Posted by Jen Murray

Shenzhen is truly my favourite city in the world.

Sprawling more than 2000 square kilometres proper, it can take almost two hours to get from one end of the city to the other by metro. It is a vast metropolis. It is culturally diverse. There are many different things to do and experience in Shenzhen, but many foreigners living in Shenzhen have a difficult time experiencing the culture of the city properly because it is such an immense city. So I decided to compile a list. Although this list is my own opinion, based on my personal experience, I believe it accurately represents some hidden gems in Shenzhen that the average ex-patriot does not know about. And it’s high time you knew about these wonderful places!

1. Dong Men Amusement Park

The entrance to Dong Men Amusement Park

Possibly one of the best hidden gems in Shenzhen, Dong Men amusement park is located at the very back of the Dong Men pedestrian market. It’s real name is the Cultural Palace Playground (文化宫游乐场) and all you need to do to get there is to literally walk through the Dong Men market until you get to People’s Park road and there it is.

It is filled with rides that range from ridiculous (such as a caged in rotating floor in which you are supposed to try to stand up for as long as you can,) to down right fun. There are magic trick booths, fruit stands (as always,) bars, karaoke, and even fishing!

Well, fishing for goldfish, anyway. It’s a great place to spend the whole day with your friends or even on a date. There is no entrance fee to the park, but the rides cost money. They average on 3-7 kuai per ride. This place is a must experience. You can thank me later.

2. Minsk World (At Night) The ship has sailed and this is closed.

Minsk World during the day

If you live in Shenzhen you know what Minsk World is. The Minsk was a Soviet Union aircraft carrier that now serves as an amusement park in Sha Tou Jiao, in Yantian district. You can pay around 100 kuai to get on board and take a look around. It is not the Minsk that is the hidden gem. The hidden gem is the boardwalk on which it is docked. At night the boardwalk turns into a bustling, badminton ridden playground, equipped with tables and chairs all along the main boardwalk area.

It is the perfect place to go and have a Tsingdao with your mates – there are two convenience stores right on the boardwalk that sell beer for that purpose. On the boardwalk you can watch the water roll in, people watch, or if you are really outgoing, you can join in the fun and play some jianzi (毽子) with the locals.

3. Mevlana Turkish Restaurant, Huaqiang Bei

Most of the non-Chinese restaurants in Shenzhen are located near Coco Park in central Futian, or in Sea World in southern Nanshan. But there are some hidden surprises all over Shenzhen, and this Turkish restaurant is certainly one of them.

Located in the middle of Huaqiang Bei neighbourhood, this delightful Turkish restaurant is both quant and appetising.

Although it can be difficult to find, it is certainly worth getting lost in order to find it. It is a little bit on the pricy side, but if you are really looking for somewhere to make your tastebuds dance, this is it. The bread is fresh and thick out of the oven, the baklava is angelic, and the hummus is to die for.

福田区华强北振兴路154号 | 154 Zhenxing Road, Huaqiang Bei, Futian

5. Dong Bei Jia Restaurant In Liantang

This is Liantang (莲塘) neighbourhood. I am extremely biased towards this neighbourhood because it is where I lived when I lived in Shenzhen. But going to this area in westward Luohu is definitely worth it because the best damn Chinese restaurant I have ever eaten at, period, is in the neighbourhood. 

This photo does not even give the food there justice. It is a Dong Bei (North-eastern Chinese food) restaurant called Dong Bei Jia (东北家,) but not associated with the popular chain. They have everything from barbecue lamb to hot and sour soup. Homemade dumplings, sweet and sour pork, cucumber salad, and cold tofu. It is worth traveling 500 miles to get to this place.

How to get there: Take bus 113 to Liantang District Office (莲塘街道办) bus stop and walk across the street. Bam. You have arrived.

6. The Office in DaMeiSha

Me enjoying a PBR at The Office

Although this list has no ranking, if it did, this would probably be number one or two. The Office (I don’t remember the Chinese name, but the sign does in fact say “The Office” in English,) is a small convenience store near Da Mei Sha beach in Yantian district. It is quite small – only room enough for one stand and a table inside, but outside of The Office there are two or three tables with chairs that anyone can sit at so long as you buy something from the store. And you should.

