If you are searching for the soul of a city, you can find it hidden in a café. No matter how big a city is, if it is without cafés, then it is like a tree that is hollow at its core. There is a void in its heart.
A café is the meeting point of the people of the city. It is where everything about the place and its people are told and retold countless times over. From the customers to the coffee baristas, each have their own unique tale to tell, which all come together to form one common thread.
Like the character of Rick Blaine says in the movie Casablanca, “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.” The same can be said of a café. They are filled with strangers who have connections that they simply do not know yet, and all it can take is a random encounter to change that.
The coffee that is served is irrevocably entwined with geography, history, culture, arts, and above all else, the personal connections we make every day.
From Paris to London and from Seattle to Melbourne, cafés have been where some of the greatest literature is crafted and where some of the most groundbreaking innovations are born.
Decameron Coffee, which started right here in Shenzhen, is one such café. Inspired by Giovanni Boccaccio, every cup of Decameron Coffee is made with passion and creativity.
There is an art to testing coffee; every espresso has a story to be told, there are emotions to be expressed, flavors to be savored, and long lasting fragrances to be shared. It is through this process that Decameron Cofee aims to achieve its simple goal to create “The best cup of coffee”.
So, how do we define this “best cup of coffee”?
The best cup of coffee should introduce itself gradually through its fragrance, revealing its taste subtly with each sip. To achieve this, we must begin at the source with the planting, picking, roasting and processing of the coffee beans we use. Through it, we can feel refreshed from the Ethopia Yirgacheffe, enjoy the aroma of the Indonesia Golden Mandolin’s fragrance, and savor the Costa Rica Beethoven.
The best cup of coffee is an unwavering commitment to the highest standard in every cup every day, and it’s the relentless pursuit to keep improving. At least 3 times a day, our baristas test the espresso to ensure every cup meets the required standard.
The best cup of coffee does not begin and end with the taste on the tip of your tongue. It goes much further to its appearance, to its fragrance, to the overall feeling it gives the drinker.
In fact, what makes the best cup of coffee is always changing and constantly evolving. The very beauty of coffee is that it changes with time. Running wild with their imagination, exploring their artistic tendencies, and using a broad range of ingredients, the baristas of Decameron Coffee makes every sip of coffee an adventure.
So, discover Decameron Coffee and begin your adventure today.
Group hiking in Hong Kong a way to relax and mingle
When you have exhausted your list of things to do in Shenzhen and finally get to take off time from work for a long-overdue weekend getaway, you’ll want to savor every last minute of it by hiking. For nature lovers living in Shenzhen, there is always a choice for a bit of travel — Hong Kong, and you can do it with a group of people who share the same interest. Hiking in Hong Kong is is the best way to get outdoors and socialize with people of all nationalities.
Hong Kong, located right next to Shenzhen, is endowed with bright sunshine, soft beaches, limpid seawater and hot weather all the year round. It enjoys a long and winding coastline, which gives birth to dozens of bays and beaches. Sheltered by mountains with hiking trails, many of them are unruffled and free from strong wind.
Oswaldo Loor from Ecuador got an invitation of hiking in Hong Kong from Ye Wenhao last May, who was organizing hiking trips at that time. Interested in the trip though, Loor at the end still wanted to go to a beach in Hong Kong with his Latin friends.
Ye told Loor that he could organize a trip to the beach if more than 28 people joined, which was enough for renting a whole bus. That said, Loor started to promote the beach trip and successfully got 56 people to join it.
The beach they went to is Sai Wan Beach, which has been described as one of the best scenic spots in Sai Kung East or even Hong Kong. The beach features white sand and clear blue waters, which is attributable to its relative inaccessibility.
“The first time we went to Sai Wan Beach was so much fun. We jumped the cliff, bathed in the ocean and all. The people were really happy. We were a mixed crowd of Chinese and expats. They really enjoyed it and thanked us for organizing the trip” said Loor, who was so happy and decided to organize more trips with Ye.
Up to now, they have organized about ten trips, including trips to Sai Wan Beach in Sai Kung Peninsula, MacLehose Trail Section 1 & 2, Suicide Cliff at the south of Kowloon Peak, and Sunset Peak. Loor said they organize at least two trips every month, mostly on the weekend. Every time, around 28 people join the trip.
During the trip, you can not only enjoy the stunning natural scenery and burn some calories sweating out, but also meet new friends from different countries, talking, dancing, swimming, jumping and camping out.
All people are welcome to join their Hong Kong trips, which cost only a bit of money but return tons of fun, a great recharge of energy and an ignition of passion for life.
Take a step forward to hike
If you are interested to know more about their hiking trips add Oswaldo on WeChat, his user is: osloor and join also their hiking WeChat group with around 400 members.
Scan QR Code in Mage To Add Oswaldo
Long-press the QR Code, tap “Extract QR Code” to Follow “Discovery” on Wechat for more information.
On July 16th 2018, you will be limited to bringing 120,000HKD to Hong Kong without declaring it when crossing the border from Shenzhen by ferry, train, airport etc. Previously there was no limit of the amount of cold hard cash you could bring into the Hong Kong Special Administrative region.
