Shenzhen has always been a popular day trip or quick escape option from Hong Kong ever since I was little. While it used to be a shopping paradise because of its proximity to factories and the exchange rate, nowadays, it’s for other reasons entirely. Though RMB is stronger than HKD now, the average cost of living in Shenzhen is still lower than Hong Kong, meaning eating out and other entertainments are more affordable. Beyond that, Shenzhen has become a UNESCO City of Design with modern architecture and art that surprises many visitors (including me). This will be a regularly updated post as I explore and write up more about Shenzhen, what to do, and how to get around!
>For more info on visiting China for the first time, check my China Travel Tips guide coming soon.
- 1 Hong Kong China Passport/Visa check
- 2 Travel from Hong Kong to Shenzhen
- 3 Things to do in Shenzhen
- 4 Shenzhen attractions
Hong Kong China Passport/Visa check
You would need to go through immigration between Hong Kong and China as they have a different system. For Hong Kong residents with ID card and or passport, you would need what is referred to as ‘Home Return Permit’. You can apply for this through the China Travel Service that is valid for 10 years. If you are a frequent traveler between the two parts, you should also apply for the fast track at the border.
If you are a visitor in Hong Kong, you would need to obtain a China Visa through your embassy in order to cross.
Travel from Hong Kong to Shenzhen
Hong Kong to Shenzhen
There are a lot of ways to get from Hong Kong to Shenzhen, but here I will focus on the most common public transport methods to cross the border.
The East Rail Line has two endpoints that both connect to a border with metro station at a different part of Shenzhen. Lo Wu is the more historic one, linking to the Lo Wu district in Shenzhen since 1949. The border is reached on foot and you go through a bridge that straddles the river which acts as the natural territory boundary between the two.
The other point is Lok Ma Chau, which opened in 2007 and connects to the Futian Border. Again, it has a similar set up to Lu Wo but is much more modern. It is usually less crowded but not really that much of a difference.
Note that both borders closes at midnight and opens at 6:30.
The main thoroughfare for buses is that Huanggang Port. It is the second most popular border aside from Lo Wu, but doesn’t connect to a Hong Kong MTR or train station, although it does link to a Shenzhen metro stop. There are plenty of buses that go to this port.
Things to do in Shenzhen
There are many things to do in Shenzhen, although most of the Hong Kongese venture up in search for three main things: food, photo opportunities, and entertainment. The later mostly relates to Karaoke or massages, though sports can be cheaper to try such as archery.
There are a large number of massage parlours in Shenzhen for every budget, and it’s a favourite thing to do for Hong Kongese to venture up north for a massage. It is worth booking beforehand if you have a place in mind, especially during public holidays and weekend.
When we went up, we didn’t end up getting a massage because most places were booked. You can check the ratings for the massage parlours on Daiping App (only available in Chinese), otherwise, here are some that I recommend:
Note: most charges a compulsory tip on top
If you like hot pot then you’ll be spoilt for choice in Shenzhen. A feast for the meat lovers, it’s much cheaper to eat in Shenzhen than in Hong Kong. personally, I highly recommend the beef speciality and the coconut chicken ones!
For beef hot pot: Bahe Lihaiji Beef Shop 八合里海記牛肉店
For coconut chicken: Runyuan Fours Seasons Coconut Chicken 润园四季椰子鸡
With much cheaper prices and more abundant studio, going to an archery studio in Shenzhen is a good, sporty, indoor option.
Cheese cap fruit tea
While you can get cheese cap tea in Hong Kong, too, there are a few brands that just do it better in Shenzhen. Not to mention it’s a little bit cheaper plus more refreshing than getting it in Hong Kong. Hey Tea is the most popular one, often spotting a long queue. Naixuecha is another successful brand with their ea and bread concept. If you like fruit, bread, and innovative food, then you have to go and try!
Address for Hey Tea
There are a fair amount of things to see in Shenzhen, but here, I’ll be handpicking my favourites and leaving out ones that are just a bit too cliche.
An old market turned pedestrian area and mega shopping district, Dongmen is a good place to scout for street food while wandering around.
Shenzhen shopping mall
A new development, the OCT Bay is the best place to go shopping and enjoy a chillax afternoon. With stone paved wide streets and elegant cafes and restaurants, it’s a beautiful corner of Shenzhen that’s perfect for hanging out with friends and unwind.
An alternative to OCT Bay, MCX City has more of an urban modern vibe and plenty of eateries and places to chill, too.