The Silk Market Strikes Back

On June 18, 2012, in Beijing, Shopping, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

This past Saturday my fellow interns and I gathered together our wallets, poker faces, and headed over to the silk market as a much anticipated part of our China travel, .  We returned with lighter wallets, and lots of swag.  Here are some more tips for buying anything at the Silk Market when you travel to Beijing:

Get used to saying No

If you aren’t saying no much more than you say yes, then you’re doing it wrong.  Most vendors’ first price will be in the stratosphere (Someone tried to sell me a t-shirt for 500 RMB, see you there) and they will try to get the highest price out of you that you are willing to pay.  Don’t even consider the early prices, give a firm “NO” and tell them much lower price that you would like to say.  Stay firm with your price, and don’t feel the need to raise your number every time they lower theirs.  One of my friends fell into this trap, she spent too much time thinking about offered prices, and she let her price gradually rise.  Give the vendors an inch and they will take a mile, they’re very good and what they do.  When the vendor gets into range of my price, however, I’ll usually try to meet them halfway.  This relentless stubbornness, coupled with a little giving at the end has worked well for me.

Use a strong team

If possible, travel to the markets with someone who is as willing to negotiate as hard as you are.  My friend and I acted as a team for anything item that either of us wanted to purchase.  Since I was not invested in his purchases, and he was not invested in mine, we were always able to save the other from a bad deal and get a better price.  Don’t underestimate the power of teamwork.  That being said, the vendors will try to appeal to everyone in your group, be it children, parents, significant others, or insignificant others to buy their wares.  Be sure that everyone is on the same page before you begin to bargain.

You’ll get better deals late at night

As it gets later and later vendors just want to unload their stuff.  Bargaining takes less time and vendors are more willing to accept your price than they are earlier in the day.  The two caveats to keep in mind are that some of the stalls close before the rest close at 9PM, and you will be one of the few customers still in the market, so everyone’s attention will be directed at you.

Everyone has the same stuff

With the exception of only a few stalls that sell unique handmade goods, most of the vendors are selling basically the same thing.  Don’t get attached to any stall or owner, if the two of you can’t agree on a price walk away.  You might get a better price and if not who cares, you can try your hand at bargaining for the same thing at the next stall.  Also – If any of the vendors are rude to you (one of them said my friend was ugly and no one would remember him) then don’t buy anything from them, move on to the next one.  There are too many nice people there trying to make a living to worry yourself with the bad eggs.


The Silk Market is a great stop to make on your Beijing Tours.  Good luck, happy bargaining.

Jack Li

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