China is a shoppers paradise! From name brands to knock-offs, most of the world's consumer goods are produced in China.
First rule of shopping in China: Bargain!
Two of the most useful expressions you can learn in Chinese are Duoshao qian? (How much is it?) and Tai gui le! (That’s too expensive!) No matter what the price offered, expressing that your desired item is too expensive is your first step in making a deal. Generally, you can bargain almost anywhere except department stores, taxis, supermarkets, and Starbucks. Remember, it's all in good fun, so it's always best to bargain with a smile and understand that sometimes it is not negotiable.
WHAT IS CHEAP IN CHINA?
Software and DVDs
DVDs of new movies, tv series, and computer software are easy to find in China. Piracy abounds throughout China and you will soon know where to find it, but legitimate copies are also available at chainstores like Carrefour or Wal-Mart. For music and video CDs/DVDs the price is usually a little over RMB 20—about three times the price of a bootlegged version but still inexpensive by western standards.
DVD players and other comfort items can be bought from smaller retailers or in large stores. A DVD player can be bought for a bargain-as low as RMB 150.
WHAT IS EXPENSIVE IN CHINA?
Anything from food to clothes to iPhones, (legitimately) imported items are significantly more expensive than back home because of the import tax. Shop wisely in the department and brand stores. Even items that were originally produced in China and re-verse imported into China are expensive.
WHAT TO BRING WITH YOU?
As a basic rule of thumb, in China you'll spend your money on the extras (a hand-tailored suit, a box collection of the LOST tv series, a questionably real Prada bag). Your staple items you will still do best to find at home.
Some things to make sure to pack: