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Ultimate Shenzhen Universiade Guide

Everything you need to know about Shenzhen and the Universiade in this guide .

Arriving in Shenzhen
Athletes will probably be picked up at the airports, but for other visitors this might be useful. I assume most people will arrive via one of the following airports:
  1. Hong Kong : From Hong Kong airport to Shenzhen and you might take the ferry from HKIA to Shenzhen
  2. Shenzhen : Take the new metro (includes bilingual metro map )
  3. Guangzhou : Take an airport bus to Shenzhen (about 2 hours) or one of the fast trains (about 1 hour). Guangzhou airport is to the NorthEast of the city, so I guess bus is the easiest.
If you arrive via Hong Kong, you need to pass the border between Mainland China and Hong Kong. This is two separate parts:
  1. You will exit Hong Kong
  2. Enter China (need to fill out some paper forms at the border)
There are four relevant border crossings from Hong Kong to Shenzhen:
  1. Luohu (also with train-station to Guangzhou and Hong Kong)
  2. Huanggang (in the middle of Shenzhen from East to West). Only border that is open 24 hours / day
  3. Futian (also conveniently located)
  4. Shenzhen Bay (new bridge between Nanshan/Shekou and Hong Kong, only for cars)
Read more about the border checkpoints here .

Tip: if you have a single-entry visa for China, you can only enter China ONCE (so don't go to Hong Kong if you still need to come back to Shenzhen).
When you arrive in Shenzhen, take a taxi or metro as described below:

  1. Metro : very convenient, fast, cheap and clean. Always take the metro for longer distances if possible
  2. Taxi : not too expensive, but be sure to bring the address (in Chinese)
  3. Bus : during rushhour often overcrowded, very difficult to find out which bus-route to take because all signs are in Chinese
Tip: All volunteers, Universiade staff and Games ticket holders can take Metro trains and public buses for free.
Tip: always keep your passport and your address (in Chinese) with you
Tip: the Shenzhen Universiade athletes village is on the new blue Longgang line (see right top in this map : 大运 / Universiade )
Tip: you can buy a Shenzhen Metro card for 100 RMB and that is much better than buying a new ticket (green coin) every time. Only disadvantage is that it is very difficult to return the card (and get the remaining money out) at the end. So you might lose a few dollar (or donate the card to me :))
Tip: Metro will operate from 6: 30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. on the opening and closing days of the Universiade and from 6: 30 a.m. to 12 a.m. during the Games.

You can withdraw money in all ATM machines. Most of the machines are bi-lingual (English + Chinese) and are easy to use. You can exchange money at all major banks as well. Shops in general do not accept foreign currencies. You can pay with creditcard in department stores.

Tip: try to examine the money after you get it from the ATM (especially the 100 RMB notes) so you can spot fake money later:
  1. The color of the 100 number changes from green to dark grey/green if you tilt the note
  2. Mao's jacket has groves which you can feel with your nails
  3. Obviously there is also a watermark of Mao's head
Tip: in supermarkets, department stores and restaurants you cannot negotiate about the price. However if you go to souvenir shops, or small outdoor shops, you can definitely negotiate (a lot).

Eating and drinking
When I first came to China I ate in small restaurants quite often and as a result often got "water-poop" aka diarrhea. Even good looking restaurants can cause this though, so do not try crazy stuff just before an important event/appointment. Especially very spicy food (Hunan / Sichuan) can cause this, so be careful. That being said, do try out different things!
  1. Guangdong (Cantonese) cuisine: Dim Sum (called "morning tea" in China). It is very mild, no spicy food or strong flavors at all. Lots of soup and they can eat strange things (turtles, snakes etc). I recommend going to a Dim Sum restaurant some day. There you order several separate bamboo steamers with small snacks
  2. Hunan/Sichuan : there are many immigrants from those provinces in Shenzhen so also easy to find. Can be EXTREMELY spicy.

Chinese use round wooden chopsticks in general. It's easier than the Korean flat metal chopsticks. Soup is eaten with a stone spoon. You can ask for a fork and knife in some restaurants, but hey... you are in China. Try to use the chopsticks and if you drop them on the floor, just ask for a new pair (Chinese also do this).