Welcome to Hong Kong! The first thing a new client asks us is – what is a good hotel to stay at in Hong Kong? With so many choices and price ranges, it is a difficult answer to say in 1 email! So we have taken parts from various posts and made today’s guide list a full range of options for different locations and price ranges.
Hong Kong isn’t the biggest place – so even if you pick a hotel far from the center it is possible to get there and back for meetings and conferences.
Going to Global Sources Trade Show
Many come to Hong Kong for the Global Sources Trade Show. This is a bit far from downtown, so you need to decide if you want to visit popular bars and restaurants at night or not.
While there are some nice hotels at the airport and near the Asia World Expo (where the Global Sources Show is) – most people stay at a hotel in Kowloon or Hong Kong island.
Why? Two reasons
There is a free bus or Airport Express for Global Sources Attendees. During the trade show season, they worked a deal to give you a free pass to the Asia World Expo from Kowloon or Hong Kong station. Just show your badge or registration papers and you’ll get a pass.
There are more things to do at night – Just like any city, the airport is not downtown! Hong Kong is the same. So if you want to get some nightlife in and nice restaurants, it’s best to find a place in Central, Wan Chai, or TST districts (as well as quite a few other central hubs).
Going to the HKTDC Trade Show
There is another trade show happening in Hong Kong as well – the Hong Kong TDC show, or HKTDC for short. This is on the main island of Hong Kong, aka Hong Kong island, so you can just take a MTR to Wan Chai station and it’s about a 7 minute walk to the HK Exhibition Centre.
Many people go to both the Global Sources Show as well as the HKTDC show. Each are a few days long, and have just a little overlap.
So if you’re looking to do both, and want to reduce the commuting and have a hotel in the downtown area – look for places in Wanchai, Causeway Bay, Admiralty, or Central. Sheung Wan is another good one.
Always Check The Address On MTR Map
So a good rule of thumb is to ask the hotel what the nearest MTR station is. Then, find the MTR map and look at it.
Downtown is the blue line on the bottom of the map. That is where the “action” is. The bottom left is the main spot, with Central as the hub. If you’re near Central, you can also take the Airport Express right up to the Global Sources show, so it is easy to get there and to the HKTDC.
A newer MTR map will show you more stops on the blue line to the left (West) of Sheung Wan (and left of Central). These are “up and coming” districts with this new metro line expansion, so you may be able to get cheaper hotels and better value for money there.
Also, if it is far up north or far to the east – that is about a 45 minute to 1 hour MTR ride from downtown. I learned the hard way “back in the day”. Plus I have had clients in town who book a nice hotel there but it is just so far from everything. You’ll save money, but spend more time in taxis or more time in the subway.
What’s Your Budget?
Hong Kong is one of the most expensive places in the world! And no matter how much you spend, you will probably have a much more compact room than anywhere else in the world! Space is such a valuable asset here it is unbelievable.
So when someone asks me for a hotel recommendation, I would ask:
What is your budget?
What are your expectations?
What location do you want? Central? Or Willing to Travel more?
If you want a 5 star hotel in downtown, you’re talking around 500 US dollars per night. If you can deal with a 3 star in a downtown area, you can get by at $200 USD a night. Then there are the 1 – 2 star that you can find around 100 to 200 USD a night. If you’re willing to go to Kowloon side or even further into New Territories you can get better quality at a better rate.
Hong Kong is really all about location. And size of the room.
AirBnB + Hong Kong
AirBnB. An obvious one, but less choices here as the Hong Kong government is strict about businesses listing here – https://www.airbnb.com/s/Hong-Kong. Over and over again this topic comes up – Airbnb is technically not allowed in Hong Kong and the government has forbid people to use it. You can list there, but to list, you need to be a business with a license to sell a short term stay.
To legally list on Airbnb in Hong Kong as a person / individual, the listing has to be for at least a 1 month stay. That is what the government allows for personal to personal renting.
Yet I have friends from NY and other places who have still found amazing places to stay through it, as recent as a couple months ago right in Mid-Levels in Central. Check it out, and see if you find any apartments you can rent. The risk if there is a government crackdown at your apartment is that you would get your money back and have to find a new hotel. I haven’t heard reports about it – and so I wouldn’t worry too much renting on Airbnb for a short term stay, but listing is another matter.
Backpacker Looking For Value For Money?
