When guides mention Workshops, it doesn’t really sound that interesting at first; but don’t overlook the opportunities to see crafts and local products being made by hand. You do not have to buy them of course. Above you will see a rug workshop where they are all made by hand. I think it is amazing that they can make these rugs using just a photo or drawing to make each rug individually. I have several in my home and they wear like iron. The other photo is a small workshop that makes leather products. I sketched out a shoulder bag that I wanted made for a day bag to carry my cameras, water and snacks in during the day. The young man made some suggested additions and I picked out the leather and color that I wanted. I came back in three hours and it was all finished. The quality and workmanship is excellent and only cost me $22 U.S. There are many large workshops as well as local small ones that craft many different products including pottery, rugs, clothing, cloisonne, furniture, jewelry, jade and the list goes on. Ask your guide to give you some suggestions and I am sure they will be able to give you ideas. One of my favorite places for seeing and buying hand made crafts is LiJiang Old Town north of Kunming. As a tour operator I go to China often and will be spending four days in LiJiang and I am sure to find some special gifts to bring home for Christmas too. For more ideas contact us at email@example.com
As a custom China Tour operator, clients often tell me they do not want to be led to shopping places. That is understandable since Group Tours often must include Shopping Stops because the companies get kick backs for taking tourists to them. An exception to that is what I call Factory Workshops. I always suggest special workshops however where you can actually see the crafts being made and can appreciate the art that is being created. Some of these are the Cloisonne workshops in Beijing, the carpet shops in Shanghai, Jade Carving shops in Xian and many more through out China. Above one woman is free hand painting inlaid furniture with gold gilt paint. She asked me if I would like her to paint on my old camera (I carry three with me) and painted a small gold dragon on it. One never has to buy anything but it is interesting to see crafts being actually made. The two sided embroidery pieces in Suzhou are another where it takes 6 years to learn how to do it. Hand made knives in Kashgar are another favorite of mine or the stone tea pots that I have collected and no longer can find anymore. Antiques are plenty as well however many are well made fakes too. The Beijing Panjiayuan Flea market held on Saturday and Sunday is a great place to hunt and peck for unusual items. For more information on shopping email me or better yet my wife who has me bringing home suitcases full of delightful treasures over the years.