Shopping in China
Shopping in China can be extremely fun and addictive. Most items in China are very cheap. Good quality clothing, handicrafts, electronic devices, and jewelry could be half priced or even cheaper compared to the prices back to your home country. However, shopping could also be the most disappointing part of your tour. You could be ripped off by paying many times more than the fair prices, or pay big money for a fake item if you do not know the rules of this game. This section is to make you a winning shopper in China.
Basically there are two rules and one suggestion. The rule one is to feel comfortable to bargain. Bargaining is still a common business practice in China by far. You are expected to bargain in many shopping occasion. The most common places to bargain are souvenir stores, small clothing stores, some shopping streets selling tourist items, night markets, and when you are dealing with private venders. Normally there is no bargain in restaurants, large shops, supermarkets, grocery stores, and some boutique stores. If you are traveling with a good agency or on an escorted private tour, the safest way is to ask your guides.
The rule two is to choose the trusted stores or shopping malls. Today, unethical business practices are not common in most shops in China. However, tourists sometimes are lured by cheap prices to buy fake jewelries, antiques, and electronic devices. It normally happens in private run small stores. Trusted traders normally have their license plates hanging on the store entrance or high visible area on the wall. Authorized stores selling special items such as jewelry, antiques, and herbal medicines normally have different licenses issued by different government bureaus.
One suggestion to give is to buy as many stuff as you can in China. Except some luxury international brands, most items you can not find better prices elsewhere in the world. So buy more and save more if you can take them all back home.