Besides ducks and walls, visitors that come to Beijing in search of an authentic local experience have likely singled out the city’s wholesale markets to score some deals. But, for all the cultural traditions that haggling symbolizes, these markets have unfortunately become an exclusive experience that caters more towards tourists rather than local residents.
Silk Street Market, Panjiayuan Market, and Laitai Flower Market have now become the few wholesale markets that have outlasted Beijing’s ongoing urban rejuvenation campaign that has claimed dozens of similar victims over the past few years. As tenacious as they are against yielding, their success could likely be in part to their familiarity among expats and their location in the high-traffic tourist areas.
With a future full of staffless stores and online shopping, Beijing locals will be less prone to frequent wholesale markets especially as they continue to disappear, the latest being Guanyuan Wholesale Market, set to permanently close its doors on Sep 28.
After serving the community for 20 years, Guanyuan will force out 1,000 sellers as part of Beijing’s campaign to relocate non-essential services. After renovation, the 30,000-square-meter facility will no longer accommodate small-scale commodity sales.
With last week’s news that Top Century will shut down at the end of August, the closures have been nothing but a bloodbath – especially when referencing our 2016 round-up of Beijing’s remaining wholesale markets.
The wholesale market closures include Alien Street, Tianyi Market, Tianyu Market, Tianhe Baima Market, Dongding Market, Wantong Market, the Ladies’ Street Market and a number of venues around the Beijing Zoo as well as Shiji Tianle and Zhonghe. Also recently shuttered are Wuxing Market near Dazhongsi, the Huaxiang Wholesale Plant Market, the Muxiyuan Fabric Market while the Liangma Flower Market just closed this past June. Yashow Market in the heart of Sanlitun and once the epicenter of cheap clothing and knick-knacks to take home, remains in wait for its overhaul by Swire Properties.
Meanwhile, the future of other remaining markets doesn’t look hopeful. The Guanyuan Bird and Fish Market remains open despite having suffered a “brickening” this past March, while the merchants at the Hongqiao Market are expected to soon be pushed out in favor of a “cultural experience center.”
However, what remains does not necessarily resemble what used to be. For example, many of the vendors of the newly renovated 258 Maizidian Electronic World were forced out due to inflated rent; at the same time, Silk Street prefers to focus upon a “one-stop immersive experience” for its tourists (shown above).
All the same, the wholesale markets left standing are some of the few places where you can haggle in Beijing, thereby making it a quaint experience for visitors that don’t necessarily represent the city, a phenomenon reflected in the insect edibles found along Wangfujing pedestrian street.
Sound appealing? Want to experience haggling for yourself? Here are Beijing’s four remaining central wholesale markets that remain open:
Silk Street Market
Daily 9am-9pm. 8 Xiushui Dongjie, Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District (5169 8800)
Mon-Fri 8.30am-6pm, Sat-Sun 4.30am-6pm. Off of Southeast Third Ring Road, West of Panjiayuan Qiao, Chaoyang District (6775 2405)
Laitai Flower Market
Mon-Thu 9am-6pm, Fri-Sun 9am-6.30 pm. 9 Maizidian Xilu, Chaoyang District (6463 6145)