Panjiayuan Market is a sprawling gargantuan living being 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 there is on offer, but thankfully, there is some method to the shopping madness.
Wares 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.
Panjiayuan Antiques Market (潘家园旧货市场) is in the southeast corner of the Third Ring Road, just east of Longtan Park. The Chinese address is 潘家园桥西.
Mon-Fri 8:30am-6pm*; Sat-Sun 4:30am-4pm
*Only some of the permanent shops are open Monday through Friday. The main flea market and vendors are there only on Saturday and Sunday.
How to Say it in Chinese:
In Mandarin, the market is called Pan Jia Yuan Jiu Huo Shichang. This is pronounced: "pan jya yoo-an jyoh hwoh shih-chahng".
It's rather a mouthful. Your best bet is to show your hotel concierge the name in English and he will be able to communicate to your taxi driver. (Don't forget to take a taxi card from your hotel so you can get back with your treasures!)
Avoiding Fakes? It's Impossible:
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 and open mind, a limited budget and a few ideas about what you'd like to have.
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.
- Bargaining 101: Eight Rules and Two Myths About Shopping in China will give you more guidance to shopping and bargaining.
What to Buy:
The answer is just about anything. Here's a look at what's on offer virtual tour.
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