Though periodically threatened with removal by city authorities, this colorful and chaotic market—known affectionately as the "Dirt Market," thanks to its origin as an unofficial flea market with makeshift stalls set up on dusty grounds—is still going strong today.
Despite the addition of several permanent buildings (well, as permanent as any recent cheap construction may said to be in Beijing) and more a bit more order, Panjiayuan remains one of most rough-and-tumble bazaars in all of Beijing, so be prepared to bargain heavily and fight your way through thick crowds. It pays to take your time, as great finds abound amidst the heaps of antiques (a few real, many fake), Cultural Revolution memorabilia, ceramics, Tibetan carpets, old gramophones, records, radios, arts and crafts curios—almost anything anyone in China may have had in their home at any point over the past fifty years.
Be patient, enjoy the spectacle and bargain hard—vendors are known to mark up items tenfold above their actual worth. And tuck your money, camera and anything else of value in a safe place, just in case.
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