City Guide: Shenzhen
Shenzhen is a sprawling metropolis in Southern China. Located right by the boarder to Hongkong, the city is growing in an incredible pace. But is it worth visiting Shenzhen as a tourist? In this extensive City Guide, you can get a good impression of the city!
China is an incredibly fascinating country when it comes to the growth of cities. For example, just a good hour away from Shenzhen there’s the important metropolis of Guangzhou, alongside other cities with more than a million inhabitants around. Nevertheless, Shenzhen was not only expanded as the boarder city to Hongkong over the years, but it’s now one of the fastest growing cities in the world. With now more than 10 million inhabitants, Shenzhen sure is worth checking out!
The fascinating Futian Business District in Shenzhen
If you want to get an idea on how growth in China works, Futian is exactly where you need to go. In the last ten years, this area went from a small village to a valley full of skyscrapers. Thus, the skyline is quite fascinating looking.
But it’s not only about the skyscrapers as such, but also about the whole planning of this part of town as there are a couple of parks and several public buildings to make this area of town more inviting. For example, there’s the architecturally questionable People’s Government Building.
You can also find what is referred to as the Children’s Palace.
The Civic Center and the Concert Hall are also located in the center of the Futian Business District.
Aside from the highest buildings in Shenzhen, lots of malls and luxury hotels, Futian feels a little sterile if you ask me. It’s not that the area is ugly or anything, but it also doesn’t have the liveliness that cities like Bangkok oder Kuala Lumpur have.
Central Park, Lianhuashan Park & Huaqiangbai Commercial Street
What makes Shenzhen very enjoyable is the number of parks, which are located in the city center – way more than for example in Chengdu. Central Park is a good example for the very large parks you can find in several areas of town.
One of the highlights of a visit of Shenzhen is Lianhuashan Park. It’s a park located on a smaller mountain very close to the Futian Business District and invites you for a short walk.
Once you made it to the top, you can not only find a nice monument, but you can also enjoy a very nice view of the skyline.
If you are more into shopping, you sure shouldn’t miss Huaqiangbai Commercial Street, located a couple kilometers further East. Here, you can get all kinds of electronics – Shenzhen is a tech and hardware city after all!
Even further East, there’s the Hubei District, which is interesting for an other reason. In this area of town, you can see the “old” Shenzhen with small buildings and tiny streets. All of this is supposedly going away for many skyscrapers – an interesting area to see the difficulties of growing Shenzhen.
Generally speaking, there are a lot of interesting places to visit even further out of Futian Business District, but none absolutely stood out to me.
Coastal Ecological Park in Shenzehn
One of the places I wasn’t really sure what to expect of is the Coastal Ecological Park, located in Western Shenzhen. It’s a large park with lots of different walkways.
However, the highlight sure is the location right by the water, where you can even see Hongkong (and the skyline of Shenzhen) in the distance.
The whole area is very nicely developed and still feels somewhat natural thanks to the ocean being very active here.
I’d actually consider this as one of the highlights of my visit to Shenzhen, so I can just highly recommend visiting!
Dapeng Fortress & the Jiaongchangwei Beach near Shenzhen
As I was looking to seeing something more historical as well, I did some research on what places to visit close to Shenzhen. There are a couple of historic areas, including fortresses, around town, and I decided to settle on the Dapeng area.
It’s a bit more than an hour drive from Shenzhen and feels like a totally different world. The small village comes with a huge historic fortress, which is in a suprisingly good shape.
There are lots of cute little streets, historic buildings and dozens of vendors selling food and crafts.
Not far away from the Dapeng Fortress, you can also find Dapeng Temple, which is a large (and rather modern) site.
It’s still quite impressive as it is built in an old style and looks very nice – while not really being old (something you get used to when visiting China).
Not far from here, you may also pay Jiaongchangwei Beach a visit. However, I didn’t think that it really is a nice beach you would like to go to for long.
Nevertheless, I sure think that a day trip to Dapeng Fortress is worth it as it just feels very different than the rest of Shenzhen and yet is quite unique.
Overall impressions of Shenzhen
Personally, I wouldn’t consider Shenzhen to be a real highlight in the sense of the city being absolutely worth visiting. The modern transformation of the city with its unique skyscrapers in the Futian District is absolutely fascinating, but the city doesn’t have much history and lacks a bit of charm, in my opinion. While going here for a day or two is nice enough, I’d focus my time on other cities in the area, including Guangzhou and Hongkong. If you happen to plan a trip through China, I’d definitely recommend visiting cities like Shanghai or Beijing over Shenzhen.
Do you have any questions about Shenzhen? Feel free to ask or share your impressions in the comments!