WHAT TO DO, SEE AND TRY
Shenzhen has many theme parks, which are popular with Chinese tourists, many of whom go to Shenzhen mainly for these. Reactions of Western visitors vary widely, from enjoying them immensely to finding them amazingly tacky. Most of them are owned and operated by the Shenzhen OCT (Overseas Chinese Town) Group :
- Window of The World (世界之窗), 南山区华侨城深南大道 (Window of the World (世界之窗) Metro Station, Luobao Line), . 9am – 10 pm.
Travel around the world in one day. This 480,000 square meter park has a beautiful natural landscapes and wonderful lighting at night. Inside, you can climb the 1:3 ratio Eiffel Tower, Egyptian Pyramid, Pisa Tower, Taj Mahal of India, Grand Canyon, and other famous places of interest. There is also an indoor ski slope, paddle boats, and a flume ride. Every night there are spectacular dance shows based on themes of Chinese and world history. Hundreds of dancers perform on the enormous outdoor stage. The performance finishes with a procession and fireworks at 9PM. ¥180. edit
- Splendid China & Chinese Folk Culture Village (深圳锦绣, 中华中国民俗文化村; Shēnzhèn Jǐnxiù Zhōnghuá, Zhōngguó Mínsú Wénhuà Cūn), (Hua Qiao Cheng Metro Station, exit D, about 200 meters), . In two sections: The first part is a miniature park of famous Chinese sites. You can find the famous Forbidden City, Terracotta Soldiers, Tibet Potala Palace, Huangshan Mountains, Yunnan’s Stone Forest, and of course the Great Wall of China. This park is huge and covers 300,000 square meters, fully forested with beautiful greenery. The other part consists of 56 houses, each representing one of the 56 nationalities in China, such as Miao, Yi, Bai, Mongol and Uygur. You can find here real people, culture, fashion, habits, religion and language. Uygur women twirl to Turkish music, Miaos dance, a miniskirted Ming Dynasty troupe performs electronic versions of Ming music and dance. Do not miss the Mongol horse battle held daily. But the final Phoenix show is mind-blowing (ticketed on holidays). Afterwards near closing time there is a somewhat strange, spontaneous techno-light water splash fight in the splash area. ¥150.
- Happy Valley Theme Park (欢乐谷 huanle gu), Qiaocheng W Rd OCT 南山区华乔城乔城西路 (Shi Jie Zhi Chuang Metro Station, walk about 500 meters), . 9am – 10pm. A classic fun park. It is a lot bigger than Hong Kong Disneyland and many would say a lot better. Divided into theme areas it has the usual fun rides. There are several levels of roller coasters, ranging from tame kiddie coasters to the Snow Dragon which holds you upside down with your feet dangling and the Shangra-La which has a 4G drop, and the Magic Castle which has carnival games. Try the flume ride but be prepared to get wet. And speaking of wet, the Playa Maya, which is open in the summers, is an excellent water park built around a Maya architectural theme. There are shows all day and well into the night. The park is crowded on the weekends and holidays, but there are few people on the weekdays.
- Minsk World (明思克航母; Míngsīkè Hángmǔ), Jinrong Rd, Shatoujiao 盐田区沙头角金融路海滨明思克大厦; Yántián Qū Shātóujiǎo (opposite the Yantian District Government Bldg, Buses 103, 202, 205 or 430; or taxi from Lo Hu), ☎ +86 755 2535-5333, . 09:00-19:30. Was a military theme park centered around the former Soviet aircraft carrier Minsk. It was closed on February 14th, 2016 and the ship was moved away for repairs in order to be reestablished as a theme park in Nantong, Jiangsu ¥110.
- OCT East (东部华侨城). 09:00-22:00. This is a new amusement park built by the same company that brought you Windows of the World. Located at the valleys and hills behind Dameisha (beach), it features a thrill ride, shows, and replica of European towns. Be prepared to climb a lot of stairs or escalators to reach all the different rides or attractions. there is also a few themed hotels under constructions. I say the whole theme park is only 70% completed. Oh yes, if you are a avid golfer, there is an amazing golf club on the hill top admist the clouds. It’s called Wind Valley Golf. Please do note that there are certain safety issues about the park – mainly electrical problems. In June 2010, 6 people died when a electrical failure threw them off a ride. Several were injured as well. The park was plagued with other small electrical outages which have resulted in people trapped in cable cars etc.¥120.
- Sea World Shekou China (蛇口海上世界中国). There are no shortage of international chain restaurants. It is called sea world, because it has a big ship named Minghua that is now used for a hotel. Before, it was used in the sea, but now the have docked it on shore. In the ship, there is also a restaurant/sports bar named X-Ta-Sea. In that restaurant, there are pool tables, a Foosball table, live sports on television, and live music Tuesdays through Saturdays. Out in the plaza you can also rent a electronic animal ride or a triple seated bike. Behind the ship, there is a golf course that you could also visit. Almost every night, there are people having fun, eating, and buying new things. In the center of sea world, is a really smooth tiled center where people are riding their bikes, S boards, skateboards, and scooters.
Shenzhen is famous in China as being one of its greenest cities. Only nearby Dongguan has a greater percentage of its area given over to parks and gardens.
- Lianhua Mountain Park (Lotus Mountain Park; 蓮花山公園; Liánhuāshāngōngyuán), Hongli Rd W, Futian Central (Shaoniangong Stn (Line 4) Bus 25 from Shenzhen Railway Stn. Bus stop is “Lian hua shan gong yuan” 莲花山公元). This is Shenzhen’s main and most central park. Set at the northern end of the Futian central access it is 150 ha of urban bushland. The gardens themselves are extremely beautiful and meticulously cared for. But to really enjoy the mountain, you need to be there with Shenzhen’s middle classes early in the morning or on Sundays when large family groups gather to have fun. At the top of the mountain, which you can reach via a twenty minute, not-too-challenging walk, is a large bronze statue of Deng Xiaoping striding out over the city. Large aerobics groups operate to loud music, people play badminton, a man walks down the path inscribing Tang Dynasty poetry in ever evaporating water with an enormous brush. Further down the mountain, ballroom dancers do the tango, a group of belly dancers wiggle and large men lay into each other with bamboo staves and swords. A famous and totally spontaneous group of singers of revolutionary opera sings by the lotus lake every Sunday morning, a must-see if you are even remotely in the vicinity. They are just past the laughter therapy group and the marriage market. And in Autumn, do not forget your kite.
