See also: Where to Stay in Shenzhen
This south-eastern city plays a huge role other than connecting Hong Kong to mainland China. For the longest time, what had been a drowsy market town has woken to be a city with skyline bristles. The city of Shenzhen exists as a testament to the strapping economic growth which China has witnessed in recent years. That, however, did come with a price. Until a decade, Shenzhen was allied with the unsightly face of economic growth. But that has begun to change.
Shenzhen, as of now, is a proud witness to travellers flocking here for the history, art, dining, and nature that are lurking behind all the skyscrapers. All hail to its large malls and retail destination, the city is very much worthy of a visit. If you’re planning your next trip here, we got you covered. Here are some of the best things to do in Shenzhen, China.
Have a bird’s eye view of the city from the Meridian View Centre
One of the city’s tallest buildings, the Diwang Mansion must not be missed by those who want love a little gazing at the splendid eyeshot of the Shenzhen-Hong Kong border. Standing at a height of 384 metres, the Meridian View Centre on the 69th floor of this building provides you with an opportunity to see the megacity in all its sprawling magnificence. No wonder that it is quite endearingly referred to as the window of Shenzhen. From here, you will be able to observe bands of green entangled with the glinting skyscrapers, contemporary architectural wonder including the panoramic views of Hong Kong from atop the building. With over fifteen distinct entertainment spaces including a multidimensional cinema, you will practically never run of things to see and do here.
Have a look at the city’s boho enclave- the OCT Loft Creative Culture Park
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Before you work out the city to be a cultural desert, you must definitely pay a visit to the OCT Loft. Positioned in an ex-factory district, this boho enclave is fast becoming a magnet for designers, innovators and artists. This creative pivot for art galleries, bookstores and quirky eateries, you will want to spend at least one afternoon exploring this curious corner of the city. This culture park is also a host to contemporary art terminal that cover an expansive area of 3000 square metres. What can be called the somewhat cooler version of Nanhai E-Cool, this creative space is also home to the International Youth Hostel.
Soak the sun at Nanshan Mountains
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If you thought Shenzen is only big on cityscapes and shopping malls, you could not have been more wrong. While you are visiting the city, we highly recommend escaping the hustle and bustle and indulge yourself in the tranquillity and remoteness of the countryside. One particularly gratifying getaway would be the Nanshan Mountains in Shekou. What makes Nanshan a total standout from the rest is undoubtedly its sea cove touring. With a remarkable view of the ocean and moderate climbs, you simply can’t go wrong with this. On a clear day, one can witness the picturesque vistas of Shekou below you. In addition to that, there are several vantage points from which you can truly experience the beauty of the city. The entry to the mountain is completely free of cost and is open from 6.00 am to 9.00 pm every day.
Experience the beating bosom of expat life at Sea World
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With chilled out beer precincts, this western-style leisure expanse got a complete refurbishment in the recent past when the administration decided to make the most of the standing it had garnered in the international tourist scene. With a series of raucous clubs, this is the best place to come to if you are planning for exhilarating night out. The open pedestrian squares host several exciting events and shows from time to time. If you are to head left to the end of the plaza, you’d be pleasantly surprised by the extensive array of restaurants and cafes here.
A section of the sea world is reserved for Gateway One, an open-air super-luxe modern shopping mall. The Design Society makes up for a great casual evening stroll. It features a series of exhibitions and learning programs that focus on design and artistic thinking. After you’re done with the sightseeing, you can take a quick turn to the back end of the Sea World for grabbing some delicious snacks and meals.
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Right at the lucrative bosom of the city, Futian Central Business District is not to be missed by anyone and everyone who has a love for contemporary architecture. It can be best described as impressively bold and daringly futuristic. It is certainly one of its kind by being home to the beaming new city government building. On top of that, it flanks a gigantic library, and a concert hall. It is safe to say that the very structure is hugely representative of Shenzhen’s story through the ages. You will also find here the beautifully undone Ping An Finance Centre which when completed, would be one of the world’s tallest buildings.
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While it is true that most people attribute Shenzhen with its showy modernity, the city is not devoid of history. To understand the history of the city best, head straight to the Shenzhen Museum. No city trip would be complete without visiting a free museum. If you want to witness a blend of historical heirlooms, Shenzhen Museum is our best pick. Opened in 1988, this museum has several permanent exhibitions in addition to cultural relics and archaeological finds. If you are visiting with children, hop on to the children’s room where you will find a number of interactive games to engage them with.
It not only provides you with a great overview of the region’s history but also highlights the displays of street replicas that range from prehistoric to the present time. One can also comprehend in great detail the boom that markedly distinguished the city following 1979’s dramatic policy reform.
