ThingsCon Shenzhen was the first of hopefully many collaborative events to promote collaboration between Europe and Shenzhen in the service of creating a responsible IoT.


Based on our research and our visits to Shenzhen, we believe there is a lot of potential for a closer collaboration between European independent IoT practitioners and Shenzhen, and to work with the local hardware ecosystem to promote the creation of a responsible Internet of Things.

Preparing for your trip: Practical advice

Are you planning to visit Shenzhen yourself? Here are some pointers that we hope will be helpful. Going to Shenzhen requires a bit of preparation. Some of it is the usual, some aspects might surprise you.

Get a visa for the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone

Shenzhen is a special economic zone (SEZ), and it requires business visa. Exact rules differ from country to country, so make sure to check.

How to get to Shenzhen

How to get to Shenzhen from different locales is well documented online. We recommend flying into Shenzhen directly, or to fly into Hong Kong and crossing the border from there. Busses, taxis, trains and ferries are all options depending on your personal preference. The bus, for example, takes about an hour. Lines at the double border crossing can take a while for international travelers because there is one paperwork check on the mainland Chinese side, one on the Hong Kong side. Allow for some buffer time.

Shenzhen is located just north of Hong Kong. Image: Google Maps.
Shenzhen is located just north of Hong Kong. Image: Google Maps.

Security concerns

Overall safety felt entirely unproblematic. However, we got warned repeatedly and credibly that electronic security is a real concern. Supposedly because of the extremely high-value potential targets, industrial espionage is huge in this region. We were warned to assume that all electronic devices and networks are under constant attack.

Internet access

Access to international internet services is a thorny issue in China. Even with solid preparation it sometimes works, sometimes it doesn’t. Make sure to prepare your devices before your trip and to know you know what kind of risks you’re willing to accept and what you need to prepare for.

Worth reading & watching

Bunnie Huang’s Guide to Electronics in Shenzhen proved a very helpful read for our planning. It’s full of hands-on advice for both pre-travel planning and on-site tipps. Highly recommended.

Some practical advice

Carry cash. Make sure to have cash on you at all times. Many internationally issued credit cards won’t work outside high-end hotels and restaurants. It’s a gamble. The maybe most useful electronic payment systems (Alipay, WeChat wallet) also don’t work with most country’s credit cards (although the list of partner countries seems to be growing slowly).


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An exploration of the Shenzhen hardware ecosystem & the importance of creating a responsible Internet of Things. To download the full text (PDF) just head on over to & learn more about creating a responsible #IoT at

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Peter Bihr

Peter Bihr

What’s the impact of emerging tech, IoT, AI? @thewavingcat: Research & strategy. Co-founded @ThingsCon for a responsible #IoT. Mozilla Fellow. @ZephyrBerlin:👖

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