Beijing is a huge and bustling city. We were lucky enough to spent a bit of time there and found that the essence of Beijing lies within its markets. That is why we have listed some of the Top Beijing Markets for you to visit. Beijing had an array of interesting markets, and we had the pleasure of visiting the top three. It was our favorite part of Beijing because each offered a different and special charm…and lots of bargain shopping…
We really enjoyed Hutong Alley. It was quite modernized and renovated with tons of cafes, restaurants, tea houses, and boutique shops. Hutong Alley used to be the ancient courtyards and some of the housing in Beijing pre-renovation, so it was interesting to see the old, ancient housings filled and replaced with these modern shops.
There were also a few roof top cafes/bars that offered views of the Hutong Alley grid. It was such a charming area and you could find almost any type of food here! There were also some boutique tea shops which just smelled so nice! We got some jasmine tea, and it just makes you feel healthy and relaxed. However, because of the holiday, Hutong Alley was like the 405 freeway in America–just back to back people, moving at a super slow pace! Aside from the millions of people, it was quite beautiful to visit.
Address: Drum Tower and Bell Tower; Gulou Xidajie, Dongcheng, Beijing, China
Subway: Dong Si, walking distance from Tian An Men square
At night, we went to the Wangfujing Markets (at the Wangfujing stop on the MTR and on the number 10 bus). These markets had all these large luxury shops like Rolex, Cartier, and Gucci. This was obviously a place of expensive, and most likely real, goods. However, if you keep on walking, you will find a busy little alley way with tons of bright Chinese lanterns leading you to the Wangfujing markets. Here you will find stalls filled with food, both crazy and delicious treats! It had everything to dumplings to scorpions and seahorses to caramelized strawberries.
We had the pleasure of trying 3 deep fried scorpions with spices on a stick. And surprisingly it wasn’t too bad! It’s so deep fried that it just tasted like spiced tempura…. with legs that get stuck in your teeth. That was really the worst of it. We also tried the candied fruit which were a true treat! mmm…
Wangfujing was really interesting to see how locals are just used to eating these things that we find disgusting like cicadas, winged lizards, squid tentacles, and starfish. To them it is like candy, to us it was a crazy video to put onto YouTube! It was definitely one of those difference in cultural experiences with food.
Address: Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing
Subway Line No. 1: get off at Wangfujing Station
Bus No. 10, 20, 37, 41, 59, 120, 126, 420, 802: get off at Wangfujing Stop
Finally, on our last day, we went to the renown Silk Markets in Chaoyang District. The Silk Markets is 6 stories of fake shirts and shoes, electronics, jewellery, glasses and fabrics. In other words, this place was a shopaholics dream!
We walked around for about two hours and we could have used more time. We bought 2 pairs of black converse, a pair of REAL (surprisingly real) leather shoes and some new Nike runners for ¥700 aka $113 USD for 4 pairs of shoes. We probably could have gotten cheaper, but our haggling skills were not yet perfected. Jenn also bought an Ipad keyboard and a Chinese tea thermos (one of the best buys in China!) for ¥250 aka $25 USD. These were our first buys so we KNOW we could have gotten it cheaper.
One local told us that we were still ripped off as we haggled by cutting the price in half, when really you need to start by cutting the original by 70%. Silk Market was definitely the place to go for some cheap and amazing goods!! The best part, was Jack found his first great coffee in Asia called Cafe Flat White at the Silk Markets. He felt right at home!!
Address: 8 Xiu Shui Jie
Subway: take subway line 1 and get off at the station of Yonganli, and exit from Exit A
What disgusting things have you eaten?