Tip: you can NOT drink the tap-water. Always buy water in the supermarket or other drinks. You can use it to brush your teeth. Tea in restaurants is normally boiled from tap-water, but should be OK.
Tip: do NOT eat the dry (or even fresh) red chillis. They are just added as flavor, not for eating. Same for the small pepper balls in Sichuan dishes.
Tip: you often need to pay "tea money" or some extra charge of around 2 RMB per person. If you don't want to use the napkins they offer, you can return them and you don't need to pay for it.
Tip: we also have McDonalds, KFC and Pizzahut, but really... you can eat that everywhere. Try to eat Chinese!
Tip: if there is a small empty bowl on the table, you are expected to wash your own ricebowl + teacup + chopsticks first. You wash them using (cheap) tea. It's not in every restaurant, but it is always possible if you ask for it.

Sports venues
The venues are really beautiful and many were built especially for the Universiade. They are all over the city though. Remember the important districts from East to West:
  1. Bao'an
  2. Nanshan
  3. Futian
  4. Luohu
  5. Longgang
click for larger version
Left middle : Shenzhen Airport (Bao'an)
Middle: Nanshan + Futian + Luohu
Right top: Universiade village (Longgang)

Read more background of Shenzhen  or find more maps of Shenzhen (including a cool 3D map from )

Tip: pdf with location of all Universiade stadiums

Sports Schedule

I published an overview of all the sports  as well as information about buying tickets . For the latest information, always consult the official English Universiade page.

Weather and clothes for August
The best (English) 7-day weather forecasts can be found on the website of the Hong Kong Observatory . If you want to know if it will rain soon, be sure to check out the radar images . There are also 14-day forecasts via the weathernetwork (less accurate).

In general the weather is hot and humid (33C daily in the summer). If there is a tropical storm near, it can rain EXTREMELY hard, but usually not the whole day. For more about weather see here . The past few weeks (July and early August have been very nice with lots of sunny warm weather). During the summer I wear shorts and thin t-shirts and sandals. Women in Shenzhen also wear shorts or skirts, both in the long and ultra-short version :) Some colleagues wear a sweater in the office (because they think the airco is too cold), but I have not touched a sweater or jacket since early this year.

Tip: You do not need warm clothes. Even in the evening it is very warm (cools down to perhaps 25C minimum).
Tip: take a small umbrella (or buy one here; probably cheaper)

There are lots of shopping tips in my Shopping Category . I recommend:
  1. Dong Men (East Gate) : Busy, lots of fake stuff, but also department stores. Direct connection from Universiade metro stop (40 minutes). Recommended to sample the real Shenzhen.
  2. Dafen (Oilpainting village) : Small area that is worldfamous for oilpaintings. You will find a few hundred small shops selling paintings. You can also custom order if you bring a printed photo. Direct connection from Universiade metro stop (20 minutes). Great if you want to buy a fake Van Gogh or fancy your own portret. Be sure to bargain!
  3. Gift Shops : Can buy something typically Chinese or some toys. Hundreds of little stores across several big buildings! Bit hard to find, but can spend a whole day in all the shops.
  4. Area around SEG : Electronics, phones, iPads but also clothing. Typical Shenzhen shopping!
  5. Coco Park : Nice atmosphere, bars on the West and North side, several restaurants inside.
Tip: I always try to go to some local supermarkets. It's a cheap way to shop and you will be amazed at the different kinds of stuff they sell here.

Shenzhen is not an ancient capital like Beijing or Xi'an or Nanjing. So if you are expecting many old temples, city walls and palaces, you will be in for a big disappointment. Shenzhen is very very modern with lots of glass skyscrapers. Nonetheless, there is plenty to see and do. If you have never been to China before, then just going to shopping areas I mentioned above will already be interesting. Below are the sites that I recommend:

  1. Splendid China folk cultural village : cultural theme park about China. The performances make it interesting, so don't miss them. You can spend at least half a day inside and it's easy to reach in the center of Shenzhen by metro
  2. Xianhu botanical park : big park in the east of Shenzhen (at the foot of Wutong mountain). The temple-complex is not old, but at least quite interesting to see and nice to escape the busy city-life for a while
  3. Citizen's Center : not really a touristic spot, but nice to see the modern architecture of Shenzhen. The library and concert hall are beautiful. Also climb to the top of the hill to the North of the center for a good overview of Shenzhen. Easy to reach
  4. Shenzhen Museum (new location) : pretty good museum and free! It's located at the Citizen's Center (on the east side). Great info about the (short) history of Shenzhen!
  5. Diwang Mansion : tallest building in Shenzhen. Go here on a clear day and you will have a great view from the 69th floor. Easy to reach by metro.

