Many of the best places to shop in Shenzhen can only be described as overwhelming, but that doesn’t stop millions of visitors and residents in Hong Kong from crossing the border for better bargains. From art districts to high-end luxury malls, Shenzhen is home to every type of shopping experience. Malls tend to occupy the first floors of many skyscrapers, and when you tire of fluorescent lighting, pedestrianized outdoor shopping areas are only a short taxi away.
Shopping just over the border from Hong Kong is as much about entertainment as it is finding deals. Several of the best places to shop in Shenzhen compete for attention with glowing lights, sizzling food courts, and cozy outdoor squares for enjoying a break.
Luohu Commerical City
Located just outside the immigration control point, Luohu Commercial City is a frenetic, five-story warhorse for shopping in Shenzhen. This isn’t the place for a bubble tea and casual stroll, but you'll be able to score bargains on a myriad of items. Shop owners do whatever it takes to pull shoppers inside to view their wares. When you need a break from the stress, the massage parlors are some of the cheapest around!
Perhaps a little unfairly, Luohu Commercial City could be compared to MBK Center in Bangkok; both are busy malls with plenty of knockoffs and inexpensive souvenirs for sale. Unfortunately, Luohu Commercial City and the adjacent railway station are rife with scams, touts, and pickpockets—be sure to stay vigilant.
Huaqiangbei Commercial Street
Huaqiangbei Commercial Street, beginning at the intersection of Shennan Middle Road and running north, is possibly the largest electronic market in the world. The wide, pedestrianized strip of towering plazas and malls is a playground for technophiles. Hackers and gadget enthusiasts could become blissfully lost there for days. A few department stores along Huaqiangbei Commercial Street also sell clothing, but the electronic goods are the real draw.
The towering SEG Plaza at the corner is a good place to start. The first ten floors of the skyscraper (China’s 21st tallest) are a wholesale computer-and-electronics market. Keep in mind: Purchasing a smartphone or laptop in Hong Kong instead of Shenzhen may be safer for a number of reasons; although, you probably still won’t get warranty support in your home country.
Da Fen Village
Da Fen Village, also called the Oil Painting Village, is a northern Shenzen suburb where thousands of artists have taken up residence. Whether or not you purchase a painting, simply walking the linseed oil-scented neighborhood and watching so many artists at work is fascinating. Expertly imitated recreations of famous masterpieces can be found for $40 or less, but plenty of original work is on display. You can also commission new pieces with eager artists.
Street sculptures, narrow alleyways, and vine-covered shops make Da Fen Village an interesting diversion even if you don’t want to carry someone’s creation home.
Located in Futian far to the west of Dongmen, COCO Park is a go-to place for eating, entertainment, and some of the best shopping in Shenzhen. Although touts outside the mall can be aggressive, the goods for sale inside are typically authentic. Many luxury and midrange brands are represented around the complex. An obstacle course in the courtyard keeps kids busy so parents can enjoy something from one of the cafes.
COCO Park lights up at night in more ways than one. The bar street opposite the complex hosts several nightlife venues and rooftop clubs. The 115-story Ping An Finance Centre next door is the second-tallest building in China and fourth-tallest in the world!
Dongmen Pedestrian Street
If you don’t have a specific mission while shopping in Shenzhen, getting lost in Dongmen is a good start. The busy area served as a market more than 300 years ago and is one of the city's oldest shopping districts. Today, Dongmen is Shenzhen’s commercial epicenter where a dizzying number of malls, department stores, and shops of all sizes compete for space and your attention. Hundreds of thousands of shoppers pass through the six-level Sun Square/Plaza, just one of the many malls in Dongmen, each day.
Although there are plenty of other places to eat, you can see the first McDonald’s in mainland China here; it opened in Dongmen in 1990, two years before the chain appeared in Beijing. Many tourists photograph the McDonald’s then head over to Dongmenting Food Court where they can sample a wide variety of local dishes—prices are cheap but quality varies.
MixC Shopping Mall
MixC is one of Shenzhen’s oldest and largest (by retail space) shopping malls. Despite its age, the six-story megamall is still a top contender when shopping for high-end, international brands. Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Bulgari, and many other upmarket stores host more than 2.2 million square feet of retail space. If your budget already took a beating while shopping in Shenzhen, H&M and similar midrange outlets can also be found inside MixC.
The five-star Grand Hyatt Shenzhen is attached to MixC, and there are more than enough dining options in the area. An Olympic-size ice rink on the fourth floor is fun for bruising your shins and the massive cinema is one of the most modern in town.
A relative newcomer to Shenzhen’s shopping scene, the Upperhills shopping area in Futian is the place to go for a high-end experience while enjoying some exercise. Colorful shops are spread over 9.6 million square feet of pedestrianized outdoor space, a refreshing deviation from the typical mall setup. The Porsche exhibition is always a hit, but brands such as Sony, Nike, Gap, and Zara attract shoppers who want to do more than just window gaze.
Upperhills’ location isn’t as convenient as other places to shop in Shenzhen. But when you need some green space, several large parks are only a short walk away!
Coastal City in Nanshan feels like a small city—three big buildings wrap around a concrete space that’s used as a public square for events. Bands, dancers, or some other form of free entertainment usually take to the stage on weekends.
Like MixC Shopping Mall, Coastal City is home to an ice rink and beautiful cinema, but there are more bars and attractions in the area. Locals come to Coastal City to walk and hang out as much as they come to shop. The mall’s retail space is home to a variety of shops for all budgets along with the “usual” options for mall dining.