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To Buy and Not to Buy: Tips for Buying in China

GUANGZHOU, CHINA — Amid all the diversity of places you can go, you’re likely to find items you’ll need to buy at a price. China is a big country. It has a diverse array of people, products, and tastes. That makes it a good place to learn about the world. But the world of China’s cities can be overwhelming. You need to know what kind of products you need to see and buy, for how much, and when. Here’s a good guide to some of the most popular items you should buy on your visit. (Of course, you also need to know what you’re planning to do on your trip.)

Most brands in China are Westernized, so you may not find many items from China. Products at places like Whole Foods and Costco offer great value. Some Chinese imports may be interesting, but you won’t necessarily want to buy them.

Food is one thing you don’t want to forget. A lot of the country’s eating habits are Westernized. As a traveler, you don’t want to step into an alley only to have an alien menu staring you in the face. Some of the best food is known only to the locals, and, if you plan on spending the day eating with your family, you should expect to shell out some cash. Just make sure the food is worth the money. After all, you want to eat on vacation, right?

There’s plenty of you can do to look for good value during your trip. In Beijing, look at bargaining. Many foreign brands offer discounts on their goods during Chinese New Year, and they’re usually listed online for good luck. If you’re feeling lazy, search for deals in a traditional Chinese shop.

The Internet is your friend. Check out clothing brands like Zara and H&M. Try some national-level home appliances: a coffee maker, microwave, or washing machine. These are usually being sold on the cheap. If you’re really paranoid about your safety, you can look at apartments that are temporarily out of use. Many rentals online are on a waiting list, and the internet allows you to find out when that listing will become available.

Do you know how to run an air conditioner? If not, good luck buying one in China. Go to an electric shop like Radio China and learn how to set up your own.

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