamao Center, 87 Jianguo Road, Chaoyang District (朝阳区建国路87号华贸中心)
- Tel: 010-6530 5888
- Average price per person: 1,615 yuan
9) Dongfang Xintiandi 东方新天地
This store offers many famous clothing brands, both domestic and international, and the building is a landmark in Wangfujing. In addition to shopping, visitors also can enjoy delicious food and catch a movie.
- Address: Dangfang Square, 1 Chang’an Street, Dongcheng District (东城区东长安街1号东方广场)
- Tel: 010-8518 6363
- Average price per person: 642 yuan
10) Sanlitun Village 三里屯
Beijing Sanlitun Village Flagship stores for many famous brands, especially sports brands, are in Sanlitun Village. It is very popular among Beijing young people as well as tourists.
- Address: 19 North Sanlitun Road, Chaoyang District (朝阳区三里屯北路19号)
- Tel: 010-6417 6110
- Average price per person: 417 yuan
11) Wangfujing Business Center 王府井商业圈
- Location: Stretching from Beijing Art Gallery in the north to Chang’an Street in the south
- Recommended Stores: Beijing Department Store, New Dong’an Bazaar
- Transportation: Take bus 103, 104, or 420, or subway line 1, and get off at Wangfujing Stop.
12) Xidan Business Center 西单商业圈
Beijing Xidan Shopping Center is on the bustling Xidan Commercial Street, a famous center with 70 years of history. This market covers a range of prices levels by providing middle and high quality commodities.
Many new shops like Xidan Shopping Center, Xidan Bazaar, Chung-Yo Department Store, and Huanan Mansion have recently been launched. Many world-famous, name-brand products are available, making Xidan a paradise for shoppers.
- Location: Stretching from Gangwashi in the north to Xidan Crossing in the south
- Recommended Stores: Zhongyou Department Store, Xidan Bzaar, and Juntai Department Store
- Transportation: Take bus 22, 37, 47, 105, 109, or 826, or subway line 1, and get off at Xidan Stop.
5. Chinese Medicine
1) Beijing Tongrentang 北京同仁堂
Tongrentang, founded in 1669, is the most famous drug store in China. Since 1723, Tongrentang has been the official drug store for the government, and it is famous for its medicines. In 2006, Tongrentang Chinese Medicine Culture was placed on the China Nonmaterial Cultural Heritage list.
- Location: No. 52, Xinglong Street, Dongcheng District (东城区东兴隆街52号)
- Tel: 010-63022678
2) Henian Drug Store 鹤年堂
Beijing Henian Drug Store was built in 1405 and has a history of several hundred years, preserving Chinese health culture. Its characteristic products include medical liquors, dew drinks, regimen teas, herbal cuisine, medical porridge, and ginseng products. Presently, the Henian Drug Store is a protected unit in the Chinese Non-material Cultural Heritage.
- Location: No.43-1, Changnei Street, Xicheng District
- Tel: 010-63010118
- Transportation: Take bus no.102, 105, 204, 724, 109, or 603, and get off at Caishikou station, or take subway line 2 and get off at Xuanwumen Station.
3) Deshou Drug Store 德寿堂
Deshou Drug Store was built in 1934. During the 1930s, it became famous in Beijing. The drug store sells Chinese and foreign medicine, nutritional products, medical equipment, and ginseng products. It also has a traditional Chinese medicine clinic.
- Location: No.175, Zhushikou West Avenue
- Tel: 010-63032093
6. Shopping for Computers and Electronic Products
Zhongguancun High-Tech Center 中关村科贸电子城
Known as “China’s Silicon Valley”, Zhongguancun is Beijing’s high-tech center because of its many universities and IT-based companies.
Markets sell every kind of computer part that you can imagine. The Zhonghai electronic market sells used computers, parts, and notebooks, and second-hand parts sell at low prices if you do not require the latest model. In addition, many markets offer reasonably priced computer repair services.
- Address: 18 Zhongguancun Street, Handian District (海淀区中关村大街18号)
- Tel: 010-8253 6688
7. Shopping for Tea
Maliandao Tea City 马连道茶城
Maliandao is in the southwestern part of Beijing. The street specializes in anything associated with tea, including teacups, teapots, and tables and, of course, many different types of tea.
The two most popular indoor markets are a newly built market in the southern part of the street and another market called Maliandao Tea City or Tea Joy Market.
Tea City is a four-story building with three floors reserved for tea, and DV cameras, SLR cameras and other photo-related goods on the fourth floor.
- Address: 11 Maliandao Road, Xuanwu District (宣武区马连道路11号)
- Average price per person: 199 yuan
8. Book Stores
- Beijing Xinhua Book Store: Wangfujing Branch: 218, Wangfujing Street (south end), Dongcheng District.
- Beijing Book City: 17 Chang’an Street, Xicheng District.
- Beijing Wangfujing Foreign Language Book Store: 235 Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng District.
See our article on The Best English Language Bookstores in Beijing.
9. Shopping for Flowers
LaiTai Flower & Plant Co. 莱太花卉
Founded on 1998, Beijing LaiTai Flower & Plant Co. covers 55,000 square meters, and includes Beijing LaiTai flower shopping mall, LaiTai flower auction center and LaiTai Flower Street. It is the largest northern flower distributing center, and offers multiple services including wholesale flowers, retail flowers, export-import businesses, domestic trade, and flower auctions, among others.
- Address: 9 West Maizidian Street, Chaoyang District (朝阳区麦子店西街9号)
- Tel: 010-6463 6554
Source: Point of Sale System by InspirePOS