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Shopaholics will love Beijing. The popular Silk Alley (Xiushui Shichang) is a paradise for silk clothing, stuffed toys, shoes and imitation goods among other things. Vendors flog silk in all shapes and sizes - boxer shorts, ties, scarves, lingerie, dresses and slinky nightgowns, with prices comparatively cheaper than those in Hong Kong. A few blocks away from the Silk Alley is Yabaolu Market or commonly known as the Russian Market. This place is a huge clothing market that specializes in cotton and wool garments as well as goose-down jackets.

Hongqiao Farmers' Market is famous for its antiques. You are not expected to pay exorbitant prices as most goods are under a century old. The best collection of antique clocks and Mao paraphernalia are found here and a good souvenir would be the 'youth of China' alarm clock, which features a rosy-cheeked female Red Guard waving the Little Red Book on its face.

For traditional Chinese paintings, calligraphy supplies and rare books, scavenge around Liulichang. This is a street lined with antique and craft stores, filled with ambience and mystery. Pay a visit to the Bird Market at Xizhimen overpass where you will find an extensive array of feathered friends, elegant handmade cages, ceramic feeders, and other avian accessories.

Three of the liveliest shopping streets in the city center are Wangfujing, Xidan and Dongdan. Inexpensive local goods such as leather and furs are obtainable at bargain prices; more boutiques, watch stores and ice-cream shops are currently replacing the old standbys.

You can also shop at new-venture shopping centers, which are capitalism's answers for one-stop shoppers. China's nouveau riche, tourists and window shoppers are drawn to these glossy, brightly-lit shopping venues. Examples of these centers are the Lufthansa Centre and Yaohan.

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