Things to Do in Shenzhen, China: About 50 years ago, Shenzhen was little more than a market city, but it has grown into a city of over 12 million people and one of China’s top retail destinations. Many visitors come to Shenzhen to take advantage of the multitude of shopping centers and stores that sell everything you can imagine. This is a great city to buy handmade clothes, art reproductions, and high-tech toys.
The city connects Hong Kong to mainland China and is one of the largest and most popular cities in southeast China. It is best known for shopping and entertainment, thanks to its large mall and several family-friendly amusement parks. Whether you’re passing through or planning to spend a few days in Shenzhen, there’s more to see beyond the shops. Whether you take some time to enjoy the captivating gardens and golf courses or go on a gastronomic adventure through the city’s many street food zones, Shenzhen has a lot to offer.
Top 20 Things to Do in Shenzhen
- Fairy Lake Botanical Garden
Fairy Lake Botanical Garden is located next to the city’s man-made reservoir and is home to over 8,000 plant species. The public garden serves as a site for science and botanical research but is also open to visitors. Within the park, there are several themed gardens dedicated to bamboo, magnolias, rare trees, and more. There is also a Butterfly House where visitors can appreciate these fluttering insects while admiring the rare and unique orchid varieties like the Dancing Lady.
In addition to educational museums and exhibitions located throughout the garden, there are also several beautiful sites such as pagodas and bridges that adorn the lake and an active Buddhist temple. The park has about 20 hiking trails that weave through the gardens and also connect to the city’s greenway and Mount Wutong Shan.
- Hakka Village Visit
In the southern provinces of China, Hakka villages were once a common building style in which villages were built with large defensive walls. Many Hakka structures fell into disrepair or were demolished to make way for urbanization, but there are still places you can visit to see the original Hakka buildings. If you don’t have a lot of time to explore the villages in Guangdong and other surrounding provinces, you can check out the Longgang Museum of Hakka Culture where you can see examples of Hakka-style buildings.
- Try the Street Food
Shenzhen is rich in elaborately decorated dim sum restaurants such as the Shang Palace at the Shangri-La Hotel, but you can also get an authentic taste of the local culture by exploring the traditional dishes and snacks cooked by the city’s street food vendors. There are many tours available that can guide you through the city’s best eats, but the major street food spots to visit on your own are Dongmen Street Food Market, Baishizhou, and Xiuwei, where you’ll find one of the city’s best stands. Rougiamo, which is a bun filled with succulent pork belly.
Stalls and restaurants represent all regions of China and sell a wide variety of delicious treats, from barbecued meat skewers to Xian Bing pancakes and candy-coated fruit. These are typical finds for any street food market in China, but in Shenzhen, you should go out of your way to try the oysters. They are cultivated locally in the nearby bay by shaking.
Shenzhen is home to some of the best golf courses in China, including the world’s largest. Mission Hills Golf Course has 216 holes on its 12 championship courses, each of which was designed by world champion golfers such as Jack Nicklaus and Annika Sorenstam. The Mission Hills complex also houses the largest tennis court in Asia, with 51 courts, and has its own development with hotels, apartments, parks, and shopping complexes. The golf course is located about an hour outside the city center, but if you can’t find tee time in Mission Hills, you have several other options in Shenzhen such as the Wind Valley Golf Club in OCT East which has two 18- hole courses.
- Da Fen Oil Painting Village
Most major Chinese cities now host artists’ villages, where thousands of artists live and create reproductions of the world’s best paintings. Da Fen, which became an artist’s center in the 1980s, stands out for its impressive past – it once produced more than 60 percent of the world’s oil paintings. Just don’t expect a quirky artist to back down—the more than 5,000 artists in Da Fen often create paintings in factory conditions, turning them into something like cars on the production line.
There are also hundreds of individual artists who will paint a replica of Rembrandt or Monet in a matter of hours with a painting costing as little as $40. Even if you don’t plan on buying a piece of art, it’s a fascinating cultural phenomenon, and walking the dusty streets lined with the works of great masters is nothing short of surreal.
- Visit Window of the World
The window of the World is Shenzhen’s number one attraction. It is a collection of approximately 130 replicas of the world’s sights and landmarks within a 120-acre theme park. The word “miniature” doesn’t really do the entertainment justice because in some cases they are two-thirds the size of the original.
