There are some great shopping opportunities in Nanjing. The shopping options are in two main areas; Hunan Lu in the north of the city and Fuzimao Market in the south – which has a daytime and night market. The historic area of Confucius Temple on the bank of the Qinhuai river is where all the handicraft workshops can be found.
AquaCity Mall has shops selling all the popular brands and the bonus of an attractive beer garden on the roof! Deji Plaza is the place to go for exclusive shopping featuring all the luxury brands. Along with shopping, you can enjoy a meal in one of the restaurants or take in a movie. Fashion Lady is a fun underground shopping mall that is full of ladies’ fashion, shoes and accessories – and what a choice!
1. Choose some pretty velvet flowers
One of the many local handicrafts is creating beautiful flowers made from velvet. The flowers are made by hand with plenty of detail and are the perfect addition to a dull corner.
2. Pack some Yuhua cha
China is well known for its teas and Yuhua is widely regarded as one of the finest in the country with health benefits too.
3. Buy a pretty Yuhuashi necklace
These pretty necklaces have a pendant that is a smooth, silky piece of ‘rain shower’ stone in a variety of natural colors – including one that is similar to agate. The stones are natural and said to be two million years old. Each stone is carefully hand-polished and close examination of some of the stones reveal natural patterns and faults which adds to its charm. Some of the stones are strikingly colored. It is said that soaking the stone in water emphasizes its patterning. Along with necklaces, there are Yuhuashi bracelets and rings too and they make lovely gifts.
4. Admire the Yunjin brocade
This beautiful brocade is also known as ‘cloud brocade’ and has a history stretching 1,600 years. It has long been worn by emperors and the Royal family and production was at its height during the Qing period (1544-1911). The brocade is still made using the same traditional methods which is a very sophisticated type of weaving that incorporates silk as well as silver and gold threads and other trimmings including even peacock feathers! The Yunjin Museum is an interesting place to visit and if you are interested in buying some brocade its shop has a good selection at good prices.
5. Be charmed by a rabbit lantern
These colorful lanterns are made from waxed paper and are very popular for the Lantern Festival which takes place the 15th day of the Chinese New Year. It is not unusual to see a family walking around with their rabbit lantern which can be lit by a candle. The rabbit shaped lanterns come in all sizes and colors and are made by one local craftsman- Cao Zehenrong – who can be found busy at work in his ‘Gen’s Grand Courtyard’.
6. Select a vacuum pack of salted duck
This may sound an unusual idea but yanshuiya is a really popular food and is a duck that has been salted and flavored with herbs. The vacuum pack contains a whole flattened duck! The brands to look for are Gui Hua, Lu Hua, and Bai Lu. Don’t be put off by the date on the packet, in China, the date is the production date not the sell by date!
7. Feel the beautiful wood carvings
Wood carving is a real specialty in the city and some of the carvings are really exquisite. There are floral studies and legendary and mythical figures and creatures carved in boxwood, whilst the religious carvings tend to be made in rosewood.
8. Choose a souvenir decorated with gold leaf
Jinling gold leaf has been made since the 5th century and the tradition has been passed from father to son. Gold is viewed as the symbol of power and throughout history, items have been embellished with gold leaf. Even today, the use of gold leaf to enhance architectural detail is popular. It is being used on paintings, statues and smaller pieces such as mats and bookmarks.
9. Treat yourself to some beautiful velvet
The beautiful velvet material is made in the city and the place to find the specialist shops is near the Gulou roundabout. Silk velvet and silk floss velvet are both produced and used for making jewel-bright cushion covers and items of clothing. This beautiful material is also sold in lengths if you prefer to have it made in something when you get home.
10. Be tempted with initiation ivory carving
These are very popular in Nanjing and you will see various shops in the Confucius Temple area selling a variety of figures, animals, and vessels created in imitation ivory and copies of well known ancient carvings.
As the popular car sticker says ‘only elephants should wear real ivory’.