Adventures in Asia

by Greg & Francie

The big Zhuhai shopping adventure!

A few weeks ago Francie and I were invited by one of our Mandarin classmates to her house for drinks. They had a great place with lots of decorations from various parts of Asia including a number of pieces of Chinese antique furniture. They pointed out that this cool dresser only had cost around $250 USD.

Cool furniture for cheap! We were hooked and then, as Francie says, the hilarity ensued.
We began to do some internet searches on the towns, Zhuhai & Zhongshan, where they had purchased the antiques. We then found this great article in the International Tribune Herald that discussed individuals and tours that are traveling directly to Zhuhai to purchase furniture and ship it back home.

So, we arranged to go to Macau, re-enter China, and finally check out Zhuhai’s furniture district. First, however, we researched prices in Hong Kong and Macau for comparison (at the end of this post I will detail that info for anyone doing future searches on buying furniture in China).

We ended up hooking up with our friend’s contact in Zhuhai (Rui Xiang Hang Antique Furniture) and she showed us the three showrooms (about 5 floors worth–a LOT of furniture).

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We saw some great pieces like these:

This is a Apocathary Chest that was used several hundred years ago to store medicines. The Chinese characters around each handle is the name of the medicine in that drawer. There were lots of these chests that ranged in color and shape and size.

Chest for medicines

Here is a cabinet that we ended up buying for about 210 USD (1600 RMB).

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We also bought several of these Tibetian boxes.

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We also looked closely at these shelves but decided that they were just too big to ship back.

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We did decide on this green Apocathary Chest (as well as few other smaller things). This chest was older and cost 200 USD (1500 RMB).

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Finally we got a tour of the worshop were a lot of the restoration takes place.

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After working with the company to ship stuff back to the States we caught a flight to Shanghai. Now we know a lot more about cubic meters, shipping containers, fumigation costs and asking your friends to drive down to the port to pick stuff up for you (thanks Ed and Olivier).

So, this trip continues to turn out to be part travel and part shopping for the Greg and Francie dynamic duo–I think we have sent about 11 boxes back to my aunt’s house (and that is just stuff for us). Francie and I have made a pact not to purchase anything else for the rest of the trip. 😉 We will see how that goes…

As many of you know, I love data and here is some information for future Zhuhai shoppers so that you can start out better prepared than we were.

We actually stayed in Zhuhai but traveled to Zhongshan (30 minutes away) to the Guhe Antique Furniture Market to the showrooms. We only went to the first place listed below but we have some other contact info for you as well. You may be able to get the showroom to send a car for you which is great if you can’t tell the driver where to go (because you don’t speak Mandarin).

Rui Xiang Hang (Antique furniture)
Contact: Mandy Wu (mobile 13420449683)
Guhe Antique Furniture Market
E79, 2nd floor
Sanxiang Zhongshan, Guangdong
Email: wumanyi888888@163.com
(we are posting all this information with Mandy’s permission)

Mobilias Mei Choi is the name we of a place we got in Macau (right infront of the ruins of St. Paul church). They had three small galleries there and I will discuss some price comparisons below. Here is their Zhongshan info.

Yum Luen Small area
Guhe Industrial District
Shanxiang town, Zhongshan city, Guangdong
Phone 13318406822 (vivian)
Phone (00853) 28357625

You can also try Art Treasures Gallery which has a location in the Zhuhai/Zhongshan area. Look them up on the web for contact info.

Prices–So, while in Hong Kong we went to the very upscale Ol Ling/Contes d’Orient and looked at their stock. Well, they have real, non-reproduction, antique quality items and the prices were very high (more than we could afford 1-5000 USD). They also have letters of authenticity etc. It is interesting to note, from a price standpoint, that their initial price for a Tibetian box was 2000 Hong Kong Dollars (at the time of this blog Hong Kong Dollars, Macau currency and the Yuan-RMB were pretty much equal to each other). In Zhuhai we would find similar Tibetian boxes in Zhuhai for about 300 RMB (so that is about 200USD in Hong Kong compared to 40 USD in Zhuhai). I just want to emphasize again that, expect for the Tibetian boxes, the Antique value you are getting at Ol Ling is much more real than the reproductions you are getting in Macau or Zhuhai).

