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Shopping tips

Business Hours
Shops in Beijing open earlier than in the West, between 8am and 8:30am, and close later, generally between 8pm and 9pm. Open-air markets are generally open from down to around sunset, but might open later and close earlier. 

In China bargaining is the rule, expect in supermarkets and Statute-owned shops. It is carried on in good humour if on top of it all there is an added smile and some patience. Warning though, the Chinese are masters in the art of negotiation! To give you some idea of the going prices, watch the transactions going on around you and the money exchanged.

Making a deal
Most large department stories take credit cards, but always check that your card type is accepted. Smaller stores night take only Chinese credit cards and markets deal in cash, so some with plenty of it. Large department stores and hotels have ATMs with international access. It's worth nothing that in many shops, you cannot just pay for your goods and walk out in one movement. The salesperson will give you a ticket for your goods. You then go to a till, hand over your ticket and pay for your goods; the stamped ticket is then returned to you. You then return to the salesperson who takes the stamped ticket and hands you your purchase. It is a tiresome, time-consuming process, so be prepared.

To practice calligraphy requires four elements, the "four treasures of the study": paper, inl, an ink stone and a brash. Calligraphy can be bought all over: in the tourist thoroughfares, you will be accosted by young artists offering to sell you their works.

Celadon, "blue and white" porcelain, "family rose"...Ceramics is a very ancient art in China. You can find numerous shops everywhere which offer ceramics of every style and price.

In China, the country where the most noble of all materials was invented, you can buy silk at every reasonable price, compared with what you pay in Europe. Silks coming from the towns of Hangzhou and Suzhou are the most well know. Ask the salesperson on the silk markets to make sure you a dress to measure: they can have it done in a day or two.

Other purchases
Electronic Goods
They are much cheaper in China, and specialist shopping centers in Beijing, attract a large amount of foreigners. Note all the same that guarantees in China

are not systematically accepted in your own country: have a good think before making your mind up.

The largest textile producer in the world sells at unbeatable prices: have whatever clothes made from head to toe. Other than standardised clothes exported to every corner of the globe, you can have a qipao, the famous slit dress, a lady's top with a cross fastening or a traditional blouse with a Mao-style collar.

Sending your purchases home
Small shops do not have a shipping service. You will have to make use of the Chinese postal service which is generally reliable. However, in large towns, antiques or furniture shops can take care of sending your most bulky purchases by air freight (very fast) or by container (slower, but cheaper). Your flight ticket usually allows you to send bulky bags by air freight (above the 20kg allowance) by paying a supplement (Air France Cargo, Air China Cargo...). You must deposit these bags in a warehouse close to the airport 2 to 3 days before departure.