- Fairy Lake Botanical Gardens (仙湖植物公园; Xiān Hú Zhíwù Gōngyuán), Lian Shi Rd, Lian Tang Rd, Luohu District 罗湖区莲塘村莲十路 (Bus 218, 220 to the garden gate (for bus 218 get off at Foreign Language School stop and walk up Xian Hu Rd to the main gate). On return, Bus 220 will take you to Guomao station). 07:00-22:00.
This is Shenzhen’s most beautiful park and surely one of the most beautiful in China. It sprawls over miles of foothills, valleys, rivers and lakes before climbing half way up Wutong Mountain. Main attraction is the Hong Fa Temple (see entry above) but there are beautiful and peaceful lakes surrounded by teahouses and pavilions which could inspire great poetry. Don’t miss the azalea garden, the pertified forest, the paleontology museum or the medicinal plants garden. From the main gates to the various attractions within, there is a bus (¥3 each way) that will drop you near the temple (400 m away). Purchase the bus tickets before joining the queue. If you choose to walk instead of the bus, be prepared for a 30 min gentle inclined walk on awkwardly crowded pavements, next to jammed country roads. It’s also worth noting that on public holidays, weekends and great weather the parks and the temple will be flooded with the locals, becoming more of a family and fun affair, rather than a place of relaxation. Careful of the burning incense sticks at the temple! ¥20.
- Shenzhen Garden and Flower Exposition Center (园博园), Zhuzilinxi, Futian District (at the intersection of Shennan Ave and Qiaocheng E Rd) (深圳市福田区竹子林西 (深南大道与侨城东路交汇处); Fútián Qū Zhúzilín Xī (Shēnnán Ddàdào Yú Qiáochéng Dōng Lù Jiāohuì Chù)) (Qiao Cheng Dong Stn, exit A), . 09:00-22:00. This park started life as the site of an international garden exhibition in 2004. It is an enormous garden with an area of 660,000 m². It ranges from gently undulating to quite steep and contains gardens in many different styles, not only Chinese but from all over the world. We love the Jiangnan style gardens built aroubd lakes in the north-east corner. Make sure you visit the hot houses and climb the hill past the waterfall to the pagoda on top of the hill. Views back to Hong Kong are spectacular on a clear day. A further 242 steps will take you to the top of the pagoda. ¥50.
- Mangrove National Park (红树林生态公园), Binhai Freeway Futian 福田区滨海大道. China’s smallest national park. Hong Kong’s Mai Po Marshes are one of the world’s great birdwatching paradises as birds migrating from Siberia rest in the fishponds. The same birds also rest in the mangroves on Shenzhen Bay a scant two miles north of Mai Po. In the late 1990s when the Binhai Freeway was being built, there was public outrage at plans to route the freeway through the bird habitat of the mangroves. The freeway was moved 200 metres north and China’s smallest national park was founded. The bird watching is legendary, but if you are not into birds, the park provides coconut palm shaded walks and views to die for across Shenzhen Bay. Free.
- Wutong Mountain National Park (梧桐山Wutong Village Luohu District 罗湖区捂桐村), . At just over 900-m tall, Wutong Mountain is the second tallest mountain in the Pearl River Delta after Hong Kong’s Tai Mo Shan and it is a Mecca for hikers and climbers. This has been a recognised beauty spot since at least the Ming Dynasty when it was included in the Eight Great Views of Xin’an County and was celebrated in poetry. There are several routes to the top varying significantly in difficulty. The broad road will be a gentle climb. But be prepared for a good 5 hours if you intend to go to the top and back. There are two peaks, Lesser Wutong where the Shenzhen TV Company has its handsome transmission tower, and Greater Wutong which is reached via the notoriously difficult Hao Han Slope. On a clear day, the views from the summit over Mirs Bay and the mountains of Hong Kong’s New Territories are indescribably beautiful. Night views over the city set against the sweep of Shenzhen Bay are also to die for. Free.
- Yangtai Mountain Forest Park (羊台山森林公园), Longhua Town Bao’an 宝安区龙华镇 (NOT easy to get to and advise to combine the hot springs with a visit to Yangtai Mountain. That way you can take advantage of easy public transport connections between them. Take the Metro to Windows on the World, Shi Jie Zhi Chuang. Next to Exit B there is a large underground bus station. Take bus no 392 to its terminus which is the Shiyan Hot Springs. When you’ve finished, take bus no 769 from the place where you got off. This terminates at Yangtai Mountain). This is a forest park administered by the water and forestry administrations of Guangdong Province. The mountain, 500-m high, lies around an attractive reservoir. It is heavily wooded with native and exotic vegetation and abounds with wild life. The climb to the top is moderately difficult and very rewarding.
- Shiyan Lake Hot Spring Resort (石岩湖温泉度假村; Shíyánhú Wēnquán Dùjiàcūn), Shiyan Town, Bao’an District (宝安区石岩镇; Bǎo’ān Qū Shíyán Zhèn), ☎ +86 755 2716-4148. 06:00-21:00. This has been a popular attraction since the 16th century when it was named as one of the “Eight Great Views of Xin’an County” (the county of which Hong Kong and Shenzhen were part). Situated on a man-made reservoir at the back of Yangtai Mountain, it is not easy to get to but it is worth the trouble. Water springs from the ground at over 60°C, but is cooled to about 40°C before being fed into pools. Pools are both public and private and indoor and outdoor. ¥15. edit
- Safari Park Shenzhen (深圳野生动物园; Shēnzhèn Yěshēng Dòngwùyuán), Xili Rd, Nanshan District (南山区西丽路; Nánshān qū Xīlì Lù), ☎ +86 755 2662-2888 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +86 755 2662-2333), . 10:00-17:00. Billed as a safari park where the animals stare at the humans. It is dirty, disorganised and a bit of a dud but kids might like it. ¥160.
