On the north east of the Gulou (the Drum Tower) scenic spot, there is a narrow alleyway which connects Gulou and Zhonglou (the Bell Tower). Walking in this lane, you will be attracted by an interesting shop, not only for its traditional Chinese style, but also for the information written in red letters in English describing their merchandise.
Oriental Palace (Ba Yun Xiang in Chinese, 八运祥) is this shop’s English name. Compared with other shops, it attracts more foreigners as its product information is written in English and easy to be seen through the window displays. This is not the only interesting bit about this shop: it also displays a few beautiful Qipao dresses on mannequins.
I pushed the door and entered the shop. Three women greeted me, and inquired about my needs. On the left side, where they sat, I noticed a section where they offer Chinese tea. Embroidery artworks are hung on the wall In the back of the shop. Traditional Chinese dresses are displayed on the right side: Qipao, Tang apparel, and Chinese decoration.
According to a shop assistant who spoke a bit of English, the shop mainly carries quality Chinese tea such as Dahongpao (大红袍, a variety of Oolong tea), Dragon Well (龙井), and Tieguanyin (铁观音). Embroidery artworks are created in their own workshop. Interested customers can also learn embroidering as professionals come to the shop to teach their art. Qipao and Tang apparel are the most popular items of the shop’s selection, and some clients order made-to-measure models.
While the assistants introduced the shop and its merchandise, I picked up a red traditional sleeveless frock. It was embroidered with a golden phoenix pattern. The silk material felt soft and smooth. By the entrance door, colorful Chinese knots (中国结) designed in a traditional style could also catch your fancy.
Prices for Qipao and other Chinese apparel range from RMB 250 to RMB 800. The fee for a made-to-measure Qipao is between RMB 600 and RMB 800. The price tags of embroidery artworks are comprised between RMB 800 and RMB 15,000. Prices for tea ranged from RMB 30 / 50 g to RMB 150 / 50 g. Hand-made tiny items such as Chinese knots only cost RMB 20 to RMB 60.
You can bargain with the shop.
What I appreciated:
Qipao, Chinese knots
What customers appreciate:
English communication, reasonable prices
Top level tailoring service in the capital
Mysterious Naxi minority handicrafts
The melody of permanent white & black plays
Tailor-made Qipao at low prices