Shenzhen, the hip, young blood of China

I am always angry when people have very bad misconceptions about Shenzhen. I am sure some of you have heard of crazy ass stories from Hong Kong people that people’s organs get stolen or your family dog gets accidentally cooked by the restaurant you are at or that everybody is a prostitute. Well, these things did happen and I do not deny it. But I have never had this happen to me or any of the people I know. Anyways, throw away your biases and prejudice, go to Shenzhen with a blank canvas in your head and explore the youngest, one of the most hip and hot cities in China.

Now you have to notice before you go, that Shenzhen is not a city with tons of tourist attractions or ancient temples you can visit. Having a history of merely 30 years, it is a place where young people come to fight for their ambitions, pursue the modern ways of living and set up experimental business ideas. So this is a city for you to live, instead of sight-see.

Places you should check out in Shenzhen:

1.DongMen/Lao Jie
-Or directly translated, the East Gate or the Old Street. Located in the center of Lo Wu district, this is one of the oldest ares in Shenzhen, and where the initial boom took place. It is more Cantonese speaking because more of the locals tend to reside here. DongMen is a place for some cheap knock offs, factory-made leftovers, street food, and interesting cultural sites. But you have to be more careful when you are here because this is the area where Hong Kong people are talking about, where there is a possibility for you to get mugged, ripped off, get into dodgy business and drug dealing. But as long as you are acting “normal” and not do any of those “Ooooh I am a cool travel explorer and I want to find out all the adventures so I am going to talk to this weird man with no legs and see what kind of interesting place nobody has ever been to that he will take me”, you will be perfectly fine.
Subway Station: Laojie

2.KK100
-The KK100 is a newly built, tallest building in Shenzhen. it can be easily spotted and it is one of the new hotspots for young people to chill at. There is a mall underneath the tower with plenty of good restaurants. But the point of this place is to get to the top of the building. It is the St. Regis Hotel’s lobby at the top floor and you can take the elevator all the way up to the 93rd floor(if thats the right number that I remember). If you are a low-budget traveler, you do not have to worry about it. You can simply check out the gorgeous view of the entire city for free at the hotel lobby and nobody would come and bother you. Not many people know about this so you would be really cool to know about it and show it to your friends. You can also have an afternoon hi-tea session here or grab a drink at the “space bar” which is even higher. It is 160 RMB ish for 2 drinks so it is not that bad for a classy pre-drink before you head down to clubs.
Subway Station: Grand Theatre

3.MixC
-The MixC is across the street from KK100. Being one of the fanciest shopping area and the hippest place in Shenzhen where cool crazily dressed young people hang out, you can find most of the brands here. A new, fancy club called the FACECLUB was opened and it is a fresh spot for the wealthier youth and white-collar so it is a bit more pricy. But the environment is pretty awesome.
Subway Station: Grand Theatre

4.OCT BAY
-This is my one of my personal favorite. It is a new area by an artificial beach with plenty of amazingly chilled and cool bars by the lake as well as some modern clubs. O-SEVEN, KLUB, Demon Bar are all worth to check out. Because it is a newly developed area, not many people have rushed in here yet. Therefore if you are looking for a comfortable, chilled environment and enjoy a drink by a gorgeous scenery, this is definitely the place to go.
Subway station: Qiaocheng East, but you need to walk for a while so you could fetch a cab from here for only 10RMB.

5.COCO PARK
-Coco Park is where a lot of the foreigners gather. Located in the centre of the business area in Shenzhen, it offers a variety of cuisines and it is the traditionally clubbing area. Demon Bar for some shisha, pool and a liter of beer, then head across the street for some partying. Le Nest is at the front of the lane, where mostly Shenzhen kids go to. It has pop music mostly and sometimes performers to hit the place. A minimum charge of 800RMB is applied. On the right hand side, you can take an elevator to the second floor where two rooftop bars/lounges called La Vie and something else are at and enjoy a drink with a urban view of Shenzhen. As you walk further inside, CLUB VIVA, LAX and some other bars attract the foreigners and young Chinese girls looking for a sugar daddy. PEPPER, upstairs at the end of the street, is pretty dope. It is in a big, modern wooden box above, leading up by a concrete stairs with fountains on your side. Bamboos as walls and a flow of water circulating the place, it is a place you do not want to miss. House, electronic and lounge are played here with big name DJs sometimes and the price is not too high.
Subway Station: Shopping Park

6.OCT LOFT
-OCT Loft is a hidden, artsy area in OCT district, where hipsters, artists, LOHAS stuff are gathered. You can find galleries, vintage shops and art cafes and bars here. Yidutang is a good place if you like individual, underground indie or jazz music and they feature some overseas artists such as Chris Garneau and Jens Lekman.
Subway station: Qiaocheng East

7.Shekou
-Shekou is at the far west of Shenzhen where a lot of expats live. Therefore a lot of different styles of cuisines can be found here with some artsy shops and cafes. There is a harbor area with plenty of bars filled with interesting people. If you really miss the ocean breeze and long for a quieter night, check it out.

8.The government building and the center cultural area
-This is where I hang out mostly in Shenzhen. Several things are gathered here in the center of the city. The government building is the ginormous blue flag thingy which is pretty impressive. There is a massive square below it and not many people go there. This is a gorgeous spot to chill and watch the sunset. As you walk towards the mountain behind the building, the Book City is right below. It is the biggest book/cultural area in Asia where you can find an enormous selection of books, music, art supplies, artsy stuff and cafes. There is a book bar which opens 24/7, where you can grab any of the books and a cup of tea, and spend the entire afternoon. The city library and the music theatre are worth checking out. If you want to go for a minor hike and take a look at a high point, the Lianhua Mountain right behind it is very nice. It is a huge park with various nice trails going up. The famous statue of Deng Xiaoping is also at the top square, looking down at this gorgeous city his idea of a reformed China nurtured.

Voila, these are some of the places that “real, cool Shenzhen people” do. Do check them out next time you visit the city and stop complaining that it is too dangerous. IT IS NOT.
You will definitely love the place if you follow my suggestions.

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6 thoughts on “Shenzhen, the hip, young blood of China

  1. Shenzhen doesn’t deserve a bad reputation, but the 港人 like to badmouth its mainland neighbor just because Hong Kong is NOT in the mainland.

    Although I’m not Chinese, I have no issues with wandering around any Chinese city at anytime- in fact if more places were open at 02:00 (besides the 烧烤摊) I’d never need to be up during the day!

  2. Hi Bohan Qiu, stumbled across your post and quite enjoyed it!
    We are heading to Shenzhen tomorrow in the hopes of filming Shenzhen “street style”. It seems OCT is very popular, but would you say it´s where the fashion crowd hangs out? Where would you suggest we go to spot local fashion and street style?

    Thanks!
    Barbara

    1. Currently it is the Shenzhen fashion week going on at OCT bay. You should be able to find all the street snaps you are looking for. After night people would head to some clubs in Coco park. The style can vary greatly but you may certainly find interesting ones as well.

      1. Yes, we are going to be around oct for fashion week. Are you in shenzhen at the moment? If you are it would be great to meet up 🙂

      2. I wish I could but I am busy lately in Hong Kong. Would be nice to meet up if you come. Good luck in Shenzhen and hit me up if you need anything else:)

      3. Merci! 🙂 i just might. We are working on an ongoing project in macau and will be in HK over the next couple of weeks.

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