hotel collage

The Top 15 Hotels in Guangzhou

hotel collage

These Guangzhou hotels are selected based on proximity to the city center, visitor ratings, overall value and suitability for foreign visitors.

Guangzhou is the capital of Guangdong, and in all respects, a mega-city with population exceeding 9 million. Popular attractions include Yuexiu Park, Canton Tower, Ancestral Temple of the Chen Family, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, Baiyun Shan, Bright Filial Piety Temple, Chimelong Tourist Resort and Baomo Garden to name just some.

It’s also a key destination for international trade featuring regular trade shows mostly held in the Panyu District, and many wholesale markets with the clothing markets being world famous, it’s also famous for shopping at Shanxiajiu Pedestrian Street and Beijing Lu shopping street, see here for a full list.

Fraser Suites Guangzhou 5-star hotel

Area: Tian He, Guangzhou

Just steps from the Shipaiqiao subway station. It provides luxurious self-catering apartments in downtown Guangzhou.

The Garden Hotel Guangzhou 5-star hotel

Area: Yue Xiu, Guangzhou

Just in front of Taojin Metro Station (Line 5). It has modern accommodations in central Guangzhou.

Langham Place Guangzhou 5-star hotel

Area: Hai Zhu, Guangzhou

A 2-minute walk from Pazhou Complex. It features 5 dining options and luxurious rooms with light d閏or and upscale amenities.

Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou 5-star hotel

Area: Tian He, Guangzhou

Featuring 5-star luxury in the center of the city, has an indoor pool, 7 dining options and hot tubs.

Crowne Plaza Guangzhou City Centre 5-star hotel

Area: Yue Xiu, Guangzhou

Has spacious rooms offering stunning skyline views. Featuring free Wi-Fi, it has a spa, fitness center and 4 dining options.

Sofitel Guangzhou Sunrich 5-star hotel

Area: Tian He, Guangzhou

Towering over Tian He Business District. It features elegant rooms with 40-inch flat-screen TVs and iPod docks.

Marriott Guangzhou Tianhe 5-star hotel

Area: Tian He, Guangzhou

Located in the heart of the Tianhe Business District, a 5-minute drive from Guangzhou East Train Station.

Shangri-La Hotel, Guangzhou
5-star hotel

Area: Hai Zhu, Guangzhou

Featuring luxurious 5-star recreational facilities. It has commanding views of the Pearl River and beautifully landscaped grounds.

W Guangzhou
5-star hotel

Area: Tian He, Guangzhou

Offering 5-star luxury in the center of the city, a 15-minute walk from Guangzhou Museum. It features contemporary d閏or and trendy rooms offering upscale interiors and city views.

Oakwood Premier Guangzhou
5-star hotel

Area: Tian He, Guangzhou

It features modern and well-designed studios and apartments with a private sauna and free wired internet.

Grand Hyatt Guangzhou
5-star hotel

Area: Tian He, Guangzhou

Located in the central business district of Pearl River New Town. It offers luxurious rooms with free Wi-Fi.

The Westin Guangzhou
5-star hotel

Area: Tian He, Guangzhou

Located next to Citic Plaza. It features 5 food and beverage options and a luxurious spa. Just a 25-minute drive from Pazhou Complex, it also features an indoor and outdoor swimming pool.

Hilton Guangzhou Tianhe
5-star hotel

Area: Tian He, Guangzhou

Standing tall in Guangzhou’s central business district. It offers 5-star luxury in rooms with flat-screen TVs, ample workspace and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Doubletree by Hilton Guangzhou
5-star hotel

Area: Yue Xiu, Guangzhou

Located in the central business district, Guangzhou. Featuring outdoor pool and a spa center Free Wi-Fi access is available in public areas.

Jianguo Hotel Guangzhou
5-star hotel

Area: Tian He, Guangzhou

Located within Guangzhou抯 Central Business District. It offers quick and easy transportation links while its facilities include an outdoor pool and rooms with free high-speed internet access

Inside a Walmart in China – Here’s five things you probably won’t see in a US Walmart

Inside a Walmart in China – Here’s five things you probably won’t see in a US Walmart

Supermarkets in China can be an eye-opening experience, I remember going to buy some chicken when I first moved here and, lo and behold, there was live chickens, pulled from the cage, beheaded and plucked before your eyes, it. Talk about fresh. Walmart is fairly tame, in comparison to the more traditional supermarkets, of which I’ll add some photos up in future posts.

Walmart is popular here, perhaps due to it’s perceived US prestige, but also by delivering quality goods, hygienic environment and high service standards, it has consumers trust. The US chain has done well to tailor itself to the local market and there’s a lots of interesting stuff you probably wont find at your local US Walmart:

live turtles
Turtles – unfortunately I was not in the pet section.. these guys will end up in soups
starfish
Dried starfish, great addition to your next healthy soup…
Dried Cuttle Fish
chicken feet
chickens feet – marinated and steamed, these are one of Chinas #1 snacks
Chickens feet, pigs ear, and offal.. mmmm. snack time!
Chickens feet, pigs ear, and offal.. mmmm. snack time!

 

 

More from inside Walmart China (photos open in lightbox) If your comparing prices 1 USD equals about 6.26 CNY (RMB)

Shenzhen: Dongmen Pedestrian Street – A Mall of Shopping Malls

Here is another one of those traditional Chinese shopping districts that I’ve come to admire, they span for block after block, most of them have been operating for centuries, they’re vibrant, teaming with life, and they’re packed with keen sellers waiting to do deals. These traditional marketplaces have soul, and character that the modern shopping complexes just don’t have. And the Dongmen, aka Laojie, market area of Shenzhen is no different.

