For those who don't have particular gift ideas, or simply don't have time to shop around, TianXiYuan has a "world of handicrafts" to offer you. Located in the Qian Men area by the Forbidden City, the store comes with over a hundred types of traditional Chinese handicrafts.
Inside I found Peking opera masks, paper-cuts, cloth dolls, kites, Chinese knots, lanterns, figurines, and everything else imaginable. Most were handmade, and each a piece of work of art.
For something particular to Beijing, the Peking opera mask (RMB 100) is a good choice. I also liked the paper-cuts, where papers are cut into beautiful designs. This is a rare folk art in China today, and the products are sold at TainXiYuan from RMB 35 to RMB 600.
Prices at RMB 15 for trinkets like a beautiful lucky bracelet, so they're quite affordable. The shop has over half a century of history, and is experienced with customers from around the world. Shop assistants spoke some English, so communication shouldn¡¯t a problem.
Chinese Folkarts Shop specializes in folk handicrafts, such as paper cuts, embroidered shoes, kites, facial make-ups of the Beijing Operas, dough figurines, silk figurines, folk jewelry, Chinese calligraphy and paintings, chopsticks, etc. Among their exclusive merchandise, the shop carries pottery items like Buddhas and unicorns, and shadow puppets.
The shop plays classical Chinese music to attract customers¡¯ attention. Foreign visitors account for 70-80% of their customers.
On a picturesque note, a white cat with yellow eyes was wandering in the shop at the time of my visit. The shop owner told me the cat was a stray, until a shop assistant took her in and the cat refused to leave ever since. Many foreign visitors like to hold the cat in arms and have pictures taken.
What customers appreciate:
Classical Chinese music, variety of folk handicrafts, reasonable prices.