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Shenzhen Travel Guide

Shenzhen City

Shenzhen City

Shenzhen is one of the most populous and richest cities in China. It is situated in Guangdong, China on the Hong Kong border about 40km north of Hong Kong Central and approximately 100km south of Guangzhou. The city is on the list of UNESCO Creative Cities.

Shenzhen is a city of sub-provincial administrative status in southern China's Guangdong province, situated immediately north of Hong Kong. Owing to China's economic liberalization, the area became China's first—and arguably one of the most successful—Special Economic Zones.

Shenzhen's novel and modern cityscape is the result of the vibrant economy made possible by rapid foreign investment since the late 1970s, when it was a small fishing village. Since then, foreign nationals have invested more than US$30 billion for building factories and forming joint ventures. It is now reputedly one of the fastest growing cities in the world. Being southern China's major financial centre, Shenzhen is home to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange as well as the headquarters of numerous high-tech companies. Shenzhen is also the third busiest container port in China, ranking only after Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Geography and Climate of Shenzhen

Huge Portrait of Deng Xiaoping

Huge Portrait of Deng Xiaoping in Shenzhen

The boomtown of Shenzhen is located in the Pearl River Delta, bordering Hong Kong to the south, Dongguan to the north and northwest, and Huizhou to the north and northeast. The municipality covers an area of 2,050 km² (790 sq. miles) including urban and rural areas, with a total population of 8,615,500, at the end of 2007. Among those, 2,123,800 had legal permanent residence.

Shenzhen was originally a hilly area, with fertile agrarian land. However, after becoming a special economic zone in 1979, Shenzhen underwent tremendous change in landscape. The once hilly fishing village is now replaced by mostly flat ground in downtown area, with only Lianhua Shan (Lotus Hill), Bijia Shan (Bijia Mountain) and Wutong Shan the only three places that have some kind of elevation viewed from satellites. With the influx of migrants from inland China, Shenzhen is experiencing a second stage boom, and it is now expanding peripherally and the hills in surrounding areas such as Mission Hills are now being toppled over to make land for more development.

Shenzhen is located on the border with the Hong Kong SAR across the Sham Chun River and Sha Tau Kok River, 100 km southeast of the provincial capital of Guangzhou, and 60 km south of the industrial city of Dongguan. To the southwest, the resort city of Zhuhai is 60 km away.

Window of The World

Window of The World

Shenzhen is situated in the subtropical part of China, located at about the Tropic of Cancer, yet due to the Siberian anticyclone, has a warm, monsoon-influenced, humid subtropical climate (Koppen Cwa). Winters are mild and relatively dry, due in part to the influence of the South China Sea, and frost is very rare. Spring begins somewhat dry, but rainfall begins to dramatically increase in April, and the rainy season lasts until early to mid October. The monsoon reaches its peak intensity in the summer months, when the city also experiences very humid, and hot, but moderated, conditions. The region is prone to torrential rain as well, with 10 days that have 50 millimetres (1.97 in) or more of rain. The latter portion of fall is dry. The annual precipitation averages at over 1,900 millimetres (75 in), some of which is delivered in typhoons that strike from the east during summer and early fall.

Shenzhen Attractions

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
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. 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. CNY 140

Happy Valley Theme Park

Happy Valley Theme Park

Splendid China & Chinese Folk Culture Village
Splendid China & Chinese Folk Culture Village (Hua Qiao Cheng Metro Station, exit D, walk about 200 meters) combines two different sections. The first part is a miniature park of China. 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 miniature park covers 300 thousand square meters, fully forested with beautiful greenery and flower. The second 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, language and food. As with all the Shenzhen theme parks, plenty of people go just for the fixed exhibits but the real meat is in the shows. Uygur women twirl to Turkish music, Miaos dance, a miniskirted Ming Dynasty troupe performs electronic versions of Ming music and dance. There is even a Tibetan rock band. But if you are a boy, do not miss the Mongol horse battle held daily. Follow the smell of horse manure. CNY120.

