Fuzhou is an interesting place to shop for really special souvenirs. This port city is the main industrial art center with over 2,000 years of rich history producing the most beautiful handicrafts. The main shopping in the city is Wusi Lu where you can get well-known fashion brands and a good variety of inexpensive souvenirs. Wuyi Lu is the most exclusive shopping area and Bayigi Lu is the oldest and most prosperous shopping street.
There are a few quirky places to visit in your quest to find something really different. Taijang Lu is the city’s large and colorful second-hand market. Zhongbing Jie is the city’s indoor shopping street and Zhongzhou Dao is a whole island dedicated to shopping and is retail therapy at its best!
1. Admire the beautiful lacquerware
There is a rich variety of pieces made in the city’s stunning Bodiless lacquerware. If you can find a workshop where you can watch a craftsman at work this is a unique experience. The first stage is to create a mold from wood (sadly plastic is becomingly increasingly used). Layers of silk are then used to cover the mold using the lacquer as a glue which is built up in countless layers with a drying time of 5-7 days between each layer. After the piece has dried thoroughly, the mold is removed and the amazingly light piece is beautifully hand painted in strong colors – a real heirloom purchase!
2. Buy a delightful cork picture
This is another of the main crafts in the city and the pieces of cork art produced are amazing. This art has a 100-year history and the pictures have the main themes of birds, flowers, and scenery and the attention to detail is impressive. The intricate studies are sandwiched between two pieces of glass that are then fitted in a frame. The room screens are particularly stunning but will not fit in your suitcase but could be shipped to your home address.
Two good hunting grounds for cork pictures and other handicrafts are the city’s Cultural Relic Headquarters and the Fuzhou Oriental Painting and Calligraphy Association.
3. Enjoy some Fuzhou tea
There is a wonderful selection of tea to buy in the city’s markets and the most popular flavors include olive, Fu (Fuzhou), orange, Furong (Lotus flower), plum and jasmine. All are light and refreshing to drink and because they are sold loose by weight, you can buy a selection to enjoy when you get home.
4. Or choose some Black Dragon tea
Walong tea (walong chi) – which is also known locally as ‘Black Dragon Tea’ combines the qualities of both black and green tea and is supposed to be a real ‘super drink’ as it is rich in anti-oxidants and regularly drinking a cup of walong is said to help prevent cancer and coronaries. It is certainly good for those suffering from diabetes and can be beneficial as part of a calorie-controlled diet. If you go into a specialist tea shop they will make you a cup using mineral water heated to a near boiling point. There are various qualities to choose from, with Tieguanyin being the top quality.
5. Choose a stunning piece of carved Shoushan stone
This is another of the city’s top handicrafts because the beautiful Shoushan stone is quarried from the hilly area called Shoushan which is just north of the city. The stone is incredibly beautiful as it is smooth and variegated with veining. The stone carvers study each piece of stone carefully before they begin work so that they can carve the piece to accentuate its different coloring and color tones to maximum effect.
6. Pick a pretty lantern
Paper lanterns are a really traditional souvenir from China and they really do evoke memories of the time spent there. Nanhou Street stretches from Yang Bridge to Jipi Road. This street is also called Sanfang Qi Xiang meaning ‘three lanes & seven alleys’ and is packed with all types of shops, but most importantly, also has the largest lantern market in the city. The lanterns are made predominantly in red and every size imaginable and the best news is that they weigh almost nothing and fold flat – a perfect souvenir!
7. Pamper yourself with some gorgeous silk
Nanhou Street (Sanfang Qi Xiang) is an amazing place, dating from the Ming and Qing dynasties with beautiful old wooden houses – which are now shops. Several of these buildings sell lovely silk products that are sensual and colorful – and the perfect souvenir! There are nightshirts and pyjamas in vibrant red and turquoise, lemon, pink and blue amongst other shades as well as dressing gowns and beautiful sheets and pillowcases.
8. Invest in some new luggage
As well as being a good idea, this might be essential if you have been busy shopping! Student Street is also known as the Shilin night market and is a fun place to visit. The market has a number of good luggage stalls and the prices are good. Along with shopping for a new suitcase, the market has some really excellent food stalls to enjoy too.
9. Enjoy choosing beautiful jewelry
Fuzhou is well known for its gold and silver jewelry and there are a number of specialist shops selling really beautiful pieces either in traditional Chinese or European designs. Prices are really good and if you cannot find what you are after, many of the craftsmen can create a necklace, bracelet, ring or earring for you in just a couple of days – how special is that!
10. Get some new electronics
There is a market totally devoted to electronics in Wuyi South Road opposite the Apollo Hotel. There must be nearly 200 shops all selling a dazzling range of all the big names – both the ‘real thing’ and fakes! So if you want a new Ipad, MP5 or mobile, this is the place to head for – prices are good, but you must do your homework first!
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