On my first visit I was looking for ‘Dongmen Pedestrian Street’, expecting a casual automobile-less street with some shops, but what I found was more like a ‘shopping suburb’ spanning several blocks including countless brand name shops, several multi-level malls, several multi-level markets, food streets, public spaces, ad-hoc stalls set up in alleyways and in every nook and cranny possible. Such is the expanse of this shopping district it needs three KFC’s!

Apparently, this area has been ticking away for over 300 years and has long been one of Shenzhen’s most popular places for shopping. Like most things in China, it’s got several English aliases including Dongmen Pedestrian Street, Dongmen Walking Street, Laojie (which means ‘old town’), Dongmen Market and East Gate which is actually what the word Dongmen means.

As for shopping, the market stalls are overflowing with men’s and women’s clothes, shoes, jewllery, handbags, travel bags, and suitcases. The traditional market stalls can be found down alleyways and inside the several multi-level ‘wholesale’ malls. There’s also a multi-level mall, or department store if you like, that’s dedicated to just shoes, one just for comic books and there’s the multi-level Hongkai Craft City amongst others. Plus, there are the typical modern multi-level malls, like Sun Plaza, that feature many of the popular chain stores, a supermarket, etc etc

Stuff at Dongmen is cheap, at the market stalls you’ll need to check the quality, but you can bargain your way to extremely cheap deals if find something you like. Inside the more upmarket multi-level malls, and the retail chain stores, it’s prices as marked but quite often they have sales offering substantial discounts.

As for food, there’s plenty of choices including KFC, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Saizeriya (pizza+pasta similar to Pizza Hut), Starbucks and there’s plenty of traditional food stalls, local restaurants and even dim sum at the Magic Dim Sum Restaurant. There’s also the Modern Toilet Restaurant if you like sitting on the can while eating dinner.

Unless you like a crowd, it’s best to visit on weekdays, public holidays are absolute chaos (in a harmonious style), just like below.

For another review visit Dongmen Pedestrian Street (Laojie) at Shenzhen Shopper.

Getting There: take the Metro (subway) and get off at Laojie station and walk out exit A. For taxi here is the address in Chinese: 深圳市东门步行街

Dongmen Pedestrian Street area on the map, with my picks for the top 5 places to stay

Shenzhen gets a new luxury brand shopping center: KK Mall

Shenzhen gets a new luxury brand shopping center: KK Mall

The city of Shenzhen is already well known for it’s shopping options and it’s big modern malls but there’s now a new one on that list, the KK Mall.

KK Mall is part of a large development which includes residential apartments and a financial offices tower which when completed will become Shenzhens tallest building standing at a whopping 441.8 meters. The tower will also feature a five star hotel (of the St Regis chain). The shopping mall section opened to the public on the 26-11, so I went along for a look.

The opening ceremonies included some famous Chinese artists, including performances by a male and a female singer along with some cool tricks by a magician, and, after the obligatory ribbon cutting it was stacks on to get through the door!

See here for more photos of KK Mall opening »

More info on KK Mall Shenzhen at Shenzhen Shopper

The mall is a reasonable size, with a basement plus four floors giving a floor space of 83,500 sqm. The mall’s theme is an ‘international boutique fashion mall’  featuring over 150 fashion stores including well known western brand names such as Armani, Calvin Klein, Anteprima, Cerruti and many more, so, it’s definitely aimed at the upper end of the retail market. This really says a lot about the economic rise of Shenzhen, as there’s another massive luxury shopping mall (MixC) only a block away.

For the opening while I’m not sure which band, but they puzzlingly belted out english pop songs to keen audience…

The place is packed with dining options too, some very upmarket (photo below), but there is McDonalds, 85c (Taiwan version of a cross between starbucks and a bakery), Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Burger King, Panda Rosa (Italian ice-cream), Food Republic (Asian brand food court with many options), RBT (casual mid-price dining).

The mall also features a BLT supermarket, Shenzhens first IMAX theatre, a health spa and an amusement center (video games etc).

And if you’re looking for a new Mercedes SLS Gullwing, there was one of those on display too.. Read more about http://shenzhenshopper.com/71-kk-mall-in-luohu-district.html.

Address: 5016, Shennan East Road, Luohu, Shenzhen.

To get there take the subway to Grand Theatre station (sometimes called Daju Yuan) and take exit B which goes straight to the mall. On foot, the mall basically takes up the block between Hongbao Road and Shennan East Road.

Map with hotels near KK Mall Shenzhen

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Dafen Village Shenzhen

Dafen Village Shenzhen

Need an oil painting? Heres the perfect place to find one amongst what is an ‘Oil Painting Village’, artists live and work pumping out all sorts of original pieces and the odd replica. How many artists? No one seems exactly sure but many say there could be a staggering 10,000 artists and nearly 1000 galleries operating within this very special enclave.

 The figures are sketchy but claims are made that this village is responsible for something like 60-70% of the worlds oil painting production.

It all kicked off back in the late 80’s and 90’s when Huang Jiang came over from Hong Kong and set up a studio training a few students and selling some works. To cut a long story short, his ideas and methods led to a booming business which others followed. The local government saw the potential and helped develop the area, more and more artists came leading to the massive pseudo art factory that it is today.

The place is very visitor friendly with cafes, and relaxed streets to stroll around and admire the very open galleries.

There’s all kinds of paintings available including portraits of famous western celebs, politicians including Obama, Bush, Clinton, Hu Jintao along with massive landscape portraits, actually whatever type of painting you’re after is going to be here and if you can’t see it, just bring a picture and someone will soon bring a blank canvas to life with whatever you want.

The village, which has a giant sculpture at its entrance, is where most of the action is, but across the road there are quite a few interesting galleries too.

