Just over the border, this go-to shopping destination has tons to offer and makes for a perfect day trip!
Whether you’re living in or visiting Hong Kong, Shenzhen is too close to miss. A day trip might mean getting a much-needed massage or finding a good bargain in Lo Wu, but our neighbouring city offers much more than that. Shenzhen is perfect for a weekend getaway (just an hour and a half by train) and like many places, some insider tips always help to make the most of a day trip. Join us to find out where to stay, eat and explore in Shenzhen. We’ve even included a handy 24-hour guide at the end of the post, so jump to that if you haven’t got a full weekend.
Read more: 24 Hours As A Solo Female Traveller In Delhi
Before you go
When to visit
The best time to visit Shenzhen is from October to December since the weather is pleasant (almost cool enough for a proper jacket). If you’re heading over in the summer, there’s an annual lychee festival from 28 June to 8 August, with cultural events revolving around lychees. Visitors have the option to go to Lychee Park to taste fresh lychees and immerse themselves in Chinese culture.
How to get there
Hong Kong is a central spot for so much of Asia, and Shenzhen is a prime example. Take the East Rail Line to Lo Wu or Lok Ma Chau stations, depending on where you want to go in Shenzhen. Lo Wu is the most popular crossing point as it has the huge Luo Ho shopping centre, and offers quick connections to downtown Shenzhen. The Lok Ma Chau crossing is better for some Shenzhen hotels. Both are connected to the Shenzhen Metro.
Things to note
China can be a bit tricky for non-Mandarin speakers, but Shenzhen is a friendly, bustling city where people are willing to help. Have your hotel write out your destination in Chinese to show taxi drivers, and keep a card with the hotel’s address written in Chinese in your purse or bag and you’ll be all set. Also, most nationalities require a Chinese visa to visit, so be sure to apply at least a month in advance!
Where to stay
Grand Mercure Shenzhen Oriental Ginza
Expect immaculate rooms, a pool, a sauna and a fitness centre that can be used to your liking, as well as spa services to mark the cherry on top of the experience. The hotel is also located within 3 miles of the Splendid China Folk Village and Window of the World.
Grand Skylight Hotel
A four-star gem amidst the bustling city, the Grand Skylight Hotel is the ideal option for those who are looking to spend their visit in luxury. The rooms are elegantly decorated with plush comfortable beds. The hotel offers sweeping views of the city, hence the name “skylight”. There are several Chinese and Western restaurants and bars to choose from, as well as a fantastic duty-free shopping centre.
Idea Jar Hotel
Featuring another fun experience, the Idea Jar Hotel offers its guests not only a place to stay but also a full-blown library with an array of books to choose from. The hotel is cosy and offers a sun terrace for further relaxation. Nearby attractions include a hiking trail and the electronics market.
Idea Jar Hotel, 4F, Lei Zhen Plaza, 40 Fu Ming Road, Futian District, 518001 Shenzhen, Guangdong, China, www.booking.com/hotel/cn/jin-nang-qing-nian-yu-hua-qiang-bei-dian
Caught between modern and artistic, this hotel is easy on the eyes and offers a fun experience for the guest. From the exterior of the hotel to the hallways and finally the rooms, you will find splashes of colour and intricate designs. Besides the lively atmosphere, the hotel is the ideal location for those who are interested in striking a balance between shopping for electronics and nightlife.
Maker Hotel, 3034 Huaqiang South Road, Huaqiangbei Area, Futian District, 518000 Shenzhen, Guangdong, China, www.booking.com/hotel/cn/qu-chuang-jiu-dian
Shenzhen Xi You Hostel
This hostel is ideal for those who are on a tight budget (or anyone after a more adventurous sleeping option). Each room consists of a square capsule with just enough space to feel comfortable and relax. Shenzhen Xi You Hostel is located near the metro, and within walking distance to several fun attractions such as Happy Valley Theme Park, Shekou Sea World and more.
Shenzhen Xi You Hostel, Block B Xin Xin Building, 113 Zhen Xing Road, Hua Qiang North, Futian District, 518000 Shenzhen, Guangdong, China, www.booking.com/hotel/cn/shen-zhen-qi-you-qing-nian-lu-guan
Where to eat
Feast Signature Restaurant
What sets Feast Signature apart from the other restaurants in Shenzhen is the interactive experience that is encouraged. This spot is an all-day dining restaurant with an enticing buffet and à la carte options offering mouthwatering food. It also has a beautiful sea view of the aquamarine water and spectacular sunset.
