Views of traffic Jianguomen Outer Street and the 140+ meter tall LG Twin Towers Mall and Office Building. In 2005 it was one of the 1st feats of modern architecture to arise in what today is known as the Chaoyang CBD.
Silk Alley (Building), ChaoYang District
This page was last updated on: July 6, 2017
The Original Xiu Shui Street ( 秀水街 or Silk Alley) was one of the commercial jewels of the Beijing of the recent past. With a long history, bustling but intimate athmosphere, smart traders and before: trading high quality against bottom prices, for a very long time it was one of the hidden gems of the City. Although out of the way, for those who knew how and where to find it it was a small treasure trove of exotic and exclusive luxury goods so often bought against very low prices.
It was an idyllic market which however no longer exists.
Moved away to and almost disappeared to make way for the now booming CBD of Beijing with its monumental modern architecture, the Xiu Shui Street was moved inside its very own Modern Mall Building in the year 2004, losing much of its former charm. Today Silk Alley remains high on most organised tourist iteneraries, but in all honesty: its quality, charm and certainly the bottom prices are a thing of the past. Today it is a mass tourist spectacle notorious for hawking and the sales of counterfeit silks and copied brands.
Have a browse around the building and have a browse of the still spectacular silks, wild prints, very wide choice, and of course the commercial madness that comes along with trading on a popular market in Beijing.
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                   Google 3D Map of walking route along Jianguomen Outer Street in South Chaoyang, as described in the Text.
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A view of the LG Twin Towers from Jianhua Road, across from the Xiu Shui Street - Silk Alley Building in July 2010.
Tourist Buses offload continuously at the Silk Alley building. A visit is a regular point on many iteneraries, for Foreigners as well as Chinese from other Provinces.
Formerly located in a corner of the Eastern parts of the City, well away from the eyes of the average Beijing citizen, the original Silk Street was only just well enough connected to be found by Foreign visitors and of course for diplomats and those in their tow.  Not everyone in the city heard about it, and that was the way it was intended to be. In this way first time visitors to the city often missed out on the chance to visit entirely.
Today however much has changed in China, Beijing and in Chaoyang, taking away some of the reclusive nature of this now famous market.
Since the early opening of the Silk Market, Chaoyang has risen as the Central Business District of the City, Beijing has hosted the Olympic Games and mass tourism has become a serious phenomenon in the City and at the Market. As a result, Chaoyang is no longer a remote destination and, in planning with the redesign of the entire city, the Silk Alley Market has been moved closer to the Central City.  It is now in easy reach of everyone, plus located very near a number of other attractions.
Xiu Shui Street - Silk Alley, how to Get There :
Welcome to China Report's Digital Introduction to the Beijing Xiu Shui Lu - Silk Street or also dubbed Silk Alley, now housed inside its very own Mall Building, the Silk Alley Commercial building, in the Chaoyang District of Eastern Beijing.

Born from the first economic liberalizations that came in the wake op the rise of Deng Xiaoping and the success of his 'opening up policy', Beijing's Silk Alley was one of the first such markets in all of China, strategically located near the new and then growing South Embassy Area in Chaoyang. First recognized by Embassy personnel, foreign journalists and business people lucky enough to be able to pay a visit, the street quickly acquired international fame and was hailed as a great example of the new economic policies taking effect in
Booksellers at Sunday Market, Beijing, China
Booksellers at Sunday Market, Beijing, China Photographic Print
Laskowitz, Ray

The New Silk Market, cleaned up and housed inside its very own modern Mall building in the Chaoyang Central Business District. Today it is just another store.
China. Soon thereafter it became THE tourist and expat source for luxury goods, and later cheap knock offs.
To find the Silk Alley Building, first head out to the Chaoyang District.
The Chaoyang District lies East of the central old city and Tiananmen Square and, as a busy shopping and business district, is
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Full Map of the Beijing Subway System of 2008 AD
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most easily reached not by car but through the city subway / metro system.

As can be deduced from adjacent Map, the Chaoyang District can be reached either via the Blue Circular Line and Chaoyangmen, or -in this case much faster- by traveling on the Red Linear (or horizontal) Line which runs through Jianguomen Former Gate and Metro Station. From there it is but a short hop.
Simply travel further from Jianguomen eastward to the next Metro Station named Yong Anli, which is the station of your

After leaving the Station through one of the exits you will find yourself on Jianguomen Outer Street, which is the main boulevard of the Central Business District. On your East is the Arts and Crafts Mansion and on the left stand the magnificent LG Twin Towers one of the early architectural marbles on the Chaoyang Skyline. The Silk Alley Building itself should be in your view on the North side of Jianguomen Outer Street, standing on the corner and intersection with Jianhua Road.

