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hans.castorp

Winter in Beijing

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hans.castorp

Hi everyone,

I think of spending two weeks in Beijing, actually, last two weeks of December but I was told it's really chilly in this period of the year, with temperatures as low as -6°C. As I'm not used to such low temperatures, could someone give me some good advice to buy clothes? Are there many shops, is it expensive? I will need almost everything from coat to shoes... :)

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Chinadoog

of course there are lots of shops in beijing. and yes you'll need warm pants and a jacket.

i was in beijing for a week in december a couple years ago, and imo it's the best time of year to go because the attractions are not full of people in the winter.

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abcdefg

If you are a big person, very fat or very tall, bring appropriate clothes with you from home. Otherwise, you can buy much of what you need in Beijing. Costs will vary depending on where you buy and will also depend on your shopping skills. If it's your first time in China, you will pay more.

Large shoes can be particularly difficult to find. Probably best to bring footwear from home anyhow, since you can bring shoes that are already broken in. Not smart to do a whole lot of tourist walking in stiff brand new shoes anywhere if you can avoid it.

Further note on shoes: if you have room to pack one pair and wear another that's a good idea. Winter streets are often full of half-frozen snow and icy slush. One pair can dry out while you wear your spare pair.

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hans.castorp

I don't have any warm clothes where I live... so I'll have to "survive" in Beijing till I can buy some! That's why I was asking if it was easy to find and buy quickly warm clothes. I don't have any shopping skills but maybe if someone from Beijing can accompany me...

My shoes size is 42 EU. So, I guess that's not so big. I don't plan to do so much tourist walking: main goal is to study Chinese as much as I can :)

Thanks abcdefg.

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WestTexas

Shower in ice cold water every day for 10 minutes and -6 is nothing. Last year my hot water heater was broken, so I could only do ice cold showers. I was walking around in a hoodie and T-shirt at -6 degrees.

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zhouhaochen

At the "tourist" markets in Yaxiu and Silk Market they have sizes that fit most westerners witout problems and you can get pretty much anything (fake) there. It is very dry in Beijing during the winter, which means you need to use quite a lot of lotion, but also -6 dont feel as cold than they might do in a more humid climate.

In my opinion the most important piece of clothing when it is cold is a good warm hat. When your head is warm, everything else is not much of a problem anymore. :mrgreen:

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hans.castorp

Hi zhouhaochen!

Just a few words to thank you for your reply :) If you have any suggestion for a foreigner who's going to Beijing for the first time... thanks!

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liuzhou

People have been living there for centuries (not individual people).

Of course you can buy warm clothes.

And don't believe the myth that they don't do western sizes. They will do whatever you want or need.

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lanzhoumian

Liuzhou: are you sure? I have a lot of trouble finding stuff that fits me.

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liuzhou
Liuzhou: are you sure?

Very. Almost all my clothes have been bought off-the-peg in China and I'm taller than most Chinese men.

And if they really don't have your size, you can easily get someone to make it at a very reasonable cost.

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roddy

Make sure you've got at least one set of adequate warm clothing though - you do not want to be getting off the plane freezing cold and then having to negotiate Beijing markets while miserable and shivering. It'll be a poor first impression of Beijing.

One tip - at the time of year every supermarket larger than a convenience store will be selling thermal underwear. Get at least one set - it doesn't matter what it looks like as nobody will see it, and it may save you having to buy a bulkier / pricier / uglier outer layer. And if you're laughing at the idea of thermal underwear, stop. It's the best thing ever, and more than once I've recommended it to a new arrival, got laughed at, and then three months later thanked profusely. You can get that in a 15-minute venture from your hotel to the nearest local supermarket and trust me, you will not regret it.

It may be quicker and easier to head to a big supermarket - Walmart, Carrefour, etc - and do a big shop there, they'll have everything you need in one place with no need to haggle. Won't be as much fun as going to smaller shops though.

To be honest, unless you really are going to bin it all after this two week trip, I'd buy in advance at home - you'll probably get better stuff than a rushed first-day trip in Beijing, and if you shop around online it won't necessarily be that much pricier. That way you can start your holiday taking pictures of a frozen Beijing rather than sock-shopping.

As said, Beijing is very dry. You don't need wet-weather gear, just cold, and some kind of moisturiser is likely to come in very handy.

