The surge in mall development during the past fifteen years or so has transformed the retail environment and shopping culture of modern China, and seems to be consuming Beijing itself. The absence of authentic Chinese street bustle, exclusivity, and raw artificial consumerism are all perceived by Chinese to be attractive characteristics of malls. For many expat families, malls offer a comfortable familiarity as well as a convenient and relaxed atmosphere for shopping, or for simply enjoying an afternoon out of the August sun or spring sandstorms. Most malls in Beijing are relatively upscale and offer the most expensive brands and some of the most upscale restaurants. In fact, many wealthy Chinese people don’t go to malls to shop, but to hang out, see and be seen, and dine and entertain themselves.
China World Shopping Mall
Next to the China World Hotel, China World is devoid of character, but extremely popular nonetheless. It features top-name brands, including Marc Jacobs and Prada, as well as boutiques, jewelry stores and great selection of local fast food restaurants. Many patrons come just for Le Cool Ice Rink in the basement.
1 Jianguomen Waidajie
(010) 6505 2288
Sanlitun Village & Village North
One of the most innovative buildings in Beijing, Village is a hotspot for foreigners and Chinese shoppers alike. It’s home to Beijing’s Apple store, as well as the world’s largest branch of Adidas and midrange brands such as Benetton, Levi’s and Quicksilver. The restaurants in Village draw just as many people as the shops.
Courtyard 19, Sanlitun Lu
(010) 6417 6110 (The Village South)/(010) 6417 7110 (The Village North)
The Malls at Oriental Plaza
A bustling mega-mall conveniently located at the foot of Wangfujing Dajie that’s so big it has its own street system. There are all kinds of brand-name shops, from high-end Paul Smith and Valentino to midrange Columbia and Nike. Oriental Plaza also houses a cinema and lots of restaurants.
1 Dongchang’an Jie
(010) 8518 6363
Despite the surge in malls in the CBD area, The Place still stands out thanks to its huge LED sky screen, which warrants a visit in itself. This is one of the best midmarket clothing malls in Beijing, and the dining options are excellent. In the basement there’s Charterhouse, a great English-language bookstore.
9 Guanghua Lu
(010) 6587 1188
Pacific Century Place
The Pacific Department Store is filled with premium brands and is unencumbered by shoppers relative to neighboring malls. The first floor includes the Sony Store and Nine West. The upper floors have clothing, DVDs, electronics, sporting goods, and toys.
2A Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang
(010) 6539 3888
Xidan Bajie, which runs north from the intersection with Xi’changan Jie, is lined with larger malls. It’s very popular with Beijingers looking for bargains, as the prices are lower than in Sanlitun. These malls are absolutely crammed with shoppers on weekends. The malls are mostly adjacent, and it’s easy to venture from one mall to the next. In brief, Grand Pacific has good prices on midrange Western brands; 77th Street is a creative mall that’s great for gifts; Joy City is huge and sells just about everything; Xidan Books Building has a great selection English language books; and Xidan Shopping Center is popular for the “Korea City” on the fourth floor.
131 Xidan Beidajie, Xidan, Xicheng
Solana Shopping Park
This is a commercial complex that fashions itself as a recreation of a European village. It’s a convenient mall for Chaoyang Park residents. Solana houses more than 1,000 international brands, with dozens of retail shops, restaurants as well as a lively bar and clubs.