In Macau we found that medium size Apocathary chests were selling pre-bargaining for 4200 HKD (550 USD) and a large cabinet was going for 3300 (410 USD). In Zhuhai/Zhongshan the costs were much less expensive and the quality was equal or better. The amount of choices were certainly much, much better (don’t believe them when they tell you that the factory doesnt have a showroom). In Zhuhai/Zhongshan the Apocathary chests ranged between 1100-2900 Yuan (160-400 USD) and the cabinets were much cheaper as well often costing 1500-2200 Yuan (200-310 USD). The Tibetian boxes were only 300 Yuan in Zhuhai.

Overall, there was great selection and the prices were much cheaper before any bargaining. But what about shipping? Rui Xiang Hang specializes in large shippments to resellers overseas but I believe the other two companies listed above are much more use to shipping for individuals who are chosing a few pieces. Still, Rui Xiang Hang had no problems getting the shippment together.

In Macau they told us it would be 1430 Yuan (190 USD) per cubic meter with a one time fumigation charge (I think it was 400 HKD). In Zhuhai/Zhongshan it cost about 137 USD for the first cubic meter and about 100 USD for each cubic meter after the first one (2 cubic meters would be 237 USD). There ended up being about 1000 HKD of additional charges for shipping (transport to the port, customs leaving China and fumigation). The final destination for this shipment is the port of Seattle—not to our front door in Seattle.

That is about all the information I have for people looking to buy furniture in Zhuhai. In my opinion, it is really worth it to go there especially if you are looking for a number of pieces. If you do the math it gets cheaper to send more, rather than less, furniture back home.

The only major negative about buying the furniture in Zhuhai is that you must use cash to pay the bill. In Hong Kong or Macau you can use credit cards. Obviously, we were less worried about this since we were referred to Rui Xiang Hang but, nonetheless, we will post in the future about whether our furniture made it to Seattle, whether there were hidden costs, etc.

UPDATE 1: About 18 days after purchasing the furniture our friends in Seattle have received faxes and phone calls saying the shipment has arrived. One friend had to pay a $40 (300 RMB) fee for the custom paperwork. This included the Bill of Laden, Fumigation paperwork, shipping contents and certificate of authenticity.

UPDATE 2:  We hired Global Transportation to help with the customs clearance.  It took a few weeks for this to go through the entire process but $410 later our friends were able to go and pick up the crates.  The $410 was mostly $250 for the Global Transport fee to handle customs.  Very little was actually customs fees.  You may be able to do this cheaper on your own!

Alls well that ends well.  Good luck if you order furniture!

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June 29, 2007 - Posted by | China

15 Comments »

  1. Happy Birthday Greg! For your birthday, I got you a ticket for the A&M vs. t.u. game Friday Nov 23. Only 63 more days until the season starts.Gig ‘Em Ags!

    Comment by Jeff | June 30, 2007 | Reply

  2. Hey friends,

    You can always ship things to Chez Weezie…you know how I support buying shiney new old things! Let me kow if you need anything on this end of the world, always happy to help.

    Comment by Weezie | July 1, 2007 | Reply

  3. Jeff — that’s a great gift for Greg — except there is one small problem with the scenario. TEXAS WILL TROUNCE A&M!

    Comment by Roger Martinez | July 1, 2007 | Reply

  4. Beijing Furniture shopping update. We went to the Panjiayuan Market in Beijing. They have some furniture there amongst the antiques but you could use these places as a launching point to see the seller’s warehouses. For reference, I saw a Cabinet at one place that started at 5000 RMB and was of similar quality to that of Zhuhai. The guy said it was from the Qing dynasty but it was definitely a reproduction. The piece was definitely cool but overall I would say that it would have been worth about 2000 RMB in Zhuhai. We didnt ask about shipping.

    At the Linfeng Tibetian Art shop they had Tibetian boxes for 300 RMB which was identical to Zhuhai. He offerred to take us to his warehouse. His name was Mansu.

