What to Buy

Beijing is a wonderland for any shopping enthusiast, with a dazzling range of items available. Bear in mind that all prices outside of department stores are negotiable.

Antiques and Art

The Chinese Government has banned the export of antiques dating from earlier than 1911. Breaking this law could result in a hefty fine or a jail term. If you let antique vendors know that you are familiar with this law, you may be able to lower the price of reproductions. Genuine antiques are supposed to have an official red seal of authenticity, but these are sometimes faked. Antique and art dealers should be able to organize the export documents, packing and shipping of your items. Antiques are tax free as long as they are exported. Prime centers for antique and art shopping are the Panjiayuan antique market, Yandai Xiejie (Old Pipe Street), the Qianmen area and Liulichang Street.

(Souvenir carving) Souvenir carving.

Clothes and Silk

Beijing is awash in designer clothes, cheap clothing outlets and brand name knock-offs, as well as a glorious array of textiles. For clothes shopping, the Wangfujing shopping district, Da Zhalan Street and the Ya Xiu Clothing Market will keep you busy for hours. To buy silk fabric, try the Ruifu Xiang Silk Fabric Store on Wangfujing Street, friendship stores and government tourism stores. Many of the markets have silk products like scarves, robes, pajamas, shirts and ties. The Silk Market is actually a huge collection of stalls selling knock-off items and cheap goods, as well as some silk products.


Beautiful jewelry bargains of pearls, jade, coral, crystal, amber, emerald and silver are scattered throughout Beijing. For pearls head to the Hong Qiao Pearl Market near the Temple of Heaven. Before you enter the markets, learn how to shop for pearls and gems as there are many fakes.


There is something for everyone when looking for souvenirs in Beijing. Popular choices include: “chops” (stone or jade stamps carved with your name written in Chinese characters), reproduction antiques, cloisonné enamel ware, embroidered textiles, chopsticks, fans, calligraphy scrolls, as well as porcelain (which often contains high levels of lead so use it for decoration only, not for food serving) and copies of the terracotta warriors.


(Tea in 18th Century chinese porcelain bowl) Tea in 18th Century chinese porcelain bowl.

For tea lovers, the place to go is MaLianDao Tea City which contains over a hundred tea vendors in a four-storey market. As you enter you’ll be swept up with a heady fragrance of hundreds of varieties of tea. On the different levels there are a range of small tea shops as well as large tea companies. Venders may allow you to try samples of different varieties as you make your selections. Many exquisite tea pots and cups are also available.