Where? Corner of ShenHui HWY and Busha Rd, Longgang, Shenzhen. About 20 minutes from Luohu in a taxi which is maybe 50-60 RMB or 40 minutes on a bus for 5 RMB (we went on bus 300 from Luohu station). You can also take the metro line 3 to Dafen Station and head south out exit A1.

There’s not a lot of great accommodation options around Dafen, I would choose one of the hotels in the Dongmen area close to the metro station on Line 3 like the Metropark Hotel.

Dafen Map location

Beijing Road

Beijing Road in Guangzhou

Another of Guangzhou’s interesting streets is Beijing Road, it’s also a commercial street and again it’s packed with shops, malls, and restaurants. Beijing Road is a little more cosmopolitan than Shangxiajiu Pedestrian St but some say a little more expensive too. It’s also pedestrian friendly with no cars.

Along with boutique shops and brand name retail outlets, there are also several large malls including Grandbuy, Xindaxin and Mayflower.

Inside the Grandbuy department store

If market stalls, what could be brand name copies, and doing some hard bargaining for a good deal is more your thing, there’s also places for that too.

TaiBai market

For a detailed map and famous stores in the area see the Beijing Road guide at GZShopper.com

Map featuring hotels near Beijing Road, Guangzhou:

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Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street in Guangzhou

Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street in Guangzhou

Stretching for over 1 kilometer along Shangjiu Rd, Xia Jui Rd and Dishifu Rd in Liwan District Guangzhou, the Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Mall is home to hundreds of shops including several malls and many great restaurants.

Shangjiu Rd

 This is one of Guangzhou’s older streets and features an interesting mix of old European and Chinese architecture. Much of shopping streets older buildings look recently renovated which I guess was part of the city’s preparation for the Asian Games.

The start of Disifu Rd
Dishifu Rd
Statues line the walking street
Dishifu Rd
Inside Liwan Plaza

Li Wan Plaza is one of the many department stores/malls on the shopping street and turned out to be a great place to get breakfast. Shops don’t open until ten, thus the empty mall, but several shops in the mall are open for breakfast and one of those is located up on the fourth floor serving up and excellent dim sum, even better was the price, 2 well-fed people for under 50RMB (~8aud) is always great value, particularly when it tastes this good.

cantonese restaurant at Li Wan Plaza

 The street has a mix of brand-name retail stores, clothes shops, fashion accessories, department stores with just about everything. There are also several buildings packed (opposite Liwan Plaza) with market stalls where you can bargain hard on locally made products, clothes and more.

For a detailed review including map and top places to stay see: Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street – Shopping & Culture at gzshopper.com

 

Address: Chinese Name for Taxi: 上下九商业步行街 Metro: Changshou Road Station on Line 1 and Culture Park Station on Line 6.

Where to stay near Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street: My top pick is The Holiday Inn Shifu

Map featuring Hotels near the pedestrian shopping street.

Clothes and Fashion in Humen China

Clothes and Fashion in Humen China

If there’s one thing that keeps me in awe about about China it’s simply the scale of things. As we drive from Shenzhen to Humen we pass factory after factory. I don’t often need much reminding that this is the worlds most populus country but I’m reminded again that it’s also the worlds factory.

Instead of catching a bus from Shenzhen to Humen we got lucky and found a taxi that needed to get back to that area, so for the same price as the bus tickets, were getting a ride straight to our hotel door.

As I look out the taxi window from the highway these factories look just like multi level apartments, long 5- 10 storey high buildings, but somewhat dilapidated. As Susan tells me there packed with workers busy sewing together the clothes to be shipped around China, in particular to nearby Guangzhuo, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and of course beyond China’s borders.

According to some government stats there is around 2500 garment processing enterprises exporting some 150 billion (22 billion AUD) worth of products last year. Not bad for a ‘town’ that is just part of a larger city Dongguan.

And where there’s factories there’s shops, and in Humens case, lots of shops. There’s multi level shopping mall after multi level shopping mall, spreading out over city block after city block, all packed with independent retailers jammed into stalls selling clothes and fashion.

It spills out onto the streets too, on the footpaths there’s ad-hoc street stalls offering up sports shoes, sunglasses, dresses and on and on.

These several of these multi level malls located over many blocks and even after a half day exploring, there was much that was missed. There’s only so much walking you can do, and it would take a good couple of days to really get an insight into it all. I think knowing a local of Humen would be real handy to help fast track a way around it all.

The malls seem organised in that each one has a speciality, for example there’s a womens fashion mall, a shoes mall, a leather goods mall and so on, which is quite common in China to have themed streets or malls where they all sell the same type of goods. Whats really missing in Humen is a local tourist map, or even a shopping map, I wonder why they are not using all this infrastructure as a major tourism driver but perhaps they’re working towards it.

The main malls include Huanghe Fashion City, Fumin Fashion City, Li City, Humen Fumin Kids City and theres also a pedestrian street. Most of these are concentrated along and around Yinlong Road which is one big long shopping street and Humen Avenue.

Heres a web site which has more info on the Humen fashion industry and info on the China International Fashion Fair held in Humen see http://en.fumin.com.

Map

Humen Town of Dongguan China

Humen Town of Dongguan China

So whats so special about Humen? Well, for one it’s probably where the shirt your wearing is made and it’s also where some of the major battles of the Opium Wars were fought. 