    We didnt ask about shipping.

    Comment by Greg Martinez | July 8, 2007 | Reply

  5. Well it sounds like a great shopping trip for you both.
    I am an Aussie living in HK for 10 years now, like you love the Zhuhai region for Antiques. So much, that I now do personalised shopping tours to the Antique warehouses and also to the Modern furniture markets. We also ship worldwide and organise clearance and delivered to you door.

    I would be very happy to help anyone looking for a fabulous day out purchasing Antiques. Check out our website for further details. You will never pay retail again!

    http://www.antiqueszhuhai.com

    Comment by Donna Shepherd | October 5, 2007 | Reply

  6. Being on the other side of the fence, its interesting reading your blog. You are right in saying Hong Kong is more expensive, however you should not forget, you are also paying for a certain amount of, shall we say “peace of mind” as the average dealer on Hong Kong will be a bit more reputable then most of the mainland. As a professional in this business for the last five + years, I can tell you how many headaches can be waiting around the corner. In fact, after noticing your mention of visiting “Linfeng Tibetan Art shop” I can tell you probably don’t want to know about this guy’s unscrupulous business practices.

    Anyways, you might want to check out our own blog on Chinese Antiques, to see the perspective from the other side of how items are found, restored and in some case even faked. Our own blog is at:

    http://www.acf-china.com/blog/

    Comment by ACF China/Roger | November 2, 2007 | Reply

  7. Hi, nice blog really. But are you sure all these items are “old”?? It is so easy to copy a lot of them? How can you be sure not to buy a fake one? The rpices you write have increased a lot. Please tell me how you can ship these items from Zhuhai to France?

    Comment by Jean-Claude | September 21, 2008 | Reply

  8. Here you have given good information about travel. Traveling during the holidays is always interesting. I also having some good information about India travel…..

    Comment by guideontravel | February 6, 2009 | Reply

  9. We have just returned from this antique store with 3 supposedly antique boxes which on closer examination are clearly fakes. Mandy explained that her shop sold both antiques and reproductions however assured us that all our boxes were 100 – 150 years old. We jumped on the internet and did some furher research – these boxes are definately fakes, although they are still lovely. Thank goodness we did not pay a lot for them. Worth noting that genuine antiques are rare and very expensive and China is famous for the land of reproductions. Buyer beware.

    Comment by Katherine | January 5, 2010 | Reply

  10. Hi there – just realised that all the info on the furniture warehouse is above! Not too bright first thing in the morning!

    Comment by Pete Gable | May 1, 2010 | Reply

  11. Thank you for sharing the information about shopping in Zhu Hai. It really helps. We are new comer of expat family living in HK (originally moving from Germany). We need a few new furniture for our apartment. It´s terrible expensive to buy furniture in Hong Kong. We´ll try your recommendation and let you know our experiences.

    Comment by Vriema | June 23, 2010 | Reply

  12. Hi – I remember reading your article when I first moved to Hong Kong (for the second time.) I’ve met and worked with many of the Factories in Zhuhai and started my own business with factory tours and developing new products. I have the same ‘bug’ you do. Hate paying retail, but I’ve also been developing products from Asia for 25 years.

    Comment by Jennifer | September 5, 2010 | Reply

  13. […] type place” in Zhuhai      (My friend’s description, not mine. Something like this I […]

    Pingback by Guan Shanyue Art Museum – 关山月美术馆 « Unzipping China | February 27, 2011 | Reply

  14. Unfortunately we bought a lot of stuff at Mobilias Mei Choi to furnish our Macau apartment and it fell apart quickly, it was a terrible investment. No one should buy anything substantial from Mobilias Mei Choi!

    Comment by Normandy Madden (@normandymadden) | December 27, 2012 | Reply

  15. […] The big Zhuhai shopping adventure! « Adventures in Asia – The big Zhuhai shopping adventure! A few weeks ago Francie and I were invited by one of our Mandarin classmates to her house for drinks. They had a great … […]

    Pingback by Zhuhai Antique Furniture | online-shop - browse antiques | December 16, 2015 | Reply


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