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What to Buy and Points for Attention

What to Buy

Shopping in a jade shop
Shopping in a jade store
Buying clothes in Xiushui Street, Beijing
Buying clothes in Xiushui Street, Beijing
If there is a place that can satisfy the buyers' appetite most, it must be China. Abounding with various unusual and characteristic goods, China will never make you disappointed or worried about what to bring back. As wonderful mementos and gifts for your friends and relatives, special merchandise of various kinds, including Chinese silk, tea, antiques, paintings and calligraphy, Chinese medicines, jade and pearls, handicrafts, among others, are always available for your choice.

Distinctive things are mainly sold in cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Guilin, Chengdu, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Lhasa, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and especially Hong Kong, the city which is reputed world wide as a 'Shopping Paradise'. It is the shopping destination that tourists most long to visit. Different Chinese cities have different local specialities: Beijing is noted for cloisonne enamel and fresh water pearls; Shanghai is renowned for jade; Xian is celebrated for antiques and rugs, while Guilin is famous for scroll paintings and bijouterie. Particularly, Suzhou and Hangzhou are well known for silk and tea. All will provide plenty of ideas for fulfilling your shopping trip.

Please refer to Chinese Tea, Chinese Alcohol, Chinese Medicine and especially the Arts and Crafts under our Chinese Culture for more detailed information of which are the distinctively Chinese souvenirs that we highly recommend.

For the local products in each city of China, please refer to our China Guide for more shopping information.


Points for Attention

Shopping in China is great fun, interesting and challenging. Here is some advice for smart shoppers:

Shops in China usually are open from 9:00am to 7:00pm, although others until 9:00pm. 'Night Market' may remain open until midnight or even all night during weekdays. However, times vary by season: hours are longer in summer and shorter in winter. 

Credit Cards including Master Card, Visa, American Express, JCB, Diners Club, Million, Federal, all are acceptable in most large Chinese department stores. However, cash is more prevalent in China. Be sure to carry sufficient small notes to facilitate buying from street vendors so they won't be required to make change for large notes.

Inside a department store of Shanghai
Inside a department store of Shanghai
Bargaining is the norm, especially in the market or small shops. Try to bargain whenever you shop. Be sure to bring a calculator to help you with conversion rates. If you make a counter offer, you should be prepared to buy the item if your offer is accepted.

Carefully check the quality of your purchases to ensure there are no flaws and to distinguish genuine from fake.

Always ask for receipt. It is a valid voucher if you need to return purchases. Furthermore, China customs sometimes will require receipts to be shown when you leave China.

Special local products are available, especially antiques, jade, pearls, paintings and calligraphy among others. You should be careful as to their authenticity. High value items should be bought in regular legal shops.

A small stall selling handicrafts
A small stall selling handicrafts
Make sure that the antiques you buy carry a wax seal indicating that it is authentic and is able to be exported from China. Be aware that antiques dating before 1795 cannot be  legally exported. Please keep the purchase receipts as Customs will ask you to provide them when leaving China.

Guard against theft. Never show your wallet or big bills in the public. Keep some change available in your pocket to take out.

Be aware that some goods are not allowed to be exported from China, including jade carvings, cultural relics, etc. Before your purchase, you must confirm whether it can be allowed to pass the Chinese customs. 

Be cautious of forged notes when you are given change, expecially where people are bustling about.

Tips to Avoid Online Shopping Traps
Online shopping has become more and more popular. Many buyers make purchases from Chinese suppliers as they believe goods made in China are cheap and of high quality. To avoid the online scams, you should be familiar with thoes traps and know how to deal with them.

Further Reading:
China Shopping Online: replicas of Terra-Cotta Warriors and Horses on sale.