I like Silk Market’s large range of cloths and silks, but note that the top-end ones fetch a high price. You can also get affordable customised suits from the many tailors in the area.
Maliandao Tea Market (11 Maliandao Road, Tel: 86 10 6334 3963) has over 900 stores selling Chinese tea. Store owners here are more than happy to share tips on how to appreciate Chinese tea.
It’s interesting to look around Panjiayuan Antique Market (west of Panjiayuan Bridge), which has a dizzying array of knick-knacks (above).
Big and small bites
Haidilao is one of the most popular hotpot chain restaurants frequented by locals. Basically, you cook your food by submerging raw ingredients in boiling soup or oil. The queue to get in may be long during peak hours, but the restaurant offers free hand massages while you wait.
One of my favourite cafes is Spoonful of Sugar. It is in a quaint hutong (alley) in the historic Dashilan district – now a creative hub – away from the bustle of the city. It serves interesting and affordable fusion food (above) like its duck sandwich with caramelised apple and purple Chinese spinach.
Try the street food at Donghuamen Night Market (near Wangfujing Dajie). Items range from kebabs and bingtanghulu (dried hawthorn candy) to the more exotic offal and fried insects.
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