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Shopping

ExpatsInChina has got the shopping buzz on where to go out in the streets of Beijing! So all you shop-aholics out there, put on your comfortable walking shoes, and get ready!

Supermarkets, department stores, grocer's shops, markets are common places for shopping.

If you want to wear occidental clothes, you may have to pay more than in your country of origin. European and American brands are quite famous.

In China, you will find few big hypermarkets as the hearth of cities don't have much place and small supermarkets are open 24 hours. Many small shops have public telephone for your personal use and sell cigarettes, drinks, fruits and vegetables.

Supermarkets and department stores, which are often built on several floors, open from 10 AM to 10 PM, everyday.

Bargaining is essential, however, it is still important to remain polite. There are many modern, multi-level shopping malls, pedestrian streets lined with up-market boutiques (including most of the famous international names) where the prices may not be that different from home. The local street markets and stalls have all kinds of goods, and this is where your bargaining skills come to the fore. Large department stores mark their prices clearly, and the staff do not have the authority to bargain.

Here you can shop at these places:

Friendship Store

A friendship store is a state-run store in China, which initially sold exclusively to tourists, foreigners, diplomats and government officials. At that time, the stores sold western, imported items, such as peanut butter, as well as Chinese arts and crafts. Today, friendship stores have no restrictions on customers.

The Beijing store has Starbucks, Delifrance, Baskin-Robbins, Pizza Hut and a book store, which offers a wide variety of magazine and newspapers in english. The Chinese government plans to replace this friendship store with a modern shopping center, composed of offices and a Conrad hotel. The new complex should be finnished before the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

There are also two friendship stores in Shanghai, on in the city and one in Hongqiao.

Department Stores

Most department stores are run by the state with some being run as individual or joint ventures. The merchandise available in Chinese department stores is similar to what you might expect to find in department stores anywhere in the world.

Markets and bazars

These are the best places - indoors or outdoors - to find very cheap products. The quality is often good, however, try to have a meticulious eye as some products will be fakes. The prices are very flexible and present a good opportunity to practice your bargaining skills. It's important to keep in mind that foreigners will often be charged double or even triple the price a seller is willing to go down to.