Luo Hu Commercial City — Shenzhen, China

Next time you’re in Hong Kong, catch the train up to Lo Wu station, go through HK immigration and walk across the border into mainland China. Once you go through Chinese immigration and get though the thicket of taxi touts, the first building you see is Luo Hu Commercial City. Its five floors contain hundreds of tiny shops, mostly selling “brand name” clothing, shoes and accessories. There are also dozens of tailors who can make or copy anything. If you prefer, there are electronics, DVDs, souvenirs, home furnishings, and maybe a few other things I’ve forgotten.

Luo Hu Commercial City

I go straight to the top floor for the tailoring. First, go to the fabric bazaar. You’ll see every kind of fabric you could imagine, from conservative pinstripes to outrageous fake furs, so be inspired. Then find a tailor: either wait for one to come up to you, or just walk around the rest of the floor, looking in all the tailor shops till you find one who makes clothes that you like. Tell your tailor what you want made. He’ll tell you how much material you’ll need, so you can go to the bazaar and buy. Most normal fabrics seem to cost HK$20-25 after haggling – of course, your haggling skills might be much better than mine. Sometimes, that tailor will come with you, which might help reduce the price, or not.

The tailor should be pretty quick making your clothes – up to a week or so, including a fitting. If you ask nicely enough they might do it in a day. Tailoring prices seem to vary from about HK$50 for a skirt to several hundred for a man’s suit. My rule of thumb is that clothing tended to cost around HK$100 per piece, including fabric and tailoring. This is about US$14, which is a pretty good deal.

There are a few restaurants in the building too – the one on the top floor is cheap and pretty busy. There are also several very inexpensive beauty salons and massage places, where HK$20 will buy you a manicure or a neck massage. They will try to upsell all kinds of things, so watch out, and under no circumstances drink the coffee: it is vile. The beer is OK though.

There are a few electronics shops, selling hi-fi, CD and MP3 players, radios and so on. Some of the merchandise seems amazingly cheap, even if some of the Sony logos seem a little wonky.

If you’re after DVDs, you have come to the right place. You won’t even be able to get in the door without being offered “DVD movie”. The going price seems to vary, but you should be able to get many new releases – including ones that haven’t even hit the cinemas yet – for about HK$4 each. Yes, that’s 50 US cents. There is, of course, a chance that they may not be entirely legitimate.

Last time I went to Luo Hu, I decided to see how many people would off to sell me “DVD Movie” to me as I wandered around. I lost count at about 35. Nice to know I could have spent a bit of money and singlehandedly brought Hollywood to its knees.

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