what to see in shenzhen

Plan a visit to Shenzhen, one of China’s fastest growing cities. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Nightlife, Arts and Endless Shopping: Why Shenzhen Should Be Next on Your Travel List

Just across from Hong Kong lies its lesser-known neighbor, Shenzhen. But sprawling Shenzhen is poised to have its own moment to shine. With a population nearly twice the size of Hong Kong’s, the growth of this Chinese city appears unstoppable, and not just in numbers alone.

The modern metropolis also ranks among the world’s top travel destinations. Here’s why you should put it on your radar, too.

Art

Considered to be South China’s richest city, over the years, Shenzhen has grown from rural fishing village to earning the nickname “China’s creative capital,” and with good reason. Designated a UNESCO Creative City in 2008, it’s home to culture hot spots, such as the heritage art village OCT Loft — a former factory zone of 37 acres now dedicated to the contemporary arts. Here you’ll discover hip galleries, quirky cafés and pop-up markets.

Also a hot spot for musicians, Shenzhen holds the annual October Jazz Festival, which is located just down the road from Marriott Executive Apartments The OCT Harbour, Shenzhen.

Art aficionados should also pay a visit to both the Museum of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition (MOCAPE) and the Design Society. Visit the latter to experience rotating exhibits like “Values of Design,” which showcases how design influences culture both in Shenzhen and around the world.

In search of something less modern, but perhaps more eclectic? Check out the Dafen Oil Painting Village, which at one point claimed to have created more than 60 percent of the world’s replica oil paintings. From pop art to Picassos, rifle through famous reproduced works of art until you find your favorite take-home masterpiece.

Eat and Drink

From classic Cantonese cuisine to Western favorites, and a nightlife rivaling that of Hong Kong’s, Shenzhen offers a smorgasbord of culinary delights and tantalizing tipples.

Before heading out for a night on the town, fill your belly at Canton 8 — the sister restaurant to the cheapest two-starred Michelin restaurant in the world (located in Shanghai). Think well-executed Cantonese cuisine served at reasonable prices. Order the BBQ platter topped with a delectable crispy pork belly, and you won’t be disappointed.

Those prioritizing art on their stay, take note of Art + Canteen, which serves elegant surf and turf in the Art Village complex, or Magpie, which dishes creative fusion fare inside the OCT-Loft complex.

Cocktail enthusiasts will relish Providence for well-crafted cocktails in a subdued atmosphere, ZAZOO Live for live music, or the anomaly of Ciyuntang Traditional Massage, a speakeasy bar hiding behind the facade of a massage parlor/Chinese restaurant.

Infamous among Shenzhen locals is also Vinylhouse, a bar/record store co-owned by Polish DJ Tomasz that focuses on noncommercial music and high-quality signature cocktails.

Shenzhen’s craft beer scene is also brewing good things. For local pours, Half Ton Brewery adds speciality flavors, like Sichuan peppercorn, to their drafts. Bionic Brew is also a must.

For your final stop of the night, Sky Club offers a loud and proud party-goers’ atmosphere, while newly opened Oil has a reputation for excellent beats in a less intense environment. On a nice night, the rooftop at O Garden in COCO Park is the place to be to drink and dance the night away.

Shopping

Being that Shenzhen is a manufacturing hub for consumer goods, shopping is a must when in town.

Bring your walking shoes and get ready to cover some serious ground as you peruse the seven floors teeming with more than 400 shops and 100 eateries at Uniwalk Mall, Shenzhen’s largest shopping complex. Check out high-end designer brands, like Diesel, and high-street favorites, like Uniqlo and Zara, as well as popular Chinese fashion chains, such as Westlink. When you’re ready to rest, kick back at Uniwalk’s movie theater or one of its many other entertainment zones.

Looking for tailored suits and skirts or bargain-priced jewelry? With more than 700 stores, the five-story Luohu Commercial City has it all for those who like to bargain — and be prepared to negotiate prices, hard! There are also well-priced restaurants and massage services within the building in case the outing turns into an all-day adventure.

Those in the market for electronics should peruse the SEG electronics market. Said to be the largest collection of electronic sellers in Asia, the eight floors of independent sellers hawk everything from cutting-edge technology to their own knockoffs of popular gadgetry.

For a less chaotic shopping experience, visit mega-mall COCO Park, which is home to more than 200 international and domestic brand-name retailers.