Pleaase note, crossing over the busy boulevard of Jianguomen Outer
Street would be outright dangerous, and there are no pedestrian crossings. Therefor, best exit the subway station through the north exit for the most expedient trip.
Travel with ease along the red subway line into Chaoyang,  visit the Silk Market and continue on your tour or stroll of the spectacular sites of the new Central Business District of Beijing.
Naturally one can also take a Taxi Cab to head there directly, however with today's traffic, it may take you
The Silk Alley building on the corner of Jianguomen Wai Dajie (Outer Street) and Jianhua Road on a chilly day in November 2007.
equal time or even longer.
Other alternatives are taking the bus out of the City along Jianguomen Outer Street, or - if you like sightseeing and walking -, hike out from the Ming Dynasty Era Ancient Observatory at Jianguomen. It is an interesting walk.
History of Xiu Shui Street - Beijing Silk Alley :
Contrary to some popular beliefs, the Silk Market is not one of the Cities' old commercial streets.
As with all essentials of life in the recent past, the oldest commercial streets are found within what were formerly the city walls (now the 2nd ring road) and are but two: Wanfujing Sreet and Dashilar 'Big Railings' Street.
Xiu Shui Street is also not one of the historic Markets which
can be found at various points within in the old city,  such as there are Hong Qiao 'Thieves' Market in Chongwen District, Liu Lichang Culture Street and Bao Guo Temple Market in Xuanwu District or the much more recent Panjiayuan Market in the very south of the Chaoyang District.  Xiu Shui Street is none of all these. It is not  a tourist attraction because it is part of ancient history, but it is historically famous  because it marked the change to the new China that can be seen snd experienced today.

Perhaps best compared to- and originally intended as an ordinary hutong market, the Xiu Shui Silk Street was first opened in the year 1985, when it started as just a modest street market in the far East of the Chaoyang District.
After a disastrous reign period of nearly 30 years under Mao Zedong,  which left the Nation gutted psychologically, culturally, philosophically and economocally, this new market near the Embassy District in Beijing appeared as first visible sign of succesful opening up policy insisted on by Deng Xiaoping after the death of the 'Great Helmsman'.
Originally the outdoor Xiushui Market (a.k.a. Silk Alley) was not located at Jianghua Road but even further to the East at a place which is still recognizable by its name: Xiushui Dongjie. Xiushui Dongjie lies one block further to the East and at the time was located near the very last station on the Subway Line connecting to this then still fairly remote and underconnected part of the City.
The shopping alley of that time consisted of 410 stalls and immediatly caught on with the local public. According to some sources, soon the
Scenes from Xiushui Silk Alley Building and Jianghua Road in July of 2010. The romantic back alley open air shopping has been revamped into a thoroughly commercial presentation and practice. Silk Alley today is a tourist pitfall that seems reserved for hawksters.
market thrived and It attracted 20,000 locals and foreigners on weekends and , as some estimate, reaped a total annual sales volume of 100 million yuan (US$12.5m).
Eversince the turn of the millenium, consumers tastes have changed and moved away from the traditionally popular Chinese patterns and colorful silk products. Although Silk Alley certainly can still live up to its name, increasingly it has been renowned for selling selling mostly knock-off  luxury brand-name garments, faked silk and kashmir products and other products popular with the bus-loads of tourists that are delivered every day.
After 20 years of business, the old market was ordered to close down for demolition on January 6, 2005, offcially due to fire-safety hazards, security issues and the absence of land permits from individual landlords, but clearly with the redevelopment of Chaoyang District in mind.

The application for demolition was filed on July 2004 by the Beijing Urban Planning Bureau, the Chaoyang Public Engineering Committee, the Chaoyang Department of Public Security and Fire Fighting, and the Chaoyang Foreign Liaison Office.

