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Hangzhou – a shopper’s paradise in China

Just a short 45 minute bullet train from Shanghai is the popular capital city of culture and leisure, Hangzhou. It has also been the national centre of the production of silk for centuries and today hundreds of thousands of ardent shoppers descend every year to browse through the diversity of quality products and textiles available. Many head straight for the Silk City of Xinhua and Jiankang Roads near Wulin Square, a pedestrian street comprising over 800 picturesque shops and booths selling all 14 different categories of silk fabrics, garments and handicrafts at wholesale prices. Originally the site of the national silk market in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the street stretches for over 1,150 metres. Hangzhou, China One product in particular, the West Lake Silk Parasol, combines the city’s signature feature of the West Lake with quality bamboo and dazzling patterns in superior silk. Hangzhou brocade is much coveted for its bright colours and elaborate craftsmanship and those in the know seek out the best pieces in the Hangzhou Du Jin Sheng Brocade Silk Factory. Ladies looking for a variety of fashions and homewares head to Wulin Road, also known as ‘Ladies Shopping Street’ where it intersects with Feng Qi Road and where a concentration of shops catering to all tastes and budgets continues to expand. Weary shoppers can now enjoy here a massage and manicure or refreshment before tackling more bargain hunting. Wulin Square is home to Hangzhou Dasha, one of the city’s biggest shopping centres where international luxury brands can be found. Other international shopping centres are the Intime Department Store and Guoda Store, both in Yunan Road which is 3,000 metres long and one of the busiest shopping districts in the city. Veteran shoppers looking to combine their pursuit of the latest international designer fashions and luxury brands with the spectacular scenery of the city’s famed West Lake make a bee-line for the Lakeside International Fashion Street of Hubin Road. However the most famous shopping street in the city without a doubt – and a must on any visitor’s itinerary – is Qinghe Fang Street, an ancient pedestrian thoroughfare where the myriad of shops and stalls are characterized by the architectural style of the historic Southern Song Dynasty (circa 900AD). Many of the shops are hundreds of years old and have been operating the same business for centuries. At its heart is the Huqingyu Chinese Medicine Museum, and other shops selling trusted TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) products and treatments are located nearby. Historically the area is one of the busiest in Hangzhou – a focus for tea houses, pawn shops, money lenders and rice vendors – as it is located close to the former site of the Imperial Palace (during the Southern Song Dynasty when Hangzhou was the capital of China). There are also hundreds of fascinating markets for those constantly on the look-out for a bargain, and the eagle-eyed usually make for Sijiqing Clothes Market which is the city’s largest and one of the country’s most influential where clothes are sold to wholesalers and individuals at knock-down prices. Other popular markets include the Hangzhou Collectibles Market, a building of three floors containing numerous vendors selling a variety of antique and artefacts including jade, porcelain, calligraphy paintings, stamps and coins – some genuine and others less so. Visitors looking for interesting bric-a-brac and reproduction items should spend time in the large Hangzhou Civil Collectibles Market in Zhongshan Bei Road where everything from traditional doors and windows, jade and mahjong sets can be bought after strenuous haggling. Stamp collectors in particular will be interested to check out the Erbaida Collectibles Market held every Sunday in Hushu South Road in the Gongshu District. Tech savvy fans of the latest gadgets and technology will be interested to explore the Electronics Markets of Xixi Digital Market, Gaoxin Computer Market and EGO Digital Plaza, all on Wensan Road. On sale here is a comprehensive range of the latest phones, computers, cameras and computer games and software and much more. And just for fun, a stopover in Hangzhou is never complete for the dedicated shopper without a visit to the famed outdoor Night Market where are diversity of fashion accessories, gifts and souvenirs can be won after hard bargaining – all part of the enjoyment of complete retail experience in captivating city.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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