Feast Signature, Sheraton Dameisha Resort, 9 Yankui Road, Yantian District, Shenzhen 518083, Guangdong, China, +86 755 8888 6688, www.marriott.com
HaidiLao Hot Pot
If it’s your first time in Shenzhen, but more importantly your first time in China, you must take a stab at China’s infamous hotpot or as the Chinese call it haidilao. Since hotpot is a communal dinner, the idea is that you sit around a table with family or friends with a boiling pot of broth in the middle. The broth can be spicy, non-spicy, or tomato, take your pick! As for the ingredients that go into the pot, well, that’s also up to you. Restaurants usually offer a variety of ingredients including raw vegetables and meats, as well as delicious dipping sauces. YouYi Cheng specifically offers its customers an entertaining experience with friendly customer service.
HaidiLao Hot Pot, 5-6/F, Youyicheng, No.63 Youyi Road, Luohu District, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China, +86 755 8225 0991
OCT-LOFT is an artistic area offering a variety of art galleries, shops and tasty restaurants. Magpie happens to be among those tasty restaurants and is known for its creative dishes and twists on traditional dishes. The restaurant is a modern restaurant for those who are looking for a late night that involves appetisers and delicious cocktails. Among the intriguing dishes on offer are chicken and waffles and scotch egg.
Magpie, A5-125 North Section, OCT, Wenchang Street, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China, +86 755 8652 8782
With spectacular views of both Shenzhen and Hong Kong from the 95th floor, you won’t want to pass up a meal at this restaurant. With dim sum, sashimi, steak and a buffet with a variety of additional options, you’ll quickly discover that the food does not disappoint. Keep in mind that this option can be a bit on the expensive side so if you are on a budget it may not be the right fit for you.
Social Restaurant, 95/F, Kingkey 100 Building, No. 5016 Shennan Road East, Luohu District, Shenzhen 518001, Guangdong, China, +86 755 2223 9358, www.tripadvisor.com.hk
Willy’s Crab Shack
Craving Western cuisine? The atmosphere has a laid back vibe with fantastic buy one, get one free happy hour deals. Favourites include coconut shrimp, a buffalo chicken sandwich, jalapeño poppers and much more. With great food, cheap drinks, and an expat atmosphere, even tourists feel like they’re right at home!
Willy’s Crab Shack, No.18 Shi Yun Road, Shekou Shenzhen, Shenzhen 518052, Guangdong, China, +86 755 8827 8002
What to do
Dafen Oil Painting Village
This particular site is a 1.5 hour trip away from Shenzhen. Almost the entire village of Dafen is dedicated to art which creates a lively experience for the visitor. At one point, the village produced 60% of the world’s oil paintings, although this number has changed in recent years. At Dafen Village you will find both original works and replicas of famous oil paintings.
Dafen Oil Painting Village, Buji Town, Longgang District, Shenzhen 518123, Guangdong, China
La Casa itself is pretty small, but it features a vast outdoor seating area, perfect for relaxing on long warm evenings. With regular quiz nights and a famous open mic night every Sunday evening, Dave Seymore, the owner has brought together many of Shenzhen’s aspiring poets and musicians. A well-priced selection of wines, coupled with delicious homemade pizzas and pasta has made La Casa a popular, creative hangout for expats.
La Casa, Section A, Baoli Culture Plaza, Crossing of Haide 2nd Road and Wenxin 6th Road, Nanshan District, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China, +86 755 8628 7885
Located at the northern end of Shenzhen’s downtown area is Lianhuashan, one of the city’s most popular parks. It features both tropical and subtropical plants and trees, a relaxing lake, and a small mountain. Lianhua mountain takes approximately 20 minutes to hike and, at the top, you will find former Chinese politician Deng Xiaoping’s statue overlooking the city. In the southeast of the park is Kite Plaza, a favourite spot for local families and children to fly their kites. Kites can be purchased at the park shop for a small price.
Lianhuashan Park, Hongli Road, Futian District, Shenzhen 518028, Guangdong, China
Window of the World
With more than 130 reproductions of famous attractions from around the world, this is an amusement park that you won’t want to miss. For those who haven’t had the chance to see the world, Shenzhen Window of the World features replicas of the Vatican, Eiffel Tower, Angkor Wat, Egyptian pyramids and much more.
