With Temple Street Market, Wan Chai Market, and Golden Arcade, Hong Kong is an internationally renowned shopping destination. Yet shopping-savvy Hong Kongers are quick to give three reasons why they pass up these markets and cross the boarder into Shenzhen for weekend spending sprees: Commercial City, Dongmen, and Hua Qiang Bei.
Millions of “made in China” stickers found worldwide are slapped onto products made in Shenzhen, a city that offers the shopper everything from circuit boards to custom-tailored suits - which are much cheaper than those on Hong Kong’s Nathan Road. Part of the reason prices are so cheap in Shenzhen is that products are often counterfeit, and shopping here means that you risk purchasing a dysfunctional knockoff that won’t last the subway ride home. You can minimize this risk and leave Shenzhen with more than a new electronic paperweight if you don’t let the LED displays crawling up skyscrapers distract you. Heed the following advice.
Luo Hu Commercial City 罗湖商业城View In Map
Coming in from Hong Kong, many visitors never make it past Luohu’s Commercial City - a shame because quality increases and prices decrease as you penetrate deeper into Shenzhen. Commercial City is a seven-story mall with 32 escalators, 16 lifts and 1280 shops that is just across the boarder from Hong Kong. It offers the standard array of Shenzhen products - handbags, electronics, and kitsch - along with services like visits to the doctor or dentist and massages. High prices, prowling pickpockets and plenty of unreliable gear mean that, unless day-tripping from Hong Kong, there is little reason to spend a day here. If electronics are what you want, you are better off paying for quality in Hong Kong or heading to Hua Qiang Bay, as Commercial City’s electronics range from unreliable to dysfunctional. The fifth floor fabric bizarre is worth a look, however, and a good place to custom-tailor a sharp suit.
Luohu Commercial City is adjacent to Shenzhen’s subway station. Take line one metro east, to the very last stop (or very first if coming from Hong Kong) and shop away just outside of the immigration checkpoint.
Add: South of Shenzhen Railway Station, Shenzhen
Tel: 0755 8233 8178
Dongmen Commercial Street 东门步行街 View In Map
Instead of wasting time and money at Commercial City, hop on the metro’s line one and head west away from Luohu, stopping at Lao Jie. At nearly 300 years old, Lao Jie (literally ‘Old Road’) is ancient by Shenzhen standards. Exiting the metro at Exit A puts one in the middle of things and provides an opportunity to grab a milk tea from one of the many stands that populate the area. Clothing, electronics and kitsch can all be had here for exceptional prices, though Hua Qiang Bay offers more reliable electronics. Dongmen’s larger storefronts are a better bet than its stalls to find legitimately branded clothing, but many still offer curious products - you are more likely to stumble across a “Clio Coddle” polo than a Lacoste one. Women’s World offers quality women’s clothing.
Those frazzled by Chinese traffic can window shop comfortably, as Dongmen Commercial Street was closed to cars in 1999. However, don’t limit yourself to this road and explore the many stalled streets branching off of it. Braving claustrophobia and climbing a few stories into at least one congested mall is recommended, as is grabbing a bite to eat. Smashed on a stool between a window and pedestrian traffic, enjoying a bowl of suan la fen and watching shoppers stream by, is a quintessential Dongmen experience. It is also fun watching people hustle passers-by into their restaurants. Rub shoulders at Dongmen and you will see why it is Shenzhen’s most famous shopping area.
Add: Dongmen Walking Street, Luohu District, Shenzhen
Hua Qiang Bei 华强北View In Map
After Dongmen, get back on the metro’s line one and continue travelling west to the Hua Qiang Bei stop. Hua Qiang Bei is an area full of buildings selling all manner of electronics that begins with the landmark SEG building on Shennan Boulevard and runs one kilometre north to the Pavilion hotel. Hua Qiang Bei’s pulsating atmosphere makes it the highlight of shopping in Shenzhen, even for techno-tards. Climbing up the SEG’s escalator is akin to walking through all the stages of an assembly line: the first floor displays semiconductors, chips and wires unidentifiable to all but the tech-savy; the second circuit boards; the third through sixth floors completed monitors, laptops, USB sticks, webcams, wireless routers, and software. Hua Qiang Bei is a techy’s dream come true, but even if you aren’t product sourcing, visiting here is a fascinating glimpse into the China that is the workshop of the world. You can also find women’s clothing and good eats in Hua Qiang Bei, but above all else, this area is about incomparable ambience.
Add: Huaqiang Beilu, Futian District, Shenzhen
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