Beijing Tourist Trap Tips by mke1963 Top 5 Page for this destination
Beijing Tourist Traps: 247 reviews and 174 photos
I get more e-mails on this topic than any other.
From CDs to DVDs to T-shirts to boots and jackets. It's all here. Everywhere. Nowhere is cheaper or beter than anyone else, no matter what any China shopping guru tells you.
However, there are some points worth remembering.
Those of us who live here generally stock up on decent clothing, DVDs, CDs, T-shirts, boots and jackets when we travel overseas.
1) The quality of the fake stuff you buy here is crap. Seriously bad. Watches that are 30 minutes slow within 3 hours of purchase. Boots that are peeling apart within 24 hours. Socks that wear through on the second outing. A suitcase which fell to bits on the way back to the hotel, 80 metres from the shops.
2) It is really difficult to find places to buy 'ordinary' gear, and damn near impossible to buy proper CDs and DVDs within 1,000km.
Be warned that the 'savings' on all the fake stuff are largely an illusion. Especially if you pay anywhere above 15% of the initial asking price. Even then it's marginal.
Also be aware that bringing fake goods into many countries is now a criminal offence and you can face heavy fines or worse.
The clothing (especially) looks good but, trust me on this, it falls to pieces fast. Real fast. I do ot have a single item of clothing bought in China that is worth the cheap rice I paid for it.
Caveat emptor. Customs officer emptor.
Unique Suggestions: Buy unbranded gods if you want cheap goods. Let's face it...why are you spending precious holiday time buying cheap copies of $120 sneakers? Is it really that important?
DVDs? Yep. Buy 50 of them here. 45 will be unwatchable (low DVD production quality), and the other 5 will be unwatchable (low film production quality).
CDs? The sound quality is poor. The choice is poor except for music that a Chinese CD-making middle man in a backstreet shop in Xiamen thinks you will like. He, by the way, thinks that Kenny G, Richard Clayderman and Yanni are great. He thinks you do too.
Fun Alternatives: Buy original stuff at home if you want value.
Buy fakes in China is you are a cheapskate but are keen to impress people with a Rolex or a Omega watch. Do have your excuse ready when people ask where it is a month later when it has fallen apart though.
Let's face it: dressing up is cool when you are five years old. But when adults feel the need to dress up to have their photograph taken AND pay for the priviledge, one has to question why. I have reached deep into my soul to discover what would drive a person to dress up as a Qing emperor, a Mongol warrior or whatever, and have it recorded for posterity. I have failed to find anything whatsoever.
The person in the photograph actually got up to request the wraparound shades from his friend. This event was doubly significant for it was the first time my ten-year old daughter has used the phrase "a**hole" within earshot and not subsquently sorely regretted it.
It is one thing to dress up as an emperor, but it becomes almost offensive when laughing tourists dress up in the costumes (often religiously significant) of vulnerable ethnic groups.
Unique Suggestions: Treat cultural heritage with respect.
Fun Alternatives: Laugh at the idiots, not the costumes they wear. When the man in the photo took all the gear off, and returned to his normal clothes, my daughter burst out laughing and said that now he really did look funny. I had to usher her away.
Inflated prices, little atmosphere, and getting dirtier by the week: north Sanlitun Street is the ultimate Beijing tourist trap.
Unique Suggestions: The Comma Bar is friendly, and several of the cafes on the east side of the street further north have good, cheap food.
Fun Alternatives: For good nightlife, head over to Houhai (also going out of fashion), to some of the good clubs in Haidian, or perhaps the more hidden Sanlitun South street, which is NOT the continuation of Sanlitun North Street below the traffic lights. You need to head east half a block and then turn down a narrow street between two appartment blocks.
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