The sprawling OCT-LOFT complex, converted from fashionably austere communist-era factories, is one of the best places to see contemporary art in Shēnzhèn, and makes for a wonderful (if ever-more commercial) browse-as-you-stroll experience. Large exhibition spaces and private galleries – many closed on Mondays – are complemented by chilled cafes (not to mention the ubiquitous Starbucks), restaurants with exposed ventilation ducts, quirky fashion boutiques, a gem of a bookstore, and the obligatory 'lifestyle' outlets.
This walled town and lively village built 600 years ago lies on Shēnzhèn's eastern edge and was a key battle site in the Opium Wars of the 19th century. Stately mansions, fortress gates and ornate temples from the Ming and Qing dynasties are the main attractions. Having the place to yourself with very few visitors is another.
Board bus 360 at Yínhú bus station or near China Regency Hotel on Sungang Lu. The journey takes about 90 minutes. At Dàpéng bus station (大鹏总站; Dàpéng Zǒngzhàn) change to bus 966. A taxi from Luóhú costs ¥190.
At this 300-year-old village, rows of quaint black-and-white houses exuding a modest, functional elegance unique to Hakka architecture are occupied by the workshops and galleries of printmaking artists from China and overseas. The village, with its tree-lined paths and lotus ponds, is open all day, but the galleries keep different hours. The journey from downtown Shēnzhèn takes about 1½ hours. Check the website for exhibitions, events and detailed directions.
Just a few minutes' walk from the OCT Art & Design Gallery is a series of dated theme parks that are always packed with snap-happy Chinese tourists. They're fun destinations for a family day out. Window of the World sports a collection of scale replicas of famous world monuments. Foreigners being misidentified as part of the exhibits is not unheard of. Not all replicas are lit up at night, so come before sunset if you must see everything.
Designed by architect Coop Himmelb(l)au, this gargantuan contemporary art gallery anchors Shēnzhèn’s Futian Cultural District. You’ll notice it immediately: the exterior is a giant curve of chrome planted among the city’s high rises, while the entrance hall is a vast atrium with a cloud-like mirrored installation (perfect to take selfies in). The museum itself blends contemporary art and some bizarre installations.
Shēnzhèn’s white-glass design landmark, opened in collaboration with London’s V&A, is set in a landscaped park in a gentrifying port district overlooking northwestern Hong Kong. Designed by award-winning architect Fumihiko Maki, Design Society has rotating exhibitions, artist studios and public spaces in a bold statement of the southern Chinese city’s design credentials.