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Best Pick for Beijing?

Best Pick for Beijing?

Old Aug 27, 06, 1:57 pm
  #1  
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Best Pick for Beijing?

Hey Folks!

I need to be in Beijing next month and wondering if any travel gurus have a distinctly favored hotel there. I haven't stayed at an SPG hotel in Beijing previously, but the St. Regis looks OK. Of course, if anyone knows of a better non-SPG hotel that they emphatically recommend, I'd appreciate the heads-up! Also, I'm expected to bring back some thoughtful (i.e. many) gifts for the blond. Can anyone recommend the best shopping center, or will the hotel concierge be best for advice?

Thanks in advance!


Barry
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Old Aug 27, 06, 4:31 pm
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The St. Regis is pretty much right next to the famous Silk Market (the new 5-story building now). They have everything and anything knock-off wise that you could want. A great place to do some gift shopping for sure. The Great Wall Sheraton is further from the city center and not as nice a hotel. When I looked at some dates for next month, the St. Regis was actually cheaper on certain nights (like weekends). Having stayed at both, I'd defintely opt for the St. Regis, for the great location and especially for the proximity to the Silk Market for your gift buying.

The Grand Hyatt is also a nice hotel (on the same level as St. Regis), but expect to get denied for a Diamond Upgrade (and Lounge access) during Sept, a very busy month for them.......
gregorygrady is offline  
Old Aug 27, 06, 5:59 pm
  #3  
 
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Originally Posted by Northbrook60065
Hey Gregory, and thanks for the Silks Market heads up! Now I'm definately convinced that the St. Regis is where I want to be. Should I rely on my PLAT status for an SPG upgrade or do you recommend I simply book the type of room I want? (What sort of room would YOU book - remember I'll be there solo for work, so I want ultimate comfort but I won't need stuff like a separate jacuzzi or piano in my room...but a club level room is always great)!

Also, any suggestions you may have for the "market" would be greatly appreciated. One of my buds said that you NEVER haggle with merchants or they may call the police, and another said that haggling is expected and not regarded as offensive the way a clerk at Macys or Neiman Marcus might respond to it. Did you purchase stuff and send it home or do you purchase it and bring it home with you? Also, if I purchase tailor-made suits or ....s for myself do I need to try them on or are they reliably tailored so if I ship them home they'll be fine when I get home?

Thanks again for your advice!

Barry
Barry, I know you PM'd me, but I thought I'd post my reply in the thread since others might benefit from the info as well.

As an SPG Plat, I got upgraded in Dec. 2005 from my ~$160 a night cheapie Internet (fully prepaid , but I booked it the day before ) rate to a Statesmans Suite (a 1 bedroom suite with separate living room and 2 bathrooms). I was quite happy with that upgrade. There is a Lounge at St. R, but there is no special Club floor rooms, everybody staying there has access to it, obviously it is therefore not as nice as the spread in the Grand Hyatt Beijing Grand Club Lounge. If I were there for work, I would book as high a rate as I could get away with depending on what my work would let me book. I can get quite nice $50 a night places in Beijing at non-western chain hotels, so my company might balk if I spent $300 per night at St. Regis, but at $160 a night, I just booked anyway, hoping not to get any crap from the accounting dept.

As far as Silk Market, you ALWAYS haggle there. If you don't, you will get taken to the cleaner. For example, they might try to start a knock-off Louis Vuitton purse at $50 (that costs $500-$600 in the USA). You then offer them $3, they drop their price to $20, you offer $4, they drop to $15 and say that's the lowest they can go cuz that is their cost. You then say, $5 final offer and they might come down a little and then you start to walk away, they grab you and bring you back and then you finally come to an agreement for maybe $7-8 for a LV purse. That's the way it works in these markets, they will not call the police, and you will get screwed paying $50 for a purse you could have gotton for $7 if you don't haggle. It actually gets kinda fun and I find myseld haggling for a few minutes over 1 yuan (~$0.12) just for the fun of it. Whatever you do, don't buy from the first person. Use that salesperson to practice on, find the lowest price, and then walk away and use that price as a benchmark that you should NOT pay a penny over for the same item at the next stall (all the stalls have the same stuff). BTW, sometimes you have to ask specifically for some knock-offs, for example, the LV stuff is all in drawers or under tables because they are pretending to crack down on that kind of stuff.

