The modern urban metropolis of Shenzhen is not exactly rich in historical sites like many other cities in China, nor is it usually associated with breath-taking beauty. Yet for some reason Shenzhen is considered one of China’s top tourist cities. In 2005, 6.16 million tourists spent at least one night in the city, a number that has been increasing steadily ever since. So what is it that draws so many people here? Is it its proximity to Hong Kong? Does it have a unique charm that other cities simply lack? Not only does this article map out some of the main attractions in Shenzhen, but it shows you how to make the most out of a short 48 hour trip to this city.
Window of the World, Shenzhen
Shenzhen is mainly famous for three things: shopping, theme parks and beaches. Squeezing all three into a two day stop-over should be no problem with a little organisation and know-how. Start your day by visiting the Eiffel Tower. No, not the one in Paris but the replica in Window of the World, Shenzhen’s theme park featuring replicas of the word’s most famous sites, buildings and structures. The masterpieces are built to scaleat ratios of 1:1, 1:1.5 and 1:1.15, therefore assuming a striking resemblance to the original. The park opens at 9:00 and spending a few hours here will really hit it home what a bizarre country modern China really is.
Alternatively if you’re more of an adrenalin junky and all about thrilling rides then Happy Valley might be more your thing. The park offers something for all age groups. Performances and shows are put on at the park on a daily basis, such as acrobatic performances and extreme sports. One of the most hair-raising rides includes the “space shot” which elevates you to 60 metres and then drops you down within 1.8 seconds. Many other rides within the 350,000 square metres of this park provide similarly fun extreme thrills.
Shenzhen Dongmen Pedestrian Street
After the sudden adrenalin rush you’ve subjected your body to at the theme park, treat yourself to some good, old-fashioned shopping therapy. And where better to do this than Shenzhen! Dongmen Pedestrian Street is the most popular shopping area in the city. An ocean of shops and department stores, you really feel like you are on the pulse of consumerism here. Those who prefer China’s markets and bargaining (and who perhaps want to continue their adrenalin rush) should head to Luohu Commercial City just on the border with Hong Kong. However, if you’re looking for a chilled out shopping experience and a day of lazily browsing the streets, then the crowds and noise at this shopping centre may get a bit much. For a more comprehensive Shenzhen shopping guide read on here.
Shenzhen Grand Theatre
End an action-packed day on a quieter note by enjoying a theatre or ballet performance at Shenzhen Grand Theatre (深圳大剧院) or a piano recital or symphony concert at Shenzhen Concert Hall (深圳音乐厅). Both venues regularly host large-scale, cultural events, often attracting some of the biggest names in the arts scene. For concert and stage events check out our events section here.
China is a country of contrasts and so too is this Shenzhen travel itinerary. Spend day two soaking up the natural beauty of Shenzhen and its surrounding areas. Shenzhen has two famous scenic areas: Dameisha (大梅沙) and Xiaomeisha (小梅沙), the former boasting the longest beach and cleanest waters and the latter enjoying the nickname “Oriental Hawaii.” Shenzhen Dameisha Park covers an area of 180,000 square metres, with a beach length of 1.8 kilometres. The beach here is one of the best for wave surfing and the fine, soft sands makes it an ideal spot for bathing. Not surprisingly, Dameisha can get very crowded on sunny days. It is also a popular site for newly wed couples to take their wedding photos and beach parties. Dameisha is located in the Yantian District of Shenzhen and is easily reached by public transport. Take bus no. 103, 360 or 364. Or take buses from the city centre going towards Shekou and Nantou area or Window of the World. Entrance to Dameisha is free. To get to Xiaomeisha take bus no. 103, 360, 364 or 380.
After a morning of absorbing the fresh sea air and sunshine head over to East Overseas Chinese Town (OCT) for an afternoon of luxurious pampering. East OCT is coincidently also located in the Dameisha area. The Interlaken Spa is one of the best and most luxurious ones in the country. The 90 minute Wu Xing foot therapy session costs 268 RMB plus 15% service charge. With five kinds of therapies composed of “apply, press, point, slap and push” squeezed into one session your feet are bound to get a new lease of life. More info on the Interlaken Spa and pampering options at Chinese Overseas Town can be found here.
Finally, head back into the city and experience Shenzhen’s buzzing nightlife. There’s no shortage of bars and clubs in Shenzhen and the nightlife scene caters to all scenes. One of the most popular bars in Shenzhen is the Galleon Bar and Restaurant, where you can not only enjoy imported beers and spirits, but good Caribbean food too. The main bar district in Shenzhen is in Shekou Harbor. Just stroll around the area and you’ll be confronted by scores of venues. Read on here for more on the Shekou bar district. For a list of bars and venues in Shenzhen check out our venue listing. For info on Shenzhen’s best live music venues and happy hours make sure to read the related articles here and here.
Though this article has only scratched on the surface in terms of the scenic sites and entertainment options on offer in Shenzhen, it should provide you with a well-rounded impression of this rapidly developing, modern city. Whether it's a nature or city break you’re after, Shenzhen has it all; theme parks, beaches, bars, shopping districts you name it. Also, don’t forget to check out Shenzhen Airlines and China Southern Airlines for flights from an increasing number of cities around China.
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