Minsk World
A military theme park centered around the former Soviet aircraft carrier Minsk. You can tour the island, flight deck and second and fifth decks of the carrier. There is a short film on the carrier's history in a small theater to the left of the entrance from the shore. Many key captions and display boards are in English, but Chinese is predominant. There are tour guides stationed at various exhibits that will give brief explanations of them in Chinese only. There are periodic performances with a military theme on the flight deck and fifth deck. For ¥30, you can take a 5 minute motorboat ride around the starboard side of Minsk and get a good view of it that is not possible from the shore. There are also several exhibits of PLA military equipment on the grounds. Admission CNY 110.

Happy Valley Theme Park

Happy Valley Theme Park

Happy Valley Theme Park
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. Try the flume ride but be prepared to get wet. And speaking of wet, the Playa Maya is an excellent water park built around a Maya architectural theme. There are shows all day and well into the night.

OCT East
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 thrill ride, shows and replica of europeans town. 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. its called wind Valley Golf. Please do note that there are certain safety issues about the park. mainly an eletrical problem. in June 2010, 6 people died when a eletrical failure threw them off a ride. several was injured as well. the park was palgued with other small eletrical outages which have resulted in people trapped in cable cars etc.

Guan Shan Yue Art Gallery
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

Model Show in Shenzhen

Model Show in Shenzhe

Mangrove 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.

Shiyan Lake Hot Spring Resort
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 degrees, but is cooled to about 40 before being fed into pools. Pools are both public and private and indoor and outdoor. ¥15. edit

Integration with Hong Kong

Hong Kong and Shenzhen have very close business, trade and social links as demonstrated by the statistics presented below. Except where noted the statistics are taken from sections of the Hong Kong Government (HKG) website.

Luo Hu Custom to Hong Kong in Shenzhen

Luo Hu Custom to Hong Kong in Shenzhen

As of December 2007, there are six land crossing points on the boundary between Shenzhen and Hong Kong. From west to east these are Shenzhen Bay Port road crossing (opened 1 July 2007); Fu Tian Kou An to Lok Ma Chau rail connection linking Shenzhen Metro Line 4 to the MTR's East Rail Line Lok Ma Chau Spur Line (opened 15 August 2007); Huanggang to Lok Ma Chau road connection; Futian to Man Kam To road connection; Luohu to Lo Wu rail connection linking the MTR East Rail Line to Shenzhen Metro Line 1, Shenzhen Rail Station and Luohu in general; and the Shatoujiao to Sha Tau Kok road connection.Both of the rail connections require the passengers to cross the Shenzhen River on foot as there is no direct rail connection between the two cities, although the Hong Kong intercity trains to other mainland cities pass through Shenzhen without stopping.

In 2006, there were around 20,500 daily vehicular crossings of the boundary in each direction. Of these 65 percent were cargo vehicles, 27 percent cars and the remainder buses and coaches. The Huanggang crossing was most heavily used at 76 percent of the total, followed by the Futian crossing at 18 percent and Shatoujiao at 6 percent.Of the cargo vehicles, 12,000 per day were container carrying and, using a rate of 1.44 teus/vehicle, this results in 17,000 teus/day across the boundary,while Hong Kong port handled 23,000 teus/day during 2006, excluding transshipment trade.

Ferry Boat from Shenzhen to Hong Kong

Ferry Boat from Shenzhen to Hong Kong

Trade with Hong Kong in 2006 consisted of US$333 billion of imports of which US$298 billion were re-exported. Of these figures 94 percent were associated with China.Considering that 34.5 percent of the value of Hong Kong trade is air freight (only 1.3 percent by weight), a large proportion of this is associated with China as well.

