Ten Classic Beijing Souvenirs

Looking for that special memento from your visit to China’s historic capital? Here’s our list of 10 souvenirs unique to Beijing – and almost all of them available in the famous Wangfujing shopping district.

1.  A classic-style hat from Sheng Xifu

Originally established in neighboring Tianjin city, Sheng Xifu is a “China Time-Honored Brand” with a century-long reputation for quality handmade hats. Ten Classic Beijing Souvenirs-Wool felt hat from Sheng XifuSheng Xifu made hats for China’s leaders in the 1950s, including a bouffant cap for Chairman Mao Zedong and an otter leather hat for Premier Zhou Enlai’s state visit to Moscow. This tradition was still going when President Jiang Zemin ordered a sheepskin hat in 1998. Today’s younger generation might view Sheng Xifu as a bit old fashioned, although its hats have kept pace with fashion. But a visitor looking for something distinctly Chinese can’t go wrong with a thick soft wool felt hat from Sheng Xifu.

Location: No. 196, Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng District

2.  Silkwear from Rui Fuxiang

Another China Time-Honored Brand, Beijing Rui Fuxiang Silk Store was established in 1893 by Shandong native Meng Luochuan, a 68th generation descendant of Mencius (372–289BC), a leading Confucian philosopher. Ten Classic Beijing Souvenirs-Man's robe and CheongsamRui Fuxiang became favored by the nobility, high-ranking officials, actors and young ladies of wealthy families. Even the Empress Dowager Cixi ordered a Rui Fuxiang robe. In 1949, Rui Fuxiang was invited by Premier Zhou Enlai to make the first national flag for the New China.

Rui Fuxiang sells both off-the-peg and tailor-made clothes, but you will have to wait about 15 days for man’s robe or a woman’s cheongsam (qipao). No detail is neglected in the design, tailoring or traditional production techniques.

Location: No. 190, Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng District

3.  Cloth shoes from Nei Liansheng

Another enduring brand, Nei Liansheng was founded in 1853 to make special boots for the aristocracy and officials of the imperial court. The name reflected the hopes of officials who were seeking promotion: “nei” means the imperial court and “liansheng” successive promotions.

The vamps were black satin that remained smooth even after long wear. The soles had 32 layers, but they were light, quiet and comfortable. The vamps of these shoes were made of wool, silk or cotton and the soles of white cotton cloth. Intricately stitched with hemp string, the soles are more durable than those stitched with ordinary thread. The exquisite technique has been included in China’s National Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

Once viewed as an old person’s shoe, Nei Liansheng footwear has been regaining popularity among the young, who appreciate the quality and comfort. Ten Classic Beijing Souvenirs-Cloth shoes and children’s shoes with a tiger patternChildren’s shoes featuring animals associated with the Chinese zodiac are among the best sellers. On the first floor of the shop are copies of the Nei Liansheng shoes once worn by Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai; on the second floor is an exhibition of shoes going back thousands of years.

Location: No. 53, Dong’anmen Street, Wangfujing, Dongcheng District

4.  Tea from Wu Yutai

One of Beijing’s most famous tea chains, Wu Yutai was founded in 1887 by the Wu family. Ten Classic Beijing Souvenirs-Jasmine teaAmong the many choices at Wu Yutai, China’s renowned jasmine tea is strongly recommended. This green tea, or sometimes white and black tea, is mixed with jasmine blossoms. The flavor is subtly sweet and highly fragrant. The packaging is also a treat, with tea canisters bearing old Beijing style paintings.

Wu Yutai has more than 200 stores in Beijing, and the head office is at No. 44 Dongsi North Street, Dongcheng District.

5.  Tuye (Lord Rabbit) Ten Classic Beijing Souvenirs-Tuye (Lord Rabbit)

An ancient toy given by parents to their children, the Tuye was also an object of worship on mid-autumn day. Tuye has a rabbit head and human figure, traditionally wears a warrior’s armor with banners on its back, rides a ferocious animal, and always has a calm and serious expression in an interesting contrast to its long, rabbit ears. These clay figurines range in height from a few centimeters to more than a meter.