One of the political incentives behind the transfer of the old Xiushui Market to the current Silk Street establishment was related to the unregulated sales of fake goods according to Yin Xiaobo, an assistant to the General Manager of
the Economic Management Center of the JianGuoMenWai Community in Chaoyang District, Beijing. The new Silk Street complex was viewed as a more effective battleground in regulating and eradicating trademark infringements  among private retailers. On November 23, 2004, the Beijing Administrative Bureau for Industry and Commerce and Beijing Commercial Bureau listed the new Silk Street as one of nine streamlined markets in Beijing in accordance with "Strengthening Market Supervision and Crackdown on False Commodities."
Since the grand opening on March 19, 2005, Silk Street has conducted reforms in an attempt to regulate and crack down on violations of IPR in the market. Despite the efforts, counterfeits were still found inside the shopping center. As a result, five global brand-name giants, which included Prada, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Burberry were granted compensation of 20,000 yuan (US$2500) each from the landlord and five of its stall holders on April 14, 2006. On June 7, 2006, a deal was signed
Google 3D Model of the current Silk Alley commercial building.
with European luxury name brands promising to evict tenants found violating trademark rights. The Intellectual Property Rights Protection Fund  of 30 million yuan (US$3.8m) collected from its tenants was established by Silk Street in a collective effort to curb infringements of trademark rights. On August 30, 2006, 30 vendors received 10 million yuan (US$1.3m) in rent refunds from that fund as a reward for respecting IPR protection laws. An estimated 80 per cent of vendors at Silk Street have acquired trademark authorization as of August 2006.
As described today's market is not housed in any back alley but is fully up to speed with modern norms, as is the rest of the Chaoyang District. The new Silk Market Commercial building has room to accommodate over 1,700 retail vendors and the market is notorious among international tourists for their wide selection of counterfeit designer brand apparels and the aggressive selling techniques applied by the vendors.

To start your tour of, make your way across the spacious parking lot, which is usually clogged with tourbuses that have just dropped off their load of fresh meat and are now waiting for the tour crew to return.

Once on the inside of the building there usually is no escaping the confusing amount of activity going on at all times. People move in and out in large groups, store workers rush about and furthermore, a multitude of colors, advertising and sign boards point directions to whatever is availble there.
The best tip for newcommers is, take your time to scout out the building and the various sections with speciality stores. On first glance, it seems as if every small store is offering just
Shopping at Xiu Shui Street - Beijing Silk Alley :
about the same wares, but ... that is not always the case.

To give a small idea of the lay-out and organisation of the Silk Market building today; there are at least five floors. Departments and sections are fairly logically organized per
Contrary to some most other Malls in Beijing, and likely China entire, the ground floor of the Silk Alley building is not reserved for women's accessories, but instead is dedicated to men's wear. Especially coats, trowers and denims for Men are found on the lower floor, where conveniently, the men can wait for the women to return from their shopping spree.

The Floor, section F is organized as a dedicated childrens toy store. However, as this is a Chinese toy store, if you are used to the more luxury western type Toy Stores all of whom have a much more
Giant Billboard advertising the recent opening of the Silk Market Toy Store, a facility to cater to the obnoxious young while mommy does her shopping.
Scene from the ground floor of the Silk Alley Commercial building. Its a coming and going at all times. There is no off season at Silk Alley ! (Photo: December 2007)
varied stock of products, a visit there can be disappointing. Clearly, although most western toys today are produced and made in China, this does not mean that the same kind of toys make their way to homegrown stores such as these (the situation is more or less the same at Wanfujing Street, where another Toy Store is located).

Other than that, arrangements are a little bit more confusing at the Silk Market. The problem is not the excellent signboards advocating various small shops at the market, but
Travel around on the escalators (and elevators!) to find your way to each and every section of the building. Signs are in Chinese and English since the 2008 Olympics, which makes things a lot easier on tourists. (Photo: December 2007).
the fact that there are too many shops and too many seemingly similar products. Furthermore, on your tour about shop assistants will try their best to distract you and get you to stop at their place!

Don✧t be discouraged or possibly, scared away, but continue walking around until you have had an idea of what is on sale. And that is a lot!
To give a small listing: naturally there are the silks and kashmirs the original Silk Alley became renowned for among foreign visitors, however - in due time- the product lne has expanded to cater tou just about your every need. Today not only tourists shop at large, but so do some of the more financially secure locals, thus apart from clothing there are now also plenty of products in the category home and living. Find them in their own departments and sections!!

products : mens wear, silk scarfs, silk shirts, custom made suits and dresses, trousers and shirts for men and women, bedding, carpets.
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