Window of the World, 9037 Shennan Road, Nanshan District, Shenzhen 518053, Guangdong, China
- g你好 Nǐ hǎo – Hello
- 早上好 Zǎoshang hǎo – Good morning!
- 下午好 Xiàwǔ hǎo – Good afternoon!
- 谢谢 Xièxiè – Thank you.
- 你叫什么名字 Nǐ jiào shénme míngzì – What’s your name?
- 我的名字是 … Wǒ de míngzì shì – My name is…
- 我要这个 Wǒ yào zhège – I want this.
- 我要那个 Wǒ yào nàgè – I want that.
- 这个多少钱 Zhège duōshǎo qián – How much is this?
- 我 听不懂 Wǒ tīng bù dǒng – I do not understand.
- 浴室在哪里 Yùshì zài nǎlǐ? – Where’s the bathroom?
- 我可以看一下菜单吗? Wǒ kěyǐ kàn yī xià càidān ma? – May I have the menu?
- 你有这个吗? Nǐ yǒu zhège ma? – Do you have this?
- 我不能吃 … Wǒ bùnéng chī… – I can’t eat…
- 我对此过敏… Wǒ duì cǐ guòmǐn – I’m allergic to…
- 这很美味 Zhè hěn měiwèi – It’s delicious!
- 别客气 Bié kèqì – You’re welcome.
- 我来付吧 Wǒ lái fù ba – I want to pay.
- 我可以使用我的信用卡吗？Wǒ kěyǐ shǐyòng wǒ de xìnyòngkǎ ma? – Can I use my credit card?
Spas in Shenzhen are built on an industrial scale and usually charge a fraction of what you pay in Hong Kong. Some even offer complimentary gym facilities, fruit and drinks – SLF International Spa Club is one of them. Located right next to the Lok Ma Chau train station (perfect if you take the train from Hong Kong), SLF International Spa Club is the best place to start the day with a relaxing massage. The lobby resembles the interior of a five-star hotel, and you are welcomed with a clear price list of its services as you enter. The massages are reasonably priced, for example a Thai massage is 178RMB (approximately $205) and a Chinese style massage is 158RMB (approximately $182) and it also offers other spa options. The massage itself is decent and the massage rooms are clean and quiet. To top it off? Unlimited, complimentary fruit dishes, ice-cream and drinks are served in the common area and you can enjoy the free WiFi while unwinding on the comfy couches; stay for as long as you wish.
Sassy Tip: Take a dip in the hydromassage pool located between the changing room and massage rooms –disposable swimwear is provided and it’s free!
SLF International Spa Club, 1-6/F Gangcheng Huating (Huanggang Border Crossing), Yunong Village, Futian District, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China
If we could only recommend one place in Shenzhen to a friend, it would be OCT-LOFT. Originally an old industrial area with abandoned factory buildings, the OCT-LOFT complex is now an artistic space that houses contemporary art galleries, bohemian coffee shops, fashion boutiques, tasty restaurants and so much more. With low-level architecture and garden beds among street sculptures, it offers an alternative slice of Shenzhen life. It’s hard to not fall in love with OCT-LOFT: it’s a lovely, spacious area to explore alone, with friends, or with family, whether you’re up for admiring some contemporary art or just fancy relaxing around the area with a beer or a cuppa. Once you enter OCT-LOFT, you’re welcomed by Instagram-worthy graffiti and art walls on the refurbished warehouses. You could easily spend hours at OCT-LOFT taking pictures (that would lead people into thinking you’re somewhere in Europe), buying souvenirs at little craft shops and soaking in the art and design world.
Take metro line 1, get off at Qiaocheng East Station (OCT East Subway Station), take Exit A, turn right on Enping Street and walk for around five minutes.
Don’t know where to start? Here are some of the must-visit spots in OCT-LOFT:
A major player in OCT-LOFT, Idutang is not just another hipster bar. Visit in the evening for live performances by independent musicians from both China and abroad, occasional movie screenings, or simply kick back with a brew (on tap) in the relaxing terrace in between art appreciation sessions.
- T-Street Creative Bazaar
Held in the first and third weekend of every month, more than 60 local gadget designers, collectors and handicraft enthusiasts set up stalls at the open-air, T-Street Creative Bazaar at OCT-LOFT. From personalised jewellery and accessories to vintage clothes and art books, you will find all things creative here.
