Tianya Jewelry Market: Beijing’s Best Kept Secret
This brand new complex opened its doors on April 28, literally steps from the famous HongQiao Pearl Market. Tianya offers goods identical to its neighbor, likely purchased from the same suppliers, but because business is slow, prices are significantly lower. Housed in a generic charcoal colored building, you’ll only find Tianya if you want to. A large vertical banner hangs on the structure, but can be easily missed, as the market’s exterior resembles a modern office building, without a hint of what’s inside. Finding Tianya is easy once you know it’s there -- after you exit through the rear doors of the Pearl Market, a 15-meter walk brings you to one of the market’s entrances, marked only by a pair of Chinese characters. Another entrance is located next to a well-marked coffee shop.
The market itself is significantly larger, cleaner, and less crowded than the Pearl Market, and is without a doubt my new favorite place to shop in Beijing. From toys in the lower basement to upscale jewelry stores six floors above, you’ll find everything from electronics to knockoff clothing to pearls on the floors in between. There’s even a great food court, serving traditional Chinese food at rock bottom prices on the lower basement level (chicken fried rice at lunch cost me about a dollar).
While vendors are more reserved at Tianya (you won’t need to worry about them grabbing at you if you try to walk off), one vendor pulled the compassion card, telling me that I was her first customer all day (and this was at 7 p.m., just when the market was about to close). Because I counted fewer than a dozen customers on all seven floors during my hour-long visit, I believed her and ended up buying something I didn’t want (but still at a great price).
The Pearl Market is definitely worth a visit; so bargain very low there -- 30 CNY (about $4.50) for a Polo shirt or large leather wallet is a reasonable price -- then head across the street to Tianya to get it for less. Pearl Market vendors claim that they’ll be doubling prices for the Olympic crowd, but I suspect vendors at Tianya will still be willing to sell at just above cost if necessary. The Tianya market is open from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. every day, and is located about one block from the Tian Tan Dong Men (Line 5) metro stop.