- CITIC Minsk aircraft carrier(中信明思克航母) The park by the sea and on land Minsk aircraft carrier Minsk CITIC Plaza is composed of two parts.
Museums and galleries
- Dafen Oil Painting Village (大芬油画村; Dàfèn Yóuhuà Cūn), Dafen Village, Buji, 龙岗区布吉街道大芬社区 (Dafen (大芬) Stn, Longgang Line), . In 1988, a Hong Kong businessman called Wong Kong, who had a business specialising in reproduction art, decided that there was no future in Hong Kong and set up in Dafen, even though it was not in the SEZ. Soon he was joined by artists from all over China, some classically trained but many just talented amateurs fresh from the paddy fields. And so Dafen was born. It is set in an old Hakka village and consists of street after street of shops selling oil paintings, watercolors, and embroidered paintings. Examine things carefully, as some of the artwork is machine printed, rather than hand made. Much of it is rubbish but some of China’s best artists also have studios in Dafen. For a few hundred Yuan you can commission an artist to copy your favorite piece of art, your wedding photo, or photos of your family. Insist on “A” quality – it costs a little more but it’s worth it. You can also get incredibly rapid framing while you wait and inexpensive art supplies. There is a handsome modern gallery exhibiting works by Dafen local painters. And don’t miss the experience of the Qi Xing teahouse, built round several 300 year old Hakka houses with beautiful courtyards.
- He Xiangning Art Museum (何香凝美术馆; Hé Xiāngníng Měishùguǎn), 9013 Shennan Blvd (深南大道9013号; Shēnnán Dàdào) (Get off at Huaqiaocheng Stn (华侨城), exit C, walk W past the InterContinental hotel), . 10:00-17:30, closed M. China’s second national modern art museum, after the National Art Gallery of China. He Xiangning was the widow of Liang Zhongkai, the leader of the pro-Moscow left of the Kuomintang during the 1920s. Liao was expected to become KMT leader after Sun Yat-sen’s death but he was assassinated by gangsters probably hired by Chiang Kai-shek. He Xiangning then became an important leader of the leftist wing of the KMT and after 1949 stayed on in Beijing. Her son, Liao Chengzhi was a leading Communist and head of the organisation which originally controlled the area where the He Xiangning Art Gallery is located, Overseas Chinese Town (OCT) in Eastern Shenzhen. This is why the galllery was built as a memorial to her. The gallery has shifting exhibits mainly of avant garde and modern Chinese art. Some of China’s best known painters regularly exhibit there and it is definitely worth a visit. ¥20, free F.
- OCT Art and Design Gallery (华美术馆), Shennan Ave OCT 南山区华乔城深南大道 (Bus nos. 21, 26, 54, 59, 101, 105, 109, 113, 204, 223, 338, 373, 390, Huaqiaocheng Stn (华侨城), exit C, walk W past the InterContinental Hotel). Shenzhen is famous throughout China as a centre of design and the OCT Art and design gallery is where you go to see it exhibited. Set in a restored industrial building, the gallery holds regular exhibitions showcasing Shenzhen and China’s industrial, domestic and fashion design. ¥15.
- Guan Shan Yue Art Gallery (关山月美术馆), 6026 Hong Li Rd, Futian 福田区红荔路6026号 (Bus 25,215,105 Shao Nian Gong Stn (少年宫)), . The Guan Shan Yue Gallery is dedicated to the works of Guan Shanyue, a modern master of the Ling Nan school of Chinese ink painting. The Ling Nan (Ling Nan is the Tang Dynasty name for Guangdong and Guangxi provinces) originated in the early 20th century inspired by Japanes westernising schools. Guan Shanyue studied under the masters of the school and produced some very competent art in that style. He had revolutionary associations and, after the communist takeover, became an arts bureaucrat until he was attacked during the Cultural Revolution. He donated his paintings to the Shenzhen City Government in 1993 and the gallery opened in 1997. It contains exhibits of Guan’s work and hosts regular special exhibitions
- Shenzhen Museum (深圳博物馆; Shēnzhèn Bówùguǎn), Jintian Rd Entrance, Shenzhen Civic Centre, Futian District (福田区市民中心东座) (Central Futian (Shi Min Zhong Xin Stn)), ☎ +86 755 8210-1044, . 10:00-18:00, closed M. In the East Wing of the Shenzhen City Hall Centre, the City Government’s spectacular wing-roofed building. This is a must-see. The ground floor gallery has exhibits from some of the most famous museums of China. So far since its opening in December 2008 it has played host to exhibits of jade burial suits, bronzes from the Shu Kingdom and Shang Dynasty bronzes. The upper floors have exhibits of the founding and development of the SEZ revealing details of some of the most significant events of recent Chinese history. There is also an exhibit of the history of the Pearl River region including the incredible number of ancient relics unearthed during construction in Shenzhen, and an exhibit of the Qing and Republican periods in Shenzhen. Free.
- OCT Contemporary Art Terminal and Loft Area (OCT当代艺术中心), Behind Konka, OCT, 南山区华乔城康佳集团北则 (Qiao Cheng Dong Stn, Exit A. Walk back 150 m to Enping Rd), .
- Shenzhen Art Museum (深圳美术馆), 32 Donghu St, Donghu Park, Aiguo Rd, Luohu 罗湖区爱国路东湖一街32号 (Bus 3, 17, 360, 351, 300. Take the bus to the Shenzhen Reservoir (Shenzhen Shui Ku) station and go to the East Lake (Dong Hu) Pk), . Tu-Su 09:00-17:00, closed M.
