I had huge shopping in China plans when I visited Beijing but7kg 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 there. It also allowed me to put my shopping and bartering in China skills to the test.
Silk Road Shopping Center
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.
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:
|Item||Original Price||Price I paid|
|Small brand purse||1200RMB||70RMB|
|Large brand bag with matching purse||2600RMB||200RMB|
|Shirt for Willow||1000RMB||30RMB|
|Silk purse for Marley||190RMB||25RMB|
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.
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:
|Item||Original Price||Price I paid|
|Small brand purse x 2||750 RMB each||70 RMB each|
|Small wooden chess set||1200 RMB||65 RMB|
|Glass teacup (large)||650 RMB||30 RMB|
|Cashmere shawl||1300 RMB||50 RMB|
|Boxed chopsticks||160 RMB||35 RMB|
|Set of 5 panda chopstick holders||110 RMB||25 RMB|
|Pop sockets x 3||60 RMB each||15 RMB for 3|
|Phone case||300 RMB||45 RMB|
|Gold microphone||160 RMB||40 RMB|
|Wooden puzzle||190 RMB||45 RMB|
I actually enjoyed shopping 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.
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
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.
There are ATM’S on-site at both of the markets.
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
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
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.
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. we 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.
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 Booking.com 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.
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.
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 stall holder were a little frustrated at me but at no point did I think I was ripping the stall holder off.
Everyone needs to remember that they have to make a living as well. Click through to our China page for more articles and tips
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More about the Author
Bec Wyld is a mother, wife and once reluctant traveller. Bec has been to over 30 countries across the globe. I have planned and stressed in all of these places. Becs writing can be found on Wyld Family Travel and as a guest poster and contributor on many other travel websites including Lonely Planet Kids