China is the world’s largest manufacturer and it has the second largest economy next to the United States. For this reason, China plays an important role in the global economy. Unsurprisingly, many expats relocate to China for business purposes. China’s financial capital is very attractive that many expats move in for incredible opportunities. From a survey conducted by HSBC, an expat in China earns $170,970 average gross personal income per annum, compared to the global average expat income of $99,900. Interesting, right? However, taxation in China is very complex that many expats find it difficult to comprehend. Just recently, a draft amendment to the Individual Income Tax Law was proposed and expats will surely be affected when the basket of changes take effect. What’s in the draft law? And what are the new tax laws coming for expats in china? Read on to learn more.
China’s Draft Amendment to the Individual Income Tax Law
1. Revision on determining tax residency status. Foreign nationals who have physical presence in China for at least 183 days would become liable for Individual Income Tax (IIT), unlike before when non-residents have one full year year before he/she be subject to IIT. Its purpose is basically to protect national tax rights and interests. Whether the income is sourced inside China or not, the tax residency status will be based on how long an individual resided in the country.
2. New tax system, rates, taxable income brackets
Current IIT Law
Income from wages and salaries
3%-45% 7 brackets of progressive tax rates
7 brackets of progressive
– Adjusting the taxable
income brackets of lower
tax rates (i.e., 3%, 10%,
20% and 25%)
– Taxable income brackets
of higher tax rates
unchanged (i.e., 30%,
35% and 45%)
Income derived from
remuneration for personal services
3 brackets of progressive
Income derived from
remuneration for manuscripts
Income derived from royalties
Income derived from
production and business
operations by individual
industrial and commercial households
5 brackets of progressive
5 brackets of progressive
– The minimum threshold
applicable to 35% tax rate
increased to RMB
Income derived from
contractual or leasing
operations of enterprises or institutions
5 brackets of progressive
Category removed with relevant income
incorporated into comprehensive income or
business operation income respectively
3. Anti-avoidance Rule. Anti-tax avoidance rule was introduced in the draft law – wherein authorities are strengthening tax collection especially to individuals having cross border transactions and tax plans. Its main purpose is to avoid multinationals to transfer or move profits to affiliates in low-tax havens and to tighten the IIT’s overall application and enforcement.
4. Additional special expense deductions including children’s education, major illness medical expenses, continued education and housing loan interest and rent. Its purpose is to reduce the amount of income subject to income tax therefore raising the taxpayers’ income and boosting household consumption.
5. Tougher stance on foreign companies. Foreign companies should pay special attention to changes affecting the timing of the tax levy on foreign employees, foreign labor costs, contract profitability, and budgeting requirements, as well as the rippling effects they have on withholding and tax equalizations.
6. New Tax Brackets that would benefit middle and low-income groups.
Apparently, high-income earners don’t really benefit so much from this amendment. So, basically, if an expat in China earns USD170,970 average gross personal income per annum or around 95,000RMB per month, no matter where that income was sourced and regardless of where the payment is made, he/she would be subject to 45% IIT tax.
China is indeed a booming economy with unending opportunities. The proposed tax reform simply relieves the tax burden of small and medium sized enterprises as well as middle and low-income individuals while optimizing the business environment through higher consumption.
Disclaimer: if you’re an expat in China, it’s best to consult a taxation specialist in China to help you more understand the country’s upcoming overall tax amendment that is expected to take effect on January 2019.
This is a guest article by our friends at GlobalFromAsia.com.
Passing over the Hong Kong border is a routine whether you are a foreigner living temporarily or permanently in Shenzhen. Based on the visa that you may have, there might be a need to leave Mainland China every month, or you may come and go as long as you want. Easy to understand instructions and a few reminders will help you how to cross the border to Shenzhen worry-free.
You might be wondering where to cross the Shenzhen border. For those who make their living in Shenzhen, the most convenient way is to navigate one of the many land or sea borders straight to Hong Kong. Majority of the people make an abrupt turnaround and traditionally journey back by way of China customs while some settle for a few days for some leisure breaks or go on a shopping spree.
