Forget Silk Market for your Chinese tat and clothes. It's crowded and vendors are very pushy. Go down the road instead. It's the same stuff, including great tailors, just as big but less crowded and therefore more fun. Remember to haggle!
Yashow Market, 58 Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang District
We had a fantastic time in Beijing; it's definitely one of my favourite Asian cities. It has an energy about it (aside from that generated by the neon signs and buildings everywhere) that's very infectious and belies its reputation as a bit of a concrete jungle.
One of the best things I did was to take a bicycle around the backstreet hutongs of the city, true Chinese style. The architecture is from Imperial times and it really feels like you're stepping back in time to when the Forbidden City was still really forbidden to mere mortals. This way you can escape the crowds too, and find some street markets where you can bargain to buy anything from knockoff designer clothes to Chairman Mao alarm clocks and the ubiquitous Little Red Book. And make sure you have your hotel's business card so you can show it to someone when you get lost!
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org