Touring Component Markets In Shenzhen


[Al] recently returned from a trip to China. While there he toured some of the component markets in Shenzhen, the electronics assembly epicenter of the world. While he doesn’t focus too closely on what is actually being sold there, we found his description of the markets themselves and other notable attractions around the area quite interesting.

Shenzhen is different from some of the other component wonderlands we’ve heard about ([Ian Lesnet’s] tour of Akihabara in Japan comes to mind). First of all it may be a bit more difficult to get there. US Citizens need a Visa to enter China, and must fly to Hong Kong and take a ferry to the mainland. [Al] reports that the traffic is horrendous and rush-hour can turn a ten mile ride that usually takes ninety minutes into a three hour tour… a three hour tour!

The side affect of the market being out of the way is that the prices aren’t as inflated as they may be in more geek-tourist-friendly locations. That being said it also sounds like the vendors are interested in selling you a few thousand units rather than a single component. Follow the link at the top for the market tour, a stop at Seeed Studios (who will apparently sell you a map of the best markets to visit), and the rest of the attractions that [Al] encountered.

34 thoughts on “Touring Component Markets In Shenzhen

    1. I wouldn’t buy any semiconductor devices from them (sparkfun has an interesting tale about counterfeit chips), but I get connectors, perfboard, header pins, switches, screws, standoffs, etc. from Shenzhen suppliers all the time and the quality is pretty much the same as digikey or mouser, except the prices are much lower and it takes a lot longer for shipping time.

      In general I don’t find the Chinese stuff to be “cheap” or “shoddy” at all. In fact most of the “cheap” and “shoddy” stuff I’ve bought is from American vendors trying to pass off old stock as new.

  1. You can fly into HK, then take the E42 bus to Tai Po train station, about 20 min. Then catch the train to Lo Hu which is a part of Shenzhen. Then you are only a stones throw away from the sites. And yes, the traffic is bad!!!!!!!!

      1. Or on the HK side you can make multiple MTR connections up to Luohu station and catch the subway to HuaqiangBei once on the Mainland side. Thats what I do, probably cheaper as well a tiny bit..

  2. You need a visa, but you don’t need to fly to HK first. You can fly into Shenzhen directly, or Guangzhou, or any number of major cities. HK is usually just a nice stopover so people tend to do that.

  3. >US Citizens need a Visa to enter China,
    There are only 3 countries that have proper visa exemption agreements with China so I’m not sure why that’s a surprise. Maybe it’s surprising to Americans that they actually need permission to enter other people’s countries? Anyhow for people that are considering going to China, some free advice! – Take printed copies of your e-tickets etc especially if you are only transiting through China. If you can’t show them that you have a valid ticket out of China you’ll get taken to the little walled off box in immigration to talk to a more senior immigration officer and if you still can’t show them what they want you’ll get taken off to a little room in the back to be “talked to”. Don’t gamble on your mobile, tablet or whatever having battery and the confirmation email for your tickets being cached on it. Technically all countries should check your tickets/journey details but the difference with China is that they actually bother checking and they are very serious about it. Oh, and once you are through immigration avoid the taxi/hotel desks on the way out .. the people there will corner you and will not let you get away. If you’re transiting on a flight the next day they will try to convince you into illegally leaving the airport and staying at a “close by” (1 hour+) hotel.

    1. Considering how porous the U.S. borders are, most Americans probably welcome the increased security! The U.S. is being over-run by illegals (“undocumented-Canadians” as I call them…) looking for free handouts, healthcare, schooling, food, shelter, etc. which is taking a huge toll on our economy.

  4. Maybe it’s surprising to Americans that they actually need permission to enter other people’s countries?

    I think the attitude there is un called for. It is perfectly reasonable to point out that a Visa is needed in this case as it is relatively rare to have to have one for most Americans who travel for pleasure. Most of Europe dose not require anything but a passport and other nations issue Visas upon arrival. It is infact un usual for China to require a Visa for short term travel. Implying that Americans in general and especially those who engage in international travel are somehow ignorant of the borders and security interests of other nations is offensive.

    1. Some Americans doesn’t even know where America is.

      When asked why she thinks one-fifth of Americans can’t locate the United States on a map, Miss Teen South Carolina, Lauren Caitlin Upton answered:

      “I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don’t have maps and uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as, uh, in South Africa, and uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uhhh, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, should help South Africa, it should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future, for us.”

        1. I’m pretty sure all Englishmen, Scots, Germans, Australians, French and the rest can find their own country on a map.

          It’s like the old joke, “War is how Americans are taught geography.”

          1. Nope, they can’t:

            “One in five schoolchildren is unable to find the United Kingdom on a map of the world, research has revealed. One in ten cannot name a single continent and more than 20,000 children in London do not realise they live in England’s capital city… Less than two thirds of children (60 per cent) were able to locate the UK’s closest ally, the U.S., and 86 per cent failed to identify Iraq, in spite of its dominance of the news agenda.”


