If you need a pair of prescription glasses or some fashion specs in Beijing, don’t miss this place – Beijing Glasses City. Located at the end of a small, modest street, which is at the southeastern tip of the Third Ring Road, Beijing Glasses City is called the paradise of four-eyed person. At the southeastern part of the Third Ring Road is a small, modest bystreet. The street ends at a four storey-building which is best described as a walk in paradise for those vying for a good pair of spectacles.
Just while strolling down the thin street, you will find ten or so glasses shops. These small shops contain everything necessary to make a pair of eyeglasses. The shops in the building, however, rarely handle the eye-testing and glasses pre-production process. This takes place in a room in the building next to it. There are many glasses shops here, containing everything necessary to make a pair of eyeglasses and everything here is cheap! There are round-rectangular frame glasses, heart-cat-eye-fram glasses, butterfly frame glasses, round frames, square-round, cat-eye, rimless glasses, oval-can wear any frame, you can almost find any kind of glasses here.
If you have a pair of glasses with the correct strength for your eyes, be sure to bring these with you. In that case, their strength can be read and a similar pair can be made without you having to test your eyes. But if you don’t have any glasses with you, you can still find a good pair. Just seek out a pair of frames you like, and the staff will help you with the eye-testing without any extra charge.
Some sales people speak English. If you find a pair of frames in a shop with non-English-speaking staff, you can buy the frames there and then let a shop with English-speaking staff take care of the lenses. Prices are negotiable and range from about two hundred yuan and upwards, depending on which frames and lenses you choose.
Glasses City and nearby Mingjingyuan have likely the largest selection of direct to consumer eyeglasses in the world. This collection of over 200 small shops is wholesalers for frame and lens manufacturers that supply most of the planet with eye wear. Many foreigners have visited these places in recent years and many expats shop here.
Despite the multitude of individual shops, many sell exactly the same frames, or virtually identical ones. What that means is you won't find too many unique frames (no metal frame without a nose pad for example).
Lens options are mostly limited. CR-39 plastic is used almost exclusively, high index plastics and polycarbonate are available but harder to find. Progressive and transition lenses are also harder to find but getting these right will likely require you bringing someone that speaks Mandarin well. Forget Trivex, they don't have it and name brand higher index lenses (like Seiko or Hoya), if they're advertised, should be met with a large amount of skepticism.
The overall quality, however, is average. Although many people might not notice much difference, there is a quality difference between what you will find here and what you will find in a good brick-and-mortar shop back in the U.S. But, at 1/10th the price, you might not care nearly as much.
Sales people can be "pushy" compared to what most of the western world is used to. Be prepared for this, have a clear idea of what you want and even though it always helps to have someone who speaks Mandarin, you can negotiate on the calculator or simply in English, which is pretty well understood everywhere.
Contact Lenses are available but selection is limited if you have a more extreme correction (above -8.00/+4.00 range for example). Most lenses are locally made and might not meet the same quality standards as the big brands sold in the West. All told, if you have a normal prescription, you may find a lot to like about buying your contact lenses here - bring the package of your current lenses for best results.
It’s better for you to bring a pair of glasses of your own, with the correct strength for your eyes if you have one. In that case, you needn’t do a test of your eyes. But if you don’t have one, you can still find a good pair. Find the pair of frames you like, and do a eye-test without any extra charge, then you can get your pair of glasses that are tailored to your liking.
Location: Dongsanhuan Nanlu 64, Chaoyang district
Opening hours: Daily 9am - 6pm
Mingjing Yuan Eyeglasses Market
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