Dafen used to be an unheard-of farming village but is now an artistic oil painting village with thousands of painters working there.
Dafen is a so-called "urban village" in Shenzhen. It only covers about 0.4 square kilometer but is home to over 1,200 painting workshops and over 10,000 painters. At its peak, over 60% of the oil paintings sold in the world originated from Dafen Oil Painting Village.
Dafen Travel Essentials
Dafen Oil Painting Village is free to visit. You may walk around the village, go inside some workshops to see the paintings, feel the artistic atmosphere, and even try your hand at oil painting.
- Name: Dafen Oil Painting Village (大芬油画村)
- Address: Buji Street, Longgang District
- Area: 0.4 square kilometer (99 acres)
- Popular activities: visit painting workshops, visit Dafen Art Museum, try oil painting
- Suitable for: anyone who likes art and painting
- Price: free
- Time needed: 2–3 hours
- How to get there: Take Metro Line 3 to Dafen Station and leave via Exit A1, then walk southwest for about 500 meters.
Top 5 Things to Do in Dafen
1. Visit Oil Painting Workshops
Besides some of the well-decorated stores selling oil paintings and other artistic works, there are more crude and humble workshops in Dafen Oil Painting Village.
These workshops are generally 10 to 20 square meters in size with copies of famous oil paintings hanging on the walls and piled on the ground. Some workshops only have standing room left.
The real workshops for painters are the alleys between these workshops. You can see canvases and tools piled in the corners with young painters focusing on their work.
Although most of the paintings there are copies, they are important products for underprivileged local painters to make a living. If you can speak Chinese or are traveling with a local guide, try to communicate with them and get to know their stories.
2. Visit Dafen Art Museum
Dafen Art Museum is located on the west side of the village. There are two large galleries and eight smaller galleries on the first and second floors. Approximately 40 exhibitions are held there every year.
The most iconic exhibition is the Dafen International Oil Painting Biennale. With the first exhibition successfully held in 2018, the next biennale will be held in November or December 2020.
Dafen Art Museum is free to visit and is open from 8am to 6pm.
3. Try Oil Painting
Many workshops provide oil painting experiences and the price is about 50 yuan (7 USD).
The workshop owner will offer you a stack of sample pictures, all of the tools – including a canvas, brushes, pigments, and a palette – and then teach you how to draw the draft, mix the pigments, and paint the colors.
After you've finished your oil painting, you can keep your artwork as a souvenir.
4. Take Some Street Snaps
Dafen Oil Painting Village is not just about oil paintings. There are many sculptural works along the streets, which are interesting objects to take photos of. The alleys with painting workshops on both sides are also wonderful backgrounds for some artistic photos.
5. Look for Souvenirs
Some small oil paintings are wonderful souvenirs of your visit to Dafen Oil Painting Village. Depending on the quality and size, paintings that can be put in a suitcase cost about 30 to 100 yuan (4 to 14 USD).
You may prefer to order a bespoke painting, such as your portrait. You can negotiate the price with the painter and collect it in a couple of days.
Besides oil paintings, some Chinese ink and brush paintings, embroidery, and other handicraft works are also good souvenir options.
Visit Dafen Oil Painting Village with Us
We can help you to customize a tour in Shenzhen to visit Dafen Oil Painting Village. You will be driven to your destination in a private car and a local guide will assist you when communicating with the painters or when buying some paintings.
Check out our most popular Shenzhen tour and add Dafen Oil Painting Village as an attraction: