As a tour operator to China for 20 years, I get many comments from clients that say, “NO FACTORY STORES”. Unfortunately they get a bad rap and sometimes well deserved. However there are many excellent ones where you can see talented handicraft workers too. As a Tour Operator who has personally travelled China myself for 21 years, I have seen the worst and the best. Group Tour guides and some private tour guides go a bit overboard to take you shopping where they get commissions from the stores or the Travel Service may require them to take you to some stores where they get kick backs. As a Custom Private Tour Operator, I do not allow this. I do however often recommend and put in my tours Workshops that are honest and worth seeing. Just to name a few is the Cloisonne Workshop in Beijing, Rug workshops in Shanghai and other cities where they actually make them, Jade Carving workshop in Xian, Silk Factory in Suzhou and many others. Rugs are freehand made from a pattern on a piece of paper so no two are exactly alike. The woman above is painting a divider with gold leaf and enamel paint by free hand and no pattern other than a photo. You should visit some of these workshops where you can actually see things being made rather than just a retail store selling over priced goods. You do not have to buy of course but enjoy seeing the processes.