- Hong Fa Buddhist Temple (弘法寺; Hóng Fǎ Sì). Not particularly old but it is always packed with pilgrims from all over China and beyond. Its attraction is its 104 year old abbot, a famously holy man who has a fascinating history in the destruction and revival of Chinese Buddhism. The temple is spectacularly sited half way up Wutong Mountain in the Fairy Lake Botanical Garden – Southeast Gate (仙湖植物园站), Shenzhen’s largest and most beautiful park.
- Chiwan Tin Hau Temple (赤湾天后宫;). This is one of China’s biggest and most splendid temples to Tin Hau, the Goddess of Heaven who guards over sailors and fishermen. It was founded in the early fifteenth century by the famous eunuch admiral Zheng He who, during one of his voyages of discovery, was saved from shipwreck here during a typhoon by the intercession of Tin Hau, this despite the fact that Zheng He was a Moslem. It has been restored many times during its lifetime, most recently during the 1980s after the ravages of the Cultural Revolution. It was built in the style of the Ming Dynasty (14th to 17th centuries) and is a magnificent example of this style.
- Dongshan Monastery (东山寺简史;), 龙岗区东山路, ☎ (0755)84319055, . , first built in 1394, is a monastery of the Zen Buddhism in Southern China. It is situated south of Mount Longtou (dragon head) which in ancient time was variably called Jiufeng or Dongshan (East Mountain, probably because it is situated east of Dapeng Fortress). edit Dongshan Monastery Photos
People, even long time Shenzhen residents, will confidently tell you that “Shenzhen has no history”. However there is a surprising number of sites, some of great national significance, dating back to the twelfth century. Shenzhen, it seems, was critically involved in a number of historical events, especially the collapse and final stand of the Southern Song Dynasty (13th century), the last stand of the Ming Dynasty (17th century) and the Opium War (19th century).
- Tomb of the Young Song Emperor (宋少帝陵; Sòng Shǎo Dì Líng), Chiwan (赤湾; Chìwān). This is putatively the tomb of the last Emperor of the Southern Song Dynasty (d. 1279). There is little doubt that he died in this general area after fleeing from the Mongols who had taken the dynastic capital Hangzhou. Modern knowledge of the tomb dates back to the latter years of the 19th century when the Zhao (Cantonese Chiu) Clan of Hong Kong (Zhao was the Song Imperial surname) researched the tomb and declared it to be in Chiwan near the great Tin Hau Temple Certainly there are folk tales of the Emperor’s demise current in the Chiwan area and very large numbers of people claiming Imperial descent in the district. But the claims remain debatable. The tomb was restored in the early 20th century and subsequently fell into disrepair. It was rediscovered by a military cook during the Cultural Revolution but left alone. The Shenzhen City Government further restored it in the 1980s. It is in the form of a normal Chinese upper class tomb and the focus of much popular devotion.
- Xin’an (Nantou) Ancient City (新安(南头)古城; Xīn‘ān (Nántóu) Gǔchéng). This is the original county town for the county which originally encompassed Hong Kong and Shenzhen. There has been a town on this site since the fourth century. Much of the old town has been demolished and replaced by eight storey residential buildings in the “urban village” style, but Xin’an has still maintained the flavour of a Cantonese town throughout the ages with vibrant street life along narrow streets. The Ming Dynasty wall and gate remain magnificently preserved as do the Guan Yu Temple outside the gates, the naval and civil headquarters, a silver shop, an opium den and even a brothel. Visit the eighteenth century “Flower Street” or street of brothels, a narrow alley with an eighteenth century official stele denouncing the evils of prostitution.
- Dapeng Ancient Fort (大鹏所城; Dàpéng Suǒchéng). Dapeng Fort is yet another amazingly well preserved Ming Dynasty Fort. Founded in 1394, it shared with various other forts the duties of guarding the entrances to the Pearl River and was prominent in the defense of the river during the Opium War. It is extremely well preserved and currently undergoing restoration as a museum. You need to take bus M362, which starts at Futian Bus Interchange (Nearest subway is Zhu Zi Lin – Line 1. As the bus will pass Luohu area, maybe worth asking at the hotel if they know the nearest M362 stop. When on the bus, ask for Dapeng when paying. Should be ¥10. The journey will be to the last stop and will take around 1.5 hours You’ll pass by Yantian port and some crappy theme parks. Once at Dapeng Bus Station (its very small), wait for bus 928 which will take you there at 1RMB, but keep an eye open for the stop. Alternatively, you can ask one of the motorcycles with the umbrella to take you there at ¥10. To get back, take bus 928 or B756, back the way you came. Once back at Dapeng Station, take bus E11 and ask for Shenzhen. It will stop at many stations in the city, so you will need to try to guess the best place to stop.
- Crane Lake Fortified Hakka Village and Hakka Culture Museum. Half of Shenzhen City was originally Hakka. This came about after the 17th century Kangxi Emperor depopulated the coastline to a depth of 30km as part of his campaign against Ming loyalists in Taiwan. When the coast was repopulated, the Hakka, descendants of 13th century immigrants from north China, were quicker. Relations between the Hakka and the Cantonese were often strained. During the 19th century, half a million people lost their lives in civil strife between the Hakka and the Cantonese. Accordingly, most Hakka settlements of any size were heavily fortified. The most common form of fortification in south China is the rectangular “wei” or “wai” and the biggest of them anywhere is the Crane Lake Wei in Longgang. It doubles as a museum of Hakka culture. Take Line 3/ Longgang Line to NanLian. From the metro station take Exit C1 into BiXin Rd. Turn left from the station following BiXin, until you hit LongYuan Rd. Then turn right where the village is 200m along on the right hand side through a small street
- Dawanshiju Hakka Fortified Village. Similarly a well preserved and enormous Hakka wei. It is of a similar scale to the Crane Lake wei.
