How to shop and barter in Beijing China like a pro!

Shopping in China can be a good or bad experience and it will depend on your bartering skills and where you choose to shop. Our guide here will give you a first-hand experience so you can go into your shopping in Beijing experience ready, aware and prepared to barter like a pro with all the top tips on how to shop and barter in Beijing China

How to shop and barter in Beijing China

I had huge shopping in China plans when I visited Beijing but 7kg of checked luggage wasn’t going to really allow me to go crazy. Luckily we had a friend visiting from Australia that had to get souvenirs from China to take home as well so I was able to at least get some great buys while I was visiting Bejing. It also allowed me to put my shopping and bartering in China skills to the test.

Markets are one of the best places to put your how to shop and barter in Beijing China to the test

Silk Road Shopping Center

By 螺钉Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

While this article focuses on our shopping in Beijing experiences you can use these tips for any sort of shopping in China. I used these skills and knowledge in Chengdu and Xi’an as well as many other places in Asia that use bartering as a sport!

Where did we go shopping in Beijing?

We went to two ‘markets’ in Beijing while we were visiting. We went to the Silk Street Market and the Pearl Street Market (Hongqiao Street market) I put the markets in brackets as they are not the normal market many people think of in a typical Asian way. They were more like shopping centres or a mall with shops.

We tried to find another market but we didn’t really get enough information about it so we had the choice of The Silk Street Market and The Pearl Street (Hongqiao Market)

So here are our best tips for shopping at The Silk Street Market and the Pearl Street Market Beijing.

We know because we go! We independently travelled to China for a month and loved it. Visiting China can be an amazing experience as long as you plan well. Use our ultimate guide to travelling in China to make sure you have the best vacation in China.

Silk Street Market Beijing

This was my least favourite of the two we visited so I spend the least amount of time there. I found the floors hard to navigate (there are around 5), too spread out and it was crazy busy on the Sunday we went.

Shop owners would actually chase you if you showed the slightest interest in anything they had. This was too much for me and I bought little there before leaving.

What I did buy was:

ItemOriginal PricePrice I paid
Small brand purse1200RMB70RMB
Large brand bag with matching purse2600RMB200RMB
Shirt for Willow1000RMB30RMB
Silk purse for Marley190RMB25RMB

I was happy with my bartering attempts on this day and I walked away happy with what I had paid.

Here are our top tips for shopping at Silk Street Beijing:

  • have a price in mind and stick to it
  • know your conversion rates before you go
  • If you feel intimidated at all walk away and head to the escalators to re-group
  • do not show off wads of cash

Shopping at Pearl Street Market (Hongqiao Market) Beijing

For some reason even though this was another shopping mall market I found it much easier to navigate and the shop owners much easier to deal with. For me, this was the better of the two shopping in China experiences.

If you said no they would leave you alone and not harass you which I really liked. I actually like the shops here much more and I found the deals much better. I also found the range of items and sizing better for what we needed.

Here I bought or helped our friend barter for:

ItemOriginal Price Price I paid
Small brand purse x 2750 RMB each70 RMB each
Small wooden chess set1200 RMB65 RMB
Glass teacup (large)650 RMB30 RMB
Cashmere shawl1300 RMB50 RMB
Boxed chopsticks160 RMB35 RMB
Set of 5 panda chopstick holders110 RMB 25 RMB
Pop sockets x 360 RMB each15 RMB for 3
Phone case300 RMB 45 RMB
Gold microphone160 RMB40 RMB
Wooden puzzle190 RMB45 RMB

I actually enjoyed shopping in Beijing here. This is just a guide to what I paid. Some may have done better and some may have paid more but this will give you a rough guide on where to go.

I also had a few of the stall owners get a bit stroppy at me when I refused to pay what they wanted but they came around in the end. Shopping in China is an intense and sometimes infuriating exercise but one where you really need to stay calm.

Learn More: Beijing is an amazing city with so much to see, food to try and cultural sites to visit. Make sure you don’t miss a must-see site with our how to spend 5 days in Beijing guide.

Here are our top tips for shopping at Pearl Street (Hongqiao Market) Beijing:

  • go on a weekday if you can as it is not as busy
  • walk as many levels as you can before you commit to one stall or one product
  • if you can’t get the product for what you want try another stall
  • there are a lot of small shops up the back where it is quiet. If you can go up there and you can get some great bargains too
  • there is a toilet in the basement. They are only squat toilets and you need your own toilet paper
  • there is a food court in the basement of this market and it has some amazing food

Is the quality good at the markets?

In these places are all types of knock off merchandise. If you do choose to buy something there you do have to realise it may not be an original or it may be faulty. It is your job to check and make sure that the items are in good condition before you hand over money.

You may also have to surrender your item if you are not allowed to enter your country with counterfeit merchandise. Please be aware of this before you go crazy and spend a lot of money.

What if I need more money at the markets?

There are ATM’S on-site at both of the markets. We suggest that you have a wallet with you that only has a small amount in it, so if a stallholder sees the cash on your there isn’t a large amount in there. Have some money hidden in a pocket in a backpack (wear it on your front so you have easy access) and you can restock your wallet from there.