Also in 2006 the average daily passenger flow through the four connections open at that time was over 200,000 in each direction of which 63 percent used the Luohu rail connection and 33 percent the Huanggang road connection.[16] Naturally, such high volumes require special handling, and the largest group of people crossing the boundary, Hong Kong residents with Chinese citizenship, use only a biometric ID card (Home Return Permit) and a thumb print reader. As a point of comparison, Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok Airport, the 5th busiest international airport in the world, handled 59,000 passengers per day in each direction.

Hong Kong conducts regular surveys of cross-boundary passenger movements, with the most recent being in 2003, although the 2007 survey will be reported on soon. In 2003 the boundary crossings for Hong Kong Residents living in Hong Kong made 78 percent of the trips, up by 33 percent from 1999, whereas Hong Kong and Chinese residents of China made up 20 percent in 2006, an increase of 140 percent above the 1999 figure. Since that time movement has been made much easier for China residents, and so that group have probably increased further yet. Other nationalities made up 2 percent of boundary crossings. Of these trips 67 percent were associated with Shenzhen and 42 percent were for business or work purposes. Of the non-business trips about one third were to visit friends and relatives and the remainder for leisure.

Apart from the business and family trips, many visitors come from Hong Kong to Shenzhen for the shopping, where goods and services are assumed cheaper than those in Hong Kong. However, without coming prepared knowing the prices of specific items the goods may end up being far more expensive than in Hong Kong while others are only marginally cheaper, even after a long phase of negotiating.

How to get there

By air
Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport has domestic and international flights. Direct coach 330 (¥20) connects the airport with downtown with its final stop next to Ke Xue Guan Metro Station. Local buses serving the airport include 327 and 355 but they are slow.

For those who plan to travel to other mainland Chinese cities from Hong Kong, Shenzhen airport is a viable alternative to Hong Kong International Airport. While most cities in China have direct flights to Hong Kong they are much more expensive than flights to and from Shenzhen. With good scheduling you can do your international travel through Hong Kong and then connect via buses or ferry to Shenzhen Airport for your domestic needs, but make sure you have your visa ready before you attempt this. Shenzhen Airport is very efficiently managed. However, it desperately needs a further terminal and a second runway. These are currently under construction, but in the meantime, aircrafts are often parked on the apron and flight delays are common. If you have no check-in luggage and can read Chinese, use the self check-in terminals.

Transportation from Hong Kong International Airport to Shenzhen
Bus and Van There are very frequent bus and van services that can take you from the Hong Kong airport to most hotels in Shenzhen. The bus/van fare is CNY 190-250. If you are a seasoned traveler, you can take the bus/van to Huanggang border, go through immigration and then get your own taxi to take you to where you want to go. The bus/van fare to Huanggang is CNY 100-150. The bus/van companies have counters inside the airport. The staff at the information booth should be able to direct you to their counters.

Ferry There is also ferry services from Hong Kong airport to Shenzhen, check at the information desk for their schedule. A further alternative is to take "Skypier". This service takes you direct from HKIA to the mainland (Shekou area in Shenzhen or Zhuhai) without going through Hong Kong immigrations or customs or in fact the city itself. There is a booth before you get to immigration and you purchase your ticket and ask them to get your luggage transferred and then you go by bus to the ferry and then straight to China. It is cheaper, easier, and faster than going into Hong Kong Central or Kowloon. If you exit China this way you get HK$120 departure tax given to you when you arrive at HKIA.

Taxi Taxis go from Hong Kong Airport directly to the border posts at Shenzhen Bay (approx HK$350) and Lok Ma Chau (approx HK$275) where you can walk directly across the border. Make sure you catch the green New Territories taxi (cheaper). The Lok Ma Chau border closes at 10.30PM and the Shenzhen Bay border at 11.30PM.

MTR, Bus Another way to get to Shenzhen from Hong Kong is to take the MTR to Lo Wu, crossing the border (and customs) and transferring onto a mini-bus (K568) to get to the Shenzhen airport. The bus will take about 1 hour, and costs ¥20. This also works in reverse if you fly into Shenzhen and want to get to Hong Kong Island or Kowloon.

