Leah’s Quick Guide to Shenyang!
Note: This is a guide of the things that Leah, herself, found enjoyable while living in Shenyang. There are many many other things to explore in the city that are not on this guide. Please do not limit yourself to these options! I encourage you to explore your heart out. My list is in no particular order, so I encourage you to try to read through all of it, even though it is quite lengthy. This travelogue is for people that are new in the city or for people that are really bored one day and want something random to do!
Here is a quick link to the subway!
1. TV Tower Market 电视塔
For those of you that live in Shenyang, you are well aware that we have a large TV tower in the middle of the downtown area. This needle is a beacon for the market located right next to the tower. To get here, take the subway line 2 to Qingnian Park and walk straight off! You can’t miss the smoke rising out of the nut cookers, or the smell of chaur’n roasting on the grill. This place is full of life, especially during the hot summer months. You can buy all sorts of oddities on the streets, and when you’re finished browsing, I recommend you take a seat at one of the rank restaurants and fill up on food and booze.
The beer ranges from about 3-7 元 at most restaurants and the food is easily affordable for almost anyone. You can pick out live seafood and have it fresh on your plate minutes later! I encourage you to walk as far north as the market will allow you and scope out a lady selling hash browns. They are full of spices and cooked in such a way that I have never had better potatoes! In the winter the environment isn’t as lively, but most of the restaurants stay open. It’s a great place in Shenyang to observe the NE China culture and have some cheap treats!
2. Xita 西塔
You can just tell a cab driver “Xita” and they will know how to get you here! Literally translated as, “korean town,” the area is boasting with all things korean. At night the area looks like the typical street you’d imagine in Asia, BRIGHT NEON LIGHTS EVERYWHERE! I usually come here for some korean bbq and a night out with friends. They have restaurants where you take off your shoes and sit on the ground and restaurants with HUGE booths and lots of soju (korean alcohol).
There is a place (right next to angel-in-us coffee shop) that offers large pitchers of beer for 30 元 . This isn’t your ordinary pitcher either, it contains enough beer to fill 6 pint glasses. If you go down the alley behind this restaurant you will find a hidden gem. This place offers a free meal to whoever can drink an entire pint of ice cold beer through a straw in 15 seconds. A man WILL come and time you and it WILL be difficult. I have only seen it done 3 times. At this joint, you can also order tall beer towers to sip on with your buddies.
3. Tai Yuan Jie 太原捷
To get to Tai Yuan, aka shopping street, simply take line 1 to Tai Yuan. This street is famous in Shenyang for the amount of malls above, as well as below the ground. Underground, there are 3 floors of endless amounts of shoes, glitter, and misspelled fashion clothing. Above ground are glamorous, overpriced restaurants and malls. On the streets, there are vendors selling food and all your favorite knick-knacks that China is known for.
The setup of Tai Yuan’s main area is a large street with no driving allowed and a large circle at the end. Here, look for a big building (sai long) with a glasses model on it. This building offers 5 floors of glasses and contacts to anyone willing to trust their eye sight to the man behind the counter checking your eyes. Laughably, I have purchased 6 pairs of prescription specks here at about 70-150元 a pop. I also purchased a year and half worth of contacts for 180元. (Don’t forget to bargain!) I stupidly bought green colored contacts here too. When you’re finished buying all the glasses for all your new different styes, you can walk out of the building and turn left. Walk until you see a huge orange building with a McDonalds on the first floor. If you go up to floor 4 there are rows and rows of fabric and furs. You can buy fabric here and then ask someone at one of the shops to make you anything you want! I suggest bringing in an example of what you want created, or at least a picture…
4. Wu Ai Market 五爱
“I’ve heard rumors that this is the biggest shopping hub in Northeast China. But now that I think of it, it has to be the biggest shopping complex in the world. Let me explain to you the set up of Wu Ai…There are FIVE buildings. Each building has FIVE floors. These buildings are no joke. They are much bigger than any establishment I have been to in the United States. Each building resembles a mall in the US, except for the fact that there are not separate, distinct department stores. It almost resembles a flea market with rows and rows of vendors trying to sell their items to the hundreds of visitors. Some of the floors are hard to walk through because so many people are walking around, gazing at all the junk. And here is the real kicker: each floor sells a specific thing. So there is a floor devoted to selling bags, one selling just shoes, and another with socks. Yep, there is a floor devoted to socks with a couple of bras mixed in. I guess you can’t have too many socks. ” The previous statements were taken from my entire blog post about Wu Ai. Check it out, yo!
