Inner Circle

The Chill Factor

Amidst Shenzhen's hustle and bustle hides pleasant places for respite.

The Chill Factor
The remarkable structure in the shape of a bird spreading its wings is Shenzhen’s city hall, which also houses the Shenzhen Museum.

The sheer speed at which Shenzhen grows is astonishing. Every day, something new opens and something else closes down to make way for bigger and better developments. In a city that prides itself for efficiency, change seems to be the only constant.

Futian is a prime example of such growth. Back in the late ‘80s, when Lo Wu was still very much the only face of Shenzhen, the land surrounding it largely consisted of mangrove vegetation, farmland and rural villages. In the early ‘90s, the districts west of Lo Wu were drawn into an ambitious development plan; today, Futian is the quintessential modern Shenzhen, with glass-walled skyscrapers lining the major thoroughfares and lovely pockets of greenery in the urban sprawl, taking over Lo Wu’s spot as the city’s financial centre.

Bookish Inclination

Futian Shangri-La, Shenzhen was the first hotel to grasp the opportunity in Shenzhen’s urbanisation. Its prestigious address overlooks the spectacular city skyline and is conveniently close to the Hong Kong border and Shenzhen Convention and Exhibition Centre. 

Though the city itself is fast paced, a trip to Shenzhen need not be rushed. In fact, you can design an itinerary solely for wandering down the very laidback neighbourhoods. Start at the Central Book City, a mere five minutes away by taxi from the hotel. Covering a whopping 43,900 square metres and stocking over three million books, this is the literary heaven every book lover dreams of. Even if you’re not one to immerse yourself in an endless sea of books, on weekends, the outdoor lawn features artist booths, impromptu performances by street musicians and stalls selling handicrafts. 

A further five-minute walk from Central Book City takes you to Futian’s landmark, the iconic Shenzhen Civic Centre. The remarkable structure in the shape of a bird spreading its wings is Shenzhen’s city hall, which also houses the Shenzhen Museum. The permanent exhibits give visitors a glimpse of the city’s development history and are a great way to spend the morning, if only to quickly browse through all three floors.

Lofty Ambitions

For indie fans and design buffs, head west towards the Nanshan District for the uber-cool OCT-LOFT. Before it was properly planned and developed, the area was originally littered with empty manufacturing plants, a legacy from the ‘80s and ‘90s industrial boom. Since most of the plants have relocated up north in other Guangdong cities, these vacated buildings have become the breeding ground for culture, art and creativity. Shenzhen is very serious about its title as a UNESCO design city, and this is evident from its commitment to ensuring there is enough room for design start-ups to flourish.

There are areas where boring buildings have been completely taken over by designers: colourful graffiti on the walls, redesigned contemporary façades and quirky decorative elements inject a breath of fresh air into the otherwise lifeless neighbourhood. Yet there are still empty warehouses patiently waiting their turn for a makeover – “wait” being the keyword here – unlike the rest of Shenzhen where change is happening at such extreme speed it makes your head spin, the growth of OCT-LOFT feels very organic.

Strolling down the alleyways of OCT-LOFT you will find intriguing design spaces, lifestyle stores and art galleries awaiting your exploration, which you can punctuate as you please with respites at quaint cafés and good restaurants serving international cuisines. You can also meet the city's up-and-coming design talents at one of the many workshops or art and design talks held regularly in the area.

If there is still time to spare, make your way to Shenzhen’s pride – its Hi-Tech Park in the Nanshan district is the city’s answer to Silicon Valley in California. While most of the buildings are privately owned by Chinese and international tech giants and not accessible by the general public, the area does warrant a walk for a full appreciation of how far the city has come from its humble roots. Much like Silicon Valley, Hi-Tech Park is very conscious of maintaining its tech-heavy vibe with futuristic architecture and generous green space. The Teabank concept store is one of the most pleasant surprises you can find here – more than just your regular teashop, the top floor is a massive library with comfortable reading spaces and a cafeteria. Pick up a good book, order a tea set and savour the delights of expertly matched desserts as your tea specialist performs a tea ceremony in front of you. Fast paced or not, Shenzhen does offer wonderful rare moments of leisure if you know where to look. 

Top Travel Tips:

  • Avoid the weekend crowd at OCT-LOFT and go on a weekday instead.
  • Indulgent treatments at the hotel’s CHI, The Spa are the best antidote to a day of exploring.
  • Shennan Avenue and Binhe Avenue are Shenzhen’s two major east-west highways.
  • Any foodie can tell you that Coconut Chicken is the latest culinary fad in Shenzhen. Originated in Hainan, it is a type of hotpot that uses coconut water as the soup base and chicken is the star of the meal.
  • Those looking for exciting nightlife can venture to Shekou Bar Street and Coco Park.
  • Art aficionados will be pleased to know that Futian Shangri-La has a decent collection of famous Chinese artists. Ask a staff member for an art tour.

 

 Make a booking at Futian Shangri-La, Shenzhen Back to Destination 

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