Half an hour’s drive from the hotel, the vast Xianhu Botanical Garden sits at the foot of Wutong Mountain. Spend a peaceful morning strolling its gardens, past pagodas, a boating lake, and all manner of exotic plant life, from glossy-leafed bonsai trees and delicate orchids to huge, otherworldly cacti.
Since 2005, creatives have staked their claim to OCT Loft, a former factory complex that once made televisions. Now, it’s the city’s design quarter, and a hub for local artists and creatives. Don’t miss Old Heaven Books, a bookstore, café and record label, and Penny Black Jazz Bar, where musicians often jam.
Open the fully functioning fridge at the unassuming H-Store convenience store and descend into The Haploid, a whimsical, neon-lit basement bar. Its signature drinks are famously inventive, including one disguised as a house plant, with Oreo-crumb soil. In the mood for something simpler? They also mix terrific classic cocktails.
On the Pearl River estuary, Shekou was the place where Shenzhen’s future was sealed in 1979, when it became a designated economic development zone. Stroll the waterfront, head to the V&A-backed Sea World Culture & Arts Center, or take a seat outside the Korean-owned Green Wood Café for excellent coffee and even better cakes.