One I am safe to recommend is called Yes Inn. This is a hostel, pretty clean, and a bunch of my friends have stayed here. They have two locations on the Hong Kong Island side – Causeway Bay and Fortress Hill. There is also one on the Kowloon side in Mong Kok (check an MTR map to learn about specific districts). You can share a room with other travelers, or get your own private room. Below is a pricing table:
Standard mixed dorm suite HKD $179-419 (USD $22-56)
Private room suite HKD $199-459 (USD $25-59)
This seems to be the best value for a bootstrapping entrepreneur. They have a few locations in Hong Kong; the better location is in Causeway Bay, but there are also locations in Fortress Hill and Kowloon. Rates start at about 200 HKD a night (28 USD). Obviously check their website for the latest prices, but in my opinion the lowest cost for the value and location you can find! http://www.yesinn.com
Butterfly hotel is a bit more expensive. But again, you get what you pay for. Rates from 1,000 HKD to 2,000 HKD a night (140 to 280 USD), but you have your own room, there is wifi everywhere, and they have locations throughout Hong Kong. Check out the Butterfly hotel in Central here. http://butterflyhk.com/eng/our-hotels/on-hollywood/index.php
I think this is a mix between the two choices above, both in price and in service. The rate when I have stayed here is about 300 to 400 HKD (40 to 50 USD), and you’ll have your own room. But there is only one location right in Wan Chai. The website is a bit hard to use, but then again this is why the price is more reasonable. http://www.kingshotelhk.com/hotel/location
Next I am nervous to even mention it here – but I think a guide about Hong Kong hotels wouldn’t be complete without at least mentioning it:
Chungking Mansions is the building having about 80 low cost accommodations (guest houses) located on Tsim Sha Tsui (Kowloon district). I have stayed here at least 5 or 6 times, as well as countless numbers of my friends. You can get a room for as low as 100 HKD a night, though more realistically 200HKD. A lot of Indian restaurants that second as a hostel overnight – I have slept to the strong smell of curry at least a couple times there. An adventure to say the least. If you are looking for the lowest cost choice, take a trip over: 33-44 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong… but don’t say I didn’t warn you first!
The funny thing is – our office is across the street! Yet none of our clients have opted in to staying there!
Want To Stay Near The Global From Asia Office?
Coming to Hong Kong just for us! Wow, we are honored. So many clients ask us what are some good hotels nearby the office. Let’s list out a few. We also link them to booking.com search results, as you can put our company address (found at globalfromasia.com/contact/) and get search results by distance.
Prices here start at about $3,100 HKD a night (about $400 USD), and are high class.
Peninsula Hong Kong
Another 5 star hotel right around the corner from our office. Also has a great view of Victoria Harbour (for an extra 100usd/night fee on average). The rates here start at 4,000 HKD/night ($500usd) but it is an amazing experience.
Also, if you’re up to see Hong Kong from the sky, they have a helipad on the rooftop!
This is a hotel I stayed in for about a week when doing a business deal with a European investor back in 2009 – 2010! It is a good hotel and also a bit more reasonable price than some of the other hotels with a room rate starting at $250 USD / night.
Still not for the backpacker’s budget, but for a business person who wants a good mix of class and value, this is an option. It is just a few more blocks away from MTRs, but still right on Victoria Harbour on the Kowloon side with some amazing views. I enjoyed working in the lobby with a massive 2 – 3 story tall window overlooking the harbor.
What Is Your Experience With Various Hong Kong Hotels?
Hope today’s guide on accommodation in Hong Kong is helpful! This could be a book – there are so many hotels and places to stay, this is only a brief overview to give you some ideas of price ranges, locations, and levels of service.
It is probably going to cost you around $150usd a night for a “normal” hotel room, can go as low as $50usd, and as high as $500 – or even more. As everything in Hong Kong, the sky is the limit!
Now it is your turn! Please share your experiences and recommendations in the comment section below. Let’s help each other out!
Allow me to paint what I suspect is a familiar picture for a number of our readers. You’ve just spent the better part of a day traveling from across the world to arrive at Shenzhen Airport. It’s already late, and first thing in the morning you are scheduled to start a long tour of factories. All you wish to do is get a good night’s sleep.
The problem, however, is that if you wish to stay at a five-star hotel that offers quality service and luxury accommodation, then you would need to go to Nanshan or further still to Futian or Shekou. All of which are 45 minutes or more drive’s away from the airport. With the opening of the Hyatt Regency Shenzhen Airport, that is all set to change.
Ever since it opened the doors of its first hotel in 1957 in Los Angeles, the Hyatt group has become synonymous with sleekly designed hotels, impeccable service, and luxury accommodation. With over 700 properties all over the world, the Hyatt Regency Shenzhen Airport marks the group’s latest endeavor in hospitality excellence.
So, the next time you arrive at Shenzhen Airport, tired after a long flight, take the short five-minute stroll from the arrival/departure hall via an indoor pathway.
Offering 335 comfortable and contemporary guestrooms, guests can rest assured they can find what they are looking for with spacious rooms ranging from 40 to 245 square meters. All rooms come equipped with complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi and a study desk, so you can carry on with work if needed. While they also boast floor-to-ceiling windows with sound insulation and separate bathtub and shower, so you can relax and get a good night’s sleep.
If after checking in, you are still looking for somewhere to grab a bite to eat, then why not try one of Hyatt Regency Shenzhen Airport’s four restaurant and bars. The Lobby Lounge presents guests with a relaxing environment where they can savor a light meal, gather with colleagues for afternoon tea, or enjoy a cocktail in the evening. Located on the 2nd floor, is the Market Café, where guests can come for breakfast, lunch and dinner from the three unique cooking stations of Asian Da Pai Dang, The Italian Grill, and The Deli & Bakery. The hotel is also home to Xiangyue, which showcases the finest in local Cantonese cuisine along with some favorite delicacies of Northern China and Sichuan.After a deep and recuperative sleep, there is time in the morning to make the most of the Hyatt Regency Shenzhen Airport’s 24-hour gym. The state-of-the-art fitness center offers the latest Matrix cardio equipment, weight machines, and free weights to give an invigorating workout to start the day. Afterwards, feel free to do a few laps of the 25-meter indoor swimming pool or allow yourself to be pampered in the luxurious Flo Spa.
