Shopping in Beijing

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Beijing Shopping

Large markets and malls in Beijing are generally open from 9 am to 9 pm, though some shops close as early as 7 pm or as late as 10 pm. Weekdays are always less crowded. During rush hour, avoid taking taxis. If a shop looks closed (the lights are out or the owner is resting), don't give up. Many merchants conserve electricity or take catnaps if the store is free of customers. Just knock or offer the greeting "ni hao." More likely than not, the lights will flip on and you'll be invited to come in and take a look. Shops in malls have regular hours and will only be closed on a few occasions throughout the year, like Chinese New Year.

Major credit cards are accepted in pricier venues. Cash is the driving force here, and ATMs abound. Before accepting those Mao-faced Y100 notes, most vendors will hold them up to the light, tug at the corners, and rub their fingers along the surface. Counterfeiting is becoming increasingly more difficult, but no one, including you, wants to be cheated. In some department stores, you must settle your bill at a central payment counter.

Shops frequented by foreigners sometimes have an employee with some fluency in English. But money remains the international language. In many cases, whether or not there is a common languageā€”the shop assistant will still whip out a calculator, look at you to see what they think you'll cough up, then type in a starting price. You're expected to counter with your offer. Punch in your dream price. The clerk will come down Y10 or Y20 and so on and so on. Remember that the terms yuan, kuai, and RMB are often used interchangeably.

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