If you’re heading to China on business, make sure you save some time for shopping. Whether you’re looking for unique souvenirs or products that are significantly cheaper in China than in the U.S., Chinese markets await with some spectacular finds. Check out the six best items to buy in China so you can come home with gifts that make everybody smile.
Silk is by far one of the best items to buy in China, with silk products making a terrific souvenir for yourself or a pal. Choose from silk rugs and carpets, sheets, scarves, embroidery, material, and clothing.
Vendors may prove silk’s authenticity various ways. One method is to hold a corner of the silk up to a burning flame. Real silk with burn clean, while fake silk will melt. While you’ll find silk sold throughout the country, Shanghai is the go-to stop for silk carpeting, while Hangzhou and Suzhou rank high for other silk items.
The only item perhaps more famous than silk in China is tea. Higher-end tea shops and tea plantations often let you taste the products before buying. You can also find tea for sale in tea outlets, markets, and malls across China, with Beijing and Shanghai as the prime locations. To find quality tea, look for teas sold with unbroken, whole leaves.
Porcelain is another acclaimed product from China, and you can enjoy it in the form of tea sets, rice and punch bowls, soup spoons, vases, and other eye-catching decorative pieces. For China’s traditional blue and white porcelain, head to the country’s porcelain capital of Jingdezhen.
Freshwater pearls are another souvenir that count as one of the best items to buy in China. You’ll run across pearls of various sizes in colors that range white and ivory to dyed purple, blue, yellow, and grey options.
Real pearls tend to have slight irregularities and will produce a fine powder when scraped. Fake pearls made of plastic or glass will be perfectly round and free of flaws. The paint will chip off plastic pearls when scraped. Guilin is the place to shop for authentic pearls harvested from the South China Sea.
While eyeglasses may not be ideal souvenirs unless you come armed with your friends’ prescriptions, you can find amazing deals for yourself. Although the deals will be sizzling, don’t expect any designer or branded frames to be authentic. Hot spots to shop for glasses are Beijing and Shanghai, with thriving glasses markets in both cities.
Street stalls throughout the country serve up a fantastic array of clothing that ranges from designer dud knockoffs to funny T-shirts. Have fun wading through the wonderful selection, but keep sizing in mind. A lot of the Chinese clothing is designed for smaller statures and may not fit the average Westerner.
Custom-made clothing can be another bargain throughout China, as long as you are very specific about the material, size, and style you want. Go wild with the pre-made clothing selection at Beijing’s Wudaokou market, or enjoy the street stalls in cities across the country.
No matter which items you’re interested in purchasing, try to bargain to avoid getting charged higher tourist prices. When heading to China on business, don’t forget to bring along your bargaining skills, as well as your passport and Chinese business visa. If you have any questions about your upcoming trip to China, don’t hesitate to contact Swift – we’re here to help!
Laurie Lee is co-founder and CEO of Swift Passport and Visa Services. A Chicago native, Laurie loves adventure travel, especially to the Caribbean. She enjoys writing for the Swift Post, as well as for her personal blog, Spare Parts- www.sparebodyparts.com.