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-Shopping at Silk Market

Shopping & Haggling at the Silk Market

Program Title: SCIC Social Activities (Shopping Day)
Participants: Language & Martial Arts Students
Activity Date: 12th June 2009

I must say shopping at the Silk Market is great fun, I can practice my Chinese and my haggling skills and meet some pretty Chinese girls...

The Silk Market is an enormous shopping mall in the south-west of Beijing, along the Jianguomenwai metro line. It's easily recognisable - you can't miss it, in fact, as it's a popular place for both foreign and Chinese tourists. 

The Silk Market has six floors and sells all sorts of things: clothing (fake designer brands, traditional Chinese dress, shoes, hats), electronic stuff like mobile phones, MP3 players, and lots and lots of jewellery and souvenirs. There are also tea shops, Chinese paintings, martial arts stalls, sports gear, leather goods, silk (the most popular gift to take home) and so on. If you start flagging after a while there are also restaurants on the ground floor. 




 Many foreign visitors

Lots of Handcrafts & souvenirs

 Edward & Linda at the market

The Silk Market is a great place to go for souvenir shopping. I've been here a couple of times to pick things up for myself and for family and friends back home, and I've come away with (amongst other things) a beautiful tea set, Chinese wall hangings and personalised calligraphy. 

The vendors all speak excellent English, and they're all very eager for you to look at their goods. It's different here than going into a shop in the West, as nothing is at a fixed price - if you are interested in something, the price you'll get quoted (often on a big calculator for ease of communication) is far above what you should actually pay for it. Then you have to haggle. 




 John was at the market

James was haggling the price

With 2 pretty vendors

Haggling for what you want is a big part of shopping in a place like this. Generally around a third of the first quoted price is a good rule of thumb, so start fairly low and then be prepared to go up in increments. It's also good to keep a smile on your face while you do this, as losing your temper or showing anger is a big no-no in China, and will result in a loss of 'face' for you. You should also bear in mind that if you start haggling for something with a vendor then that's a sign you want to buy it - so be certain it's what you're after before entering into negotiations. If the vendor won't drop the price, prepare to play-act a bit by leaving, which normally results in the price being dropped. For example, I was looking at the jewellery stands on the third floor when I saw a yin/yang keyring that I liked. The salesgirl initially offered it to me at 65 yuan, but I managed to bargain her down to 25 (about two pounds fifty at the current exchange rate). 

The Silk Market is also a really good place to see all the visitors that come to Beijing. As well as the foreign tourists like Americans, Europeans and Russians, there are also tourists from all over China - just see all the coaches lined up outside the mall. The Silk Market offers both a cultural experience and the chance to get a beautiful Chinese painting for a great price - not bad!

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