Chengdu’s Art and Antique Market
Song Xian Qiao
Record Shopping at Chengdu Antique Market
Chengdu is a shopper’s paradise. Malls seem to be popping up weekly across the city. There are plenty of shopping streets and specific product shopping areas. Of course, that means plenty of opportunities to buy souvenirs, but if you’re looking for something truly unique Chengdu’s Art and Antique Market is the place to go. Song Xian Qiao (送仙桥古玩市场) not only has cool gifts, but it’s also an amazing experience.
In the late morning, the area starts to get lively. Dealers dust off their goods, blankets are laid out on the market’s lanes and filled with eclectic items, and artists begin new projects. With over 500 vendors and 20,000 square meters of space, Song Xian Qiao is China’s second largest antique market. There are so many items up for grabs that the vendors have spilled out onto the streets selling some things that aren’t even legal (we saw a bunch of bear paws).
Inside the gates, the vibe is pretty relaxed with more vendors dozing than pestering.
The name Song Xian Qiao is taken from the nearby Song Xian bridge. It translates to something like “see off a God bridge”.
The outdoor area is a labyrinth-like set of lanes that are lined with booths, many of them selling similar items: Tibetan prayer beads, old coins, stamps, and Buddha statues.
Inside the somewhat dreary building is three levels of art and antiques. In the southern building you’ll find the majority of the galleries and studios.
Even if you aren’t interested in buying any art, the studios are worth visiting to see artists in action. My favorite to watch are the old men and woman painting Chinese calligraphy. It’s hypnotic.
Be sure to have a close look at the famous Shu embroidery. Shu is the short name for Sichuan. This art-form is a type of silk embroidery. By using 122 different needlework techniques, small silk threads are sewn into a satin canvas creating amazingly detailed images.
In the north building, you’ll find jam-packed antique shops, as well as some specialized areas (for example, an area of shops selling rocks and minerals). Some of these shops have been there for generations. To find that perfect gift, you might have to dig around for a while, but that’s what makes the antique market so cool. It’s like a treasure hunt. With so many interesting items, you could spend days exploring. I managed to find some records and an antique suitcase record player that I fell in love with. Ultimately, I didn’t end up handing over the cash, but if you do find something you like, be sure to barter hard. Cut their quoted price in half and see where you end up. Hopefully, you’ll be going home with a treasure or a truly unique gift, plus a great experience.
Location: 416 Qingyang Shangjie (成都青羊上街416号)
Telling a taxi driver song xian qiao (even if you pronounce it right) might not be enough. In Chinese, gǔwàn shìchǎng (古玩市场) means antique market. Or, just show him this: 送仙桥古玩市场
If you want to take the public transit, it’s not that difficult at all.
Take bus #13, #78, or #64 and get off at Qingjiang East then head south down Huanhua North Road. The market will be on the left.
Metro line #2 -- station Hospital of Traditional Medicine (中医大省医院站). Get out at exit A, head towards the overpass, turn left on the main road (Qingjiang East Rd), walk for 5 minutes before turning left on the next main road (Huanhua North Road). After 5-10 minutes you’ll see the market on your left.
Hours: 6AM-7PM, but many booths open in the late morning.