- LSD Party
Don’t let the name fool you – LSD party is, in fact, a restaurant that doubles up as an art space. The plush internal decorations coupled with the stylish Mediterranean cuisine and traditional Italian food and wine make it a great location for a date or a relaxing meal with friends and family. LSD Party has previously exhibited work from some of the world’s top household design brands, including Bretz, Vitra, Walter Knoll, and Fendi.
Sassy Tip: For serious foodies out there, you can have the chefs cook up your own special dish as long as you call in advance and let them know what you fancy eating.
- My Coffee
Visit My Coffee to unwind from the hustle and bustle of Shenzhen. One special feature about the café is that you can choose which coffee mug you drink from. My Coffee features a whole myriad of interesting and beautifully designed cups that you can opt for. While you’re sipping away on your cappuccino or latte you can also indulge in the café’s collections of art and photography books for a bit of a bohemian experience. On the snack front, the pineapple cakes are worth a try and pair perfectly with a cup of coffee.
OCT-LOFT Creative Culture Park, 2 Jinxiu Beilu, Nanshan District, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China, www.octloft.cn
HEYTEA is Gong Cha, but better. While the Galaxy Coco Park might be similar to malls in Hong Kong (but bigger), you only need one reason to make a stop here and it is HEYTEA. You won’t miss it because there’s always a long queue outside the shop and you will see people holding the HEYTEA cup everywhere. The popular cheese-topped style tea (nai gai cha) is what attracts the crowd. You have the options of low-fat for the cheese, low-sugar for the tea, or the original (the real deal). Better share this tea if you plan on eating dinner – the thick, creamy and rich cheese layer (totally guilty but glorious) can go a long way.
If you’re looking to order like a local, order the Jinfeng Tea King (Cheese Green Tea). HEYTEA has quite a few tea selections to choose from and Jinfeng Tea King is the most popular choice. Jinfeng Tea King comes with a layer of cheese about an inch thick and holds a mixture of cream cheese lightly seasoned with salt and beautifully poured over Jinfeng Tea (an oolong tea from Alishan, Taiwan).
Galaxy Coco Park, 268 Fuhua 3rd Road, Fu Tian C B D, Futian District, Shenzhen 518208, Guangdong, China
6pm: COCO Park
COCO Park in Shenzhen is like Lan Kwai Fong in Hong Kong. Located in Central Shenzhen, it’s stuck right between Nanshan and Luohu Districts and is rapidly becoming a nightlife destination for both locals and expats alike. Looking for a fun night out? Here are some of our favourites:
McCawley’s Irish Pub
For those looking for a quiet pint in a traditional pub, McCawley’s ticks all the boxes. From its wood-panelled walls to the sweeping staircase leading to the second floor, this pub oozes old-world charm and has many of features you would expect from a quality city pub in Dublin. The traditional pub menu caters to expats who miss the comforts of western food, including roast chicken, Irish stew and imported steaks. Although McCawley’s is slightly more expensive than other bars in COCO Park, it remains ever popular for its good service, weekly live music and sports coverage.
McCawley’s Irish Pub, Shop 151-152, COCO Park, 268 Fuhua 3rd Rd, Futian District, Shenzhen 518208, Guangdong, China, +86 755 2531 3599, www.mccawleys.com
11pm: Club Viva
If you’re looking to party on into the wee hours, then Club Viva is the place to be. Open until 5am, this nightclub is popular among locals and expats, especially for weekend parties (expect pounding dance music all night long). Unlike clubs in Hong Kong, Club Viva features a massive terrace, serves shisha and offers tapas-style snacks to keep you going through the night.
Club Viva, 1/F, Shopping Center, Futian District, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China
Club Viva, 3/F, Sea World Square, Shekou District, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China
Editor’s Note: This post was originally written by Pearl Yan on 18, July 2017 and updated by Stacy Dahl on 26, June 2019.
Featured image courtesy of Denys Nevozhai via Unsplash, image 1 courtesy of Tiger Yifan Huang via That’s Shenzhen‘s Instagram, image 2 courtesy of Grand Mercure Shenzhen Oriental Ginza, image 3 courtesy of Maker Hotel, image 4 courtesy of Feast Signature Restaurant, image 5 courtesy of Social Restaurant, image 6 courtesy of Mx. Granger via Wikimedia Commons, image 7 courtesy of Millertime via Trip Advisor, image 8 courtesy of Joseph Chan via Unsplash, image 9 courtesy of Aaron Greenwood via Unsplash, image 12 courtesy of HEYTEA via Instagram, image 13 courtesy of Daniel A via Trip Advisor