The town of Humen is part of the larger city Dongguan which is located about half way between Shenzhen and Guangzhuo. It’s also located right beside the all important Zhujiang River which joins to the Pearl River inland and heads out to sea past Shenzhen.  The river forms a major shipping route and Humen has a large port making it an important gateway to Southern China. 

a cargo ship heading up the Zhujiang River towards the port

Manufacturers took advantage of it’s great location for shipping goods and set up factories in thousands, pumping out all types of clothing. Along with the factories the town is also famed for being a discount clothes shopping mecca with there being building after building packed with stalls selling clothes, fashion accessories, leather goods and more. It doesn’t stop inside the buildings either, it spreads out into the streets for block after block. 

shops, shops and more shops
A panorama of the town.. Click image for larger view

Albeit a small city in China being a hub of business activity there is a few decent hotels, check out the Grand Noble and a map of hotels in Humen.

More about the markets in Humen and the Opium War in posts to follow…

Shopping in Hong Kong

Shopping in Hong Kong

Many Chinese mainlanders visit Hong Kong for one simple reason, shopping. This mainly due to many items in Hong Kong being tax-free. Hong Kong has a mix of modern retail departments stores, big luxury brand stores, shopping streets through to street markets.

One of the main shopping destinations is Harbour City which is the largest shopping mall in Hong Kong featuring over 700 shops. It stretches along the harbour at Tsim Sha Tsui and has a floor area of 2 million square feet!  Along it’s Canton Road frontage there are the big luxury brand name stores including Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Channel, Dolce & Gabbana, Boss, Armani, Chanel, Hermes and more! Moving inside there’s a range of women’s and men’s fashion stores, beauty products, baby products, kids clothes and toys, sportswear and also a hotel and 2 cinemas. There’s also plenty of restaurants in the building too.

Canton Road and its luxury brand stores

At the Star Ferry Pier end of the Harbour City building is Star City which features shoes and electronics including laptops, digital cameras, and mobile phones.

Another large, and very new, shopping mall is iSquare on Nathan Road is 31 floors tall with most of the shops located on the lower 7 floors featuring a mix of fashion, some electronics, and home wares. There’s also plenty of restaurants, the tasty burgers and chips at ‘Kraze Burgers’ are recommended! There’s also a cinema in the complex.

the modern iSquare shopping mall on Nathan Road

For electronics shopping in Hong Kong head to the Mong Kok Computer Centre. There’s also loads of retail shops along Nathan Road and its surrounding streets selling Nikon, Canon, Sony and other brand digital cameras and lenses. I’m told it’s best to double check pricing and goods quality from stores around here. For a more detailed guide see the post Shopping in HK for Electronics & Computers at theHKShopper

not a good ad for the computer centre!

Around the Mong Kok area is where the markets are at including the popular Ladies Market (Tung Choi St), Temple St Night Market and Sports Goods street (Fa Yuen St).

Ladies Market

There’s plenty of shopping across the harbour in Central too, including many malls like the Shun Tak Centre, Wing On, Vicwood Plaza and the modern IFC mall. If you’re looking for fabric, silk etc. head to the Western Market. All the aforementioned are within walking distance of each other near the HK-Macau Ferry Terminal on Connaught Rd Central. There’s also plenty of market stalls on Li Yuen Street East and West Streets which is also in the area of the ferry terminal on Central.

For detailed reviews of shopping destinations in HK check out thehkshopper.com which also features travel tips, hotel deals and much more.

Western Market
Shenzhen Electronics Shopping – Huaqiangbei and SEG Electronics Market

Shenzhen Electronics Shopping – Huaqiangbei and SEG Electronics Market

So I’m told if your after electronics or digital products there’s no better place to buy than in Shenzhen, China. This is backed up by the large number of electronics factories in the city, many global brand name products like the Apple iPhone and iPad are copied, I mean made, right here in Shenzhen too.

There are many electronics markets in the city too, but lucky me, Susan being a local took me to the number one  place to go electronics shopping in Shenzhen, if not the whole of China.  It’s the Huaqiangbei electronics market area  ( I think they call it Huaqiangbei Commercial Area) and it’s mind bogglingly big, apparently many gadget lovers and techies have entered this area and never been seen again! Just one of the multi-level electronics mega-stores is enough to blow your mind, but the fact that there’s numerous of them sprawling for block after block is just amazing.

Each floor of these buildings is packed with hundreds of independant retailers operating out of small stalls, and they’re all competing against each other!

If your not happy with the five massive floors of electronics in that building you can go to this one:

Still want more? Just walk around the corner to this one:

And there’s more if that’s not enough!

You can find everything in this area of Shenzhen including mobile phones, cameras, gadgets, laptops, pc’s, lcd’s, cables, accessories, batteries from brand names like Canon, Sony, Dell, Apple, Asus etc etc. You can also find OEM goods and there’s also plenty of brand name copies if you want to take a punt on quality.

Interestingly one multi level building is dedicated to small components like resistors, leds, plugs and all sorts of electrical and electronic fittings. There’s also whole floors of people selling second hand and recycled goods. If you need your mobile phone, camera or any electronics fixed, it looks like a great place for that too.

Believe it or not, I escaped here without buying a thing! I think I was too awestruck! But I’ve got the feeling I’ll be back….

Further along Huaqiang North Road, there’s a Maoye Department Store which has fashion, beauty and home products. There’s also another large department store/market featuring just womens fashion and is appropriately named Womens World, and further along is another Womens World mall, and also a shopping mall just for childrens clothes, toys and the like. Yes, it’s called Childrens World.

There’s also a ‘Foreign Trade Market’ which features a large number of market stalls selling mens and womens fashion, lots of knock offs and copies. Its located down a lane way that’s in between KFC and MOI (Maoye). Note, theres also a ‘Foreign Trade Market’ behind SEG but it sells home security and electronics…

Behind SEG, as mentioned, theres also a couple of buildings with stalls selling selling home security products and some selling no-name laptops.

