"China: A Country of Contrasts"
Just across the Hong Kong border lies one of China's greatest experiments - Shenzhen. Just 40 years ago the area was basically a small fishing village but is now a tier 1 city of over 20 million people covered in skyscrapers. Essentially becoming one of the richest cities in China. Now, with Shenzhen-only visas available relatively cheaply at the border, there's no excuse to not make Shenzhen a part of a Hong Kong trip.
Looking for other ideas in China? Check out some other things here!
Dafen - an oil painting village!
Hidden away in the alleyways surrounding Dafen is one of the coolest places in Shenzhen: the oil painting village. Rows of stores, stalls, and easels are full of people painting incredible landscapes that you can just point to and buy on the cheap! The artwork, coupled with a great cafe at the heart of it that serves proper coffee, makes this top of the list of any Shenzhen activity!
Now if you'll excuse me for a sec, I'm about to go and redesign my apartment...
OCT, or Overseas Chinese Town, is Shenzhen's answer to Shoreditch in London - essentially an old industrial area that has been slowly taken over and curated by the city's youth to create some unapologetically hipster cafes, bars, shops, and galleries - and we love it! Street art snakes its way up the sides of buildings while art exhibits are all the rage inside so check online to see if there are any coming up that interest you. Outside, enjoy a western meal or a proper espresso to take full advantage of all the foreigner-friendly goodness :')
Fly like a phoenix up a mountain
Every so often when you're in a huge city, an escape into nature is just what the doctor ordered and, in phoenix mountain, Shenzhen-ers have a great place to do just that. Located in Bao'an, the 'mountain' is littered with pagodas, temples, and viewing platforms overlooking both city and sea. Oh also, did we mention there's a vegetarian restaurant about halfway up? (#dumplingsalert!) Buses are fairly regular from Bao'an but check baidu maps for the most efficient way to get there.
Be tech savvy at the market
It wouldn't be a visit to Shenzhen without visiting what is probably the world's largest tech market at Huaqiangbei. This is a tech lover's dream. Floors of passageways are full of almost every kind of tech you could want. iPad's? They got ya. Phones? Yup. That tiny little component in your phone that you want replaced that nobody has ever heard of before? Oh yeah, they have buckets of it, and a specialist who will fit it for you too. Granted, not everything is entirely real so be sensible if you're shopping and if you can bring a Chinese pal to make sure you're getting a good deal that would be better too!
Around the world in an... afternoon?!
Imagine standing in front of the Eiffel Tower then skipping across to the leaning tower of Pisa before finishing up at the Statue of Liberty. No, you're not extremely rich and own a private jet (if you are hit us up!), but are at the kind of surreal Window of the World theme park. The park is basically a park with scaled-down models of every major attraction across the globe, but is a fun way to spend an afternoon if you have some time on your hands. Just be sure to head before the sun goes down as a fair few of the models aren't lit up too efficiently.
Also, if those kind of theme parks are your jam, be sure to check out the China Folk Park which miniaturises many of China's key attractions, while OCT East gives a fairly good account of a colourful tea village within it's gates too!