Shopping in Beijing is a vibrant affair, but notoriously tricky from a practical point of view. Westerners can find themselves bewildered and befuddled without some careful consideration. Standards at Beijing‘s bigger shopping areas have improved somewhat since the 2008 summer Olympics, but it remains true that most shops, stands, and stalls do not accept credit and debit cards. Salespeople can also be extremely pushy. This is due less to strange manners than the lack of the tradition of the return policy. Salespeople want you to be quite sure of your purchase, because once you leave the store, it’s yours for keeps. Expect oceans of souvenirs and fake designer goods, as well as all manner of apparel, from high quality to the lowest. Of the many shopping centers and areas in Beijing, here are a few notable ones.
Covering more than an acre, the so-called Pearl Market (or Hongqiao Market) in the Chongwen District is famous as the place to go for pearls of every conceivable variety from all over the world. Over one million people visit every year, so brace yourself for crowds.
If it’s silk you’re after (rather than pearls, say, or perhaps along with pearls), East Xiushui Street (dubbed Silk Street) is home to hundreds of vendors. Keep in mind that haggling is expected (and even respected).
The largest and most diverse shopping zones are Wangfujing Dajie, Qianmen, Xidan Commercial Street and Dongsi.