Shopping is becoming a national pastime in China, and you may be surprised by the range of goods in the shops and the food markets are wonderful in their variety. We try to strike a balance between too many stops in souvenir shops, while recognising that people do enjoy the chance to look, touch and enter into some serious haggling, which is perfectly acceptable in markets, antique and art shops.
The principle of ‘buyer beware’ must apply in China. Only buy something because you like it and think it is worth the price you have agreed to pay, rules governing the export of truly valuable antiques are strict and the tradition of making copies is an ancient one in China. Often you cannot be sure that you will find the same item somewhere else or at a cheaper price, so if you are really taken by something, it is better to buy it and tuck it away in your luggage.
Look out for: silk, silk pyjamas and embroidered dressing gowns, cushion covers, boxer shorts and blouses, Chinese wood block prints – inexpensive and easy to carry, boxwood carved figures, ink stamps (chops), porcelain, memorabilia from the 1960’s and 70’s (some originals and some copies), Chinese calligraphy brushes and inkstones, decorative combs, carpets, cloisonné ware.
In most cities there is at least one shop, carpet or craft centre where you will be invited to stop and are principally for overseas tourists. They will offer tea, reasonable WC facilities and a chance to browse, if you buy something large, which requires shipment, they will arrange this to the port in the UK.