The focus is on Europe, with recreations of London’s Houses of Parliament, Paris’s Eiffel Tower, and Rome’s Colosseum. Above the replicas, you’ll find themed streets and food as well as dance shows. The park also puts on an impressive laser and light show. With its amusement park ambiance, Window of the World is a great way to keep kids entertained throughout the day.
- Theme Parks at OCT East
Overseas Chinese Town (OCT) is a vast complex that includes nature parks, theme parks, and cultural villages. OCT East has two main theme parks: Night Valley and Tea Stream Valley. Night Valley has a water park, a tropical forest, and a skywalk made of glass, while Tea Stream Valley is a more noteworthy park where you can enjoy the natural setting of the Wetland Garden, take tea in the Sanzhou Tea Garden, or the ancient tea town.
- Shop for Bargains
There are shopping centers for everything you want to buy, but you’ll save money if you plan and do a little research. Luohu Commercial City is where most day-trippers from Hong Kong shop. Featuring over 700 stores spread across five floors, Commercial City is an immersive shopping experience with hundreds of salespeople and hustlers all vying for your attention. It is here that you will find some knock-offs, but in Commercial City you will find that the quality is well worth what you pay for. The best purchases here are clothing like tailored suits, but you can also get cut-rate massages.
- Terracotta Warriors at the Folk Village
If you like Window of the World, you should also check out Splendid China Folk Village, which is the sister site of Window of the World. This attraction focuses on the history, art, architecture, and culture of Mother China. It offers replicas of the country’s best landmarks such as the Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors.
- View from Diwang Mansion
You can see one of the tallest buildings in Shenzhen, from Diwang Mansion all the way to the Shenzhen-Hong Kong border. On the 69th floor of the Meridian View Center, there are telescopes that you can use to see the details of the city’s streets. Some of the city’s other wonder-worthy skyscrapers include the Ping An International Finance Center, KK100, and China Resources Headquarters.
- History at the Shenzhen Museum
Shenzhen seems like a contemporary city, but at the Shenzhen Museum, you can gain an appreciation for the area’s centuries-old culture. The museum provides a detailed history and background so that visitors can better understand the timeline of the events of the current contemporary boom. Permanent exhibitions explore different eras of Shenzhen from ancient to modern times, along with art and calligraphy.
- Hike the Wutong Shan
Shenzhen’s highest mountain, Wutong Shan, is 3,094 feet (943 m) in elevation. You can hike the scenic trails or take the stairs that go up and back a little over 6.2 miles. Most of the trails start from Wutong Village and will take around 4 hours to complete. Once you are at the top, enjoy the views of Shenzhen. The way up is quite difficult and may take some time, but you will be able to descend more quickly.
- Drinks and Dinner at Sea World
This nightlight mecca isn’t the marine amusement park you’re thinking of. This is a western type entertainment area where you can find beer gardens and nightclubs that attract an international clientele. There is an actual ship that is the centerpiece of the complex, and the area is surrounded by water – thus the name, Sea World.
At night, enjoy musical water fountains and fine cuisine from around the world. There are Chinese, Korean, Indian, Mexican, and American steakhouse restaurants. After dinner and drinks, walk to the docks and take in the night view of Shekou port.
- Climb Nanshan Mountain
The trailhead for the Nanshan Mountain Trail is not far from Sea World’s entrance. The path consists of about 700 steps and takes several hours to go up and back down. You’ll be able to relax on benches along the way and be rewarded with a spectacular view of Nanshan District at the top. There is also a trail on the other side of the mountain, which is accessible through a gated entrance on the right side of the Shanhyun Community Gate.
- Shop Cheap at Dongmen Old Street
A bustling, bustling old-fashioned Chinese shopping experience, Dongmen Old Street is several blocks long and features malls, market stalls, winding side streets, and plazas. Vendors sell shirts, food, handbags, shoes, underwear, and more. Be prepared to bargain at the market stalls and look for huge discounts at the malls.
- Visit the Fortress
Depeng Fortress, about an hour from Shenzhen, is a Ming Dynasty walled city that once protected the mainland from pirates. In some ways, it is a living historical village as people still live in the preserved town. You can walk the narrow streets, go shopping, stop for a meal, or stay overnight in one of the unique guesthouses. The journey from the city takes about an hour by taxi – which is the recommended mode of transport as the public bus will extend the journey by about 2.5 or 3 hours.
