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Unmissable Markets in China

Who doesn’t love a great market?  If your idea of shopping is limited to superstores, organized little boutiques, and sterile supermarkets, a trip to markets in China will blow your mind. In China’s most interesting markets, you could either wander around for hours or be so overwhelmed you’d want out in 10 minutes. 

For market-lovers, China’s unmissable markets present a great opportunity to shop like how people did eons ago, complete with the obligatory haggling (don’t hold back), and relentless feeling that the next stall could offer you a better deal.

Here are our best picks!

Panjiayuan Antique Market, Beijing

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Image Credit: Flickr

If there’s time for only one market in Beijing, make it the Panjiayuan Antique Market. Better still, visit during the weekends for the full experience when it’s at its biggest and most vibrant. It’d be hard to walk through this market without giving in to the temptation to fill you living room with vintage posters, calligraphy, Buddha statues, traditional musical instruments, or even antique furniture and precious ceramics.

Word has it that Panjiayuan is the nation’s biggest market for curios, so whether you’re in for a souvenir or some serious craft shopping, you can’t miss this market. 

Kashgar Sunday Bazaar

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Image Credit: Flickr 

Step into the Kashgar Sunday Bazaar and you may just think that you’re in Central Asia. Well, you’re really that close. The Grand Bazaar’s beautiful Islamic architecture and scale make it a worthwhile market to visit even if you’re not a shopper. The bazaar has been a trading hotspot between merchants from the East and the West for over 2000 years and is one of the biggest bazaars in Asia. Walk through over 5,000 stalls and you’ll find a range of Central Asian musical instruments, spices, many fur caps, and beautiful jewelry.

Think that may still be too touristy for you? If you’re up for the challenge, visit the Sunday Livestock Market. If the only time you’ve ever seen raw meat was in a neat little package in the supermarket, you may just get a sensory shock when you see live animals being traded and raw meat hanging around. Locals trade the way they have been for generations, with plenty of bargaining and hand gestures. 

South Bund Fabric Market, Shanghai

China doesn’t just produce mass manufactured clothing for fast fashion brands. Head down to Shanghai’s South Bund Fabric Market for quality clothing that a mind-blogging variety of fabrics, ranging from basic cotton to leather and cashmere. 

The market is also known for housing Shanghai’s bespoke tailors, each having their own specialty. Whether you’re looking for business appropriate attire or a completely stunning dinner party dress, make your way to this market to have clothes made just for you, the good old way.

Jinshi Wholesale Tea Market, Kunming

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Image Credit: Wikimedia

Yunnan is one of China’s best tea-producing regions, famed for its Pu’er tea, a highly-prized tea that is often compared to wine. Pu’er is fermented and aged, and in the luxury tea market, the most beautifully aged cakes of tea are investment unto themselves. 

If you’re interested in the journey of Pu’er, you can head to Xishuangbanna and trek amongst Pu’er tea plantations and villages. To buy wholesale tea and begin building your very own Pu’er collection, head to the Jinshi Wholesale Tea Market in Kunming where you can try various brews before you make your selection. There are also various shops selling teaware made especially for brewing Chinese tea.

Shenyang Night Market

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Image Credit: Dailymail UK

Think you know all about night markets in Asia? There may be one that you haven’t seen, and that’s the Shenyang Night Market, touted as Asia’s biggest. At about 1.8 km long, this night market is more than just a post-dinner stroll. In fact, you should just have your dinner here, as the market boasts a seemingly inexhaustible range of local street food and desserts. It’s not just the food, expect to find clothing, crafts, and a whole bunch of other things that you can’t possibly fit into your suitcase.

Qi Pu Lu, Shanghai

Ever shopped on Taobao and wondered what it’s like to shop in the Taobao of the physical world? You’d either love it or be traumatized enough to never attempt offline shopping again. Qi Pu Lu in Shanghai is a wholesale market that has lured locals and tourists to its labyrinth of clothing and accessories stores. 

You may be enraged to see that your wardrobe actually costs a third in Qi Pu Lu. If you’re not keen on getting the cheapest deals, head to the higher floors with supposedly better quality products. Also, know your size, as you’d hardly find any dressing rooms about. Prices are significantly cheaper in bulk, so you may well be dressing your entire extended family in clothes from here.

Qi Pu Lu isn’t a market for fake foods and knockoffs, but clothing and textile that’s fresh out from the factories. Watch your belongings and cellphones when you’re out in any market at all, the key is to bring home goodies without losing any of your own!


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Tilda is a happy sufferer of chronic wanderlust. When she isn't spending a disproportionate amount of time Googling about places and cultures, she's writing, dancing, and navigating a massive career change. She shares stories and photography on Wanderful People, and shares her coffee with no one.

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