Also, I always bring the stuff home with me. I have never shipped anything back. I normally get an extra cardboard box there (or bring an extra duffel bag) and pack it full for the return trip. I've never been stopped at customs (well I have and I've had my bags checked, but they've never confiscated my knock-offs), but supposedly it could be a problem according to some FTers. As far as a tailor-made suit, I'd definitely try it on before coming home, but I've never bought one while over there. I just bring back lots of little knock-offs that I give as gifts to people over here and they all love it. If you want, PM me back and I can give you a list of items and what I paid for each at the Silk Market. I started keeping an Excel file this past visit to China because I didn't remember what I had paid for similar items from visit to visit. Also, you might want to visit the China Forum, there is a real expert over there named moondog that knows anything and everythying about China. If you want higher quality goods (tailor-made suits, etc), my guess is that he can probably tell you where to get them.
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Old Aug 27, 06, 6:57 pm
  #4  
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Moving this to the China forum where I believe you will be able to get a lot more responses since you are looking for more than just *wood Properties.

ldsant
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Old Aug 27, 06, 8:29 pm
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I've commented on all these subjects in the past week on the Starwood forum and the China board.

Personally, the idea of wanting to be close to the "silk market" strikes me as a little funny. I think I'd want to be as far away from it as possible. And I'm only half kidding. What a wretched place to try to buy anything. Truly the most unpleasant shopping experience I can recall (well, at least outside of Indonesia). And I'm cool with the blood sport bargaining (prices can start as much as 95% overpriced). It's the vibe of the place -- you simply can't stop and look at the stuff without being hassled. Heck, you can't even walk down the aisles without being hassled. Some vendors will actually try to grab you to get your attention. Who the heck needs that? Certainly not to buy the stuff that's for sale. Admittedly, some of it is decent, but it's mostly junk. Given a choice, I would happily pay a bit more to buy it elsewhere!

FWIW, the Pearl Market is much the same. SLIGHTLY more tolerable (the toy market behind it is much better, but it doesn't sound like you need that). But would I return their to shop? Probably not.

The best market I found in Beijing was the weekend morning Panjiayuan market. Crowded, but with a cool vibe (plenty of locals) and plenty to buy. Not much clothing there, however. I didn't otherwise do a lot of shopping in Beijing, but I did hit the hutong streets of Dazhalan just southwest of Mao's tomb. You can buy clothing there, and enough foreign tourists hit the area that some of the styles are plausible to the Western eye.

As to the Starwood issue, I stayed on the Executive Floor of the Great Wall Sheraton, and I couldn't have been happier. I upgraded for 1500 points (on a cash & points stay no less), and got free drinks/munchies and breakfast. Room and facilities were great (exterior of hotel is hideous). Location right next to 3rd ring is great for dealing with Beijing's traffic -- even the pearl and silk markets are easy to reach if you want to. For the same money, would I try the St. Regis? Sure. Would I pay materially more? No.
iahphx is offline  
Old Aug 27, 06, 9:00 pm
  #6  
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If you are going on a business trip.. stay close to the business.
(search within China forums.. we've discussed a lot of hotels
in various different threads already)

Here is a detailed map of Beijing: http://www.mapmatrix.com/asia/02101.pdf

this will give you a better idea about the city and help you pick a hotel

Taxi's are not expensive, and getting around is very easy.

I've stayed at Marriott Palm Spring (I think thats the name) Apartments
near chao yang park. and it was excellent.

You can always ask hotel staff for suggestions, just dont fall for their
car service/taxi gig.. just take a regular taxi... plenty around.

Just keep in mind.. Bargain a lot, what ever they ask for.. start with 1/10
of the ask price..

Some bargains ( 400RMB -> 20 RMB), ( 1200 RMB -> 2 for 80 ) you get the
idea.

