22971-Shanghai  Photo by Xiquinho Silva via Flickr Creative Commons

If you’re used to seeing “made in China” stickers, why not head directly to the source? Even though China is not as cheap as it once was, it is still an interesting destination for shopping enthusiasts. Even locals, who have more disposable income in their hands, have become obsessed with shopping. Therefore, the larger cities like Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Beijing have continued to expand the retail industry through the construction of modern shopping complexes and malls.

Despite the fact that glitzy shopping centers have become the norm in China over the last decade, there is still room for traditional product favorites. China continues to be the world’s leading manufacturer and seller of various items, in particular, handmade goods. Mostly found in markets and specialty stores, items are usually unmarked, meaning tourists will have to bargain against merchants to agree on a price. This is not only fun, but also a great way to save some dough.


Antique markets are fabulous places to find handmade porcelain objects such as vases, plates and lamps. Unfortunately, China passed laws some years ago that made it illegal to remove antique items from the country so don’t try to bring one home as a souvenir. This makes it easier to bargain though, as items that are not antiques are usually inexpensively made. Jingdezhen is a great city to visit when wanting to purchase porcelain.


China is a great place for fashion, although not all brand names are real. Likely designers found in markets and some shopping centers are counterfeit if the price is too good to be true. Foreign-owned brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton are still expensive if they are real. Shanghai, Hong Kong and the capital, Beijing, are notorious for their ‘knock-off’ merchandise, but if you don’t mind a fake, you might be in heaven.


Although it is risky to purchase jade in China, it is a much-adored item that continues to lure tourists to Khotan. A true Myanmar jade is identified by its green shade and expensive cost. Shop carefully as other types of inferior jade found in China are common and usually look whiter.

Pearl jewelry

In almost every major market across China, pearl jewelry is on display. Freshwater pearls have become big business in China’s marketplaces, as foreigners adore local prices in comparison to the high costs back home. Coming in a range of different sizes, shapes, and colors, pearl-based goods are remarkably cheap in China. In addition, pearl cosmetics have become quite popular.

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