Following a work out in the gym and breakfast at the Market Café, it’s time to head into the city. Conveniently, the extensive Shenzhen Metro is located beneath the airport and the hotel. From there, guests can take the high-speed Line 11 to Houhai, which connects to Line 2 leading down to the popular Shekou area, and to Futian, which is home to the Shenzhen Convention & Exhibition Center.
So next time you are flying through Shenzhen, treat yourself to a new class of airport hospitality with the Hyatt Regency Shenzhen Airport.
The only international five-star hotel within Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport lies just 500 meters from the Terminal Hall. The city center is 30 minutes by car or Metro Line 11 (station directly beneath the terminal). Shenzhen Bay Port, Huanggang Port and Luohu Port are between 30-40 minutes’ drive away and Shenzhen High-Speed North Railway Station is approximately 40 minutes from the hotel.
POINTS OF INTEREST
Shenzhen Happy Valley
Window of the World at East Overseas Chinese Town
Dapeng Peninsula Geopark
Dafen Oil Painting Village
China UK Street
Yitian Holiday Plaza
Place Name: Hyatt Regency Shenzhen Airport 深圳机场凯悦酒店 Phone Number: +86 755 2345 1234 Place Address: Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport,Baoan District, Shenzhen 深圳宝安国际机场西侧 Website: https://shenzhenairport.regency.hyatt.com
Just flew out of the airport in Hong Kong and I discovered a new WiFi network there called “#HK Airport Hi-Speed WiFi”. Once joined I was downloading podcasts wicked fast before boarding my plane. Should be very useful to quickly grab some Netflix content prior to flying.
So you’re thinking to move to China? Or maybe come to a visit – and 2 cities are sticking out for you – that is Shanghai and Shenzhen.
Which one should you choose?
It’s such a heated debate with expats over beers, I thought today I’d take a crack at writing it up a bit! Let’s just go through each factor and see who is the “winner”! Though the winner will depend on which of these points are more important for you!
Cost of Living
Shenzhen is cheaper than Shanghai. Costs have been skyrocketing across China, with rents doubling or tripling in the years I’ve been here. Yet I think for the same living standard and central location in Shenzhen, you’d pay much more in Shanghai.
Of course this main cost is rent. Let’s just say for a 2 bedroom in Shanghai the cost is about 10,000 CNY and that same place and location in Shenzhen would be 7,000 to 8,000. Of course this is going up and up as the economy gets hotter. Yet as a general rule of thumb from my experience housing is about 30% more in Shanghai.
Borders with China
For those entrepreneurs and other hustlers who come to China on a longer term stay and don’t have the proper work permit / residence visa, I feel your pain! You will need to leave China most likely every 30 days, or if you have a good visa, every 90 days.
This adds up quick in travel costs and travel time.
If you’re based in Shanghai, this will require a flight somewhere. Maybe you can come down to Hong Kong (or some come to Shenzhen for the cheaper flight then take a bus to Hong Kong), while others fly to Korea or Philippines, etc. Its up to you- but you need to take that exit stamp on your passport to not overstay your Chinese visa.
Overstay your China visa? Just a fine per day for each day you’re late, but then the second time it is more serious. Customs may ban you from entering China going forward, which I can say has happened to a few people I know. So don’t risk overstaying your visa, it can cost more than just fines.
So back to the comparison of SZ and SH. Shenzhen has over 7 border entry points to Hong Kong, and going across any of them counts as exiting China for your visa. I won’t get into the political reason of “but isn’t Hong Kong the same as China” argument – it is a different “region” (SAR). So this will count as exiting China.
A ton of expat entrepreneurs I know, myself included for a couple years, got by this way. Just crossing into hong Kong every 30 days. Not a bad thing at all, go shopping, maybe do some banking or other Hong Kong company related business. Maybe a customer too, can stay overnight. You can also file for a new China visa from Hong Kong, and do an express one that you can get back the next day.
Do You Like Snow or Sweating?
Here is a decision you need to make – what weather do you like? There is a ton of hot days in Shenzhen and it never snows, ever. I’m typing this up in December so it is a bit chilly today and I have a sweatshirt on – but you’ll never have snow or ice.
Shanghai doesn’t have a ton of snow, but it will get chilly and there will be snowfall in the wintertime. Not like a risk of an avalanche or blizzard but it will pile up a bit.
Yet here’s a plus for the cold times in Shanghai – apartments have heating systems installed! Shenzhen, none! So you will need a space heater for a couple months in the year here in SZ or extra thick blankets.
Both cities have pretty hot summers, well Shenzhen has EXTREMELY hot summers. And humid, you’ll be sweating and maybe changing your outfit once or twice a day.
So not sure which weather you prefer, some like the different seasons and then others like the warmer climate.