            And to be blunt, inferring a beauty queen’s intellect is representative of an entire populace, demonstrates a deeper and scarier form of ignorance than Ms. Caitlin’s quote. I have heard this kind of comment many times before, and find they come almost exclusively from the British. So I’d wager good money that you’re British, [Tony]. If so, I suggest you refrain from further attempts to make America look bad – you’re only accomplishing the reverse.

          2. Oh, and before I forget, your grasp of numbers is about as shaky as Ms Upton’s geography (well, I presume her geography is lacking).

            1/5th of Americans isn’t equivalent to 1/5 of British schoolkids (for two reasons).

    2. >relatively rare to have to have one for most Americans who travel for pleasure.

      I think the US has the worse visa exemption agreements in place of any western country.. either way you should assume you need a visa and not be surprised if you do.

      >somehow ignorant of the borders and security interests of other nations is offensive.

      Except that you find it unusual that you would need a visa for a place like China… I’m not sure if you guys noticed or not but China isn’t a European state.

  5. I have been to Shenzhen twice and it is like a Mecca, what most people don’t believe that the Chinese people are very welcoming and friendly. What we do is we use Google maps for navigation and Google translate for getting past the language barrier.

    1. Unfortunately google maps are a bit off when it comes to Shenzhen, In the linked image the Lushan hotel is really located where the green subway station dot is. And the actual location for the subway station is some blocks north-west.

      Still, Shenzhen is a cool place where they happily serve you a plate of fried pigs ears, pigs intestines and pigs liver when you ask for a platter of pork.

  6. “I found the negotiation process to be very easy and in some cases, the price was more than fair to begin with requiring no haggling.” Idiot! Increasing inflation in China. You may think its cheap, but I can guarantee that after living decade in China you have been ripped off.

    As for visas, if the Chinese (or other nationals) cannot get into USA without a visa then don’t expect that you can get in to their countries.

  7. I’ve been to Shenzhen (In fact, I am in Zhongshan as I write this) and the easy way to get there is by ferry from HK but there are flights directly from Zhuhai, Shanghai Pudong, etc. Traffic is bad and Shenzhen is more expensive than many other Chinese cities. I am in China 3-4 months/year. People are very nice; I know very little of the language, and they are always willing to help. Western imports are expensive so I stick to the local things and have yet to have anything bad come of it.

    Yes you need a visa but it is well worth it. Aside from the Shenzhen market, there are countless things to see/do. The one thing that is kind of a hassle is that many places are cash only.

  8. The VISA is easy to get, you have to pay a fee, but I usually do mine through a VISA agency in San Fransisco and they have always gotten it done quickly for me. One time, I forgot that I had not yet gotten one and paid their expedite fee, seems that it was about a hundred bucks but they had my VISA the next day.

    I’ll have to check these places out next time I’m there. I’ve been to some pretty interesting marketplaces, but most of them were for personal items like clothes/sunglasses/luggage/etc.

    I wonder if the people in the component markets follow you around like the people in the other markets. YOU WANT TRANSISTOR? COME! YOU FOLLOW!!! VERY GOOD PRICE! YOU BUY? YOU BUY NOW???!!!??? NO MONEY? NO PROBLEM! ATM VERY CLOSE, I SHOW YOU!!!! COME!!!

  9. Next time I visit China I realy want to go to Shenzhen. Also show Bejing and Sjanghai to my Gf and take a plane back to where I live (Holland) from Xiamen. Stayed there 4 month, was awesome. Nice City with modern and older parts, Piano iland. If you fly KLM or from Amsterdam, try Xiamen a week. Friend of mine took a train to HK from Xiamen, few hours. Also a few basic word in chinese can help you at shops, like counting, saying you are from europe (they dont like Americans so much, just say Europe or British (be honest to officials ofcourse )(Unless you speak a litle bit german/Dutch, say germany or Netherlands)) Long story, sorry. Beer is nice, party is fine (free beer sometimes). and Buy whatever you like for cheap but remember it could be fake/refurbished. Apple/samsung and that western brand stuff is normal price there to us, unless fake or whatever. Shanghaj is expensive, HK is the way to shop (Mainly because of low/no taxes). If you happen to know a Chinese, ask them for some advice. ow and the food is nice. I like Frog and chicken foot, at first I was like “No way”, but later I was surpriced by the good taste of it :D never ever found Dog or cat, chinese friends told be that is mainly found local outside mayor citys in cheap foodplaces.

    1. Well, I went, and while I am glad I did, I was left a little disappointed. It wasn’t quite the cutting edge experience I was expecting, and in fact I was left with the impression that the component selling side of Shenzhen was in decline and its best days were behind it. Range of components available was quite limited; with max SD card size 32GB, largest HDD’s I saw were 1TB. Fully expected to find loads of cheap SSD’s (top of my shopping list) – just found a few no names that looked very unappealing. Also saw many booths empty, or just piled with junk. As people have said, the markets are enormous, and you really need to know what you want and where you are going so it is quite possible I was in the wrong place – although I did follow the Seeedstudio map. It was very hot while I was there, which made tramping the aisles all the more hard work.

      I did get a few Arduino Dues & Megas at a great price though, and a Molex crimp tool – 45 Yuan!

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