What to buy in China: 15 things to get when you visit China

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Planning a trip to China soon? Whether you're visiting for business or pleasure, China has become a shopping haven in recent years. While they used to be famous for their cheap knockoffs of branded goods, the increased standard of living has steered the country into producing top quality products that you've got to bring back home.

With so many things that you can buy, it can be a real hassle finding the best souvenirs to bring home. Fret not for we have compiled 15 things you can buy from China and the best provinces where you can find them!

CHEONGSAM

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The epitome of feminine beauty back in the 1920s, the Cheongsam was a woman's favourite and most common piece of clothing during the Shanghai Bund era. Cheongsam, in the 21st century, has taken on a modern twist to incorporate unique cuts and blends of fabric while keeping the tradition of hand-sewn designs. Peonies, phoenixes, and other prosperous motifs are commonly sewn on to represent femininity and blessings.

Where to buy: Along The Bund, Shanghai

Budget: from 700RMB 

DOMESTIC MAKEUP BRANDS

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While K-beauty has taken over the world by storm, domestic beauty brands in China have been gaining much attention as well. Perfect Diary, one of the top local beauty brands in China makes quality products that are priced affordably. Make sure to grab their famous Dreamy Matte Lip Glaze for only S$10.70!

Where to buy: Drugstores

Budget: 55RMB

SEAWATER AND FRESHWATER PEARLS

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China is the largest manufacturer and exporter of pearls, so it only makes sense that you buy some of these back. Do buy them from certified stores to ensure that the pearls are authentic. Also, while freshwater pearls are cheaper, their quality is lowered as compared to seawater pearls. So make the choice that you best prefer!

Where to buy: Pearl's Circles - First Asia Jewelry Plaza, 3rd Floor, 288 Fuyou Lu, Shanghai

Budget: from 1000RMB

CHINESE SNACKS

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If there's one thing China is known for, it has got to be their unique yet tasty snacks. From spicy sticks to stinky tofu(as a snack, what?!) and Laoganma(even John Cena approves of this), there is no lack of peculiar snacks in China to try out. Most of them are available at supermarkets which makes it super convenient to snag some back!

Where to buy: Local marts

Budget: from 10RMB

INSTANT NOODLES

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Every kitchen has got to have a pack or two of this. Instant noodles are my personal favourite supper option and I can never choose a favourite brand or flavour. Bashulanren, the famous self-heating Mala hotpot is truly for the lazy eaters, just like the name suggests. All you need is room temperature water and you will have a bowl of piping hot Mala, which rivals even the best Mala restaurants out there!

Where to buy: Local marts

Budget: 15RMB

TEA

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Spanning decades of history, locally produced tea remains one of the most popular souvenirs to gift your family and friends when you return from a trip to China. Perhaps one of the best teas to get would be the Xihu Longjing, which happens to be Qianlong Emperor's favourite. Xihu is the most famous lake in China, and it would only make sense if you purchase the tea from its place of birth.

Where to buy: Hangzhou, Capital of Zhejiang Province

Budget: from 250RMB

TEA SETS

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Now that you have bought quality tea leaves, a good tea set will surely complete the experience. The quality of the tea set makes a difference to the tea you make, so do not compromise on this. Be sure to enquire with the tea connoisseur on the material of the tea set, say ceramic or porcelain, before you make your purchase!

Where to buy: Hangzhou, Capital of Zhejiang Province

Budget: from 200RMB

HAND CARVED STAMPS

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It is known that Qianlong Emperor loved his stamps and would stamp almost every piece of work. So while you're in China, why not make one with your own name? Carved in various shapes and motifs, it is a meaningful gift and would be a pleasant surprise to the elderly to see their names carved out in traditional Chinese.

Where to buy: Yun Shui Yao Ancient Town in Nanjing County

Budget: from 20RMB

CALLIGRAPHY ARTWORKS

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Handcrafting skills are increasingly rare to master and find in China. So if you find calligraphy pieces that you love, make sure to bring it home! If you're visiting Liulichang Street, you might find some skilled locals who are able to do a cut out of your caricature within mere seconds.

Where to buy: Liulichang Street

Budget: from 25RMB

ANTIQUES

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With one of the richest civilisation history, antiques from ancient China are extremely valuable. Art streets and markets usually hold unique pieces so check them out if you are interested in crafted antiques!

Where to buy: Liulichang Antique Market

Budget: from 25RMB

SILK

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A highly demanded fabric that was first produced in ancient China, silk has been widely traded across history. The famous Silk Road was where the Eurasians came to trade silk back in the olden days. Silk pyjamas, scarves and other apparels are super comfy and are great as gifts.

Where to buy: Suzhou City

Budget: from 80RMB

TERRACOTTA WARRIORS REPLICA

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Terracotta Warriors are one of the most iconic historical wonders of Imperial China. From miniature replicas to life-sized replicas, you will find all shapes and appearances of Terracotta Warriors here. These warriors are sure to be the best souvenirs that you can get from Xi'an. While you're in Xi'an, make sure to visit the Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum to bask in the grandeur of the Terracotta Warriors.

Where to buy: Xi'an Province

Budget: from 30RMB

SPICES

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Famous for their spicy Mala dishes, many of these spices are available in ready-made packets in local marts. If you want to taste them before buying, then head to the local street markets for more authentic and hot spice packets!

Where to buy: Local marts or street markets

Budget: from 10RMB

SOUVENIRS FROM THE FORBIDDEN CITY

PHOTO: Taobao

The most iconic architecture of China, apart from The Great Wall, has got to be the Forbidden City. The set of many popular Chinese dramas, such as Story of Yanxi Palace, the Palace sees over 15 million visitors a year. Head over to The Palace Museum Souvenir Store to score your share of ancient China souvenirs.

Where to buy: The Palace Museum Souvenir Store

Budget: from 15RMB

CHINESE HAND PAINTED KITES

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Kite-flying used to be a norm in Singapore before smartphones took over. Hand-painted kites are incredibly intricate and delicate so handle them with care! Artisans paint them with extra care and colourful patterns so pick your favourite and bring a piece of China back to Singapore!

Where to buy: Beijing

Budget: from 30RMB

Ready for your next trip to China? Remember to keep this list with you for a quick check on your souvenir buys!

ALSO READ: Eco-friendly wedding souvenirs favoured by bridal couples in Indonesia

This article was first published in Shopback. 

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