All advise posted by others above is also great.
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Old Aug 28, 06, 1:20 am
  #7  
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I was just in Beijing a couple of weeks ago and stayed at several hotels. One was a Chinese hotel were I bargained the price down from 800RMB to just over 400 including a great buffet breakfast for two (best breakfast buffet of the trip), the Marriott Renniasance which is very nice, but pricy and out in the sticks, the Marco Polo which is closer in but still felt a little isolated (but near two subway stops), nice, but, I'd say, a step down from the Rennisance.

But, if I went back, I'd stay at the Novotel Peace which is super central and in a very lively area (assuming I wanted to pay Western Chain prices instead of Chinese-much cheaper-prices). Of course, it may depend on purpose of trip and who is paying.
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Old Aug 28, 06, 3:32 pm
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Crowne Plaza Beijing

I stayed 10 nights at the The Crowne Plaza Beijing on Wangfujing the first part of Aug 2006.

My rate was 950 RMB/night and as a PC Plat was given a modest upgrade on arrival, which I complained about, and eventually was given a club floor room (albeit near the elevators ).

In truth, the original room was fine, with modern everything, it just seemed a bit more cramped than I wanted.

The club room was spacious and comfortable with a huge bathroom/ dressing area with separate tub and shower. Free wi-fi on club floors, a decided perq. Breakfast buffet was excellent and included in my rate (though I didn’t remember booking it as such).

General staff were attentive. Concierge staff was knowledgeable. Excellent foot massages were just a phone call away. Security staff visibly present in the evenings.

Wangfujing includes a pedestrian-only modern shopping area and modern mega-mall. The night food court is pretty interesting, if artificial. (Reminded me of seeing a Tombstone, AZ gunfight). Hutongs abound, as do cheap bodega-styled shops for restocking the mini-bar. (One can soda in mini-bar, 24 RMB. One bottle soda from local store 10 meters down street: 4 RMB)

Taxi’s are cheap, so anywhere you want to go is obtainable.

Thumbs-up for the Crowne Plaza Beijing.
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Old Aug 28, 06, 4:06 pm
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I am visiting Beijing and Shanghai in September, and I'm booked at the Grand Hyatt. It is said to have a great spa and some good restuarants, plus the website has the room types and layouts available to view.

Also, not sure if you're aware, but I found a very inexpensive set of city guides for Asia and Australia that cater to more upscale tastes. It's about $9 for each city that you choose, and there is a 3-city box set that includes Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai for about $23. The guides even feature a few pre-planned shopping routes, which I plan to use.

Go to www.luxecityguides.com for more info.
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Old Aug 28, 06, 4:18 pm
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Originally Posted by G8rGrrl
Also, not sure if you're aware, but I found a very inexpensive set of city guides for Asia and Australia that cater to more upscale tastes.
Isn't that sort of an oxymoron? Shouldn't the upscale guides be expensive?

FWIW, I've never found the "mainstream" guides (Frommers, Fodors) to be too downscale to assist me in spending my money, such that I'd need an upscale guide for that purpose. Which is not to say the mainstream guides are great, just that they are "economically appropriate."

I will say that it's nice in China not to have to use the single "$" restaurants to find a meal under $50/per person (like you typically have to do in Western Europe these days). Feeling "rich" is great!
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Old Aug 28, 06, 9:24 pm
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Originally Posted by G8rGrrl
Also, not sure if you're aware, but I found a very inexpensive set of city guides for Asia and Australia that cater to more upscale tastes. It's about $9 for each city that you choose, and there is a 3-city box set that includes Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai for about $23. The guides even feature a few pre-planned shopping routes, which I plan to use.
These guides are in no way cheap, since for your $9 you get merely a single sheet of concertinaed paper. For your $27 you get only a fraction of a book, with very little useful detail, and with camp a high priority in making selections over perhaps other more useful criteria. With regular new editions these flyers are sometimes more up-to-date than printed guides, but in general only at the highest end, and telling you little about real China, and a lot about keeping yourself largely in a Western environment while there. At the right time in the book publishing cycle they might just make a worthwhile if rather expensive supplement to your guide of choice.

Here's a review of the Hong Kong edition published a couple of years ago, which tells you rather more:

Finally someone has produced a series of pocket guides which actually fit in the pocket. Luxe City Guides are concertinas of stiff card currently covering Hong Kong, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Bangkok, and Bali, which collapse to a mere 7.5cm by 15cm. They’re designed to be worn in the shirt pocket, logo outwards, to show you’re not one of the herd.

