With floors and floors of mini shops selling every possible pair of glasses you can imagine, this is heaven for bespectacled travellers looking for a super-cheap spare set of glasses. You’ll find everything from simple reading glasses to sunglasses and contact lenses, including (usually genuine) designer brands.
Turn around times are fast, and for simple lenses you can expect to be able to collect your glasses a few hours later. For more complex prescriptions you may need to wait a day, but rarely longer than that.
We would advise bringing along your current pair of glasses, from which they can easily copy the prescription using lasers. However, if you need your prescription re-done, most stalls will do this for free. Note that the numbers used in China for lens strengths are different to those in most other countries, so they will not be able to interpret a written prescription from your optician.
The first few floors are full of tourists and stalls trying to sell you fake designer sunglasses. You’ll find the salespeople quite pushy, prices high, and service poor. However, head to the top floor and search out small stalls hidden towards the back where the locals go – there may not be anyone pulling you in and you’ll need to Google translate, but you’ll have time to quietly browse the more affordable ranges.
Prices are generally quite negotiable, particularly if you buy multiple sets of glasses – expect to spend around 150-300 RMB on basic reading glasses or sunglasses, and up to 1000 RMB for fancier frames or complex prescriptions.
Beware the touts loitering around the metro station – they will grab unsuspecting tourists and pull them into one of the other shops located nearby, rather than the main glasses mall. The prices are more expensive due to the reduced competition, and service is often poor.
Opening hours: 9:00 – 18:00
Transport: take metro line 10 to Panjiayuan station (潘家园 – exit A). The glasses mall is almost directly opposite the metro station – if you walk left out of the metro you’ll find the pedestrian bridge to cross the road about one minute down.