Beijing's best gift and souvenir shops

No tourist tat here – find a perfect piece of Beijing

Struggling to find a gift for the person who has everything? Head to these unique shops, where you're sure to find some inspiration, and maybe that perfect piece of Beijing to take away.

Plastered 8 (Nanluoguxiang)

Plastered 8 has been in action for over a decade with its colourful graphic designs highlighting iconic imagery, the best of Chinese pop culture and all the quirks of Beijing life. The brainchild of expat entrepreneur Dominic Johnson-Hill, their three outlets (this, plus a Wudaoying Hutong spot and one in 798) peddle these designs on t-shirts, hoodies, bags and other giftables, and have become a go-to in recent years for the festive season's most inimitable gift – they famously sold cans of 'Beijing air' in 2016, and smog globes a year later. We're excited to see what this year's seasonal gag is.

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61 Nanluoguxiang (Nanluoguxiang, Dongcheng)

Neiliansheng

This ‘Beijing Time Honored Brand’ was founded during the Qing Dynasty in 1853, and is one of China’s oldest handmade shoe companies. Its formal boots were once worn by officials in Imperial China, and more recently the casual canvas slippers (from 300RMB) have been sported by everyone from Mao Zedong to Jackie Chan. Making the handmade shoes involves nearly 100 steps, but the intricate process makes them both durable and light; branches are across the city, but head to the brand’s Dashilar outlet to find master craftsmen still making shoes by hand.

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34 Dashilar Jie (Dashilar, Xicheng)

Sanshizhai Kite Store (三石斋风筝)

Sanshizhai, or Three Stones Kites, packs three generations of kite craft into one beautiful little shop; owner Liu Bin learned the traditional Chinese art from his grandfather over 20 years before opening this spot back in 2003. Amazing birds, butterflies, long-tailed fish and dozens of other lucky Chinese creatures hand-painted onto sturdy bamboo frames fill the tiny space, and they also make custom kites, should you desire something that flies a little higher. They start from 100RMB, though top-of-the-line ones can cost over 10,000RMB.

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25A Di’anmen Xi Dajie (Houhai, Xicheng)

Jingcheng Baixing (京城百姓)

This is the top spot for #JustBeijingThings. While most of the surrounding shops on the Guozijian strip are trending towards high-end boutiques, this snug little shop brings more earthly pleasures – its name itself a reference to Beijing’s everyday folk. Housing all manner of traditional handicrafts, from small enamelware, propaganda-sprawled pottery and wooden toys to archery bows, birdcages and decorative gourds, this is the spot to pick up a truly Beijing-flavoured souvenir or gift.

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44 Guozijian Jie (Yonghegong/Lama Temple, Dongcheng)

Ruoshuitang Oil Paper Umbrella Workshop

Souvenir shops across the city, nay, the country, peddle traditional Chinese umbrellas – the contraptions are, after all, believed to have been invented here – but Ruoshuitang’s are the real, robust deal. Handmade by the store’s crafters, their mechanisms are fully wooden, with durable oil paper canopies, all treated to prevent rain damage – these aren’t purely decorative, and they’ll be a hell of a statement piece on a rainy day. The cheapest, an 84cm canopy with a simple one-colour design comes in at 180RMB, while more sizeable offerings with complex and often one-off painted motifs will set you back a little more.

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144 Gulou Dong Dajie (Gulou, Dongcheng)

Feiyue

Feiyue is actually a Shanghai brand, but their classic plimsolls have been worn by many a Beijing foot. Comfortable, cheap and remarkably durable, they’ve also got iconic branding – no shoe says ‘Oh, yeah, I’ve been to China’ quite like a pair of these. White with red and blue chevrons (59RMB) are the standard, though the slightly less clunky iteration at 109RMB might be the prime choice. Not all of their styles are great, but Feiyue’s trainers are all good value, with none straying far beyond 200RMB. Further outlets are also located along the adjacent Nanluoguxiang.

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106 Gulou Dong Dajie (Gulou, Dongcheng)

Beijing Postcards

In the early 2000s, two self-confessed Danish nerds started collecting photographs of China from the 1890s to the 1940s, and began to exhibit and sell them as prints and other souvenirs, featuring scenes of bygone Dashilar, Tiananmen and elsewhere, plus old family portraits and quotidian street scenes, such as a man proudly standing by his bicycle and old men smoking their pipes. Besides A5 postcards that lend the name, they also sell larger prints, calendars and antique map prints (with frames available ) as well as jigsaw puzzles of some of the most fantastic images. Many are available via their WeChat store (ID: BeijingPostcards).

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97 Yangmeizhu Xiejie (Dashilar, Xicheng)

Wuyutai

Wuyutai has a distinguished history of selling fine teas from across the nation, and has over 300 stores in Beijing alone. Besides its greens, jasmines and pu'ers, popular with old Beijingers, there are a host of rarer leaves from across the country, all available in gift sets. They also make their way into mooncakes and sweets, and, in summer, look out for the soft-serve tea ice creams, available at this outlet and most others – it won't last long enough to make a gift, but you do need to treat yourself too, after all.

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44 Dongsi Bei Dajie (Beixinqiao, Dongcheng)

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