The Best Antique and Flea Markets in Beijing

Sculptures are on display at the Panjiayuan Antique Market in Beijing
Sculptures are on display at the Panjiayuan Antique Market in Beijing | © Lucas Vallecillos / Alamy Stock Photo

If you’re in the market – pun intended – for unique pieces that come with a story, Beijing is an absolute treasure trove.

Panjiayuan Antique Market

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Panjiayuan antique market, Beijing
People explore the stalls at the Panjiayuan Antique Market in Beijing | © Paul Rushton / Alamy Stock Photo

This one’s an oldie, but a goodie; Panjiayuan Flea Market is one of those “can’t miss” places. It’s the biggest and most famous of all the antique markets in China, spanning 48,500 square metres (522,000 square feet) with more than 3,000 antique dealers. You can find pretty much anything here, including elegant calligraphy brushes, painted porcelain vases, jade jewellery, carved stone figurines and intricately designed wooden furniture. At some stalls, you’ll even be able to find antique opium scales and old-school propaganda posters and books. You can spend an entire day perusing the endless rows of crafts, collectables and other Chinese treasures.

Gulou Dong Dajie

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2014.09.04.150918 Gulou Dong Dajie Beijing
Gulou Dong Dajie is home to Beijing's best vintage shopping | © NMUIM / Alamy Stock Photo

You might not be able to find antique furniture and artefacts on Gulou Dong Dajie, but you will discover some of Beijing’s best vintage shops here. Whether you’re in the market for vintage dresses, magazines, jewellery, shoes, toys, glasses, games or posters, you’ll be able to find it, and more, in this old hutong district. And rest assured that the stuff you’ll see is the good kind of vintage – not just raggedy old items that are rebranded as vintage to justify the price tag. Most of these shops source their inventory from the US, Europe, Taiwan and Japan. Though shops on this street tend to open and close faster than you can say “Gulou Dong Dajie”, some popular shops manage to stick around, like Mega Vintage and Vintage Caravan.

Baoguosi Culture Market

Bazaar, Market, Shop
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Unlike other antique markets in Beijing, Baoguoshi Culture Market lies within a Buddhist temple. Constructed during the Liao Dynasty (917-1125), it became a thriving bazaar selling flowers and books during the early Qing Dynasty. Though it has retained its temple aesthetics, today it functions solely as an antique market, with three halls of vendors selling ancient artefacts, souvenirs and decorative items. If you happen to be on the lookout for ancient paper money and old books, this is the place to go. The best time to visit the market is during the weekends when more vendors are selling their unique pieces of Chinese history.

Liulichang Antiques Street

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Liulichang street, Chinese old traditional alley, famous antique shopping street in Beijing
Liulichang Street is a famous antique-shopping street in Beijing | © Shutterstock

This 800-metre (2,624-foot) street is the best place in the world to find ancient books, calligraphy brushes, paintings, rubbings and ink stones. However, Liulichang wasn’t always about antiques; it actually had its start supplying glazed tiles for palace decorations in the early Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). But after the downfall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911, many of the antiques from the palaces ended up at Liulichang where they were sold. From there, Liulichang market continued to grow, and it eventually became one of the most famous distribution centres of Chinese folk artwork, handicrafts and antiques.

Silk Street Market

Building, Shopping Mall
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Silk Street shopping mall in Beijing, China, Asia
Silk Street Market in Beijing, China, offers visitors a wide range of items | © Sergio Azenha / Alamy Stock Photo
Set up in a mall, Silk Street Market is one of the most popular shopping destinations in Beijing. With more than 1,000 retailers across seven levels, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something not sold at this market. As the name suggests, the market is best known for its silk. You can find authentic Chinese silk clothes and accessories on the third floor or get something custom-made at one of the many tailors here. But despite being known for its silk offerings, the market also has a vast range of other traditional Chinese items for sale just one staircase up to the fourth floor, including antique handicrafts, jade, paintings, calligraphy and porcelain. It’s like the stairway to antique heaven.

Gaobeidian Classical Furniture Old Street

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This “street” is full of showrooms where you can find almost any kind of Chinese artefact or antique, as well as unique classical Chinese furniture. Yes, you can find some unique pieces at the Gaobeidian Classical Furniture Street, but just note that they are most likely replicas of Ming and Qing Dynasty furniture!

This article is an updated version of a story created by Julianna Tetreault.

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