- Chiwan Left Fort (赤湾左炮台), Chiwan First Rd, Chiwan, Nanshan 南山区赤湾一路. 8am – 5.30pm. Chiwan was one of the prime defensive spots on the Pearl River . The Chiwan Fort was divided into two parts, the Left Fort and the Right Fort. Originally they had twelve gun positions but now only the Left Fort is in any reasonable degree of repair. Perched on Ying Zui Mountain, at over 500 feet above the Pearl River, they commanded a full field of fire. Their failure to make any impression on British ships as they entered the Pearl was one of the first great disasters of the Opium War. There is also a statue of Lin Zexu, the Viceroy of the Two Guangs, whose decision to try to destroy the opium trade was one of the causative factors leading to the Opium War.
- Shenzhen Library (深圳图书馆), 2016 Fuzhong 1st Road, Futian 福田区福中一路2016号 (either Shi Min Zhong Xin (Civic Centre) or Shao Nian Gong (Children’s Palace) Stns on Lines 2 or 4. Bus 25, 228, 65, 111, 71, 64, Shao Nian Gong bus stop), . Shenzhen Library and Concert Hall together make up another of the architectural masterpieces of the city. Architect Arata Isozaki designed the buildings with a back of almost featureless black granite and a front of brilliant folded glass. It is a must see for architecture freaks. The library has four million books.
- Shenzhen Concert Hall (深圳音乐厅), 2016 Fuzhong 1st Rd, Futian 福田区福中一路2016号 (either Shi Min Zhong Xin (Civic Centre) or Shao Nian Gong (Children’s Palace) Stns Lines 2 or 4. Bus 25, 228, 65, 111, 71, 64, Shao Nian Gong bus stop), ☎ Tickets +86 755 8284-1888 (09:00-20:00), . See Shenzhen Library above. The Concert Hall hosts international standard artists in a stunning glass-wrapped setting.
- Portofino (波托菲诺; Bōtuōfēinuò). Shenzhen housing developments are often built around beautiful tropical gardens with luxurious club house amenities and one of the most famous of these is Portofino. It is built around a surprisingly attractive imitation of an Italian Piazzetta along a lake which has cafes, bars and restaurants without outdoor seating. Shenzhen’s best Cantonese restaurant chain, Laurel, justly famed for the quality of its dim sum, has a branch with outdoor seating here. Be sure to be early. Sunday morning dim sum queues are long.
Spas and massage
Shenzhen is a popular place for Hong Kong people to go to get a massage. Prices are low compared with Hong Kong, though generally higher than elsewhere in China. (洗脚 xǐ jiǎo) (which actually often consists of massaging your shoulders, back, arms, legs, and feet!) costs ¥25-50 for 60-80 minutes depending on the location, time of day, and quality of the establishment. A full-body massage (按摩 àn mó or 松骨 sōng gǔ) costs ¥50-150 for 90-120 minutes.
In recent years many large spa and massage complexes have appeared in Shenzhen. For an entrance fee of around ¥100 (waived if you purchase around ¥160 of spa and massage services) you get 24 hours of access to a spa pool, saunas, showers, baths, and other amenities depending on the facility such as a gym or pool. Paid services often include Internet access, billiards, and rentable “multi-purpose rooms” with KTV/karaoke and games. Complimentary items include drinks (sometimes restricted to juice) and fruit; food can be bought for ¥20–50 a plate. For around ¥50 for 45 minutes (not including a ¥10–30 tip and often a 10% service charge) you can have head, foot, leg, shoulder, back, or hand massage while lying in one of the many reclining chair-couches — two types at once if you wish — and watch personal TV, read a book, or relax. For around ¥150 you can have 90 minutes of full-body Chinese, Thai, or Hong Kong-style massage in a private room or with your friends. Chinese Medical Massage and aromatherapy oil massages are usually available at a premium. Masseuses and masseurs hail from various regions around China and are listed with pictures and statistics in catalogues and can be selected by number. Very few of them speak any English.
Spa complexes can be found around the border crossings with Hong Kong, so as to cater to the relatively rich Hong Kong population looking to unwind. In the basement of the Luohu customs and immigration building (not the LCC mall) free shuttles are available to various spas, some of which also have themed waiting areas with price lists and pictures of the facilities. Some spas have representatives standing around to give out discount tickets (often ¥20) as an enticement.
Massages can be rather painful, especially on the feet! If you can endure it, you’ll notice the lasting benefits. But if it is too much, you can say “Teng! Teng!” (pronounced like “tongue”) to express your pain and make them ease up.
Caution: In most hotels, prostitution is widespread. In some seedier areas, “massage” may actually mean sex. Use your best judgment. See also the China article for information on massage.
Shenzhen has some of China’s best beaches, many of them untouched stretches of National Park. In 2006, China-edition National Geographic Magazine named the Dapeng Peninsula, where most of Shenzhen’s beaches are situated, as one of China’s top ten most scenic coastlines.
- Dameisha Beach (大梅沙).
- Xiaomeisha Beach (小梅沙).
- Jin Sha Wan Beach (金沙湾). From Shenzhen take one of several buses (e.g. 364, E11, or H92) to Dapeng Stn (大鵬站) in Wangmu (王母虛) Village in Dapeng. Then you can take a quick shuttle bus south to JinSha Beach. Entry is ¥10. On weekends and holidays the beach can be quite crowded. The sand is rather coarse and not particularly clean, but it can be fun to go here and people watch. Also it is interesting that you can look out and see East Ping Chau (東平洲) island just two miles off the coast, which is part of Hong Kong’s New Territories.
- Longqi Wan Beach (龙栖湾).
- Judiaosha Beach.
- Shuitousha Beach.
- Nan’ao Beach (南澳沙滩).