5. Zhong Jie 众皆
Translated as, “Middle street,” this is one of the main shopping streets in Shenyang. It resembles Tai Yuan, minus the fact that there isn’t any underground shopping. My favorite place is a tall mall-like building with big red pillars. It is located in about the middle of Zhong Jie, and across from it is a white building with 1928 on it. If you walk into here you will think it is like any other mall, excuse me, any other Chinese mall. But if you take the escalator down two flights, let the bargain shopping begin! This place has mostly semi-decent clothes and nice fake shoes. (Boys, they even have shoe sizes up to 44! )
6. San Hao Jie 三好街
San Hao is an electronic lover’s mecca. Not only can you buy cheap DVDs at ’65 San Hao’ (read Nick’s post), but you can literally buy any kind of electronic your little heart desires. There are buildings after buildings full of speakers, televisions, computers, microphones, CDs, computers, cell phones, cords, printers, calculators, iPods, iPhones, cameras, game consoles (in which you can get 100s of games saved on the system), electronic helicopters, laser pointers, etc etc etc. The list goes on. In case anything breaks, just take it to a man at a shop there and have them fix it! No, literally you can.
In many of the malls of Shenyang you can find a place to paint ceramics. It cost on average 20 元 and you get to pick out what figurine you like best. You have the option of many different colored paints and different tools. I can’t explain how to find the one I went to, but I wish you the best of luck in your ventures! It’s a nice relaxing activity for a cold Saturday afternoon. =)
8. The River! 浑河
The Hun river, located on the south side of the city (…and right by my house!) is 100%, hands down, my favorite place in Shenyang. During the summer it brings the city to life with its rushing water and foliage growing all around. Everyday I would ride my bicycle to school on this river and it was a refreshing way to start and end my days as a preschool teacher.
I recommend riding down the river paths to anyone I meet! I would often jog down this river in the evening. To me, the river is a way to get out of an over populated Chinese city, but still be in the midst of the city. You can see the entire Skyline from the south banks, and at night the cool breeze cools off your hot skin.
My friends and I spent many nights on the river, sharing our home made foods and enjoying the nature (which is not something you run across in China on a daily basis). There is a small park where the San Hao Bridge meets the North bank of the river. This is my favorite area, as there are picnic benches, large willow trees, and one huge tree with picnic tables under its branches. You can not even see the tables from the outside because the branches are so large they are like walls.
9. Hot Pot
Shenyang is relatively close to the N. Korean border, therefore a lot of the cuisine is affected by the assimilation of people. My favorite meal in Shenyang is Hot Pot. This is typically a Korean dish, but the Chinese add their own twist to this fabulous style of eating. Each person gets their own little pot and it is either warmed up by a flame, or a hot plate. You then order as much food as you want. My personal favorites are tofu and greens. Once the water is boiling, dip your raw foods into the water for seconds, take it out, put it into your personally made dip made at the sauce bar and eat! In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with hot pot. You can choose everything you eat, from the flavor of the water that is boiling, to the type of sauce, that I just don’t understand those hot pot haters.
If you have a lot of money to spend, I recommend Hai di lao (not sure on that spelling. It is located in the Wanda Plaza in TieXi district) Best hot pot on earth. They also make noodles in front of you!
10. Korean BBQ
Another Korean influenced themed restaurant is the BBQ joints. These places are located all throughout Shenyang. The restaurants typically come with a grill on each individual table. In order to eat, one must cook their own meat and veggies on the grill. My chinese friend taught us to cook the meat and then wrap it in lettuce with vegetables and sauce. You then proceed to wrap the lettuce into a ball and eat it in one bite. I’m not the biggest fan of these places because everything on the grill is soaked in meat juice, I prefer the egg pancakes!
