If you plan to do any shopping around China’s capital city, it helps to know the best markets in Beijing. There are plenty of large, modern malls and small shops, but if you’re looking for an old fashioned market, these are the eight places you’ll want to visit.
The great thing about this part of China is that there is plenty of good shopping in Beijing. It’s important to know what you want to buy, though, since most markets tend to specialize on a certain type or category of products.
The only problem, unfortunately, is that China has vowed to remove all wholesale markets from Beijing by 2020. The move is meant to shrink the city’s population, improve traffic, and just make life better in the capital.
For this reason, I want to provide a more up-to-date guide for Beijing markets based on what you might be shopping for. Each of these markets is still open as of 2019 and I’ve included a list of those that have been closed or relocated at the very end.
Each Beijing market description includes an address as well as a Google Map pin (although you’ll need a VPN to use Google in China).
Enjoy these unique Beijing markets!
1. Beijing Zhongguancun Mall (Electronics)
Zhongguancun (中关村) is a collection of stores and malls for everything related to electronics: computers, computer parts, tablets, phones, cameras, accessories, and more. You’ll see plenty of electronics brands that you recognize here.
The store layouts can sometimes be a bit confusing. Generally, the lower levels see more tourists and have more pushy sales people, the higher floors are more for techies and make for better browsing.
Just be aware, as everywhere, that many offered products are fake. If you want to make sure you get the real deal, you may be better off going to the official flagship store of a brand, like the Apple store in Sanlitun.
- Location:12 Zhongguancun Nandajie, Haidian (Google Map)
- Directions: Take subway line 4 to Zhongguancun station
2. Panjiayuan Beijing Antiques Market
The Beijing Antique Market, known in Chinese as Panjiayuan (潘家园) is a treasure trove of older items ranging from scrolls to vases to furniture. Unless you’re an expert in Chinese antiquities, don’t expect to walk away with a rare collectible.
Still, it’s entertaining to walk through the market to see various paintings, wood carvings, stone carvings and embroidery that fills the various halls. You can even find a number of different crafts and trinkets from one of the 56 recognized ethnic minorities.
As with most of these markets, it’s not guaranteed that what’s for sale is authentic antiques. If you know this going in, you can enjoy buying a nice souvenir or wall hanging.
- Location: Southeast corner of the city on Songya Rd (Google Map link)
- Directions: Take Line 10 to the Panjiayuan stop.
3. Sanyuanli Market (Non-Chinese Produce and Goods)
The Sanyuanli market (三源里市场) is the place to go to find items you won’t find at most Chinese grocery stores. This includes exotic fruits, Western vegetables and a good variety of herbs. This is where you go to buy basil and, if you are lucky, also Thai basil, lemon grass and other more “exotic” ingredients.
The market caters to foreigners and the sellers speak some English. Chefs of local ethnic restaurants also come here to buy for their menus since this is more of a wholesale market.
In addition to greens, the Sanyuanli market has butchers selling fresh meat, little stores that offer cheese and other import food, and the odd hardware stall, where you can find baking ware, French press coffee makers, and other Western kitchen stuff.
- Location: 8 Zuojiazhuang Xi Jie, Chaoyang (Google Map link)
- Directions: Subway line 10 Liangmaqiao station is the closest subway stop but it still is a bit of a walk.
4. Wangfujing Street Market (Foreign Brands Shopping)
Although it’s difficult to label Wangfujing Street (王府井) a “market”, it is an extremely popular destination for both Chinese and foreign travelers alike. Most evenings, this street is filled with people window shopping, snacking and enjoying the atmosphere.
You’ll find a number of recognizable brands along this street as well as some great restaurants. Most famously, you’ll find what is known as the “Wangfujing Snack Street” at the north end of the street, where you can sample various fried bugs, boiled eggs, and other crazy snacks.
Be warned that Wangfujing is mostly higher-end shopping, so expect prices to be expensive and bargaining to be minimal.
- Location: East of the Forbidden City along Chang’An Road (Google map link)
- Directions: Take the subway Line 1 to the Wangfujing station.