At first sight the guides seems to be the triumph of camp over content. “Greetings, Shimmerknicks,” opens the Hong Kong edition, before getting practical: “On a budget? Don’t come to Hong Kong.”

Advice throughout is in the manner of someone with a well-manicured hand giving your bicep a gentle squeeze supposedly of emphasis but in fact to see how much muscle is there.

The look matches the general tone, in designer-approved but eye-unfriendly SMALL CAPS throughout. One of the 22 panels is rather wasted with the standard claims of excellence found on the back cover of any guide, including the silly and self-contradictory assertion that it knows of “secret places”.

“You need only concern yourself with these...” opens the list of accommodation confidently, before describing The Peninsula (one of the best and most famous hotels in the world—hardly a well-kept secret) and the excellent but equally well-known Grand Hyatt.

Nor need the reader expect much practical detail in such a small space. The Peninsula is a “glammy old dolly... smart as a carrot and sweet as a nut” with a “fleet of rentable Rolls Royces [sic] (for shopping emergencies)”. All this is both true and to the point, but rates are not given. If you need to ask, sugarlips, you probably can’t afford it.

The guide only lists five properties altogether, but it lives up to its claim to be more up-to-date than others by including the brand-new and Phillippe Starck-designed JIA Boutique Hotel, which probably won’t be appearing in other guides for at least 12 months.

In the restaurant selections it’s possible to detect the hands of Hong Kong’s cannier PR people, although newly-opened choices such as Aqua at the top of Kowloon’s latest tower, No. 1 Peking Road, were so fashionable in March that not even the Peninsula’s concierge or the PRs themselves could get me a table. The guide claims to offer “the best of the best”, and Aqua was indeed the hottest of hot.

The guide proclaims itself “Brutally frank, and sometimes, frankly, brutal.” Hong Kong’s Temple Street night market is obviously far from glam enough, described as “Everything you never wanted in one rancid place.” Macau’s casinos win the crushing, “Take your pick, they’re all pretty foul.”

The claim to have “services you can’t find in any other guide” is certainly justified. “Sculptress Louise Soloway life-casts body parts into plaster, porcelain, or bronze so you can remember what they looked like before they dropped around your ankles.” This is certainly a remove from riding the Star Ferry across the harbour to find a tailor to copy that favourite shirt.

No replacement for a full-scale book, Luxe is nevertheless an entertaining supplement to your usual choice of guide, and with considerably more charisma. Excellent on spas and shopping, feeding and flirting, it also offers several compressed but detailed sightseeing walks, although many of the sights are shops.

With new editions every six months it certainly has its finger on the pulse, poppet. Probably on the one in the groin.


Peter N-H
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Old Aug 29, 06, 3:12 am
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2003
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Originally Posted by Northbrook60065
HI GREG!!!

I can't thank you enough for your advice, I only hope that someday you have a question regarding something that I can help you with (albeit highly unlikely, I'm not that smart)

I gather from your reply that the Regis is OK, but I got the feeling that you thought the Hyatt was even better. I don't have a boss or accounting division to clear my travel budget, but my priority in travel is (1)personal safety, including sanitation such as drinking water; (2)service (hotel services such as cars and drivers to get me safely around town and back to the hotel; (3)comfortable accomodations for sleep and entertaining my business associates, clients and their guests for dinner; (4)Western amenities such as health clubs and equipment for daily workouts; and (5) business services typical of a business center. Since I travel solo on business most Hyatts and Sheratons generally fulfil my requirements, but a great example of indulging myself is the Ritz Millenia Singapore. The rooms there are amazing, along with the Club Floor, and it's really not significantly more expensive than the Conrad or the Sheraton Towers. If you know of a hotel in Beijing that is as convenient as the St. Regis but even better I'd love to hear about it. Likewise if you know of "local" hotels that are equally good and have staffs that can speak to guests like me in English, that sounds like an experience I'd enjoy!