Not related to Chinese culture at all, and in my opinion only so-so, but listed for completeness:
  1. Safari park (the zoo) : not as good as zoos in the West (some animals in small cages), but the animal show was quite good when I went there
  2. OCT-East : huge park with lots of different attractions. I was not so impressed by it, but if you have some time to spare. Quite far away though.
  3. Happy Valley : theme park with roller coaster. Don't expect the best theme park in the world
  4. Window of the World : famous miniature sites from all over the world

Tip: take the bus or train to Guangzhou. It's fun to get out of Shenzhen and see some other parts of Guangdong.


Shenzhen Daily is an English language local newspaper and it is really great. I read it online every day and it is the best way to keep informed about what is happening in Shenzhen. You can buy Shenzhen Daily at all those small newspaper-stands you see everywhere. It's really cheap as well and the editors are nice people.

Tip: you can read Shenzhen Daily online here

Etiquette and manners
I'm not the best person to write about Chinese etiquette or manners, but I will try.

Chinese people LOVE to go out eating. So if you have a business meeting, you will probably eat. Traditionally Chinese (especially the men) like to drink and smoke (cigarettes). Smoking is really still very common here and even some women nowadays smoke. If you don't smoke, just refuse it with a big smile and shake your hands like "no-no". Not drinking is a bit more difficult, but you can always try to drink only a little bit, or drink red wine instead of strong liquor. The most famous Chinese liquor is called Moutai and it is expensive. So just try a little bit, should be ok :)

All this drinking and eating is part of getting to know you and building Guangxi .

Make sure you bring business/name-cards. Everyone seems to have those and you give them with two hands and you also receive them with two hands. Furthermore just common sense: don't leave it and don't play with it. Read it and put it away.

It helps a lot to speak some Chinese. If you speak English, make sure you don't speak too fast and use simple vocabulary. My speech has become a bit staccato because of this habbit, but people generally find it quite easy to understand me, even though I don't have a British or American accent. Also don't be offended when someone speaks very direct English to you like "give it to me". It's probably just the English translation of their Chinese sentence (in which they don't say "please").

You best avoid the subject of politics. Don't try to convince others of the disadvantages of the Chinese communist party. People either already know, or not, but it doesn't matter. Most people will defend the "Chinese way" to outsiders, even if they privately would disagree. So trust me, unless you have lived here for several years, don't make your partner uncomfortable. It's just like saying "Bush is an idiot to an American". Even though they will probably agree, it still feels like an outsider is criticizing you.

Chinese are very good at working as a team and respect the boss/leader. School classes are very organized and you see it in the office as well. It's not so easy to get a lively discussion, unless people know you.

Internet and Electricity

All major social/user-generated websites (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube) are blocked. You can download some free VPN software to get around it (Google for fg711p.exe). Google itself (and Gmail) sometimes also get blocked, especially if you search sensitive keywords. So first send your mail, after that try to get yourself blocked :) I often use (Chinese -> English) to translate websites or other texts. On the iPhone there is also a Google Translate application which can be very useful (if you have internet).

Shenzhen uses 220V/50Hz electricity. There are a couple of different kind of power plugs. Some are unique to China, but in most sockets you can also use the 2-round-plugs that we use in the Netherlands. An example of what works in most power sockets (but not all):

This kind of 2-pole plug works in most sockets (not all). 220V/50Hz

For more information about electrity by country, see this excellent wikipedia overview .

Tip: Free WIFI : during the Universiade several parts of the city enjoy free WIFI from China Telecom. I believe the access point is called CMC, but I didn't try it yet. [more info]
Tip: there is a Universiade mobile application for Android / iPhone and iPad (link )

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Please input the anti-spam code that you can read in the image.
Joe   | |2011-08-10 18:33:00
Damn dog, you might wanna run a moist cloth across that power outlet. Looks like you found it in the trash, dumped it in a Chinese river, and then dried it with trash.
Thijs  - haha   | |2011-08-10 18:46:06
Haha it's indeed too dirty. Combination of air-polution and being hidden behind a closet

3.26 Copyright (C) 2008 / Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 10 August 2011 )
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