There’s also a couple of multi-level buildings dedicated to mobile phones, including copies and originals! If your paying a lot, make sure it’s the real thing, but it probably won’t be!

How to get there: take the metro to Huaqiang Lu and walk out Exit A, theres also loads of shops selling clothes and curios inside that metro station.

Update: for some more detailed and upto date info check out the Huaqiangbei post at Shenzhen Shopper.

Here’s a rough hand drawn map outlining the major stores along Huaqiang North Rd (Huaqiangbei), could be a time saver to help get your bearings on a first visit. For more maps visit the Shenzhen Maps site.

click image to see larger version....

Map including location of hotels near and on Huaqiang Bei Lu.

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Recommended Hotels – (Walk to the market, Clean, Comfortable + English service)
Pavilion Hotel and Century Tower – 5 star, located at the northern end of the market area it’s an easy walk to any of the markets.

Huaqiang Plaza Hotel – has a fantastic location, right in the heart of Huaqiang electronics market area. It’s clean and modern, has a reasonably priced buffet restaurant and a Starbucks on the ground floor.

Shanghai Shopping – Nanjing Road

Shanghai Shopping – Nanjing Road

One of the things that continue to amaze me about China is the sheer scale of things, I come from Australia where there is 21 or so million people on an island almost as big as China, but in just one of Chinas many many big cities, Shanghai, for example, there is almost just as many people. Shanghai has a population of almost 20 million.

So the city planners have to think big, and they only have limited space to do it in! The size of some of the shopping centres I have seen in China simply makes my head spin, the city blocks that a ‘shopping area’ can consume, while also reaching skyward, is just as mind boggling. But it’s all about numbers, there is just so many people to feed, clothe and now also cater to the emerging Chinese middle class with their growing desire of consumerism.

Nanjing Road is one of China’s most popular and well-known shopping streets. And it too is on a scale that just makes your head spin, it’s almost 6 kilometers long,  packed with large modern malls and a variety of shops. How do all these shops survive? Some say that over a million people a day visit this street, which is not too hard to believe after walking along here for a few minutes, there are people everywhere!

Photo: Looking down Nanjing Rd East

The east section of Nanjing Road is a pedestrian street and even though it’s probably three car lanes wide, it’s still packed with people, the shops are full of people, the many restaurants are full of people, looking up to the second floor of many buildings you can see even more people shopping and eating.

Most of the big western luxury brand names have stores here, and you won’t have to walk far to find McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut or Starbucks. The Shanghai First Food Store contains many of them, along with more interesting local restaurants and also bustling food market in the building.

The Shanghai First Food Store on Nanjing Rd
Photo: Nanjing Road East and the pedestrian mall ends, and Nanjing Rd West begins.

Side streets feeding off Nanjing Road have many interesting shops too and are worth strolling around. At first, some may appear not that friendly to a westerner, but most shop owners couldn’t care less where the next yuan (dollar) comes from and I always found them helpful and welcoming.

Make sure you also visit GoShopShanghai.com which has a detailed guide with a map on Nanjing Road that’s a must-read for first-time visitors.

 

Nanjing Road Map

On the map, I have outlined the pedestrian section in blue and included my picks for the top five places to stay on Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street.

Shanghai Copy Market – Going Going Gone….

Shanghai Copy Market – Going Going Gone….

If you walk around the major shopping areas like Nanjing Rd, get ready for the constant approaches from hawkers trying to lure you to their shop.

I was just minding my own business, walking along the famous shopping strip that’s Nanjing Rd and I this guy jumps in my face asking “what do you want, dvd, t-shirt…jeans you want, i phone, copy market sir, come to the copy market” and they are persistent, they keep badgering until you look them in the eye and say a firm ‘no thanks’.

As I walked down Nanjing Rd I must have been approached close to ten times. It started to get the better of me, the next person that came up spieling out brand and product names, I asked ‘ok, tell me where your shop is and I might take a look later’, he gleefully told me where it was, a ‘copy market’ some blocks away, and then continued to ask me ‘polo shirt you want, dvd..?’. I kept walking.

After Nanjing Rd and a little curious I walked down to this place that all these hawkers where calling the copy market. It turned out to be two seperate, 5 or so floor, shopping complexes on either side of the road. But with one small problem, it looked like a war zone! Out the front of the large complexes on either side, the footpaths had been dug up leaving just a concrete rubble making it near impossible to get into either building.

As Im standing their, admiring this wasteland, a young girl that had approached me back on Nanjing Rd came over again and said hello. “please come in” she said, how I thought! In we went, across rubble and up some stairs that hadn’t been cleaned in the last century.

For a young hawker Helens english was good, almost conversational and she asked where I was from, for a while we chatted about Australia, and then about the places I’d been in China as we navigated our way through the rubble. On the way inside her Aunty even came over to say hello, who was the boss of the store apparently.

So, we got talking about their many different goods and I was happy to go have a look, and once past the rubble and inside we went down to a lower floor in a rickety old elevator. When the door opened and I stepped foward all I could see was a heap of closed shops, with walls and floors all covered in a thick dust, and no or little lighting. This place was abandoned, almost.

We walk past some of the closed shops to see a group of chinese people all sitting around on upturned crates, some alseep, some talking, and when they see me they suddenly jump up, ‘hello sir, welcome, what are you looking for?’…

‘Nothing really’ I replied, ‘I’m just following Helen around’ I said jokingly, to which one lady quickly jumped in with ‘no problem, just look, come in’. The door of the seemingly abandoned shops opens up and I’m led inside with Helen and this lady.