Our absolute top tips for shopping anywhere in China where you have to barter:

  • know how much you want to pay for something or have a budget to stick to
  • know how much this is in your own currency
  • if you are unsure do a lap of the place first to get your bearings
  • do not get pushed into buying anything
  • take small notes with you in case of receiving fake money
shopping centre in Beijing

Am I happy with what I bought?

I do love what I bought and I look at what I sent home and I can’t wait to get it all out and set it up in my kitchen or lounge room. I ended up having to send a case home with our friend with some of the trinkets I have bought over time. It wasn’t just from here though so don’t worry.

Money tips for China

When you are shopping in China it is always good to know about the local currency. The official National Currency in China is the rénmínbì (RMB) or some call it the Yuan. They come in 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, and 1 RMB bank notes as well as 1 yuan, 5 jiao, and 1 jiao coins.

We found for tourists you needed cash and smaller notes were better to have. Many Chinese pay through Wechat or Alipay. The ICBC bank was the easiest to use with an English language option and less fees than other banks for withdrawals.

Beware that large notes can be a part of a scam where they take the note at a shop, quickly exchange it for a fake and then accuse you of tricking them. Please make sure you have some smaller notes especially at the markets in BeiJing.

Shopping in China travel tip:

We have heard people say that you can use USD in China but at no point did we see people using it and we did not get asked for it either.

Where can I get Yuan from?

We used an ATM to withdraw the amount of money we needed for a couple of days at a time to save on withdrawal fees through our Australian Bank. Our debit card worked fine and so did our QANTAS travel money card.

We did not exchange any foreign currency into Yuan while we were there but we did go to a ICBC bank to exchange Yaun to Euro as we had a lot left over. We needed our passport and about 1 hour to do this. W were thoroughly checked out and so was the money.

We recommend you do not use a money exchange service as you risk being ripped off. Use an ATM and withdraw what you need.

Do I need travel insurance in China?
We always say if you can’t afford travel insurance you can’t afford to travel. Get your travel insurance now to protect your epic holiday in China from any small hiccup.
For Australian travellers, we recommend Fast Cover Travel Insurance
For worldwide travellers, we recommend AXA Travel Insurance

Top tips for using an ATM in Beijing

You will find many ATM’s around the cities in China especially in Beijing. They dispense anywhere up to 20000 yuan at a time sometimes higher in the tourist areas.

They are normally very secure with your own little booth to withdraw money from but you must take all of the usual precautions when you are carrying money. We found the ICBC bank in China to be the best as it had an English menu that was easy to use.

Like most major cities you need to be aware of your surroundings and be careful of skimmers on the machine. We used numerous ATM’s in China and we had no issues. You should probably alert you bank as well if you are travelling to China to make sure they are aware and do not see your transactions as fraudulent and possible cut off your access to your money.

Accommodation in Beijing

Many people assume that China is a cheap country to travel in. Yes, some parts certainly are, but Beijing is not. Accommodation in Beijing is as expensive as any Western capital city in the world.

You will find all types of accommodation from hostels, apartments and hotels available in Beijing. If you looking for a budget option we highly recommend Heyuan Courtyard Youth Hostel. For more options please check the map below.

Rating an 8.5 from 1232 reviews and starting at $80.00 per night for a quadruple room. Heyuan Courtyard Youth Hostel has a location score of 8.1 and offers guests in-house dining, breakfast, large common room, free wi-fi, family rooms, airport transfers and an on-site bar.

Airbnb Beijing alternative for your stay in China

If you prefer a home away from home-style accommodation in Beijing then Air BnB is the best choice for you. There are so many options for singles, families and budget-friendly options as well. Click here to find the perfect Beijing Airbnb for you.

Access to the internet in China

We were all prepared for no internet for the month we would be travelling in China for. We knew we would need some for our work but at the same time knew it may have been an issue as we had been told that the internet in China for tourists was hard to get even in hotels.

We decided to purchase Chinese sim cards from home in Australia before we left and had them in our luggage to put in our phones when we arrived in China. This is one of the essential things you need for traveling to China. If you are unable to do that we have some great deals here for you to check out.

Using a VPN in China

We downloaded Express VPN in Australia before we left and we did not have a problem with it while traveling in China. It does reconnect some times but we have not had any other issues

This is an essential tool if you want to use the internet in China. If you plan on using the internet this is one of the top things you need for travelling to China.

There is so much to know about China. Shopping in China and Beijing was a great experience and one I had a lot of fun with. I knew I was getting good prices as most of the stallholder were a little frustrated at me but at no point did I think I was ripping the stallholder off.

Everyone needs to remember that they have to make a living as well.

We hope this article from us here at Wyld Family Travel has you inspired to visit China and stay in Beijing. There are so many things to do in Beijing and staying in Beijing is a perfect place. For more amazing ideas on where to holiday in China click through to our China Destination Guide page for more brilliant inspiration.

Some more travel inspiration for your trip to China

Rebecca Wyld

Content Creator/SEO Editor

Co-founder and SEO editor here at Wyld Family Travel. Bec has travelled to over 45 countries across 3 continents and is a travel with kids advocate. When Bec is not planning travel, she is creating content for our family travel blog or doing local community services work. You can find all of Bec’s detailed travel guides here on Wyld Family travel and on other popular websites such as Lonely Planet.

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