Selling Into China
Shanghai is the place to be if you want to do China market entry. Not exactly sure how that came to be, but it is known as the “cosmopolitan” center of China. Everything comes in there for marketing and design. Its full of creative marketers. They can help you do everything from creating the marketing campaign to customer service to e-commerce building and distribution.
Tons of people ask me if I know people in Shenzhen who can help them sell in China – but most of these full service agencies are up in Shanghai.
Maybe that means there is opportunity for Shenzhen. Shenzhen is more known for hardware and electronics. As well as export e-commerce, which we’ll hit in the next point.
Electronics + Export E-commerce (B2C)
Shenzhen is the king of electronics. Apple via Foxconn has been making iPhones here for years and there has become a complete front to back industry here. From marketplaces to manufacturers to prototyping, Shenzhen has it all. Anything is possible here in Shenzhen for your hardware project.
I meet a lot of Kickstarter campaign entrepreneurs coming here for their manufacturing. They will be coming here often. Some who take it to the next level even open their own office here.
On top of the electronics and hardware, there is the exporting via B2C (business to consumer) e-commerce. Because there is a ton of e-commerce via electronics, the hubs for e-commerce has now spawned into Shenzhen. When people buy iPhone cases and backup batteries, via eBay or wherever, a ton of the time they will ship it direct from Shenzhen. Right out of the electronics market, most likely Hua Qiang Bei.
I have to admit, my Chinese language skills aren’t too great. My excuse maybe is because I’ve been down in Shenzhen. Because this is a melting pot, there are tons of Chinese dialects, especially Cantonese. And a lot of immigrants that don’t know how to speak Mandarin well, or correct. I have had friends from north China come down and say how hard it is for them to communicate. Yes! Even though they speak decent mandarin, the taxi drivers or shop owners don’t hear it well and don’t speak it well.
So if you’re looking to study Chinese, sure you can study down here in Shenzhen. You will most likely enroll at Shenzhen University, but I’d recommend going up north. So Shanghai could be a good place, there are tons of chinese learning centers there.
Another side note, for whatever reason, Chinese in Shenzhen have been shy to try to speak Chinese to me. They immediately think I don’t speak Chinese and speak in English. Or they just don’t even make any attempt at all – without me even opening my mouth. When I am in Shanghai or other north china cities, the “general public” speaks Chinese with me straight away.
I’m thinking because more foreigners speak Chinese there. Maybe here in South China because people do a lot of manufacturing here. Foreigners just come for short trips to visit factories. So over and over again the Chinese public sees the foreigner can’t speak any Chinese. So they become accustomed to just making that assumption.
Pretty frustrating for me who is trying to learn Chinese,so take that into account when deciding which city to live in.
Shanghai is a City Your Friends Back Home Know
Even though Shenzhen is a city with around 17 million people, my friends back home don’t know the city when I tell them. I have to say it’s across the border from Hong Kong. Then they get it.
Shanghai is so famous around the world. And it has that big city image. People know it is a hustle and bustle city with tons of opportunities.
Maybe this is something you could care less about – but Shanghai definitely has more “sexy appeal”. When telling people where you live and work, they seem to show more awe and interest.
Fashion Center is Shanghai
If you’re doing fashion or design, you deal with Shanghai. There are all kinds of events with models and designers on a regular basis there. Not a bad gig right? Shanghai has been building that reputation up for generations. It is well established as a global fashion center.
It is also known as a pretty classy place. Even foreigners there can’t get away with being in tshirt and jeans at bars and clubs. I always notice the difference when traveling. In Shenzhen everyone seems more casual attire and in Shanghai people dress to impress, from morning till night.
Not sure which one is more appealing to you – but image is important in Shanghai when you go to business meetings.
Shanghai Closer to Beijing + Rest of china
Shenzhen is down south. South China is just, how do you say, different from the rest of china. It was Canton, it has Cantonese. There is Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia nearby.
You’re just not in the center of action. Just like an earlier point about selling into China – a lot of that you will do in Shanghai. The distribution is more engrained there.
Plus in Shanghai you can take a fast train up to Beijing no problem, so if you have a meeting there the next day – it’s possible. Whereas in Shenzhen, sure you can get to Hong Kong or Guangzhou quick but it’s more for product based business. The real action for domestic Chinese business is up in Shanghai and Beijing.
My wife moved down to Shenzhen for example, and she still had to always go up to Shanghai and Beijing for business trips. You do things face to face in China, and if you’re selling local -you then need to do a decent amount of travel.
More Expensive, But More Money
While shanghai may be more expensive, you can also earn more money. Salaries are higher, and consulting projects have bigger budgets.
So while the costs are higher, the chances to make more money, local is where it’s at.
Compare that with Shenzhen, and you make most of the money from the export market. So that means a lot of e-commerce, online B2B directories. You won’t get as much sales as an agency or consultant in Shenzhen.
But, Hong Kong is just across the border, and there are a lot of chances to get bigger contracts there.
Less “Guanxi” Requirements in Shenzhen
Was a thing I liked a lot about Shenzhen when I came here. My Chinese friend Huck said it too. He said, there isn’t this “relationship” requirements like in other Chinese cities. It is a melting pot in Shenzhen, and everyone is new – the city is only 30 years old.
