New Guanyuan Bird and Fish Market. Daily 9am-5.30pm. Guangyuan Dasha, northeastcorner of Zizhu Qiao, Xisanhuan Lu, Haidian District 新官园花鸟鱼虫市场, 海淀区西三环路紫竹桥广源大厦 (近紫竹桥东北角)
Good buys: Spiders (RMB 100), scorpions (RMB 40), chinchillas (RMB 320)
Best time to go: Weekdays, when it’s less busy.
• The few stores selling dogs and cats are best avoided.
• If you’re buying "weirder" things, get your vocabulary prepared beforehand.
Before buying any animal as a pet, ask: What size will it grow to? What kind of climate does it need? What kind of a cage/tank does it need? What will it eat? How much will it cost to look after? Overall, are you really able to look after it? If not, don’t buy it.
Don’t miss: Store located at Aisle 3, Shop A-18 sells small pigs as pets. (159 1053 8222, 134 0101 4395)
Other items for sale: flowers, pipes, vinyl and antiquated record players and recording equipment (Aisle 1, Shop 38; 151 0168 2318).
Yuquanying Plant & Flower Market. Mon-Fri 8.30am-5.30pm, Sat-Sun 8.30am-6pm. 55 Nansanhuan Xilu, Fengtai District (6353 8637) www.e-hua.com.cn
Good buys: Tulip bulb (RMB 6). Setose asparagus (wenzhu 文竹, RMB 10-20). Chrysanthemum (juhua 菊花, RMB 20). Moth orchid (hudielan 蝴蝶兰, RMB 30-35/plant). Kaffir lily (junzilan 君子兰 RMB 100). Bodhi tree (puti 菩提, RMB 16,000). Artificial lily (RMB 15-25).
Best time to go: Before noon. Fewer people and a better selection.
Tip: Bargain, aiming for 70 percent of the opening price.
Other items for sale: garden machinery, greens, craft items, root sculptures, aquariums and Chinese paintings.
Tianyi. Daily 7.30am-5.30pm. 4/F, 259 Fuchengmen Dajie, Xicheng District
Good buys: Cross-stitch patterns, jigsaw puzzles, comic-book toy figures, posters and calendars.
Best time to go: Early morning, though the market is always busy with wholesale buyers.
• Calmer than Yashow and the Silk Market and fewer foreigners.
• No haggling here, unless items over a few hundred kuai.