A great number of foreigners usually have choices when they wish to cross the border to Hong Kong and vice versa. These land borders include Luohu, Huangguang, Futian, Shenzhen Wan, and Shekou. Wherever you live in Shenzhen, most of the border checkpoints can be accessed either by a taxi or metro train. In case you choose to ride a taxi, just say where you want to go followed by the word kou’an which means “border.”
Luohu is considered as one of the most active border crossings between Hong Kong and Shenzhen. It is a pedestrian crossing that connects Shenzhen with Hong Kong in the middle of Luohu and Sheng Shu in the New Territories. The simplest approach to travel to this place is to take the metro train to the Luohu stop, and you will arrive at the Shenzhen Railway Station. The railway station has high-speed trains with destinations to Guangzhou and other stops outside the Guangdong Province.
The Shenzhen Railway Station is so busy with different nationalities boarding the train and vigilance is a must because of several pickpockets. From the train station, you just have to pass the HK Immigration where you need to fill out forms before boarding another train that could take you to Kowloon. After being cleared with the immigration, you can purchase an Octopus card for your next destination. The crossing opens from 06:30 to 24:00.
Barely west of Luohu, you will find the Huanggang border crossing which is distinctly structured for transportation. If you don’t want to get caught in the morning and evening commuter flow, this crossing is more hassle-free, and traffic jam is reduced. One advantage of navigating this border is its 24-hour operation where you will find buses bound for various stations in Hong Kong.
Many expats residing in Shenzhen who wants to go to Hong Kong for some nightlife, cross the Huanggang border. Expect that when you enter, you will be inspected by China Immigration with the crossing situated on the Shenzhen side. Once on the bus, never lose your yellow bus ticket because you will need to hop on another bus after traversing from the mainland part to the HK frontier.
You can purchase a minivan ticket if you want to go to the Hong Kong Airport River without the need to leave Shenzhen or Hong Kong if going to immigration. Huanggang does not have metro or train at Hong Kong or Shenzhen side, only buses and private vehicles. It is 24 hours open and can be contacted at +86 755 83395171.
Futian is one of the land borders that can be reached by train. You will find the crossing at the Futian Kou’An Metro Train Station which is the most recent Shenzhen/HK Metro Border Crossing. This pedestrian crossing links Shenzhen with Hong Kong between Futian Kou’An as well as Lok Ma Chau in New Territories.
Futian Border Crossing is somehow comparable to the Luo Hu Border Crossing in terms of how you will go to your next destination. Here, you will also need to purchase an Octopus Card for Hong Kong Metro. But, in this crossing, you can depart the building and directly return to Shenzhen which is favorable for “Visa Runs.”
Shenzhen Wan or Shenzhen Bay
This bustling border crossing is located in Nanshan District with no available metro station for transportation but with taxis to take you to your destination. Once you’re done with the HK Customs, you can both ride a bus or taxi and go over the one-kilometer long bridge that could take you to several locations.
In the midst of peak hours (8:30 am to 12:30 pm and 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm) the hanging time for authorization is longer. And when comes the holidays, weekends, and travel seasons you need to have a lot of patience while waiting for your turn to be cleared by the immigration. The border is open from 6:30 am to 9:00 pm. Coaches and taxis are the main transportation here.
Shekou Ferry Port
People who live and work in Shekou can conveniently travel to Hong Kong by ferry. There will be a free shuttle service provided by the old ferry terminal that can take passengers to the new ferry terminal. The free ride runs every 10 minutes starting 6:30 am to 11:00 pm and the ride takes only eight minutes. The old ferry can be reached either by car or metro. Once on the new ferry terminal, you can board ferries on its way to the Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong Island, Macau and Zhuhai.
Octopus Card, Metro or Shenzhentong Travelcard
This electronic card is essential because it is generally used as payment upon riding a bus or metro when border crossing HK/SZ. Purchasing one will save you the hassle of waiting in line with other people buying their tickets at the station. Another advantage of getting this card is the discount you are entitled to every travel. You can buy the Shenzhentong card directly from the station itself or any 7/11 stores and pay 100 renminbi.
If you bought a Metro or Shenzhentong Travelcard, do not lose the receipt that contains the card ID number. You will use this if the card becomes lost or stolen. You need to keep in touch with the station where the ticket was bought and cancel the card. It would be better if you have the receipt available because you get the balance reimbursed excluding the deposit.
