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Treasure Hunt in Panjiayuan Market

Beijing is the perfect place to launch a trip across China. Full of historical sites and sprawling parks, among of which Panjiayuan would be a walker's dream.

Introduction to Panjiayuan
Panjiayuan Market is a sprawling second-hand market that comes to life in the wee hours of Saturday morning as the vendors set up their stalls and display their wares. One day, even one weekend, isn't enough to see everything on offer, but thankfully, there is some method to the shopping madness.

Antique in Panjiayuan MarketWares are somewhat divided according to type, so you'll find jewelry (pearls, amber, jade) in one section, furniture in another, etc. For bargain hunters it's a dream come true. Only some of the permanent shops are open Monday through Friday. The main flea market and vendors are there only on Saturday and Sunday.

Please, don't be fooled by the offers of "antiques". Chinese purveyors are experts at making fakes look like ancient treasures dug up and on sale for a fraction of what you'd pay at Sotheby's. Unless you are a dealer in Chinese artifacts and have years of experience, trust me, you won't be able to tell the difference, and even the dealers get fooled. The best thing to do is go with an open mind, a limited budget and a few ideas about what you'd like to have.

How to Bargain
Some say offer 10% of what the vendor is asking, some say 25% and work up from there. In my experience, the best thing to do is make some snap decisions and then start the negotiations at the low end. Decide if you really want it. It's hard to extract a real price so you'll have to bargain to get close. Decide how much you're willing to pay. How much is it worth to you? Walk away. Sometimes it works...but be prepared when it doesn't. You may find the item again, but you may not.

What to Buy
The answer is just about anything. Here's a look at what's on offer. A quick list of some of the things you'll find: Jewelry such as amber, jade, pearls, coral, turquoise and much more, Chinese furniture, Ethnic minority pieces, such as Miao embroidery and silver clothing accessories, Cultural Revolution-era items, Chinese paintings and calligraphy objects, Buddhist statuary, Porcelain & ceramics, etc…

All in all, a walk down Panjiayuan will be fun and worthwhile!