The door is shut behind us, hmmmm, why the secrecy I wonder. The lady starts showing me all her stuff, including all sorts of different brand shirts and other clothing. I let her know that I pretty much wasn’t interested in anything she had, and told her I had already bought much that I needed back in Xian at the Muslim Quater, she knew the place and it was kind of an ice breaker as she dropped the hard sell and we started to chat.

I asked what had happened here, and asked if the place was getting ready for refurbishment or demolishment and she said the police had come through and shut down all the shops that were selling anything that looked like fakes.

I laughed, and said what about the silk market in Beijing, or the Ya Show clothing market there, what about the markets in Xian, which are all bold displays of disregard for brand names? She said one word ‘Expo’, Shanghai is hosting the world expo and apparently officials are shutting down all the stores selling copies and fakes prior to the event.

So, I wonder who decided to also dig up all the footpaths out the front…

It was pretty obvious these people where doing it tough, and they where going to any length to trying to sell their stock. Including sending hawkers out into the nearby major mainstream shopping streets such as Nanjing RD, and secretly opening their stores to possible buyers.

I probably could have done an incredible deal on some of this stuff but I just didn’t need it. So, I say goodbye to that store owner, up goes the door and I walk around this shopping complex, come wasteland, a little more with Helen and see many people standing out the front of their stores with the doors shut. As I walk past the doorway of the shops the doors come open a little ‘shirt you want, belt….t-shirt, polo’..

Their tenacity is facinating and I really felt sorry for what these people where going through…in reality, the criminal is probably the person who charges 10 times too much for a simple shirt due to the fact it has their logo on it…..

For detailed info on shopping malls, markets and must visit stores see Go Shop Shanghai website.

Sanlitun Village Beijing

Sanlitun Village Beijing

Sanlitun Village Beijing is a recently built sleek shopping complex packed with luxury brand names. I didn’t spend too long here as I was more interested in the Ya Show Clothing Market which is just next door.

I did have a coffee at the Starbucks and used there free wi-fi! Brand name stores at the site include Apple’s and  Adidas’s flagship stores along with many others, a cinema, restaurants, cafes and a Uniqlo store which features discount clothing.

For more visit the official website sanlitunvillage.com and check out the review at goshopbeijing.com/..south..sanlitun-village and goshopbeijing.com/..north..sanlitun-village.

Sanlitun Village address in Chinese

 

Location Map with hotels nearby Sanlitun

 

Also see my hand-picked list of the top spa hotels in Beijing.

 

 

 

Silk Street Market Beijing

Silk Street Market Beijing

Well known and well visited by tourists, the Silk Market is seven floors of clothing, shoes, bags, fashion accessories, leather goods, traditional Chinese crafts, calligraphy, carpets, home fabrics, paintings, hand-knitted dresses, toys, trinkets and souvenirs, fine jewelry and more. There are also plenty of custom tailors for suits etc.etc. Most stall operators speak English.

Tourist buses pour into this place!

Apparently, the market operators are trying to clean up the image of Silk Street, and there’s plenty of signage around the market about ‘buying with confidence’ and the ability to return goods if not satisfied, and they are also trying to remove sellers of brand name copies, fake goods and the like. I think it’s safe to ignore this and consider everything to be fake, and that once you hand over the cash, you own it.

Just like any market in China you have to bargain hard, nothing has price tags and you should be aiming to pay no more than half of any original price you have been quoted, sometimes much less than half depending on how exorbitant the first quote is from the stall owner. For example, I purchased some walking shoes for 120RMB that were originally quoted at over 500RMB, haggle hard but have fun doing it.

Clothes, clothes and more clothes....
Clothes, clothes and more clothes…

Double check what you buy before leaving the stall. Check quality as it may differ from the display item you were shown and also check size and style. Don’t be afraid to pull it out of the plastic. Also, check the change you are given, it may be safer to use small denomination notes to reduce the need for change as apparently there is the risk of getting stuck with counterfeit notes.

One of the many stalls with curios, ornaments and .... chopsticks
Another market stall selling curios, ornaments, chopsticks and several of the ubiquitous paw waiving cat…

For more check out the review of Silk Street Pearl Market at goshopbeijing.com.

 

Where to stay? For great value near the market and subway station check out the Jianguo Hotel

Getting there: take subway line 1 to Yong’anli Station and exit A1

Silk Street address in Chinese

Silk Market 秀水市场 – 8 Xiushui Dongjie, Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District 建国门外大街秀水东街8号

 

 

Silk Street Map  with the top nearby hotels

Ya Show Clothing Market (Sanlitun Yashou Clothing Market) Beijing

Ya Show Clothing Market (Sanlitun Yashou Clothing Market) Beijing

UPDATE: this market is no longer

Sanlitun Yashou Clothing Market is five floors of clothing and fashion (notice its name can sometimes be translated as Ya Show or Yashou or even Yaxui!). Including men’s and women’s clothes, suits, women’s bags, luggage bags, leather goods, shoes and more. It’s located right next door to Sanlitun Village, a new and ultra-modern shopping complex featuring many big brand name stores.

Inside the five-storey building is jam-packed with independently operated market stalls with staff that won’t let you past with you know what they have for sale! But note, if you see anything here with a brand name on it at Yashow Clothing Market, check the authenticity.

Also double check the quality. And when you buy something it may differ from the display item you inspected, so, take it out of the packet, check the size, style, and quality again before leaving the stall.

You have to haggle hard, really hard and most sellers speak English, relating to what they are selling anyway. Just like you’d be happy to get your goods for nothing, they are happy to get 5 times what they are worth. For example, I was quoted 350RMB for 5 pairs of no-name socks, yes, that’s close to $50AUD! She even managed to hold a serious look on her face! Lots of foreigners visit this market and it may be their first time in China, so they probably catch plenty of tourists who are jet-lagged or something! After some spirited banter and a few laughs, I got the socks for 30RMB.

