Shopping in Shenzhen

‘Tis the season to go shopping! How do we shop in Shenzhen? Here are a few of the stores and services that help us get the things we need.


Vanguard is a supermarket chain that can be found all over Shenzhen. They range in size from small convenience stores to large department stores similar to Wal Mart in the US. In Dameisha, we have a couple small Vanguards. One is directly across the street from our school and the other is a short walk from our apartment. We buy most of our day to day food staples like bread, milk, eggs, and cereal at the one in our neighborhood. They have a decent selection of fruits and vegetables and even household items like laundry detergent, toilet paper, and cookware. The larger Vanguard is a 20-minute bus ride away in Shatoujio, a more populated part of the district we are living in. We don’t go there often, but we can get pretty much anything we need there and it’s not too much of a hassle to get there and back.


Metro is a German wholesale store that is somewhat similar to Costco in the US, though what is considered bulk shopping here is very similar to normal shopping in any US grocery store. We’ve only been to Metro once, but had fun wandering up and down the aisles. It was hard to resist all the junk food temptations!


Taobao is similar to Amazon and is how most everyone I know here buys the things they need. There was a steep learning curve to using Taobao as the site and app are entirely in Chinese, but with the help of Google translate I’ve finally got it figured out. You can find pretty much anything you want on Taobao and have it delivered within a couple of days. I have yet to try ordering groceries from Taobao, but have a coworker who does so regularly and loves it.


Nogogo is an online grocery store that caters to expats and sells imported goods. It’s very convenient, but also very expensive. The website is in English so it’s super easy to navigate and they also offer same day delivery if you place your order before a certain time. It was a lifesaver when I was struggling with the culture shock of moving to a foreign country and the frustrations that come with not knowing the local language.

Meituan Waimai

Some nights (ok, most nights) I don’t feel like cooking and having food delivered is a blessing. We use the Waimai app to order food and have it delivered from nearby restaurants more often than I would like to admit. The app is also all in Chinese, but now that we have found a few places we like to order from it’s super easy to use.

In the larger, more populated parts of Shenzhen, there are many more places to shop but we’re getting by just fine with our limited shopping options. In fact, it’s kind of nice not being able to hop in the car and run to Target for anything and everything we want. Since it’s such a hassle to get most things we want, it forces us to decide if it’s really something we need. And we’re learning just how little we actually need.

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