The idea of bringing along a duffle bag for my shopping in Beijing sounds wild, but I'm assuming I can purchase a duffle bag in China. How does one politely request merchants to open the drawer for bidding on their copies? You mentioned that they conceal such merchandise - are you certain that I can't get in trouble for asking about it. Also, so long as I declare my purchases at customs, show my receipts and pay the duty I assume I'm safe from confiscation. (If some pencil pusher in Customs can discern a copy then I'm lucky to have it confiscated in lieu of giving it to my girlfriend or a pal anyway...) Here"s another question: do they accept credit cards or personal checks? If not, how much in local currency do you bring from the hotel with you on shopping outings, and is it safe to carry any money? Cash seems so foreign to me - have you noticed that you can breeze from continent to continent and come home with the same $20 you had in your wallet when you left? Of course I've never gone "shopping" before! (I don't even like shopping in the USA, but this sounds more like a trip to the poker tables at Caesars!); you mentioned a specific brand, I think Gucci or Yves St. Laurent...do I need to know specific brands of ladies' merchandise or do the merchants help? Best question of all, I suppose, do the hotel concierges or even the SPG Platinum concerierge give the advice you were giving me or is this considered a "delicate" matter? What would be awesome would be to hire a guide for two or three days to escort me on my shopping tours - possible?

Thanks again Greg! If our paths ever cross I owe you a steak/lobster dinner! You're a real sport to have offered me so much vital advice and I truly appreciate it!

Best regards,

Barry
Barry, again no real reason to use PM since all interested FTers can probably benefit from this info, so here goes:

I think the best advice was given by somebody else above. Figure out where in the city you will be working, and pick a hotel based on that. You do NOT want to be stuck in a taxi an hour each morning and an hour each evening driving back to the hotel just because you picked the wrong hotel. So pick based on work location, and if you want to, change hotels on the weekend or what not. As far as the St. Regis vs. the Grand Hyatt, you can do a search (in the SPG or Hyatt Forums) as I did a comparison between these two hotels maybe 8 months ago. I've stayed at St. Regis once, Great Wall Sheraton once, Grand Hyatt about 5-6 times, Holiday Inn Lido once, and also a few other more "Eastern-style" Chinese hotels in Beijing (that were nice, but they were just more "Eastern"..........sounds like you'd be better off in a Western-style chain hotel. Regarding St. Regis vs. GH, basically it boils down to they are almost equivalent, however I would probably choose the St. Regis if they were the same price solely based on Hyatts new Int'l Upgrade/Lounge policy for Diamond members. I'm Hyatt Diamond too and I always used to get Lounge access at GH Beijing but ever since the policy change it rarely happens according to most people in the Hyatt Fourm. That's why I switched my Beijing stays to Starwood this past trip to Beijing. I enjoyed both the St. Regis (where I was upgraded to the one-bedroom Statesmens Suite) and the Great Wall Sheraton (where I was upgraded to the Club Level.........they had a pretty nice club as well, much nicer than most other Sheratons).
Regarding your priorities:
(1). You will be safe in any $75+ hotel you pick in Beijing. Also, every hotel I've ever stayed at in Beijing gives you a couple bottles of bottled water every night for you to drink.
(2) Not sure about this as I never use cars and drivers in Beijing, I just take cabs as they are safe. But I'm sure all the higher end hotels (GH, St. Regis) would be able to arrange an overpriced car/driver for you if that's what you want. You honestly might consider hiring a private guide/driver for the time you are there, it would probably be cheaper than going thru the hotels, moondog or another FTer might have some recommendations for you.
(3) Both Starwoods and the GH are all comfortable hotels and nice restuarants, but you'd have better luck with a Suite upgrade (obviously) at the St. Regis in case you are interested in having any guests in your room. Or even if you do get Lounge access at the GH, they will charge you $20 (I think) per guest that you try to bring in the Lounge with you.
(4) The GH and StR have two of the finest gyms I have ever seen in hotels. They could both almost be membership gyms. They also both have nice indoor pools, and the GH has THE nicest indoor pool I have ever seen in my life, almost like a Hawaiian resort pool, but indoors.
(5) Both hotels have full-service business centers that have everything you would need.