11. Olé 萬象城
Inside the new MixC shopping mall on Qingnian Da Jie, you will find my favorite grocery store! The complex caters to a more upscale crowd and hosts many luxury-goods stores, such as Fendi, Prada, Cartier, and Dolce and Gabbana. However, in the basement of the new shopping center is Olé, and it is full of foreigner’s favorite foods! They usually have samples of fruit, bread, meat, and sometimes, if you’re lucky, cheese! (on the 5th floor there is also an ice skating rink in MixC)
12. All you can eat restaurants
Who doesn’t like all you can eat restaurants? In Shenyang, they have them all over the place, usually in the large malls. My favorite is the all you can eat hot pot places. They usually range from 40-50元 and you can eat and drink as much as you want! In the hot pot restaurants, the customer sits at a bar-like area and there is a conveyor belt of raw food rolling through.
When you want something, all you have to do is pick it off the belt with your fancy chopstick skills. In Wanda Plaza at Tai Yuan Jie they have an all you can eat hot pot restaurant like this. They also offer an all you can eat western buffet. Here, they have pizza, pasta, sushi, salads, and chinese food. You can drink all the beer you want out of their carlsberg keg too. When that runs out, simply switch to beer bottles. They buffet costs 50元. I think the food is nasty, but my friends seem to like it.
13. Lenore Bar
Add: 37 Nansanjing Street, Shenhe District, Shenyang
Tel: 151 0403 6489
Opening hours: 17:00- late
Price: beer from 10 RMB, spirits from 20 RMB
Out of all the foreigner bars in Shenyang, Lenore’s is 100% my favorite. Lenore’s has a really chill environment and cheap beer. The owner, Michael is so nice and a really fun time. If people are being too loud outside he will simply buy us popsicles to interfere with our carrying voices. If you don’t fancy the music at Lenore’s, you can simply plug in your own mp3 player and play your music through out the bar. This place has character, the friendliest staff, and a balance between foreigners and Chinese people.
14. The Green Mile
Add: Yiwei Lu, near Beisanjing Jie, Shenhe District, Shenyang
Tel: 138 9814 0138
Price: cocktails 30 RMB, beers from 10RMB, pizzas from 60-170 RMB.
Happy hour: 17:30-21:30
The Mile is a dark bar up in the northern part of town. They have a great selection of beers and an amazing happy hour. Get your VIP card on your first visit, and you will be able to buy one, get one free, on all drinks during happy hour. The pizza at the mile is the best in town, they even deliver all the way to my house, down in Hunnan! The staff is always friendly and they have been known to host the best pub crawl in all of Shenyang =)
15. Uncle Sams
Add: 50 Meters South East of the American Consulate
Tel: 31063450 or 13352481900
Price: Cocktails from 25RMB/ Beer from 10RMB
Happy Hour: Nightly from 4:00-7:30 pm (other deals include Ladies Night on Tuesdays, seasonal celebrations and daily specials)
Monday to Friday from 4:00 pm until late.
Weekends from noon until late.
Uncle Sam’s is owned by the one and only, Uncle Sam himself. His bar provides a nice atmosphere for people on all nights of the week. “Mexican Wednesdays, Pulled Pork Tuesdays and daily drink specials from 4:00 pm to 7:30 provide the impetus for a diverse mixture of Chinese and foreigners. They are always giving you the Wal-Mart welcome at the door, if a bit more sincere, and a number of them speak English better than some of my friends.” (stolen from John on echinacities.com) The walls are full of graffiti from the diverse crowd. Uncle Sam is always open to new suggestions, he even went out and got Jell-o shots for us, which is now on the menu. Sam never closes his bar until the last person leaves, so expect a few free drinks late night to get you out of there.
Add: 36 Wujingbei Jie, near Shiwei Lu, Heping District, Shenyang
Opening hours: Bar 11:30-14:00, kitchen 11:30-00:00
Price: beer from 18 RMB, food from 36 RMB
Stroller’s has really good food, however it is a little more expensive than the places I normally hang out. The atmosphere is really chill and the staff is kind. They always remember my name.
Well that’s all for now folks. I know Shenyang may not look like the most pleasant of cities to live in, but I love it here. I have lived here for a year and I still feel like there are so many things in the city that I did not get to experience. The city has a lot to offer, it is just a matter of getting out and doing things! In the summer, the city transforms into a different place…so push through that winter, because it will be worth it. 😉
Shout out to Christina (hopefully this is your name!). Ran into her at Lenore’s and she knew Nick and I because of this blog. Hope you can learn to love Shenyang as much as I do! Good luck on your future endeavors.
Peace out China, see you another time….