5. Old Pipe Street Hutong Market (Arts and Crafts)
The Old Pipe Street market, known as the Yandai Xiejie (烟袋斜街) in Chinese, is situated north of the Forbidden City. Aside from the fun pieces of art and minority crafts you’ll find here, it’s also just a fun getaway to enjoy the old hutongs and sit down at a local cafe.
The market used to be the place to get long-stemmed pipes (hence the name), but has since become better known for its arts and crafts.
- Location: North of the Forbidden City, a short walk from the drum tower (Google map link)
- Directions: Take Beijing’s subway Line 8 to the stop and walk north a bit.
6. Dongjiao Wholesale Market (Kitchen Equipment)
The New Dongjiao market is full of all things kitchen and cooking. Here you find not only restaurant-size equipment and quantities but also great kitchenware for your home kitchen in China, for example clay rice pots, steamers, woks, cleavers, … (Just be aware that you cannot transport a cleaver or other knives on the subway.)
The market has moved quite a distance outside the city, so it’s not convenient for most shoppers. However, it’s still a great place to stock up your new kitchen with quality equipment.
In addition, Dongjiao market has fresh produce, meat, fish, and everything else you would expect at a Chinese market. It is located on street lined with small shops offering all kinds of stuff, from household items to face masks to birdcages and pets.
- Location: Between Wangsiying Bridge and Wufang Bridge on the Fifth Ring Road, not close to a subway line (Google map link)
7. Sanlitun Village Shopping (Modern Fashion)
Sanlitun (三里屯) is the place to go if you want to find modern, stylish clothing from name brands. Sanlitun is also home to an official Apple store, a great bookstore with English books, Starbucks, and many more excellent food options.
Similar to Wangfujing Street, don’t expect to get any bargains at the Sanlitun Village. This is going to feel very much like an outdoor mall that you would find anywhere else in the Western world and it’s here that you’ll see many other foreign travelers milling about.
- Location: Near the Beijing Worker’s Stadium in northeast Beijing (Google map link)
- Directions: Take Beijing subway Line 10 to the Tuanjiehu stop and walk west a few hundred meters.
8. Nanluoguxiang Market Street (Tourist Trinkets)
Finally, if you’re looking for some good tourist trinkets to buy and take home, you might enjoy the Nanluoguxiang Market Street in Beijing (南锣鼓巷). In addition to fun little shops, there are plenty of hip cafes and coffee shops to take a break and get something to eat or drink.
Even if you don’t plan to buy anything, this market street is a destination by itself for those passing through Beijing. It’s quiet, since it’s not as popular as a few of these other markets, and the sellers aren’t very pushy (at least not as much as those at the Silk Street or Pearl Street markets).
- Location: North of the Forbidden City, just SE of the Drum Tower (Google map link)
- Directions: Take Beijing subway Line 8 to stop and walk east a few hundred meters.
Beijing Markets That Have Been Moved
As mentioned earlier, Beijing has taken steps to move many big markets out of the city beyond the 4th ring road, with the goal being to get most of the major ones out by 2020.
For the most part, they’ve succeeded. Here is a list of a number of previously popular markets in Beijing that have since been closed or moved.
- Zoo Market Dongwuyuan: Relocated to the Hebei province in March of 2018.
- Laitai Beijing Flower Market: Closed indefinitely for renovations in April 2019.
- Beijing Wangtong Market: Permanently closed in August of 2017.
- Alient Street Market Beijing: Closed in February 2017.
- Tianyi Market: Closed in September 2017.
Unfortunately, there will probably be many more added to this list as time goes on.
Final Thoughts | Best Markets in Beijing
You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t included the well-known Pearl Market or Silk Market in this list, and that’s because I’d rather highlight lesser-known markets here. I still recommend you visit these markets, as long as you understand that you’ll be hassled like a tourist and overcharged significantly.
The beauty of meandering through a market in Beijing is being able to people watch, explore the local goods, and enjoy a (somewhat) peaceful experience. I believe that most of these eight Beijing markets can provide that.
Do you think there are any markets that are missing from this list? Leave a comment below!