Retail Heaven: A Guide to Guangzhou’s Bargain Markets
With markets that date back a few decades, the city that sells everything is certainly no stranger to clothing. If you’re looking for clothes in Guangzhou, you’ll find plenty in lovely boutiques at Tee Mall, but the price tags might spark some laughter as the mark-up is usually unbelievable. So where can you find clothes that will fit into an average budget and are of decent quality that will last?
Finding cheap clothing in Guangzhou is actually not a difficult challenge. There are several large, famous markets, as well as small shops and even temporary outdoor markets in every neighborhood in and around the Guangzhou metropolis.
The challenge, which seems to be less of an issue in recent times, is avoid the absolute junk during your diligent search. Be aware that much of what you will find is imitation, even in name brand, outlet stores. Some people purposely seek out artificial goods while others try to avoid them like the plague. The good news is that many imitations, as well as many average-price Chinese brands, are much better in quality than they used to be, thus they will generally last longer than in the past. It isn’t uncommon to find shoes or clothing and after a couple of uses, they tear up or you realise the quality is poor. In some instances, the shopkeepers will be fair enough to give your money back or allow you to exchange for something different. Below are the ins and outs of five major clothing markets in Guangzhou. You can shop at any of these places on a budget and if you’re looking to spend a bit more money, you will also find many respected brands being sold. One thing you should remember: Changing rooms are rare.
Guangzhou Shisanhang Clothing Market Area十三行服装批发城
A visit to Shisanhang Market takes you down to the historical Xiguan District and not far from popular Shangxiajiu walking street.
The roads that make up the Shisanhang clothing area have been lined with markets since the 17th century and used to be a central import and export center. Because this was a major trading and communications hub between East and West, the neighborhood, like much of old Xiguan, still contains some of the blended architecture that developed from the meeting of cultures.
The ancient market mainly lies along four streets: Shisanhang Lu, Guyi Lu, Doulanshang Lu and Hepingdong Lu, attracting plenty of international customers. On Shisanhang Lu, the two main buildings are the New China Building and the Hongpiantian Building. Both sell retail and wholesale clothes and sports apparel for men, women and children. Prices here range between 20-200 RMB. You can also find many small shops along Shisanhang Lu which on average will be less expensive. The wholesale stores will open quite early, often around 05:00 and will close in the late afternoon.
Guyi Lu is a narrow street between Hepingdong and Shisanhang. People have been doing business here for at least 300 years, selling everything from used clothes to fine silks. Modern retail and wholesale activity started in the 1980s. Prices on Guyi Lu are some of the most reasonable, with goods going for between 5-50 RMB. Doulanshang and Hepingdong roads comprise the rest of the clothing market. While prices are affordable here at 10-150 RMB, its reputation for quality is not so good.
Add: Shisanhang Lu, Liwan District, Guangzhou
Getting there: Bus 31, 38, 61, 102, 103, 106, 128, 134, 186, 202, 217, 239, 251, 288, 521, 541, 556 or 823 to Renmin Nanlu stop
New China Building (Xinzhongguo Dasha) 新中国大厦
The New China Building on Shisanhang Lu is so big that it gets its own section in the full ten stories. Remember when you come here, most of the wholesale markets open much earlier than the retail shops. The first three floors are for the young and/or trendy people. While it is mostly name brand replicas, the quality isn’t necessarily bad. You’ll spend 18-50 RMB per item and walk out looking fashionable and trendy. Winter time is near so if you are looking for woolen appareal or coats, floors 4-6 are the place to go. Styles here are ordinary and the quality average. Prices range between 30-80 RMB. Floors 7-10 are a Korean’s shopping mecca. Most of the stores are run by Koreans and they target women in their 20’s selling coats and women’s clothing. The prices here average at 100-200 RMB.
Add: 1 Shisanhang Lu, Liwan District, Guangzhou
Opening hours: Daily, 06:00-13:00 for markets; 09:30-1:00 for retail stores
Getting there: Bus 31, 38, 61, 102, 106, 103, 128, 134, 186, 202, 217, 239, 251, 288, 521, 541, 556 or 823 to Renminnan Road bus stop. Walk 50 meters to venue.
Guangzhou White Horse Clothing Market 广州白马服装批发市
White Horse is the grandest and one the most popular of all clothing markets in Guangzhou. Set alongside the Guangzhou Railway Station, it fills up six stories of a ten-story office building. White Horse Market may not be in the most pleasant of neighborhoods or in an easy walking area, but it makes up for it with volume and variety.
The basement floor is mainly women’s pants, shirts, skirts and accessories. Prices are some of the lowest, between 5-100 RMB. It’s wise to be cautious about quality here, and many of the products are imitations. Floors one, four and five also sell women’s clothing but they distinguish themselves by selling many Korean fashions. You can expect better quality here as well as more trendy items. The first floor is the cheapest among them, with the fourth and fifth floor ranging up to 500 RMB. Floors two and three carry women’s clothing and apparel, with a focus on adults and the elderly. Most brands you’ll find are respected local brands. The sixth floor is dedicated to men. You can find men’s clothing including an abundance of jeans in local and international brands. Expect to pay between 50-300 RMB.
Add: 16 Zhannan Lu, Yuexiu District, Guangzhou
Getting there: By subway; Line 2 to Guangzhou Railway Station, D4 exit 250 meters (820 feet) through tunnel to F exit.
Gaodijie Wholesale Market高第街批发市场
Just next to Beijing Lu, Gaodijie Market was one of the largest markets in Guangzhou only 20 or 30 years ago. Bringing in nearly 200,000 people every day, it is said to have helped to build Beijing Lu into the popular area that it is today. While Gaodijie is now in a bit of a slump, having been out-done by more modern markets, like White Horse, it still attracts crowds almost every day. The shopping road is over half a kilometer long and in good Chinese style, it is lined with over 300 shops. Most of the products they sell are cotton and the quality is usually fair. You’ll find socks for 2-10 RMB, underwear for 5-40 RMB, leisure clothes for 15-50 RMB and swimwear for 25-60 RMB. Some of its goods are only sold in bulk so be sure to ask.
Add: Gaodijie Lu, Yuexiu District, Guangzhou
Opening hours: Daily, 10:00-12:00
Getting there: By bus; lines 1, 7, 14, 64, 125, 182, 191, 215, 219, 222, 263, 543 or 864 to Beijing Lu Kou bus stop. Walk 100 meters (328 feet) to venue on right.
First Tunnel Clothing Wholesale Center广州第一大道服装批发中心
First Tunnel Clothing Wholesale Center is one of Guangzhou’s largest underground markets. The shopping area is 2 full kilometers (1.24 miles) long with 24 entrances and exits and 18 elevators. There are two main floors and 1,200 shops in total. The second floor is mostly known for selling very cheap imitations of famous brands. This megalithic market is divided into seven sections: fashionable women’s wear, export leisure wear, men’s clothing, Korean styles, local leisure wear, children’s clothes and socks and underwear. There are also several restaurants and a bank in case hunger strikes while you’re shopping or wandering. The average prices are 25-100 RMB, though newer items range up to 250 RMB. Obviously the higher-priced items are generally better quality, but the lower-priced ones are not necessarily bad.
Add: Liuhua Jie, Yuexiu District, Guangzhou
Getting there: By subway: Metro Line 2 to Guangzhou Railway Station, H exit. Walk 200 meters (656 feet) to venue.