Where to buy:

Gongmei Center, No. 200, Wangfujing Street

6.  Old Beijing Style PapercuttingTen Classic Beijing Souvenirs-Old Beijing Style Papercutting

Unlike other styles of Chinese papercutting, which use the same folding of colored papers to cut flowers, animals and other designs, Beijing papercuttings are distinguished by the extensive use of red paper. Made to express hopes of good health, prosperity or just for decoration, papercutting originated as a folk tradition inspired by festivals, harvests, propitious items and legends. They were pasted on gates, walls or lanterns. The patterns and content differ in each region. In Beijing, they depict traditional life in courtyard homes or crowded markets.

Where to buy:

Gongmei Center, No. 200,Wangfujing Street

7.  Tonic products from Tong Ren Tang

Ten Classic Beijing Souvenirs-Tong Ren TangFounded in 1669, Tong Ren Tang was the official supplier of medicines to the imperial palace of the Qing Dynasty for 188 years. Now it is the largest producer of traditional Chinese medicines. Based in Beijing, the company is engaged in both manufacturing and retail sales.

Location: No. 255, Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng District

8.  LiuliTen Classic Beijing Souvenirs-Cabbage pendant liuli

An ancient type of Chinese glassware made from colored synthetic quartz crystal, which is semi-transparent, liuli can be dated back to the Western Zhou Dynasty, more than 2,000 years ago. The liuli artist starts with a crystal that is fired at a temperature of almost 1,000 degrees Celsius and works quickly to form a shape. Liuli’s various metallic elements, like aurum, cuprum, iron and tin, give it colors such as blue, green and purple, which are extremely vivid and never fade.  Liuli can endure sunshine and dust and always appears bright and transparent.

Where to buy:

Gongmei Center, No. 200, Wangfujing Street

9.  Ivory carving Ten Classic Beijing Souvenirs-A Beijing ivory figurine

Ivory carving in Beijing has a history of more than 3,000 years. Treasured by Ming Dynasty nobles, ivory-ware reached its artistic peak in the following Qing Dynasty. However, with the prohibition of the ivory trade, modern works are usually made of dentifrice or bone. Beijing-style carvings feature grand, graceful and sophisticated figures, with beautiful women, immortals, children, the aged and delicate flowers.

Where to buy:

Gongmei Center, No. 200, Wangfujing Street

10.  Wang Mazi scissors

Ten Classic Beijing Souvenirs-Scissors from Wang MaziAnother time-honored store, Wang Mazi opened in 1651. Wang was founder’s family name and “mazi” means pockmarked – the distinguishing feature of his face. The store quickly earned a reputation for its sharp and durable sleek black scissors, which people would come from other cities to buy. The brand is now a Chinese icon and the shop has its own museum.

Location: No. 138, Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng District

7 comments

  1. I would like to buy one of the bunny figurines as shown in picture #5. I live in the US and do not speak Chinese. Is there a way I can place an order?

    1. Hi John,

      I’m very glad that you like the bunny figurines. I will help you check it, and contact you soon by emails.

      Best Wishes.

      Annie

  2. Thanks Annie,

    I’d like a figurine that looks just like the photograph, and roughly three inches tall. Is that possible? Thanks again

    1. Dear John,

      I understand what you mean. I will try my best to look for a figurine that looks just like the photograph. If it’s not exactly the same style or color, I will send you more photos for you to choose from.

      I will keep you updated.

      Have a nice weekend.

      Annie

    2. Dear John,

      I just emailed you some photos and more information about the figurines. If you have any questions, just let me know.

      Have a nice day.

      Annie

  3. I really wanted to buy a Wang Mazi cleaver but couldn’t take it in my luggage from Beijing last week. Is there any way I could order one and have it shipped? Thank you so much!

    1. Dear Bill,

      I’m glad to know that you like the souvenirs from China. You can’t take the scissors on the plane in your carry-on bag, but it’s ok if you put it in your checked baggage.

      Best Wishes.

      Annie

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