So you don’t have these multiple generation family business conglomerates. “Normal class people” need to dig through every time to get some bigger project done. But in Shenzhen, no one knows anyone else. So they have to put down these traditions and get back into finding genuine business relationships based on price and the ability to deliver.
A bit of a stretch here and hard for me to explain, but does that make sense? Sure, it isn’t everywhere in Shanghai or other established cities, but of course there is more “roots” from being there for so long.
Shanghai Nightlife is World Class
Shanghai has the most amazing clubs and bars in the world. It was Lady Gaga who said she loved that city when she visited, and it is a center of party mayhem.
Shenzhen is catching up, with more and more clubs and bars, for the most part in Coco Park area. But Shanghai has them everywhere, every district, you can find amazing clubs and bars.
Not just nightlife, there is more culture too. More history for being around through so many different phases of Chinese history and culture.
Shenzhen being so new doesn’t have this nightlife built up nor the long history and places to visit. They are working hard at it though.
Thoughts? Which City Do you Prefer – Shenzhen or Shanghai?
Have you been to one or the other, or both? What do you think?
I’d love to see your comment below! It can also help give some other readers some perspectives besides mine alone!
Was I too biased on one side or the other? I have no real interest in swaying you on either side, so I didn’t mean to – both have their good and bad, just like anything in life! But if you think I was out of line, please let me know by also commenting below! Cheers!
So I hope you give yourself a few days before your flight to pack. Some items may need you to print, apply online, and other items.
You’re like a lot of us and packing the night before the flight, after goodbye drinks with your hometown friends.
Well, if you’re reading this, you should be somewhat sober, let’s hope! Let’s dig into the list.
A Good Backpack
I’m not a fan of the roller bags. Having both of your hands free while traveling is a big help.
My friend Fred Perrotta has a product called Tortuga Backpack. I have been using it lately and it saves me money checking bags as it is the max size of a carry on, while also strapping to your back.
I’ve used the belt strap pocket to hold my passport for easy access during airplane check-in. And other times I need to grab my passport in last minute inquisitions.
I’ve also had it where I’ve had one backpack on my back, and another strapped to my chest. Nowadays the front pack is my baby, but that is another blog post 😉
The key is to have a bag that allows you to use both hands while traveling.
A VPN For Online Surfing
I had no idea what a VPN was when I first traveled to China. But once the internet filtering got worse and worse in 2009, I had no choice but to learn.
Newcomers to China will soon find they cannot load Facebook, Twitter, and Google products. There is also a long list of other websites not accessible in China. The reason why, I don’t want to get into today, but the main point is – you need to access these right!
I am a fan of Astrill VPN (you can signup via my affiliate link here). They have somehow kept up with the ever changing Chinese firewall, and only had a couple days where it is slow or not working. I recommend getting the Stealth upgrade. I’m not exactly sure but it works better, and also lets me sync my Dropbox (yes, they block Dropbox too).
Whether you use Astrill or another, just make sure you get the VPN before coming to China! Sure, you can always find a way to get it while inside the great Chinese firewall, but better to have the tools ready to go upon arrival.
Cheap Nokia Phone And A Smartphone
Back in America, I could get by with just 1 phone. Here in Asia, almost all the various countries the average is like 2.3 phones per person. Crazy right?
First, you can’t port your number over from one mobile service provider to another. Thus people want to keep their old number but switch from say China mobile to China Unicom.
Others want to separate work and personal.
For you, you might want to keep your USA number on. The phone may also have a lock on it from the cell phone carrier you use, such as Verizon.
Another reason is theft. You’re going to be meeting a lot of new people and out and about a lot when you first land in China. Having a “cheap Nokia” or other phone as your Chinese number just helps you keep things simple when traveling.
For example when in Philippines, I have a cheap old Nokia for voice calls using their Smart carrier. For my internet, I have a Globe plan with unlimited surfing, and that is on my Android LG G3 phone. When I go to a restaurant, and people are calling me to coordinate meeting, I only need to answer with my Nokia phone. I’m not as paranoid attracting pick pockets.
There are a lot of use cases for having a cheap unlocked Nokia phone, so pick one up. Best to get it when you arrive in Hong Kong or China, at an electronics market. The cost is about 10 bucks. You can then buy a pre-paid SIM card, activate it, and you’re ready to rock!
Get a T-Mobile Plan Before Leaving USA
T-Mobile has been awesome for the past few years. They have plans that don’t need a contract, which is amazing for in-frequent America visitors like me. Then a couple years ago they went above and beyond allowing international roaming on their phone plans!
The calls are not free overseas, but the internet and text messaging is free. The speed might be slow, as you get the slower band or a “not as good” carrier in the country you’re in, but who cares! It is free and unlimited.
This is another reason why having 2 phones comes in handy. You can keep your USA phone on and use it for internet and texting friends back in America. While at the same time you use the Chinese Nokia phone for calling people in China.
Install Wechat Mobile App
In China nowadays all you need on your mobile phone is an app called Wechat. It is a chat app and more.