By land

Shenzhen has border train and bus connections to Hong Kong. There are trains to Guangzhou and buses to most nearby cities.

There are six land border crossings: Lok Ma Chau/Huanggang, Lok Ma Chau/Futian Kou'an, Lo Wu/Luohu, Sha Tau Kok/Shatoujiao, Man Kam To/Wenjindu and Shenzhen Wan which is at the end of a long and elegant bridge across Shenzhen Bay.

Lo Wu/Luohu is one of two ports for train connections and the most popular crossing point, operating daily 6:30AM-midnight. Be aware that the last several trains do not go to Lo Wu, they terminate at Sheung Shui. Lo Wu is the last stop of the MTR East Rail Line. East Rail, which connects to downtown Kowloon at Hung Hom Station. Because Lo Wu is in Hong Kong's Border Restricted Area, MTR Eastrail is the only way to reach it. Lo Wu Station is only open for travel to Shenzhen or beyond, and a valid travel document is required to travel there.

For people travelling to Futian including the Free Trade Zone and other destinations in Central and Western Shenzhen, the most convenient rail route is the train from Hung Hom to Lok Ma Chau station, this is not the Lok Mau Chau/Huanggang border crossing, but the Lok Ma Chau/Futian Kou'an crossing. It connects directly to the Shenzhen Metro line 4 Futian Kou An Station. The train follows the same route as the Lowu one but turns off at the last station. This service only goes til 9:30PM.

The MTR East Rail Line commuter train which connects Hung Hom to Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau with several intermediate stops mainly serves Hong Kong locals. It interchanges with the urban section of the MTR at Kowloon Tong Station and East Tsim Sha Tsui Terminal. For those traveling to or from Hong Kong Island, it is recommended to transfer to Cross Harbor Bus in Hung Hom Station or the Tsuen Wan Line at East Tsim Sha Tsui.

The journey from East Tsim Sha Tsui to Lo Wu takes 42 minutes and costs HK$33-36.50, first class is charged double. However generally you can save about HK$7 if you get off and exit the gates at Sheung Shui and get back on again from Sheung Shui to Lo Wu. Trains depart every few minutes but some short trips are operated in rush hour, so check the destination screen before boarding. The train can be crowded during rush hours as it serves millions of commuters along the line as well.

The road border crossings (such as Lok Ma Chau/Huanggang) are accessible by cross-boundary coaches from Hong Kong.

Domestic China Railway services arrive and depart from Shenzhen Rail Station in Luohu District - immediately north of the HK border. It's a fairly small, but clean and well-organized station serving mostly Guangdong regional trains and just a handful of long-distance sleeper trains to other major cities. A high-speed shuttle service runs every 10-15 minutes to Guangzhou East Station (with alternate services continuing to Guangzhou main station - both GZ East and GZ have much more long-distance connections) - it takes approx 1 hour and costs 75RMB one way. Tickets for this service are available from a separate ticket office or from self-service machines and there is a separate platform entrance. Some K-series overnight trains will run from Shenzhen West Station although it is very far from downtown and has poor transport connections.

There are several long-distance bus stations - the most convenient is Luohu Bus Station - adjacent to the rail station and the border crossing. It has regular services to Dongguan, Guangzhou (Tianhe, Liuhua and Guangyuan stations), Zhuhai, Foshan, Zhongshan, Shantou and many other cities in Guangdong. Unlike most bus stations there is no ticket office - instead bus station employees will ask you where you are going and will direct you to the bus and you buy your ticket from the conductor on board. NOTE if you are going to Guangzhou it's important to check which bus station you will arrive at - if you arrive at Tianhe or Liuhua bus stations then both have direct subway connections, but many go to Guangyuan bus station which is in Baiyun district and requires a long connection by bus to the city centre.

By sea
There are ferries from Hong Kong (Tsim Sha Tsui, Central (also know as HongKong/Macau Ferry Port) and the airport), Macau, and Zhuhai. They land at the ferry terminal at Shekou.