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3 Essential Places To Visit In Shenzhen, China††May 2 2007

If you’re visiting Hong Kong or Guangdong, don’t believe what you’ve been told about

Shenzhen. Take a day to visit and you’re guaranteed to be impressed.

Shenzhen is a city of over 12 million people located in Guangdong Province, China, directly on the border with the New Territories of Hong Kong.

It’s likely that your travel guide to China does not say much about this city except to dismiss it as industrial and good only for cheap knockoff shopping.

Similarly, if you ask people in Hong Kong about Shenzhen, they will pretend to think it’s still a small town full of knife-wielding thieves and you shouldn’t even consider going there.

Both these impressions couldn’t be further from the truth. Shenzhen’s incredibly fast growth is the reason travel books are out of date, and perhaps Hong Kong people’s snobbishness about the city stems from a certain fear and envy of this shiny wealth center on their doorstep!

Modern day Shenzhen is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city that offers a wide range of cultural and leisure venues for tourists, as well as unrivalled shopping and dining. If you like Hong Kong and Shanghai, you will also love Shenzhen - fast, fashionable, cool, and not a little bit crazy!

If you are clueless about Shenzhen and want a few basic pointers, here are the three most famous city center places to see in one day:

Diwang Building

Diwang building is the tallest skyscraper in Shenzhen, at 69 floors, and the symbol of the city’s super fast success. The building is office space for the city’s most prestigious firms, but you can pay around 120RMB to go to the viewing deck on the 68th floor and look over the whole city center. On the ground floor is Shun Hing Square with lots of smart clothes shops.

Opposite the Diwang building is the new multi-storey shopping center "Mix C" complete with ice rink, cinema, and lots of international style restaurants. Many of the shops in the Mix are Hong Kong style overpriced fashion boutiques, but this does not deter the hordes of window shoppers.

A short distance from Diwang is the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, which you can’t go into, and still within walking distance, a block away and still the same metro station, is the Grand Theater.

Grand Theater

Completely refurbished in 2006, the Da Ju Yuan / Grand Theater in Shenzhen is a great venue for classical music and traditional Chinese music events. Shenzhen has its own Symphony Orchestra (http://www.sso.org.cn/) and with tickets normally between 60 - 300 RMB no one can complain that culture is out of reach in this modern boom city.


Across the road from the Grand Theater is Lychee Park, which is recommended for taking photos on traditional style bridges, taking a pedalo out on the lake, or watching the unnervingly professional ballroom dancing couples practice outdoors.

On the corner of the park is a large billboard with a Picture of Deng Xiao Peng, the "father of Shenzhen". It was he who came up with the idea of raising Shenzhen / Baoan from a fishing village to a global scale metropolis, and Chinese visitors to Shenzhen wouldn’t want to miss a chance to be pictured in front of the late Chairman.

Citizens’ Center

Shenzhen’s city government decided to relocate the Central Business District west, out of the original city center (Luohu) and into brand new, spaciously planned zones in Futian District. Part of this project is the Shimin Zhongxin  / Citizens’ Center: a huge government building with an iconic "bird shape" roof. Not much to do or see inside, but it’s worth taking a taxi around this whole area, especially at night time, to see all the shiny new skyscrapers. The newly developed area around the Citizen’s Center also includes the Children’s Palace amusement center and exemplary New Shenzhen Library. About half a mile south is the New Exhibition Center / Huizhan Zhongxin, which is, in typical Shenzhen style, impressive just because it is huge.

Visiting Shenzhen

If you are in Hong Kong it’s an easy day trip to Shenzhen, crossing the border at Luohu (KCR to Lowu) or Huanggang (Bus to Lok Ma Chau) - both of which are less than an hour from HK Central.

If you are leaving Mainland China e.g. from Guangzhou or from Shanghai through to

HK, we hope you’re open minded about Shenzhen to carve out an extra whole day to stop off and explore the city.

More Information

 

For English language news and commentary about Shenzhen, visit the Shenzhen Blog

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