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imron
And if you're laughing at the idea of thermal underwear, stop. It's the best thing ever

This.

I remember laughing at them at first too, and going two winters before finally being persuaded to try them out, and then I couldn't believe how stupid I'd been to scoff at them. Just make sure to get the super thick fluffy ones for the winter as opposed to thinner, ones that are for Autumn.

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skylee

Sounds itchy. Super dry weather + heating + fluffy underwear sounds bad to me.

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liuzhou

Another vote for the thermals. I first wore them in Moscow and probably wouldn't have survived without them.

Even down here, in the sunny south, I keep them close in winter.

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realmayo

Before I first went to China I had a chat with someone who knew the place well and "bring thermal underwear" was the only piece of advice he gave me. Good advice.

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abcdefg

A specif plug for the 三枪 (San Qiang) brand. They generally have their own small shops selling only their house brand. Not available at Wal-Mart. Well made and durable. Lots of thin "miracle fiber" selections that perform as though they were thicker. Dry quicker when laundered. Not as cheap as some, but worth it unless you just want some disposables. Available in many South China cities; I don't know first hand about Beijing and Dongbei (never looked for them there.)

Store sign often says "San Qiang Living Concept" and can be puzzling. But they sell long underwear. Sometimes pajamas.

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heifeng

Roddy gets +1 for mentioning how DRY Beijing is in the winter. Good moisturizer...oh yes, you will need that! (along with a glass of water bedside for the middle of the night!)

Thermals are of course key...even though then you may need looser pants to actually fit over them too...minor detail.

It may be quicker and easier to head to a big supermarket - Walmart, Carrefour, etc - and do a big shop there, they'll have everything you need in one place with no need to haggle. Won't be as much fun as going to smaller shops though.
I'll add 物美 aka Wu-Mart to the list. I bought some coats, socks, and other necessities there since there was always a shop nearby in my old stomping grounds. Nice wool socks were always around in Beijing from what I noticed as well.

Also, since you specifically mentioned you are not use to the cold you might want to buy those little one time use hand heater pack thingies that you can stick in your gloves & shoes (for example camping stores have them in the US & also Daiso the Japanese store carries them. In other countries I do not know how easy they are to find). I only used those in Harbin, but if you suffer from cold hands/feet then they will save you some suffering.

Also carrying a thermos around and drinking hot water can help to keep up your temperature when waiting outside for extended periods of time (hot water is often served & available in China so you should have opportunities to refill throughout the day too, especially at school!). Other than that indoors can range from tropical temperatures from the building/bus heat to the same temperature as outdoors during the winter, so in general layering is always helpful.

Shower in ice cold water every day for 10 minutes and -6 is nothing. Last year my hot water heater was broken, so I could only do ice cold showers. I was walking around in a hoodie and T-shirt at -6 degrees.

hehe, probably some logic to this. You WILL adjust eventually. I for one will never complain about the cold after being in Harbin...after that everyday felt like summer in Beijing & I chose 风度 over 温度 on most days (often met with being told my knees are going to get arthritis from not wearing thermals....woops)

Enjoy the weather! (My biggest surprise in Beijing was that it was not very snowy at all...booooo! Maybe just a light snowfall a few times (read slushy afterwards)...I never had to actually HIKE through knee high snow or anything while out there :mrgreen: .)

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gougou
Other than that indoors can range from tropical temperatures from the building/bus heat to the same temperature as outdoors during the winter, so in general layering is always helpful.

While I've long loved thermals (incidentally, I also started wearing them in Moscow), they become a problem if you plan on spending significant parts of your time indoors. As heifeng said, temperature differences can be extreme - many buildings are heated up to what must be close to 30 degrees Celsius, which I found unbearable even without thermals. So unless you want to find a lavatory to change out and into them all the time, you'd better think ahead where you will be spending your time. For a day out walking, you shouldn't do without them, whereas I often did without them when going to and from work.

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Vandalaar

It is not so bad in the winter in Beijing. But then I am from Sweden 8)

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frankwall

Aside from thermals, make sure you wear plenty of layers too, and several pairs of socks. Vodka can also be helpful in terms of warming you up...but generally the advice to carry warm drinks is good. Also, keep moving around and don't stay too still.

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