- Tianhou Temple
Tianhou Temple was built as a praise to the goddess of the sea to rescue Chinese explorer Zheng He after facing a devastating storm at sea. The temple is not original – it has been rebuilt several times over the years, but it is a classic example of a traditional Chinese temple. There is a museum to visit, rooms to explore and you will see locals coming to pray.
- Historic Nantou
Nantou is a 1,700-year-old city. While there are modern buildings, the place has preserved much of its history. If you enter through the southern gate of the city, you will see the original city wall which was built in the 14th century. While there are the expected modern shopping spots, you can still find vintage shops selling traditional Chinese herbs and household items in some of the buildings along the ancient streets.
- Lianhuashan Park
Located in the heart of Shenzhen, the 370-acre Lianhuashan Park offers a little green space amidst the sprawling concrete city. The park is at the center of a 350-foot hill, with a bronze statue of politician Deng Xiaoping on top. From here, you can have sweeping views of the city as well as places where families enjoy kite flying while sitting on picnics. There is also a large lake where you can rent paddle boats for a small fee.
- Creativity at OCT Loft
Shenzhen is much more than a center for the imitation of the Old Masters. It is becoming the creative capital of China attracting modern designers, inventors, and artists. The visiting artistic community at OCT Loft is housed in what was once a manufacturing district. There are art galleries, bookstores, coffee shops, bars, and bistros. The Art Terminal is huge and it’s fun to visit.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Shenzhen, China
Q. What is Shenzhen China known for?
A – Shenzhen is a global center in technology, research, manufacturing, business and economics, finance, tourism, and transportation, and the Port of Shenzhen is the world’s fourth busiest container port.
Q. Is Shenzhen China Rich?
A – Shenzhen has 113 billionaires, compared to 110 in New York, while London ranks fifth with 101. The increasing concentration of wealth is not news to people in Shenzhen, which added eight billionaires since last year.
Q. Is Shenzhen Hong Kong or part of China?
A – Shenzhen is a city located in south-central Guangdong Sheng (province) in southeast China. It is located on the shores of the South China Sea and is located just north of Hong Kong.
Q. Is Shenzhen a good city?
A – Shenzhen is also famous for its lovely beaches, which are popular among both locals and tourists alike. Even though Shenzhen is a new city, there are many notable galleries and museums to visit, with the OCT Contemporary Art Terminal and Loft area and Guan Shan Yue Art Gallery two of the best.
Q. What language does Shenzhen speak?
A – Mandarin is the mother dialect of the Chinese language and is spoken in most provinces of China, including Shenzhen. Cantonese, however, is the dialect of Guangdong province and since the people of Shenzhen grew up speaking Cantonese, it is widely spoken.
Q. What attracts people to Shenzhen?
A – With soaring skyscrapers, bold museums, and a monumental library and exhibition center, a city is a place for visionaries to experiment. It is no surprise that Shenzhen earned UNESCO City of Design status.
Q. How far is Shenzhen from Hong Kong?
A – The distance from Shenzhen to Hong Kong is as long as 50 kilometers (31 mi). It is very easy to travel between them due to the close distance and various modes of transport. The best way to travel is by taking the high-speed train. Travelers can also choose from the Shenzhen-Hong Kong long-distance bus, taxi, or ferry.
Q. Why did people move to Shenzhen?
A – Trade is the biggest pull factor as Shenzhen is classified as a Special Economic Zone, which means they have more freedom than the rest of China when it comes to international trade and most economic activities include marketing and exporting.
Q. Why did Shenzhen grow so fast?
A – That year, it was declared a Special Economic Zone, opening the city to foreign investment, technology, and managerial expertise through the establishment of foreign ownership, joint ventures, and other business ventures. Since 1980 the city has developed at an unprecedented rate, known in China as “Shenzhen Speed”.
Q. How is life in Shenzhen?
A – Shenzhen is a vibrant, modern, international city. One minute, you can be completely immersed in China, and a short taxi ride later, you can enjoy the international company and surroundings. The people here are friendly and the views are beautiful! Living in Shenzhen is an adventure every day.
Q. Where do foreigners live in Shenzhen?
A – The largest concentrations of ex-pats in Shenzhen are in Shekou, OCT, and Coco Park (Futian CBD), although there are pockets in Futian in other places such as Honey Lake and Luo Hu.