A Clever (and Clued-up) Shopper’s Paradise
Shenzhen used to be a small town. Today, it is a thriving city with a huge commercial centre of its own. It is popular for both business and tourists alike, but is best known as a ‘Mecca’ for shoppers who like to purchase ‘affordable’ designer handbags, wallets and watches.
Shenzhen truly is a fantastic place to shop. Who wouldn’t love the myriad of shops selling everything from handbags – of every size and description – to watches and jewelry and pearls. It is a cathedral to commerce! Ready to wear clothing and shoes are abundant and personal tailoring is available for anyone wishing to have a favourite item copied, or a made-to-measure suit. Both can be posted back to Hong Kong within 5 days.
At the heart of Shenzhen is Lo Wu Commercial Building: a 5 story shopping centre crammed full of over 1500 shops. A walk through the fabric hall is as overwhelming as it is delightful, with fabrics from the lightest Thai silks to the best quality wool and cashmere and the loveliest Egyptian cottons draped as far as the eye can see, which can quickly be turned in to all manner of clothing and interior furnishings.
It’s not just clothes and jewels in Lo Wu. This place is packed full of practical solutions for busy city living. Need a new pair of specs? How about a trip to the opticians; eye tests are free and a new pair of prescription glasses or ‘designer’ sunglasses can be made and ready to wear in an hour. Just moved into (yet another) new apartment? Get some made-to-measure blinds for those funny shaped windows. They will be delivered directly to your door ready to hang with all of the fixtures and fittings.
If fatigue sets in, there are beauty shops galore offering gel and shellac manicures and pedicures for just HK$100. A relaxing massage (HK$40 per hour) or even a quick wash & blow-dry (HK$50) can easily be organised so you can go home feeling totally refreshed.
You really cannot knock Shenzhen’s shopping credentials – or indeed its potential to frame a fantastic day or weekend out of the city. But, for a first (or even a second or third timer), Shenzhen can be overwhelming. Visas on entre, huge complexes, swarms of people following you around telling you to come into their shop, all promising the best quality and the best price. How do you know where to go and how much you should be paying?
If you’re lucky you will have a friend who is a ‘Shenzhen pro’, who can show you the ropes. But for those of us who are yet to befriend one of these elusive master shoppers, there are also companies offering guided trips to Shenzhen. Our top pick is Hello Hong Kong, which provides tailor-made trips to Shenzhen with a specialist guide for you and you friends.
Kim of Hello Hong Kong is a bonafide Shenzhen expert. She has lived in Hong Kong for the past 7 years and has been running shopping tours to Shenzhen for nearly as long. A day with Kim starts at 9:30am. Coffees purchased, you’ll hop on the train at Hung Hom to Lo Wu, which is about 45 minutes away. On the way Kim provides you with entry and exit forms to China and gets to grips with your shopping priorities to prepare the perfect shopping route. Once in Lo Wu Kim steers you nimbly through the station to the visa office to sort your visa (if you don’t already have one) and through immigration. On arrival, Kim will guide you to the best shops and better still, help you master the art of negotiation with the sellers and get you great prices for your goods.
After a good lunch (Kim will handle the reservations), you might then take a 15-minute taxi ride to Dafen art village. Dafen is famous for artists producing copies of well known works of art, as well their own original paintings. Stroll through the streets watching artists at work or commission your own painting. How about a self-portrait? Want to capture your favourite landscape in oil? Or immortalise Aunt Mildred’s dog, Roger? Just bring a pic and one of these talented artists will help you out. You can buy fantastic paintings of all sizes at great prices. Buy them unframed and roll them up to take home, or have them framed and shipped back!
We can attest that Kim is a fantastic guide who will help you navigate this frantic shopping wonderland, streamline your trip and get you super deals on anything and everything that you want to buy. It’s a great first way to experience Shenzhen and will set you up to do the second trip like a pro!
An 8.5-hour guided shopping trip with Hello Hong Kong costs HK$2,500 for 1-2 people plus HK$500 for each additional person. More information can be found on their website here or by contacting [email protected]