You probably won’t want to finish a trip to Beijing without an armload of souvenirs, especially silk products like scarves, bags, or decorative items. Local markets are plentiful and each has particular specialties but the main go-to markets for souvenirs are Tianyi and Yashow, and to a degree the Zoo Market.
A friend took me to Tianyi for the first time shortly before I moved from China. We were shopping for kids’ birthday party supplies but when I asked about souvenirs she said she bought hers there too. So a few days later I went back to Tianyi with my shopping list.
Tianyi Market is very crowded and full of bulk buyers, which is supposed to mean prices are cheaper. And I found most items I wanted at okay prices but there was a LOT of walking and getting lost involved. The market is more like a grounds, decorated like an amusement park, with a few different buildings and different sections divided off within each floor. On the top floor of the main market is a kind of food court.
I then regretted that I hadn’t bought my mom more of the folding baskets she loves to give as gifts. So I thought I’d get a few things done over in Sanlitun and check out the Yashow Market. What a difference. So quiet, and seemingly organized. The quiet meant the vendors were more desperate. I got a silk pajamas set much cheaper than I expected but then realized I was still ripped off. I got the folding baskets at the same price because I knew the price. But could have bought a number of things more cheaply had I wanted them at Yashow, based on the begging of the vendors.
So based on my limited experience I’d probably start at Yashow for a more quiet calm experience with less walking. But if you want variety, the chance for a good bargain and have the time, check out Tianyi.