There is a little bit of an art to bargaining for goods in China, the first thing to remember is to have fun. Haggling on price is a way of life here! But, the staff at the markets are seasoned sellers, and if you’re a man they’ll charm you and if you’re a woman they’ll flatter you, they’ll even put on sad faces, call you crazy when you offer a low price, and even act upset to try and make you feel remorse! Use the same tactics back, but always in a friendly fun manner, and be prepared to walk away as they hate losing a sale particularly if you have been haggling for 10 minutes!

On the top floor, there is also a tasty ‘all you can eat’ buffet restaurant.

For more info see the review of Sanlitun Yashow Clothing Market at goshopbeijing.com.

Ya Show Clothing Market Chinese Address

58 Gongti Beilu Chaoyang District 雅秀市场 – 工体北路58号

 

Map with hotels nearby Sanlitun Yashow Market

 

 

Also see my hand-picked list of the top spa hotels in Beijing.

The Essential Guide to Wangfujing Street Beijing

The Essential Guide to Wangfujing Street Beijing

Wangfujing Street is one of the largest and most well-known shopping streets in Beijing. Featuring a mix of large modern department stores, luxury brand name outlets, small retail shops, and markets. What’s interesting is that this has been an active commercial street for over 700 years!

Photo: The southern end of Wangfujing St

The street is pedestrian only for half its length with plenty of room, which is fortunate for the many thousands of people visit here daily! The street is quite long and if you like shopping you could lose a day here no problem. Or maybe longer.

The photo below is of the Beijing APM (Song Don An) on Wangfujing St. Its a huge ultra modern mall featuring a mix of food and retail. Another large mall is the Intime Lotte Department store which features many luxury brands such as Gucci, Armani etc. Yet another is the massive Oriental Plaza which is where you will find the Apple flagship store along with Burberry and Bally stores.

Beijing APM mall/shopping centre

 There’s also plenty of action in the side streets around Wangfujing, including Wangfujing Snack Street that is packed with interesting market stalls, and packed with people too!

Wangfujing Snack Street – A side alley off Wangfujing. This was a quiet spot!

There’s also plenty of places to eat including the usual suspects like McDonald’s, KFC, Starbucks etc but much more interesting is some of the street vendors as per the photo below.

Hungry? How about millipedes, beetles or scorpions? Live scorpions…that is.

Don’t be worried about the freshness as many of the skewered delicacies are still wriggling while on display! You might think that a food stall that’s frying up skewered scorpions, beetles, starfish and who knows what else, might be a bit of a unique thing, but not on Wangfujing Street. 

At night, there’s a whole strip of street stalls that serve up lots of things you’d rather treat with insecticide than eat… That’s probably not fair, to be honest, it all smells really good, but on this night it was a feast of dumplings at a restaurant around the corner for me.

Plenty of who knows what to choose from.

 

Brand Names: Many major global brands have large stores here, some flagship stores, they include Apple, Prada, GAP, Burberry, Bally, Tudor, H&M, Victoria’s Secret, TAGHeuer, Adidas, ZARA, Cartier, Rolex, Giordano 

 

Famous Chinese Stores: There are several stores that have been operating continuously for hundreds of years and here are some of the famous ones which I will also place on the map further below;
Shengxifu Hat Store (盛锡福)
Tongshenghe Shoes Store (同升和)
Ruifuxiang Silk & Cotton Shop (瑞蚨祥)
Gongmei Mansion for traditional Chinese arts & crafts (工美大厦)
Wuyutai Tea Shop is over 100 years old (吴裕泰茶庄)
Yong’an tang Herb Store was opened in the 1300’s! (永安堂百草药店) 

 

Food and Cuisine: The array of food options is endless. This is very fine pasture for humans! You can find anything here from Western fast food, Chinese fast food, high-end restaurants and traditional snacks. The ones not to miss are;

Donglaishun Restaurant (东来顺) – is famous for its mutton hot pot and diverse range of cuisine.

Quanjude Roast Duck (全聚德) – hailed as the no.1 roast duck restaurant in China.

Wangfujing Snack Street (王府井小吃街) – Don’t be put off by the crispily fried scorpions, spiders, and other oddities, as there are snacks from all over China here and it’s a rare chance to see many of them all together in the one location. Try not to go there during regular eating hours or on holidays as it can be too busy to enjoy.

Wangfujing Food Mall (王府井食品商场) –  native products in Beijing, including snacks, pickles, cakes and even Quanjude roast duck, almost all of Beijing’s specialty foods can be bought here.

 

The Shopping Malls: The shopping malls open from around 9.30am and close around 10 pm.

Beijing APM (Song Don An 新东安市场) –  mid-range price mall with names such as Zara, H&M, G2000, Godiva, Kiehl’s, GAP, there’s another Apple store here too and a GoPro store. The top two floors are all eateries!

Intime Lotte Department store (银泰乐天百货) – More high-end luxury goods inc. Gucci, LV, Prada, Chanel, Valentino, and Armani.

Oriental Plaza (东方广场) – a massive mall that stretches along Changan Ave with an entry off Wangfujing st. You will find the Apple store here and many other major brands, lots of eateries, hotels, and interestingly a Paleolithic Museum, it not large but something different and only 10 RMB admission.

Beijing Department Store (北京市百货大楼) – the streets original department store, you can find just about anything here.

Foreign Language Bookstore (外文书店) – an iconic bookstore, lots of English titles, new and used.

 

Location: The entire length of Wangfujing street runs from Wusi St near the National Art Museum of China south to Changan Avenue. About 1.6km in total, the pedestrian section starts at the southern end and runs for about 800m. 

