Saturday, 7 July 2007

Beijing: Shopping - Where and How - your bargain guide

Shopping is one of the top five things to do while in Beijing.

Please, follow me:

Hongqiao or Pearl market, Xiushui or Silk market or Silk street, Yashow (Ya Xiu), Jia Yi and Yueshow are selling about all the same stuff. The Pearl market is probably the oldest market. The fish market below has disappeared, so no more smell. Silk market is newer, bigger, brighter and cleaner. And they sell at least as many pearls as at the pearl market. Yueshow is the newest, but has not the widest product range. However the best sorted Olympic 2008 souvenir shop at the ground floor. Yashow is my personal favorite as I can go there by bike in a few minutes.

The price depends on the product quality, the time of the day or the mood of the salesperson but I feel it is easier to get lowest prices at Silk market as the competition there is quite strong. Here you find the most aggressive salesperson that yell at you and grab you.

However, if you know a price (e.g. your last best bargain) you can get it somewhere else for the same price. But how to know the price? That is the most difficult and time consuming part - for some also the most fun part. If you shop a lot and repeatedly in Beijing, make sure to note down the prices. Too confusing to remember. And next time you try a little lower.

And here are the rules: cut 70% off the price they tell you, and you get an idea for what they would sell. So quote a price about 80% off to have room for further negotiation. The problem is, the salesperson meanwhile know that the tourist know... that means sometimes you even have to cut off more. Most important, you have to feel comfortable and not ripped off. Walk away (they might come after you) and check the stand around the corner. Here you try lower. Don't feel bad, it takes time to get used to the gap between first and last price. I only feel bad thinking of children work involved. However, remember they would never sell if they loose money.

To finish this shopping post, I give you some examples to have an idea about prices. And you might get them even cheaper, but I am fine with that:

- 10 kuai for a 'silk' tie (fake Ermeneguildo Zegna, Burberry, Boss ...)
- 20-30 kuai for children T-Shirts (no brand)
- up to 80 kuai for XL T-shirts (even for originals from Esprit, Gant or Ralph Lauren)
- 10 kuai for one 'silk' cushion cover
- 30 kuai for a 'pashmina' of fair quality

If you are interested in fashion - copies and also a lot of real original labels - Ritan Office Building, South of Ritan Park is a great address.

The addresses of the markets are available in every guide book, taxi book or at the concierge of the hotel - you need them in Chinese for the taxi driver.

10 kuai (yuan or reminbi) are about 1 Euro or 1.20 USD (please check currency converter for actual exchange rate).


Ian said...

That was a very interesting post to read Suzie, thanks for sharing!

We just got back from vacation and I'm catching up on all my fav blogs.

Talk soon!


Princess Haiku said...

Hi Suzie,
People don't negotiate prices in the US other than at yard sales so I have never done that. It sounds like something you have to practice. I like pearls a lot and have a great book on pearls of the world filled with gorgeous pictures. Beijing must be a good place to get them. Sorry that I have been out of touch. Hope all is well with you.

-Suzie- said...

Hi Princess Haiku,
Hi Ian,
welcome back!

Princess, the negotiation part was not easy for me in the beginning because the Chinese salespersons are real tough actors. It is always impressing, how low they go with the price, as soon as you walk away. I had to get used to the procedure.
Sometimes I am happy if there is a sign 'fixed prices'. It is much more relaxed shopping that way.

Pearls: lots of pearls in China. But difficult to tell the quality, how long was it cultivated / how much motherpearl is around? You can buy sweetwater pearl necklaces for 20 USD that look nice and you can get the most expensive Tahiti pearls for a couple of thousand USD as well. Here I find negotiation most difficult because of lack of knowledge and experience. However, I buy frequently pearls for family and friends that are happy to pay the price I had to pay.

Neva said...

OK when I come and visit I am going shopping with you! wow you know your shopping!! very good info.


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