The main point is that everyone in China is on it, and it is more important than business cards. At networking events, if people want to keep in touch they scan each other’s QR code in Wechat and add each other. What’s your Wechat? Heard all the time, so by being set up and ready to go from the get-go is a huge help.
You can even start to connect with potential people in China before you move. Going onto Chinese social networks and finding people you’d want to connect with. The best way to keep in touch is to get their Wechat username. It is a closed system so you will not be able to find people in Wechat direct in searching. Instead on English speaking expat websites in the city you are targeting to move to is a good start.
Less “Stuff” = More
One big thing when I moved overseas is that I realized how much stuff we all accumulate. Free t-shirts at events, new clothes for various dress codes. After a couple trips to Wal-Marts (ones in China are massive, and can be an adventure in themselves!) and you’ll have so much stuff it is hard to move!
Less is more. With today’s sharing economy, there will be more networks where you can rent “stuff” that you’d accumulate.
I recommend having standard “uniform” of clothes that you wear on a regular basis. Three to four sets of the same tops and bottoms, to make life so much easier.
Extreme you say? Well, you don’t have to have the exact same sets of clothes, but by not focusing on fashion you will be set free!
Wallets can get out of hand. Especially for those who travel across borders often. Moving to China, you will still keep your USD and credit cards I assume? The question is, do you mix that with your new China financials?
The best way I have sorted through this is to keep multiple wallets. That way I don’t mix up my cash and cards. I put them in a safe place in my apartment, and when I am preparing to travel I grab the wallets I will need during these trips.
SIM cards can go inside too, as well as any special travel documents you use on the road.
Before keeping multiple wallets, I would switch out the cash and cards and put them into a plastic bag or box. But then I would misplace that and dig through all sorts of places until I remembered where I put it. Having dedicated places for your important currency and cards keeps my mind at ease.
Photocopy of Your Passport
While in China, we need to keep our passports on us at all times. Sure, I know who does that?
Well, if you ever do get into an incident – the first thing the Chinese police will ask is for a copy of your passport. If you don’t have one on you, it can become an issue. Though I can say when I had my laptop bag stolen, I reported it to the police and they didn’t require me to have a passport. Some other friends I have talked to that had police officers drive them back to their apartments to get their passport.
Still, the best way is to keep a photocopy with you. This way the police or other government officials who require it in your day to day can see something.
Don’t like to hold paper on you? Sure, another idea is to have a digital copy on your mobile phone. Or synced on your Dropbox account, you can access it when someone asks.
Especially as a newcomer to China, you will be needing your identification a lot. From apartment contracts, banking, and job opportunities, they’ll always ask for it. Best to have a few ways to access your ID on demand.
Flying to China and don’t have a visa? Probably not possible, these days when you check into your flight the attendant will check your passport. Almost all passport holders need to have a visa to enter China, even us Americans.
There used to be easier ways to get a visa upon arrival, but nowadays it is best to apply while still in your home country. Are you coming as a tourist or to do business? I suggest playing it safe and paying a bit more for a business class visa.
Once you get it, like your passport, keep a photograph and scanned copy of this China visa. They’ll stick it to a page in your passport. Sometimes companies will want to see your visa when applying to things online. So it is much faster to have it already scanned and in digital form when sending in the documents. I still struggle to this day to scan things while on the road.
Bonus: APEC Card
This is a bonus one, but you will be on a whole new level compared to your other foreign friends in China. Holding an APEC card you can get the full guide here.
What is your blood type? Any allergies?
I want to call this one your “dog tag”. A dog tag comes from military days when soldiers had to hold metal tags as a necklace. It contained their personal information and blood type.
I’d also recommend keeping this card in English and Chinese. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Store it in your wallet or inside your passport and with your passport copy. Laminate it.
Here is the information I recommend
Date of Birth:
Emergency contact person: (name / phone / relationship)
Remember, in both English and Chinese.
Let’s put this in perspective. You land in China, you’re enjoying a nice meal. You get ill and pass out. You’re deep in Central China and no one else speaks English. They call an ambulance, and check for your identification on you. They see this laminated card in English and Chinese and know a lot about you, in their Chinese language. The medics are confident not to give you medicine you may be allergic to. You get a blood transfusion with the correct blood type. They contact your mom back in USA with the contact information on you.
Let’s try not to compare that to someone with no ID and all alone in a Chinese rural town.
Sure, you shouldn’t travel by yourself. You can also picture a time you get split up from your friends, lost on a subway, or drunk and wandered off on a pub crawl.
So let’s be smart and keep this kind of medical information on us to make life safer.
Insurance Back Home Covering You?
While on the topic of medical, it is also a good idea to make sure that you let your insurance provider know you’re traveling overseas. Or at least make sure you’re covered while on the road.
Most insurance policies should cover this. But by being proactive and aware of it you will feel much more confident traveling overseas. It also may remind you to have a copy of your insurance policy in electronic format (or print even better) for your travels.
Don’t have insurance? You can pay in cash in China, and of course they prefer that. Minor medical issues are not too expensive, though many of my friends can’t imagine going to a hospital in Mainland China. Hong Kong is much more Westernized. But so are the prices! So I would recommend having insurance if seeking medical attention in HK.
