Shopping in Harbin can be quite an overwealming experience. There is pleanty of markets around the city and most of the cheaper ones are just metres away from the university. The Harbin city centre is full of underground markets selling such things like clothing, accessories and food. The underground tunnels were initially built to shelter civilians in war times. However, now there is little threat of such a disaster these tunnels have been turned into shops. All markets that you come across in Harbin will expect you to bargain down prices so the initial starting price is much more than what the item is really worth, so it is a MUST to barter!
Across from the University at night in the warmer months there are street stalls that sell a range of goods inluding fresh fruits and vegetables. Most of these stalls you can bargain down the price further than at the inside markets.
For a more up market shopping experience you should head to centre street. The shops in centre street target their marketing and product prices to the wealthier chinese and foreign markets. You should expect to pay high price for expensive brands and products you find at home.
For those students who are interested in computer gear and gadgets there is an IT store just metres down the road from the University main entrance. This four level building is filled with small vendors trying to pass of computer items and music players for ridiculously cheap prices. Again it is to be said that it is a MUST to barter. A useful tip to know is if a shop owner gives you a starting price, expect to buy it for half the price. If they will not sell it to you it is just part of their game, give it time they almost always give in to your price. The competition is fearce so if you cannot get your product for your price, move to the next shop it is guarenteed that they are selling exactly the same products.
Harbin is so very near to Russia, it is not surprising to find some Russian handicrafts here. Russian dolls with their air of charming naivety are among the best souvenirs for your relatives and friends. Other kinds of Russian merchandise are sold in Guogeli Dajie, which is totally Russian in style.