Why It's Amazing:
Panjiayuan remains the last truly cultural Silk Market shopping area in Beijing. Here you'll find everything from Mao buttons commemorating the great helmsman's feats of awe, to old propaganda war posters and even posters pushing the Great Leap Forward or Cultural Revolution. It's a dream come true for collectors of modern Chinese political artifacts. Buyers beware, many of the "relics" are reproductions.
You'll also find nifty cultural stuff that dates a wee bit further back. Chunks of terracotta warriors, sections of old temples, prayer rugs from Xinjiang, antique door handles and knockers and many other near-modern antiques. One of the main things on display is little copper pots and Buddhist memorabilia including statues and prayer bowls.
When to Go:
Panjiayuan is best enjoyed on the weekend, and Sundays are especially vibrant and packed. You want to go during the busy season, as when it's slow the sellers have more time to haggle. Sundays are the ideal shopping time for antiques, collectables and memorabilia.
Many of the items at Panjiayuan are reproductions, replicas and fakes. Some of these knock offs are easy to spot, while others require an expert eye. Of even more importance, if an item is over 1,000 years old, it is illegal to export it from China. This includes carpets, art and memorabilia, so if you have a certificate of authenticity that dates before this time, you'll have your item confiscated at the airport.
Pan Jia Yuan