Hilton property joins Team Members from around the world in preserving environments and furthering responsible travel and tourism
Shenzhen, Guangdong / China – (March 24th, 2018) – Hilton Shenzhen Shekou Nanhaicelebrated Earth Hour by Night Story Telling Activity. The hotel is taking action locally to engage in sustainability efforts – from water stewardship and energy conservation to reducing waste and community projects.
During the Earth Week, hotel initiated a series of public service activities, for instance, Go Green initiatives, Ocean Plastic Cleaning activity, World Water Day activites, the Planting activity and the Night Story Telling activity, to deliver the hotel’s determination on energy saving and environment protection.
Hilton views responsible travel and tourism as integral to its business, which is why preserving the environment is a cornerstone of Travel with Purpose, the company’s corporate responsibility strategy to create shared value for Hilton Team Members, Guests, business partners and communities. Hilton’s commitment to the environment is embedded across the business and supported by LightStay: an award-winning, global corporate responsibility performance measurement platform. LightStay was developed and implemented by Hilton to provide a one-stop solution for reporting environmental, operational and social impacts. To learn more about Hilton’s commitment to preserving the environment, visit cr.hilton.com.
Hilton (NYSE: HLT) is a leading global hospitality company, with a portfolio of 14 world-class brands comprising more than 5,200 properties with more than 856,000 rooms, in 105 countries and territories. Hilton is dedicated to fulfilling its mission to be the world’s most hospitable company by delivering exceptional experiences – every hotel, every guest, every time. The company’s portfolio includes Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Canopy by Hilton, Curio Collection by Hilton, DoubleTree by Hilton, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, Embassy Suites by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton by Hilton, Tru by Hilton, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hilton Grand Vacations. The company also manages an award-winning customer loyalty program, Hilton Honors. Hilton Honors members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to instant benefits, including a flexible payment slider that allows members to choose exactly how many Points to combine with money, an exclusive member discount that can’t be found anywhere else, and free standard Wi-Fi. Visit newsroom.hilton.com for more information, and connect with Hilton on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.
About Travel with Purpose Travel With Purpose is Hilton Worldwide’s commitment to furthering responsible travel and tourism through investing in positive social and environmental impacts. Travel with Purpose focuses on creating meaningful opportunities for people and opening doors for youth; investing in community resilience through skills-based volunteerism, disaster relief and human rights; and reducing the company’s environmental footprint through responsible operations and sourcing. Visit cr.hilton.com to learn more.
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!
I remember those first trips over to Shenzhen, China all the way from America and I had no idea where to stay. Lucky for me I had some friends in Hong Kong who had contacts in Shenzhen (I mis-spelt it Schenzen back in 2007!) and they helped arrange a hotel for me.
They also warned me not to answer the door at night! I was so scared.
Shenzhen has improved so much and there are top notch hotels to choose from in the city – a bit overwhelming.
So today, I’m writing this guide for someone like me – on their first trip to China and having no idea which kind of hotel to stay in!
This post first started for our Cross Border Summit as attendees asked for hotels near the venue, and that is how it will start. We will add more hotels as we go along, so check up on this same post in the future!
And as always, if you have recommendations or feedback on certain hotels, please leave a comment at the end of this post!
Now let’s go through some hotel options, go!
Hotels Near Shekou IT Torch Park (Netvalley)
These hotels were near our first Cross Border Summit conference in Netvalley. These next few hotels are within a block or two from our summit, and will “take care of ya”. Mention Cross Border Summit and you’ll receive a discount as well.
Here’s a list of the names, then you can scroll down to find the details for each of these.
This is a new hotel I’m not familiar with, but exactly across the street from the venue. Its its own building, and the management has been pretty friendly with us as we discuss hotel rooms with them. The pricing is:
Self-booking Discounted Pricing:
Room Type /Rack Rate（RMB) /Global From Asia Rate / Buffet Breakfast
Superior Room 608 / 388 One Breakfast
Deluxe Room 708 / 458 One Breakfast
Address: No.6 Industry 6st Road, NanShan District, Shenzhen China
This is a big chain throughout China. Some friends even have VIP member cards. Its a budget hotel for business travels. Rates currently range around 200 to 300 Chinese Yuan (about 50 to 65 USD) per night.General Membership Pricing:
Regular Twin Bed 229 RMB (without breakfast)
Business Twin Bed 282 RMB (without breakfast)
The closest one to our summit would be at the Crossing line of Nanhai Avenue and Industry Seventh Road, (gong ye 7 road)
Nanshan District, Shenzhen 518054, China
There are a couple of these near the venue, and plenty throughout Shenzhen (currently 19 in this city alone) and the rest of China!
