Computer City: Shopping for Electronics in Chengdu, China
Chengdu’s Electronic District
Directly to the east of the Sichuan Gymnasium metro stop is a short stretch of road that is a haven for electronic shoppers. While ‘Computer City’ is the name of just one of the many giant electronic department stores (likely the first one) on the street, the block itself is often referred to as Computer City. It’s the place to go for electronic shopping in Chengdu. If you’re looking for a computer, camera, tablet, speakers, smartphone, security device, office furniture, or almost any type of electronic accessory -- there’s probably a vendor in Computer City that has what you’re looking for.
Personally, I went looking for a lavalier microphone. I wanted the type that plugs into your smartphone (it needs a special type of output jack). I knew that it would be difficult to find. Watch the video to see if I had any luck.
Computer City // This is Chengdu, China
Computer City was definitely overwhelming. There is just so much to see. If you’re looking to quickly pick something up, you might be better off at an electronic chain store like Suning, but if you want a bit of adventure in your shopping -- this is your place. It consists of large 5 to 6 storey buildings filled with different vendors, plus some smaller stores scattered along the road. There is a bit of organization from floor to floor -- a floor dedicated to cameras, one for laptops, etc -- but you might find some stray vendors where they don’t seem to fit in. From booth to booth, there isn’t that much variety, but I suggest using the different vendors to find the best price. Get a quote from one person, tell them it’s too much, see if they drop their price, ultimately walk away and repeat at a competing vendor using the price of the first vendor as a starting point.
You’re not likely to come across many people that speak English, so here are a couple phrases that will make your life easier:
- Duō shǎo qián? (多少钱) -- How much is it?
- Tài guì le (太贵了) -- Too expensive.
Other than that, the vendor’s trusty calculator will aid your negotiation.
Your best buys will be domestic products, music, video games, and movies (probably bootlegged). Foreign products (Apple, GoPro, Canon, Nikon, etc) will likely be the same price as other retailers. With the import taxes, there just isn’t much room to negotiate.
Honestly, you’re likely to get better deals on websites like Taobao, but the language barrier, the speed at which you need it, and a lack of permanant address in China might be a problem. I do highly suggest going on Taobao and searching for what you want. Use a translator or a Chinese friend. It’s a great way to get an idea of how much the item should cost before taking on the Computer City vendors.
If you’re headed to Computer City for parts to build your own computer, try not to knock things down with your nerd boner.
Location: The area starts just east of Renmin South Rd, right on the 1st Ring Rd. You can show a taxi driver this 数码广场 or try and pronounce this Shùmǎ guǎngchǎng.
But the easiest way to get to Computer City is to take the #1 metro line to Sichuan Gymnasium and get out at exit D1, D2, or C. Two of the huge buildings are right there on the north (@World) and south (Digital Square) corners, and another one, which is called Computer World, is further east on 1st Ring Road.
Hours: Some buildings open at 9 am, some at 10 am. They generally close at 6 pm. Open 7 days a week.