Bouquets  and Flowers
Considering a bouquet of carnations can easily cost USD 40 or more in the US, we’re lucky to have so many cheap florists and flower markets in Beijing. At Liangma Flower Market, for example, vendors can custom-make a bouquet with different cut flowers, leaves, sprigs, ribbons, baskets, and wrapping paper. Bouquets can cost anywhere between RMB 100 and 300 depending on the size, flower selection, and complexity of the arrangement. Alternatively, you can buy a potted flowering plant that will bloom throughout the summer. Good choices include African violets (紫罗兰, ziluo lan), geraniums (天竺葵, tianzhu kui), and chrysanthemums (菊花, juhua).

Liangma Flower Market 亮马花卉市场
Daily 8.30am-6.30pm. South bank of Liangma River, 758 Dongsanhuan Beilu, Chaoyang District (6504 2446)

Custom-Made Shoes
As far as we’re concerned, everyone should have a pair of personalized leather shoes in their wardrobe. They’re sturdy, comfortable, and last for decades if cared for properly. Local cobbler Lao Yu makes beautiful, handmade leather shoes from his tiny workshop in Gulou. He only does flat, heel-less shoes made from cow leather and measures each customer’s feet to ensure the best fit. You can pick one of the styles displayed on the wall or bring a reference picture to emulate. A pair of women’s shoes starts at RMB 1,200 depending on color, size, style, and leather quality. It takes about a month to fill an order.

Lao Yu 老余手工鞋店
Daily 10am-9pm. 37 Gulou Dongdajie, Dongcheng District (6404 1406)

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Photo: Ronald Saunders (Flickr)

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