A top of the line hotel, my friend and podcast guest Steve Marsh says this should be a 6 star hotel if there was a rating! Right in the heart of Seaward in Shekou, top of the line rooms, pool, etc.If you are good at searching for deals the price can be as low as $150 USD a night.This is about a 5 minute taxi ride from our venue, and will be by far one of the highest class there is in town!You can find details and bookings can on their website.
This one feels like the equivalent of Motel 6 in America. I feel like there should be a sign “we’ll leave the light on for ya”. When I first came to China, the 168 meant that there was always a hotel in there that cost 168 RMB. This is back in 2007, that was about $25usd at a 7.4 exchange rate. And the more premium hotel in this chain called Motel 268, meaning rooms started at the 268 rate. Pretty easy to remember and clear before entering.
The number 168 also represents “work” in Chinese. So this chain is also targeting the business traveller.
Nowadays this has turned into just a number in their brand. Tates have increased about the 168 rate and people are still filling the place up! I’d say it is fine to stay in, but will have the simple essentials.
Another big chain throughout China. Like 7 Days Inn and Motel 168, it is for the busy business traveler who is on a budget. Rooms pretty straightforward and basic. They have locations across Shenzhen and other parts of China. I do have friends who have VIP cards and get deals at these places.
They don’t seem to have an English website that I can find.
Hostel in OCT (Overseas Chinese Town)
This one is popular with a lot of entrepreneurs I have known who are passing through.
OCT is a pretty artistic (can we call it hipster?) area in Shenzhen, and will allow you to
You can find their website can at http://www.yhachina.com/ls.php?
The latest lifestyle Serviced Apartment and Hotel – Residence G Shenzhen has debut in Shenzhen on 25 March 2017. The property is complete with a two-floor dynamic community hub; G Club. Part restaurant, part community centre; G Club is the first space of its kind in a hotel or residence in Shenzhen’s Nanshan District. Residence G Shenzhen will cater to the needs of business travelers as well as families looking for a modern hotel or fully equipped serviced apartment with ideal location. The complex will host 178 stylish rooms and serviced apartments ranging from studios to 3-bedroom residences. The rooms and apartments feature modern European design, range from 32 to 174 square metres and combine functionality with high-tech style including complimentary high speed WiFi and user-friendly Internet Protocol televisions with E-readers.
And of course, our friend and ally, Shenzhen Party is another good source for English information. They have the latest hotels in Shenzhen, China. So if this short list doesn’t help you out, I’d suggest you hop on over to their website and browse around. They work hard to add all the hotels as they come (and go)
Plenty of Local Choices
The tricky part is – if you’re on a real budget, where to stay can get complicated. There are a lot of great deals, but they don’t have English websites, and you can’t book in advance – at least not overseas.
What I did was I had my Chinese assistant book for me before I flew over. She searched for hotels near the factories and venues I was looking to stay, and reserved. Many times the hotels won’t need money up front, and will hold your reservation for most of the evening.
Though it was a funny story: one of my earlier trips (think my second trip to China) I had a delay with my flight and finally got to the hotel at about midnight. They didn’t hold my reservation! They didn’t think I was showing up – I think they waited until about 9pm, then released it for other guests. So just find out the terms and conditions of the reservation and how long they will hold it for you. Especially if you’re flying in from overseas – flights are often delayed. Plus you can get a bit lost finding the place, so have a back up at least or a local Chinese assistant to help you out.
Your Favorite Shenzhen Hotel? Any Tips?
Now it’s your turn! Have you stayed over in Shenzhen before? Where did you stay? Was it a good deal, good price? Helpful staff. I’d love to hear all your feedback and ideas. We will work to add good hotels to this list and help new travelers to this unique and growing city called Shenzhen
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!