- Xichong Beach (西冲海滩). Beautiful Xichong beach is located 1 hour 30 minutes from the downtown core, just past Dameisha. Less developed, this beach is much more peaceful and clean than other beaches in Shenzhen. Visit Sun Sailing for watersports or local fine dining.
Major credit cards (i.e. Visa, Masters, HSBC) are accepted throughout Shenzhen. But note that in many establishments only local Chinese and not International Visa etc cards are recognised. Ask first if they accept international cards. JCB and American Express have limited coverage. Cirrus, Plus & Maestro facilities allow owners to withdraw money from banks (but not all bank ATMs. Bank of China ATMs at all Metro stations accept foreign cards). Remember to activate your card for the pin usage. MixC has ATMs for some of the international credit cards, where cash can be withdrawn in those ATMs against your credit limit.
Bank of China, China Merchants Bank, and many but not all Chinese banks accept foreign cards. You may check with your bank to see if they have a local branch here. Most ATMs are open for 24 hours. Some are only opened if you swipe the card at the security doors.
At places in Luo Hu, cash is highly recommended. Some places charge an extra 10% for credit card purchases. The shop assistants will bring you to shops that have credit card processing machines. At shopping centers, remember to check with the cashiers to see if they accept credit cards before making purchases. There are few shopping centers that accept credit card with passport verification, though you may lose your discount on the purchase.
To avoid fraud please only buy storage (memory cards, USB sticks, SSD hard drives etc) from the reputable brand stores. Many street vendors in Shenzhen sell fake storage at seemingly low price – you can buy as 64Gb microSD card for $5, but once you copy 64Gb data into it, you’ll find that all of it is corrupted, that its real capacity is much less (typically around 8Gb), and it just pretends to have much higher storage. At the very least, if you purchase such a card, before using it fill it up completely with meaningful data (such as pictures), and then see if any of them get corrupted.
Be careful when getting change from large notes as people may try to give you Hong Kong dollars instead of yuan. The Hong Kong dollar is worth less than yuan. Counterfeiting of the 100-yuan note is also a big problem, so familiarize yourself with the security features of Chinese currency. Also, expect that most stores will check your notes carefully for counterfeiting, and if you are in a big hurry, have a lot of smaller notes.
For currency information, see the China page.
Because Shenzhen is a migrant city, all of China’s regional cuisines are represented here. Restaurants range from hole-in-the-wall establishments for homesick working class arrivals to opulent food palaces for businessmen and politicians entertaining clients. If you are a foreigner, spending ¥100 on a fantastic meal is no problem (though, you can spend ¥35 or less on a fantastic meal in Shenzhen). Treat yourself, and enjoy the wonderful food and variety of Shenzhen! In the early morning, vendors sell egg cheung fun for as little as ¥2.5 per order having two vegetables and 2 egg cheung fun noodles – enough to fill you up. There are a lot of bars and restaurants in Shekou which is the main residential zone for Shenzhen’s sizable Western expatriate community. There are plenty of international chain eateries in the Hua Qiang Bei area.
Overseas Chinese Town (OCT) is famous for its numerous dining options, including some of the best Korean restaurants in Shenzhen. All are within easy walking distance from Hua Qiao Cheng (OCT) Metro Station, behind the recently opened InterContinental Shenzhen Hotel.
Just north of the Shenzhen Sports Center next to Blue Bird cafe at Shahe W Rd and Gaoxin South 11th Rd in front of the market in the early morning are steamed dim sum like dishes such as steamed buns and egg cheung fun. You must order in Mandarin, as they don’t speak English or even Cantonese.
As well as casual restaurants and fine dining, Shenzhen is famous for its “Eat Streets”. These are agglomerations of cheap and cheerful restaurants serving food from all over China. They are not elaborate but they are friendly and fun and some of the food is to die for. Different Eat Streets often specialise in food from different parts of China. Some of the best known are set out below:
- Bagua First Road Eat Street (八卦一路食街), Bagua First Rd, Futian 福田区八卦一路 (Bus 7, 13, 24, 105 Ba Gua Er Lu 八卦二路or Kang Tai Wu Le Cheng 康泰吴乐城bus stops). This was Shenzhen’s first Eat Street. Food was originally Cantonese brought by homesick Hong Kong factory owners. Cantonese food is still good here but you can get food from all over China. Snake is excellent in season (October to January) here.
- Renmin South Eat Street (人民南路).
- Che Gong Miao Eat Street (车公庙食街), Terra Industrial Zone, Futian District 福田区泰然工业区 (车公庙地铁站 Che Gong Miao Stn). Good Szechuan, Hunan and Taiwanese food here. There is also a good if unauthentic Macau style restaurant
- Huaqiang Bei Eat Street (华强北食街), Huaqiang N Rd Futian 福田区华强北路. The food’s in the streets and alleys parallel to Huaqiang Bei. Hunan and Chaozhou are specialities. There are several shops specialising in Uighur “nan” bread. An alley behind the main street specialises in Moslem food
- Xinwen Rd Eat Street (新闻街食街), Xinwen St Xiangmihu, just behind the Special Zone Press Tower 福田区香蜜湖新闻街 (Xiang Mi Hu Stn). This is where the journalists eat and just being there is fun. Good Heilongjiang, Jiangxi, Northern and Hunan food
- Nanyuan Rd Eat Street (南园食街), Nan Yuan Rd, Nan Yuan Village Futian behind CITIC Plaza,福田区南园路南园村 (Ke Xue Guan Stn (Line 1)). Uighur food is very good here. This means lots of lamb and kebabs
- Gangxia Village Eat Street (岗下村食街), Gangxia Village Futian 福田区岗下村 (Gang Xia Stn). One of the earliest and most diverse Eat Streets. It specialises in “northern” food, Beijing, Shanghai, Yunnan (OK we know it’s southern but…..) and Ningxia/Gansu Muslim minority food
- Shuiwei Village and Huanggang Village Eat Streets (水匡村, 皇岗村食街). We put them together because it’s hard to know where one stops and the other starts. Cantonese is good here
- Hubei Village Eat Street (湖贝村食街), Hubei Village Luohu District 罗湖区湖贝村 (Bus 2, 10, 29, 104, 205, 220, 223, 311, 312). Hong Kong style seafood restaurants are the mainstay of this Eat Street set in the heart of an old Cantonese village in the heart of Luohu. But we also like the north-west China Moslem food of which there is plenty
- Dongmen Food Street (东门食街), 2001 Jiefang Rd Luohu 罗湖区动门老街解放路标2001号 (Bus 102, 103, 113, 203. (Buses stop in Dong Men Zhong Lu. Walk along one of the pedestrian streets near the Dong Men footbridge to get to the shopping area.) Metro:Lao Jie lines 1 and 3). Shenzhen’s favorite comfort shopping street also has lots of cheap and cheerful food. There’s the usual Cantonese, Sichuan and Hunanese but there’s also Thai, South=east Asian and even German. All the chains are represented.
