Shopping in Hangzhou
Longjing (Dragon Well) Tea is the single-most famous commodity that's produced in Hangzhou, and you'll be tripping over shops and stalls which sell it here. There are various grades, hence the different prices you'll be quoted, which depend largely on when the leaves were picked - the earlier the better. Those unfamiliar with Longjing Tea will not be able to tell the difference, though, so most tourists are better off simply buying the cheapest grade they are offered because it will still be very good green tea. Silk is also big business in Hangzhou, so scarves, shawls, fans and silk paintings can also be found in a number of shops and markets.
At the south end of Zhongshan Lu, Qinghefang Old Street is an unashamedly touristy recreation of old Hangzhou, and is great fun for a wander, offering bundles of souvenir possibilities as well as tasty snacks and traditional Chinese medicine. The atmospheric Hu Qing Yu Tang (Traditional Chinese Medicine Museum) can be found at No. 95 Dajing Xiang.
Qinghefang Old Street is also one of the many places around town where you can buy Longjing tea, and it's a just a stone's throw from Gaoyin Jie, one of the city's busiest restaurant strips.
Relocated near Huixing Lu, the bustling Wushan Lu Night Market is open daily from 1900-2200 and sells clothing, souvenirs and pretty much everything else. You'll find plenty of ceramics here too, including tea sets, and although some are said to be antique, they almost certainly are not. You'll also find silk clothing, plus tacky souvenirs such as Chairman Mao memorabilia. Better quality clothing can be found at the Xinhua Lu Silk Market, Xijiankang Lu, which opens daily from 0800-1700. It contains a string of silk shops and clothing stores in a block just north of Fengqi Lu.
MIXC Mall, at 701 Fuchun Lu, is a massive, modern shopping centre located about 4km (2.5 miles) east of West Lake. It's open daily from 1000-2130 (and is open an extra half hour on Saturdays and Sundays) and has nine floors of international boutique shops, department stores, supermarkets and restaurants. There is also a large ice rink and a cinema.
Shops are generally open from 1000 to 2200, seven days a week
Green tea is the number one souvenir, of course, along with accompanying tea sets, but you can take home some wonderful lengths of silk from Hangzhou too. Decorative Chinese fans make more affordable souvenirs. However, if you have money to spare, Jade items make a beautiful gift. Just make sure you buy it from stores that can issue a certificate of authenticity.
VAT in China is charged at 17%, which cannot be reclaimed upon departure.