Getting there: Wangfujing St Station on Subway Line 1

Chinese name: 王府井大街

Wangfujing Street Map

I have highlighted the whole length of the street on this map and placed a marker on the pedestrian section. Also, I have added my picks for the top hotels along Wangfujing St, along with the big malls, and famous stores.

 

 

 

Also see my hand-picked list of the top spa hotels in Beijing.

 

Shopping in Beijing

Shopping in Beijing

There is no shortage of places to go shopping in Beijing, if that’s what you’re into, you can find markets, retail department stores, mega-malls and the quirky side streets packed with all sorts of odd goods.

You can haggle a great price on souvenirs, no-name, and copy goods at the markets, and enjoy some savings on brand name quality goods at the major modern malls. Although in some cases you may find prices similar to the west, particularly on goods that are imported into China.

Inside the Beijing APM on Wangfujing Street

For detailed info on shopping markets and malls in Beijing check out goshopbeijing.com.

Wangfujing Street Beijing – Address: Wangfujing St. Beijing, China. – This is one of the most well known and most popular shopping streets in Beijing. More about Wangfujing st here…

Sanlitun Village  – Address: 19 Sanlitun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China. – Ultra-modern and very new with leading brand names, more about my visit to Sanlitun Village

Sanlitun Ya Show (Yashou or Yaxiu) Clothing Market – Address: 58 Gongti beilu, Chaoyang District, Beijing. – Next door to Sanlitun Village, 5 floors of clothing, read more about my visit to the Yashou Clothing Market

Silk Street Market  – Address: 8 Xiushui East Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China. – 7 floors of clothing, tailors, and fashion accessories read more about my visit to the Silk Street Market here

Xidan Commercial Street – Address: Xidan St. Beijing, China. Packed with various large shopping malls.

The Pearl Market (Hongqiao Market)  – Address: 16 Hongqiao Lu Beijing, China. Pearls, Jewellery and consumer goods including fashion, bags, digital electronics antiques,  food, souvenirs, gifts, toys, shoes etc etc etc

Qianmen Street  – Address: Qianmen Street, Chongwen District, Beijing. – Near Tiananmen Square. One of Beijing’s oldest markets, recently refurbished.

Panjiayuan Market  – Address: between Panjiayuan Bridge and Huawei Bridge, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China. A large market for antiques, crafts and the like. Weekends.

Beijing Curio City  – Address: 21 Dongsanhuan Nanlu, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China. Curio, ceramics, furniture, antiques etc.

Jianguomenwai Street  – Address: Jianguomenwai Street, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China. Packed with various large shopping malls including China World Mall.

Zhongguancun E Plaza  – Address:  11  Zhongguancun Avenue, Haidian District, Beijing, China. – For all your electronics, computers, IT and electrical.

Hailong Digital Market  – Address: 1 Zhongguancun Avenue, Haidian District, Beijing, China. Cameras, PC’s, laptops and more electronics and gadgets.

 

For detailed destination reviews, see the site dedicated to Beijing – GoShopBeijing.com and for where to stay see the lists of hand-picked hotels.

See all the posts from my time in Beijing.

The Muslim Quarter in Xian

The Muslim Quarter in Xian

It’s such a fascinating city that not only holds the very birthplace of the Chinese civilization and having a continuous history of over 3000 years, it also holds a long-running co-existence of Hui Muslim culture and Han Chinese culture. It was the first city in China to be introduced to Islam in 651.

 

 

The Muslim Quarter is perhaps one of my favorite places in the city, vibrant and full of life. Traders line the streets with the stalls hawking super fresh and high-quality fruits and vegetables.

 

 

And do not miss the food here!

Also, see my Intro to Xi’an and the top ten attractions and where to stay

 

Shopping in Chengdu

Shopping in Chengdu

Chengdu of Sichuan Province won’t leave shoppers empty-handed, as the center of Chengdu offers plenty of options, whether you are shopping for brand name clothing, no name clothing, electronics or local products.

The place to start is Chunxi Road which features modern department stores, boutique shops, supermarket and loads of eateries.There is also plenty of western brand eateries to be found including McDonald’s, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, KFC along with western brand name fashions like Gucci, Lacoste, Polo etc. Surrounding Chunxi Road there must be four blocks or more of modern department style stores!

A little way north of the town center is He Hua Chi Wholesale Market (pictured below) where you be blown away by shop after shop after shop selling clothing and textiles.

Inside the He Hua Chi Wholesale Market (pictured below) you can find many floors and with hallways featuring shop after shop selling shirts, jackets, suits, for both men and women. 

Outside the He Hua Chi Wholesale Market (pictured below) can be chaotic but well worth a wander, and you can wander for miles! There are even more markets and stalls all over the place and in the streets surrounding, selling shoes, shirts, fashion accessories, bags and the like.  Note to fully discover this place could take days, it goes on for block after block..!

Computer City Chengdu – Shu Ma Guang Chang is located on Renmin Nanlu & the South 1st Ring Road, and here you can find the Shu Ma department store which has 6 floors of electronics! Each floor has a theme, so one floor is cameras, one floor is laptops etc etc. Interestingly the top floor has used and recycled IT goods.

Pictured below is inside one of the massive department stores selling electronics, with so many people in the one place selling the same item you’ll find prices to be competitive, but there’s still room for haggling! And you don’t have far to go to compare prices and deals!

Cell Phone Street, or mobile phone street if you like, is located on Tidu St where you can find a whole street packed with mobile phone retailers, there’s plenty of people selling off the footpath too. Research your prices and bargain hard, some shops here know a foreigner when they see one!

See my picks for the top places to stay in Chengdu

Chengdu Shopping Map – Click the icons for details..