Here is a horror story for ya. It was my first time in Hong Kong, and maybe my second or third day. I put my Bank of America ATM card into a China Construction ATM and input my PIN. I received a popup that they “ate” my card and to contact my bank.
Horrified, I thought what can I do? It was during banking business hours, so I walked into the branch and waited to speak to a representative. She explained that they cannot access the ATM, and that they would mail the card back to my bank address in America.
I rushed back to my friend’s home where I was staying. Hopping onto the internet I contacted Bank of America via chat support. They explained that my card had recently expired and they would mail me a new one. To my USA address! I had couple more weeks in Asia, what could I do?
That is what good friends are for, I was lent money to cover me a couple days, and then had money sent to their bank by bank transfer. And credit cards helped as well for most of the trip.
I have heard other stories similar, and bankers tell me that it’s best to check up on your bank before traveling. They are getting more and more fraud protection in place. They may freeze your account, at least a temporary hold, if they see overseas activity.
So just spend the few minutes – let’s hope not hours on hold – with your bank’s customer service. You will feel more at ease that first trip to an ATM overseas.
Predicting the weather seems something even full-time Meteorologists have trouble doing. Hong Kong and South China is always hot, but there are times you’ll need a light jacket, or maybe medium level.
To best deal with the various weather outlooks, I suggest packing so that you can layer up your clothes. Having an undershirt, normal shirt, and then sweatshirt or hoodie helps a lot.
You might have your own style of fashion that is “high maintenance” and may skip over this section thinking I’m crazy. You’ll learn, :). I’ve seen a lot of long term travelers who started out with lugging around their full wardrobe. Yet over time have chosen travel light over carrying clothes.
What will the decision be for you?
So I’ll finish this section off with, stick with your current clothing style. But if you need a shipping container to move from one place to another, it may be hard to have a life of a traveler. It’s a process, so enjoy the journey.
Attending trade shows in China, you will see rows and rows of factories that make water bottles and tea containers. The first time I seen this I thought “who buys all these?”.
I’m now a happy customer of a wide assortment of water bottles and tea containers. Staying hydrated while traveling is key to staying healthy. Whether you travel to China or not.
The difference with China (and other parts of Asia) from the West is the fact you can’t drink the tap water. Restaurants will serve hot water or tea, never ice water. There aren’t any public water fountains on your trip. So you’re left with buying bottled water (or, juices and sodas which aren’t helpful for hydration) or carrying your own around.
Started out with friends donating them before I took the hint. Filling up from a larger water machine before leaving your apartment or a hotel to start your day will at least force you to consume that much liquid.
What seems like a simple item on this checklist is important. I also have it clipped onto my backpack so that I can keep my hands free. The clip also helps you to remember to take it when you trek from place to place throughout the day.
Items For Offline Blocks
While we are in 2015, there still isn’t widespread wifi in public transportation areas. We need to deal with it by preparing with things to keep our minds busy during those long flights and phases when we cannot access the internet.
Podcasts downloaded to your device (as mp3, not streaming)
Kindle, or a couple paper books
Google docs, offline mode enabled
Zen music to get you in the mode of the moment.
I’m sure you’ll think of your own tools and tricks to stay occupied when without internet. For me, I don’t like the fact that I don’t have internet control if I can be productive or not. I love to control my work productivity, internet or not.
Chinese Apps for Language & Travel Help
We live and die by the smartphone these days. It is the modern equipment of a road warrior and traveler. So leverage this power!
Here are some apps that help me get by in China:
At first I thought there was no way I could read Chinese. Slowly but surely now I’m up to over 500 characters and growing daily. While it may seem daunting and you’re just in China for a short term trip (so you think!) – you should still prepare and have a Chinese dictionary on your phone. I’m a partner in one choice, Written Chinese’s WCC dictionary is almost completely free and also has OCR functionality so you can scan and translate signs in China on demand.
Has its own dedicated section earlier in the article. Still, to re-iterate, there is no getting around using this app if you live in or do business with China. Download Wechat
Most Chinese factories and business owners who deal with international business will know it and have an account. Consider having a separate account for business and personal. Get Skype
An easy and low cost way to make international calls, when the Chinese internet sucks (as it often does). Full disclosure, my friend is a founder here, but I am not compensated to recommend this one. Check out Spaxtel here.
There are tons of other apps too, which you will hear about from friends and colleagues once you get into China.
**Tip** – I recommend downloading and installing these apps while still overseas. Especially if you are an Android user, as Google Play is banned here and it is a lot of hassle to get these apps downloaded inside of Chinese internet. Apple’s App store isn’t blocked, but it is much slower and may test your patience.
Bag Packed? Ready to Go!
So you ready to rock your China trip? Is your bag bursting at the seams? Most of the time many of us realize we have over packed and wished we traveled lighter.
Don’t stress if you forgot something, almost anything is in China! This is most likely where they made it!
Have I missed anything, I’d love to hear your feedback and suggestions in the comments below.
Download my China Packing List
Want to have the full list with you when on the road? I have a nice PDF list of items you can download and put on your computer. Bookmarking this page is also helpful – but as we all know – we may not have internet when we most need it!