The Office is almost like a fantastic dream – it hardly seems real. They sell all different kinds of beer, from Tsingdao to Corona, and they have PBR ON TAP. A CONVENIENCE STORE. HAS PBR. ON TAP. WHY? Who cares? It just does, and it costs 6 kuai for a pint.

They also sell bottled liquor from all over the world for a fraction of the price you would pay on or in an Ole or Jusco. And it’s all real. In addition to all of these wonderful things, the owner of the convenience store also owns the bakery two stores down where they have real hamburgers and pizza with real cheese. Everything at both locations is ridiculously cheap. It’s so cheap it should be criminal.

How to get there: Take bus 306 to Mei Sha Yi Yuan (梅沙医院) and walk straight and you will come around a curve and voila! You will see Our Bread, which is the bakery, and two stores down there will be chairs and tables outside of a little ol’ convenience store called The Office.

7. Buddhist Vegetarian Restaurant in Futian

So, there is this Buddhist vegetarian restaurant in Futian near the Kingway beer gardens that is an absolute must experience.

Almost everything on the menu is made from tofu, including the fish pictured above. I never thought that I would have so many tofu options that I would get excited over it. But this happened when I went to this place. Unfortunately I don’t remember the name, but it is easy to find and just as simple to get to.

Take the metro to Science Museum (科学馆地铁站) and go out exit D. From there you are going to turn right towards the beer garden and walk around it. Once you get to Shangbu South Road you should keep walking south until you get to the Nanyuan Road intersection. Cross the intersection and turn right. The Buddhist restaurant is the only restaurant on that corner.

8. Brown Sugar Jar Bar

There are two Brown Sugar Jars in Shenzhen, both of them equally worth the visit. But the one that has a special place in my heart is the smaller of the two, located in Fengjingtai, Luohu. I suppose I like it so much because it is so hidden away from everything else, and the ambiance is reminiscent of pubs in Canada.

You can grab a pint and sit on a couch with friends while watching live music or you can play cards or darts. It’s completely up to you. Regardless of what you do when you get there, it is the perfect place for a relaxing night with your friends.

How to get there: take the metro to Yijing metro station and come out exit C. Do a 180 turn and walk towards the intersection. Cross the intersection and then turn right. Walk down Huangbei road for about two minutes. On your right you will see a sign that says 红糖罐 and it’s doors will be covered in posters and band adverts. You have arrived.

9. The Luohu Kingway Beer Garden

There are three legitimate Kingway beer gardens in Shenzhen – there is one in Futian, Bao’an, and Luohu. But the Luohu one is by far the most entertaining and energetic. It’s also the largest.

By that logic it shouldn’t be a hidden gem, but it is. Most foreigners know about the beer garden in Futian, but don’t know about the one in Luohu which is about three times the size of the one in Futian. Right across the street from the Kingway brewery, it’s round tables are perfect for large groups of ten or more. It’s beer comes by the pitcher only, and it is about 18 kuai per jug. It’s kitchen is open until all hours of the night, and it is always packed with people. There is also a big screen projection TV in the middle where patrons can enjoy a game of football. This is the perfect place to experience some of the local culture, and it’s also a great place to make new friends.

10. The Shenzhen Zoo

Entrance to the Shenzhen Zoo

And last but certainly not the least, is the Shenzhen zoo. Located around the North Nanshan/East Bao’an border, the Shenzhen Safari Park ( 深圳野生动物园) is definitely somewhere you should spend the day with friends or family.

Me feeding a fully grown Tiger

You can feed the Tigers and Bears, hold a python, and even get to meet a baby Tiger, all in a days work! Tickets into the park are around 200 kuai, but it is certainly worth it in the end. Some of the animal enclosures are a bit small, but the animals seem quite happy. It also doubles as a park, with many fruit stands and places to relax and take in the nature of the area.

I hope you enjoyed my list! Have a wonderful time experiencing these things in Shenzhen, and until next time.

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