- Donghai Koreatown Eat Street (东海韩国城食街), East Pacific Gardens Blvd, Xiangmi Hu 福田区香蜜湖东海花园东海坊 (Che Gong Miao Stn). Shenzhen’s leading Koreatown. Lots of kimchi, bulgogi and the rest.
- Yantian Eat Street (盐田食街), Yantian Seafood St, Yantian 盐田区盐田海鲜食街. Dine amongst the container cranes. The theme is Hong Kong style seafood, allegedly fresh from the markets next door. You choose the fish from the tanks, they cook it how you like it
- Warehouse, COCOpark atrium, L1-B2, 268 Fuhua 3rd road, ☎ +86 400-833-1128, . Shenzhen’s largest, 24 inch pizzas, amazing New York style pizzas, fresh pasta, affordable beer, state of the art location. Enough said. ¥40-300 for a pizza, and ¥40-60 for a fresh pasta.
- The Kitchen Futian, Shopping Park Shop 144, Shopping Park Stn Exit B, Min Tian Rd, Futian 深圳市福田区民田路购物公园北园公交车接驳站路边站台 (Exit B of Shopping Park Metro Station, turn left when exited through B, then up 2 sets of escalators, then right, then straight down the narrow corridor, and then left when you reach the end of the corridor and it should be one of the places on your left. If you have got to the main road, you have gone too far. It is just next to Club Viva), ☎ +86 755 2531-3860, . Open for lunch and closes at 23:30 weekdays and 01:30 weekends. Really really good western food at a price that isn’t too much. The “super burger” is ace and the steaks are great. The owner is really nice and friendly and it has certainly rubbed off on his staff. Also very good wine list for the size of the place and good coffee too. ¥50-8 for a starter, and ¥70-220 for a main.
- Milano Italian Restaurant, Anhui Building, Shennan Ave, Xiangmihu 深圳市福田区(车公庙)深南大道6007号创展中心,安徽大厦,首层, . Good? Brilliant! Giulio’s food is as authentic as any in Milan. And because he pays personal attention to it, the service is faultless. Great wine list. Recommendations include prosciutto con gorgonzola followed by the best saltimbocca that you’ll get outside Rome.
- 10 Gong Guan (10号公馆), 10 Qiaochen W Rd, Nanshan District (侨城西路10号鸿波酒店). 07:30-23:30. Dim sum restaurant.
- Laurel Restaurant (丹桂轩), 1/F, Portofino Club House,OCT Xiang Shan St, Nanshan District (南山香山街波托菲诺会所), ☎ +86 755 2600-3218. 08:00-23:00.
- Xiao Fei Yang (lit. Little Plump Lamb). Lamb meat imported from Mongolia. It is a hot pot based on Mongol cuisine. There are other meats and vegetable ingredients for the hot pot on the menu as well. One type of hot pot is called Yuan Yang. The hot pot is separated into two halves, one half contains normal non-spicy soup stock and the other half contains Ma la (literal translation “numbing spicy”) soup stock. There are several locations around Shenzhen, which appear to have varying levels of quality, service and English speaking waiters, albeit at the same price. Recommended restaurant (with English menus) would be 3 mins walk north of Guomao station, at the intersection of Shennan East Road and Renmin South Road. Be prepared to queue at peak hours
- Modern Toilet Restaurant, 2F Jiefang Lu 1004 Dongmen Buxing (Laojie Stn). Taiwanese chain’s first branch on the mainland. Toilet themed restaurant, featuring toilets as seats and squatter toilet plates. Food is nothing special and costs about ¥25-35/dish, but come after dinner with a friend and bring the camera for the ¥10 chocolate ice cream. The surrounding Laojie commercial district goes from cosmopolitan to near-dystopian in the course of about two hours every evening.
- The Green Room, Wenxin 3rd Road, Tiley Fame City Center, Block B, East Gate, #142 (文心三路天利名城购物中心 b座西门142) (The address is 10 文心三路 (Wen Xin 3 road) it’s at the corner of 文心三路 and 路海德三路 (hai de 3 road). You can take the subway to Houhai and take exit D1, turn right onto Hai De 2 road (海德二路）turn right, walk all the way down under the underpass until you see Suning and Tiley Central Plaza on the right hand side, don’t cross the street and make a right. You’ll see Leaflora plant store and we right beside that after the stairs.You’ll see our big neon sign and come right in.), ☎ +8613641406225, . Tues – Sun, 17:00 – 22:30. Opened in early 2016, this is Shenzhen’s first Western owned and run plant-based (vegan) restaurant. A self-titled ‘hipster hangout’, this restaurant is great for solo trips and even better in a group. Try the eggplant rolls and the veggie burger. $$.
- Celebrity Club (名人俱乐部; Míngrén Jùlèbù), 28 Nongyuan Rd, Futian District (福田区农园路28号; Fútián Qqū Nóngyuán Lù), ☎ +86 755 8370-1003, . Specializing in Cantonese food, and famous for dim sum.