They are on the same main road, but GH is about 1-2 miles closer to the center of Beijing than StR. The GH is right on Oriental Plaza/Wangfujing which is also a big shopping area (but these are actual stores, rather than "haggle the price down markets"). There are several other haggle type markets where you can get knockoffs besides the Xiushui Silk Market, such as Panjiayuan market, Hongqiao Pearl market, and even a small one across from Holiday Inn Lido near the airport. Yes, you can buy a duffle bag or even a cheapie $10 rollerbag (again, haggle it down from $50, you should be able to get a large one for $10 or so that hopefully should make it the duration of your flight back to the US (but not much more than that). One word of warning, some of the stuff actually is pretty crappy quality, so you have to know what you are comparing against. I would recommend hitting up your nearest high-end mall and go to the nice stores to get a feel for what some of the nice purses look like. Or you can just go with the older style knockoffs, those are normally the best quality. For example the brown Loius Vuitton bags are much better counterfitted than the multicolored ones, because they are older and I assume the Chinese had more practice on those. Hmmm, let's see what else.

- No, you will not get in trouble for asking for the knockoffs that are hidden from view. Just say "Louis Vuitton?" or "Gucci?" and it will magically appear. Or at the watch counter, say "Rolex?" or "Tag Heuer" and those will magically appear from a briefcase under the counter. With watches, look at them carefully. You can tell if they are bad quality if the labels/names are on crooked. You want it too at least look good enough that you can't tell it's fake by looking at it, so take a few moments to look it over before buying.
- I think your biggest problem will be customs. Rumor has is that you can bring back one pirate type of each item (ie, one purse, one watch, one DVD, etc). But I'm not sure if that's an FT rumor or what. There was a thread going around here awhile back about what is okay to bring back. I normally bring back ~75 DVDs, 5 purses, 5 watches, and a few pairs of jeans, ties, shoes, and sunglasses. FWIW, I try to distribute my knockoffs into my 3 separate checked bags and even some small stuff into my carryon so Customs doesn't open one bag and see all of the above in it. They have checked my bags 2 or 3 out of the 4 or 5 times I've returned from China, but the only thing they ever confiscated was an apple (yeah, the fruit) that I forgot I had in my bag. So who knows.......but I surely wouldn't claim the stuff and pay duty on it, that's just asking for it!!!
- Bring cash (US $s or Chinese yuans). They don't take CCs or checks. They'll give you an exchange rate of 8 yuan : $1, which is standard, you hafta be able to do quick math in your head sometimes, or they all have calculators for you to punch in a number on which is what you want to pay. I normally bring ~USD$100 and ~ 800 yuan with me. I blow through the yuans and then use the $s if I need to. They have ATM's at all the major hotels as well which is nice. Carrying cash with you is not dangerous, just don't be flashing too much around (as with anywhere).
- I doubt the hotel concierges would help you with the info I'm giving you. They will tell you where the Silk Market is, but that's about it would be my guess. I actually tried to ask the lady/attendant in the St. Regis Lounge about the Silk Market about it, but it was a bit difficult communicating what with translations and all that. Much easier just to ask advice here on FT, you will get answered almost exactly what you need to know, that's what's great about FT.
- And finally, a couple tips about buying stuff. I've found some of the best quality and easiest to bring back items are ladies wallets (and they work great to give out to co-workers, wives, etc). You can get a nice small ladies Louis Vuitton (I don't know what it is about that brand, but chicks dig that stuff) wallet for about $3-4 there (they cost ~$300-400 in the USA) and the quality is quite good. Also, sunglasses are cheap over there too and women love those too. In fact, I have orders from the wife to buy like 10 pairs when I go back to China in about 2 weeks. Last time I bought a few pairs (Prada, Dolce & Gabana, and Chanel were the brand names) and they were popular. And they are small, easy to carry back, and they only cost like $3 each also. And finally, be wary of the DVDs they sell over there. The first few times I went I bought a ton to fill up my DVD collection, but the last couple times, I've gotton a lot of duds (ie, they will put in scratched CDs and sell them as DVDs, or they don't work, etc). So I've given up buying DVDs over there. The safest DVDs to buy though are for movies that have been out awhile, NOT new releases. It seems they get a lot of their new releases from some guy who brings a camera into the movie premiere or something like that. Bad quality. The older films that are just copied are the best quality. Anyways, I will try to find and post my Excel file of prices from my last trip to China (Dec. 2005) so you'll have an idea of what you SHOULD be paying.
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Old Aug 29, 06, 3:51 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: May 2003
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China Silk Market Prices Dec. 2005 Trip

