It's famous for it's "designer" shopping, food and massages, but there's so much more to be found in Shenzhen
Thanks to its central location, Hong Kong is a great place to live, especially when it comes to travel. Short trips from Hong Kong are super easy, and you can be on a beach in just a few hours. Fly a bit further, and you can explore the North of Mauritius (on a direct flight!) or live the good life at these design hotels in Asia. But what about our neighbour to the north? China is a fascinating country full of colour, culture and fabulous cuisine, and we often explore the lesser known side of the hermit kingdom ourselves. If you’re looking to dip your toes into China, then start with our guide on things to do in Shenzhen and you’ll see why we love it in no time.
North of the Border; East of the Delta
A Case for Shenzhen
We’ve heard the horrors and revelled in the pleasures. There’s sometimes a negative air around Shenzhen and now is the time to refute these polluted rumours. Shenzhen in a blink has blossomed into a treasured vestige and one of the most important economic powerhouses in China. Now let’s vibrantly leap onto the express and talk about what’s happening there.
No, you won’t find massage palaces and Luohu Shops on this guide of things to do in Shenzhen – #sorrynotsorry.
Why We’re Going There
Shenzhen is new, new, and new. The astonishing growth of the city over the past decade can only be compared to mega metropolises like Dubai and, well, Hong Kong. Their advanced technological capabilities and manufacturing acumen has made this city one of the brightest stars in a region of rebirth. Admittedly it took some time for the culture to catch up to the cityscape, and it’s still catching up, but it’s there. From art markets to retail empires, conventions to concerts, it’s happening.
Things to do in Shenzhen: A Taste of What’s There
A personal favourite and something to plan the trip around: OCT Loft Creative Culture Park is a must-visit. This little neighbourhood, filled with unencumbered paths lined with shops who’s proprietors range from local artisans to those with a keen eye for home design, it’s the story of an industrial complex made anew with hip spots scattered throughout. Must stops include Old Heaven Books (think the best of Brooklyn bookstores with vinyls and coffee), the many art galleries, and for cocktails go Magpie or B.PARK. Definitely one of the best things to do in Shenzhen.
Handy Hint: don’t confuse OCT Loft with its neighbors of lesser character such as OCT Harbour or the larger area of OCT itself.
Learn more at www.octloft.cn
V&A Gallery at Design Society, Shekou
The growth of any city requires a burst into the international sphere and Shenzhen is claiming theirs with the first Asian outpost of the V&A museum. Stationed in Shekou, adjacent to the ferry terminal, it’s far from the city but the exceptional exhibitions are totally worth a visit.
Find out what’s happening at www.vam.ac.uk
Looking for things to do in Shenzhen that have a little quirk? While SeaWorld in Shekou is arguably a strange stop, this part too has seen much growth in recent years and if you’re keen on a dive bar there’s always a great cover band playing at X-TA-SEA, located in the big ship. You’ll see it, trust us.
Now one of the most frequented luxury malls in China, this retail mega spot is the go to mall in Shenzhen for shopping, dining, and aircon breaks in the summertime. It boasts all the luxury outposts, which, yes we have in Hong Kong, but it also has some of China’s more well-known fast fashion shops that rival Zara and the like. Bonus, it has a HeyTea Black, akin to Starbucks Reserve, it comes with a chic store design and special flavors not available elsewhere!
Learn more here: http://www.themixc.com
The Night Time Vibes
The nightlife in Shenzhen is a vast landscape of openings, closures, and general confusion. Don’t let this stop you. Underground house haunts and perfectly over-the-top pump clubs have been peppering the night time landscape recently, and we’re fans.
If you’re new and want to feel out the scene, Coco Park is filled with boisterous crowds and riotous fun, akin to LKF in a more al fresco environment. But the cool club kids have their own haunts in Shenzhen, and many are secrets well kept. From experience, each month brings a new opening and new closure, its best to deep dive on Instagram and other socials for the most up to date things to do in Shenzhen at night.
CONCERTS / CONVENTIONS
Shenzhen is now the go-to for a big show. From world renowned DJs, to international acts, globally attended conventions, Shenzhen has positioned itself to host them all. When doing your searches for upcoming concerts, include this region in your geofilter because we’ve been shocked many a times enough to keep it on our radar.
Getting There & Getting Around
Vibrant Express! All night busses! MTR, taxi, you name it. There are so many ways to get to Shenzhen. My preference has always been towards the express bus, departing from various easy to reach locations like Wanchai and Mong Kok. It’s cheap (roughly $50 HKD) and runs all night. But, now the most viable option is the Vibrant Express high speed rail. We’ve yet to take this leap, but the word is when traveling new China, trains are the way to go.
If you do desire some Luohu shopping, the MTR is your best bet. Aside from this, the ferry is also viable but it lands you at the far west side, away from most the must visits.
Now you’re there, you’ve got to get around. Their metro system is clean, efficient, and inexpensive. While it’s got more stops than the beloved HK MTR, it’s a solid choice over the sometimes crippling traffic. If you prefer taxi, it’s also a cheap choice but do know your address in Mandarin or have it written on a map. Or just grab a Didi.
- Get your RMB in HK before going
- Use Apple Maps, not Google Maps (for those iPhone users)
- Do have addresses in Simplified CHI or know in Mandarin
- AirBnB is a viable option for overnight stays
Enjoyed reading about things to do in Shenzhen and looking for more travel inspo? Find out what to do in Singapore, visit our fave vegetarian restaurants in Tokyo or take a staycation in Hong Kong.