- Prince Kitchen, 5-6/F, CITIC Plaza, 1093 Shennan Zhong Rd. Serves fantastic mix of Japanese, Thai, Chinese and Steaks. Even whilst being quite dark inside, you can still see it is very stylish.
Tap Water is safe to drink in the Meilin district and several nearby districts, but probably not in the area where you are staying. Use the free bottled water or distilled water provided by your hotel or buy some. It’s easily available in all convenience stores. However, if you are buying water for 5 RMB a bottle, you are getting majorly ripped off.
If you want to drink beer, Tsing Tao is a popular Chinese beer, or try Shenzhen’s own Kingway Beer (金威啤酒), brewed in two locations in Shenzhen and available for ¥3.50 per can or ¥3.80 for a large bottle.
Places to drink
The city’s two main bar streets are located in Coco Park and Shekou.
Coco Park – the bar street of Futian, with all kinds of bars packed into the middle of the block.
- Le Nest, 深圳市福田区民田路购物公园北园C区144号, ☎ +86 755 8338-8909, . Biggest club in shenzhen
- McCawley’s Irish Bar & Restaurant, (Shekou, Futian). Good Irish bar, with nice bar menu
- Viva, (Coco Park). Just north of Coco Park shopping mall. It’s in the middle of the block, though, so you might need to cut through the bus station or ask someone standing around where it is. It’s usually packed. Lots of foreigners.
- Plush ((Bling Bling)). Smaller bar on the bar street just north of Coco Park shopping mall. Sometimes quiet, sometimes has a nice mix of Chinese and foreigners. One thing that’s nice about plush is that it’s nice without being over the top, and you can always find a seat.
- Base Bar, 1019 Shangbu S Rd, Futian District (福田区上步南路1019号; Fútián Qū Shàngbù Nán Lù) (Accessible from Ke Xue Guan Stn, not far from Party City), . A live rock music venue. Great vibe and great interior deco. There are nice three-sided booths along the walls for larger groups. A variety of acts play into the early morning. Friendly waitstaff with Communist Star armbands. Door cover can sometimes run up to ¥100, cocktails from ¥30 (the Gin-Tonic is a must), bottles of Jim Bean ¥380.
- 3D Bar, Block B, Bar Street, Citic Plaza, 1093 Shennan Road (Futian). Guinness is available on tap. There are also many other international beers available (bottled mainly). The outside tables along the walkway are good for a relaxing pint, the inside tables and the outside tables closest to the front door are, if you’re looking for a livelier atmosphere, better
Shekou – The Peninsula that sticks out in the South Western region of the city.
- The Terrace, Seaworld Square, Shekou, ☎ +86 755 2682-9105 (fax: +86 755 26828157), . Live music and Authentic Thai food – prepared by Thai chefs. Considered on of the best live-music bars in Asia. Indoor and outdoor seating.
- The Beatles, (SeaWorld, Shekou). Pool table, DJ & Live band everynight & KTV Room.
- X-Ta-Sea Sports Bar & Restaurant, Shekou, Sea World (Inside the Minghua ship at Sea World in Shekou, next to the Cruise Inn Hotel lobby), ☎ +86 755 2686-7649, . Features live rock music Tuesday through Saturdays by house band Kaktooz. Amenities include multiple TV screens, Foosball, darts, pool tables a full restaurant menu of mostly Western-style food, and free Wi-Fi.
- Beer Paradise, (Shekou). Serves lots and lots and lots of beer.
- Mary’s Bar, (Shekou).
- Vrumm (威隆), Houhai metro station, exit E (facing Poly Theatre). Attractive new bar in Nanshan CBD.
- Shekou Sports and Social Club (The Snake Pit), G16, Taizi Square, Shekou (Sea World Stn, Exit D), . The Snake Pit is a long time expat hangout but more family orientated, and involved in civic activities
- Jordans Bar & Restaurant, Shop 55 Rose Garden II, Shekou | 深圳市南山蛇口南海玫瑰花园2门口55号, ☎ +86 755 2668-6040. Sheesha and and specialty in Middle Eastern cuisine
Other places to drink are scattered around town.
- XPats Bar, FL1016 St Lvl Eastern Sidewalk Central Walk Mall 福田取中心城大中华大厦对面 (Exit B Hui Zhan Zhong Xin Stn). This is where we go when we want a drink. It’s in Central Walk, top floor on the right hand walkway (outside the building) directly opposite the Great China Building. Good beer and wine and food from the NYPD Pizza next door. Big screen sporting coverage.
- Soho, Jiabin Rd, Luohu.
- Vbar, (Windows of the World, (on the 3F of the Venice Hotel)), .
- Ibiza, (Hua Qiang Bei). An European style two-story pub. It is quite popular among foreigners. ¥30 per bottle of beer.
- Kingway, (LuoHu). Beer factory and beer garden.
- Yes Bar, (LuoHu).
- Suzy’s Lounge Bar, 120 Coastal City East Block, Wexin 6th Rd, Nanshan District (near the Kempinski Hotel), ☎ +86 755 8629-0169, . 17:00-03:00. A late night lounge bar serving local and imported drinks, light snacks, and also offers customers a pool table and plenty of TV sets to watch from. The female staff are very friendly and all speak English.
- OCT LOFT, (LuoHu). Redeveloped Arts Area by Qiaocheng Dong Metro Station
- C:UNION, (Metro to Qiao Cheng Dong, exit A, walk right and then take a right at Enping St, btwn Sinopec and the Konka building. Continue straight ahead and you will arrive at a courtyard). A great place to discover Shenzhen’s surprisingly vibrant alternative community. A variety of live bands from around China and sometimes abroad perform here every Saturday night, followed by a dj playing electronic music. Shows start around 8PM. You can also check out the surrounding neighborhood whose restaurants and small art outlets create a hip vibe along the brick pedestrian roads. Drinks from ¥30.