- "Seven ("for all mankind"?) This brand is popular with the ladies jeans = $7.81
- Women's sunglasses (Prada, D&G, Chanel) = $2.50 each
- Men's Nike running shoes = $15.63
- Normal-big Louis Vuitton (LV)) purse = $10
- Burburrys (and LV) women's shoes = $6.25
- LV makeup kit including leather bag = $6.25
- LV women's wallets = $3.75
- Gucci women's watches $4.17
- LV women's watch = $4.38

- Assorted DVD's from St. hawker (only 9 were the real DVDs) = $0.94 each
- Set of His and Hers Rolex watches from St. hawker = $4.69

The above prices were my best prices after haggling then down as much as possible. I often found that I was better able to negotiate the more bags I had with me. By then I sort of knew the prices and they also knew that I had been shopping and they knew that I knew the prices. So a lot of times I'd walk up to their stall and they'd ask how much I paid for the purse for example and I'd say 80 yuan ($10) and instead of them starting at 800 yuan and wasting both of our time, they'd start at 100 and I'd be able to work them down to about 10% under what I bought at the last place for. Also, you can get better prices if you buy more. For example, they might want $10 for one purse, but if I buy 5, I might be able to haggle them down to $45 for all 5.

I enjoy the haggling and make a nice game out of it, but as evidenced by above posters, not everybody enjoys it. If you don't enjoy haggling, you might want to go to a brick and mortor store and pay the more expensive price, but normally you can't find knockoffs there, rather you get the stuff that Chinese people buy at the prices that Chinese people pay. For example, I was going up to Harbin in the winter and lost my coat, so I bought a huge nice ski jacket (no name or Chinese name brand) for ~$18 that probably would have cost me $100+ in the USA. Anyways, hopes this helps.
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Old Aug 29, 06, 10:52 am
  #14  
 
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Posts: 1,762
Originally Posted by Northbrook60065
What would be awesome would be to hire a guide for two or three days to escort me on my shopping tours - possible?
It's very possible. But arguably a waste of money. And it would take away most of the fun.

On the shopping front just go for it. Even if you don't speak a word of Chinese you can make an expression that suggests that the price quoted is something you find quite horrific, and grab the calculator to show your offer. Ultimately it's not so much a case of getting the best price (difficult seeing as you'll be pretty clueless as to local market values), it's a case of getting a price you're willing to pay and the trader is willing to accept. Remember that the principle of 'buyer beware' very much applies.

My feeling from your message is that you're not that confident about coming to China, and you are particularly worried that it will all be very 'foreign'.

Well, it will be very foreign, but it's a quite civilised place and you should have no real problems.

You can drink the tap water - but bottled stuff (available everywhere) tastes better.

For your daily workout try a brisk walk and stop off at the excercise stations that are dotted around Chinese cities.

When entertaining, explain to those you are entertaining that you're a newbie in town and ask where they suggest you go. You'll end up in far more interesting, far better, and far cheaper places than your Hilton, Hyatt, Sheraton, etc.
phillipas is offline  
Old Aug 29, 06, 11:22 am
  #15  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 153
Originally Posted by phillipas
You can drink the tap water - but bottled stuff (available everywhere) tastes better.
You can drink the tap water, but you will get sick unless you boil it thoroughly first. No one on a brief visit from overseas should even consider brushing his or her teeth with tap water unless spending three days deciding which end of the body to apply to the lavatory first appeals.

In Beijing people at a foreign company responsible for water treatment tell me that after they've finished with it, the water is indeed drinkable. But unfortunately it then has to run through pipes that add lots of contaminents back in. In the overwhelming majority of China it gets no where near potable standards to start with, and certain nothing that a delicate Western stomach can deal with.

You will rarely see Chinese drinking unboiled tap water. This is no time to be macho. This is the time to be sensible. Bottled water (although not itself 100% reliable) is available on every street corner.

Peter N-H
Peter N-H is offline  

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