Experience an authentic kitsch experience at Window of the World
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If it weren’t for a true kitsch experience, your visit to China would be fairly incomplete. For that, there is no better place than Window of the World, where you can simply marvel at the skilfully made replicas of world-renowned attractions. Some of the most sought after ones include Sydney Opera House, Eiffel Tower, Niagara Falls, the leaning tower of Pisa and even the Great Canyon. These masterstrokes of miniatures make this place quite a mini globe.
With over 130 global tributes that dot around the park, the visitors can catch an idea of how the entrainment developers represent the outer world in a country that unfastened to the exhaustive international market. The park provides plenty of activities like a cable car, ski slope and an archery field. At the weekends, look out for night-time entertainments and displays of fireworks.
Dip your feet in Dameisha and Xiaomeisha beaches
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Towards the east of the city expanses a 19-kilometre shoreline. Dameisha is renowned for being a moderately large coastal town. Characterized by the modern marina, the area also boasts of larger hotels including a Sheraton styled property. This long stretch of beach has a number of fun activities like diving, paragliding and jet skiing. Apart from the seaside, the region is plentiful in reefs, islands and caves. The area is quite famed for its absolutely picturesque cliff sides. With a modern harbour in conjunction with long-established seafood eating places that serve live fish plucked from tanks, you will without a doubt enjoy your time here. Do bear in mind that it is well furnished and completely free to enter, but can be quite busy particularly on public holidays.
Beach revellers in the hunt for a more hushed spot might favour Xiaomeisha beach, positioned further alongside the coast. Here, you will need to pay an entrance fee of 30 Yuan. If you are in search of a camping spot, don’t fret- this beach has a large number of rented tents available. This positively makes this beach quite the favourite among people visiting with families.
Witness artwork unfold in Dafen oil painting village
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This definitely has to be one of the city’s top attractions. If you are looking for or a unique experience, visit the largest producer of replica oil paintings-Dafen. Whatever your mind can conjecture, the artists here will skilfully and inexpensively put them into paper in the form of beautifully done art; that too, in whatever size and style you desire. With over 1200 galleries, you are definitely in for a treat here. This place has artistic masterpiece replicas of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to Klimt’s Embrace. Initially set as an artist colony, the fine art workshop that is stationed in less than half a square kilometre is characterized by drawings and paintings which you can rent out. These days, they serve as a springboard for the creative artists to showcase their true, authentic works.
Shop deluxe at Luohu Commercial City
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While we are very much fond to astound the multiplicity and diversity of experiences on and beyond the city, none of that would be perfectly complete without adding to the list its vast array of shopping centres. Many of you might already know of the Luoho as it is widely popular for its luxe collections of designer bags alongside tailor-made suit services. If you get a chance, you ought not to miss out on the soothing massage provided here.
Surround yourself with art and culture at Nanhai E-Cool
At a small walk alongside XingHua Road from Sea World, you will come across this time-honoured Sanyo factory that has come to be revamped into artistic enterprises. This creative culture is perfect if you need a respite from the hustle and bustle. With its outer walls laden in lush green plants, the very sight of it is aesthetically pleasing. Within, you will find restaurants, wine bars, and designer boutiques.
If you are to haggle in the small shops here, you are positively going home with some good deals. Occasionally, you will be seeing installations and artworks. If you enjoy street walking, do venture out at night to experience the goodness of street food and shopping at large. In a nutshell, Offhand and free of crowds, this is just the right place to unwind and relax in the city without having to venture too far out.
Pay your respects at Tian Hou Temple
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Constructed formerly in the Song Dynasty, this temple has a history of having been destroyed and rebuilt several times over. Known for its traditional style and beautiful embellishments, this temple is not to be missed.
Over recent years, several of the surrounding buildings are being refurbished to serve as museums highlighting the temple’s rich legacy and history. At a meagre cost of 15 Yuan, you will be allowed entry to the temple. While you are here, you can roam around wherever you want, explore the Drum Tower, and take in the heady scent of the incense. In a nutshell, although the temple is quite worn down, if you are looking for an authentic and un-touristy experience, look no further and pay a visit here.
Have a happy time at the Happy Valley
Right adjacent to Window of the World, we have a large modern theme park called the Happy Valley. Spanning a total area of 86 acres, the park is expansive; so be sgeared up for lots of walking. It is divided into 9 themed areas with several of them being Cartoon City and Gold Mine Town. The only downfall of this amusement park is that it tends to be quite crowded and some of the rides’ opening times are quite staggered.
Get an overload of Shenzhen history at Dapeng Fortress
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Built in 1394, the Dapeng Fortress is well preserved and extensive attempts are being made to revamp it further. It was initially constructed to guard the mainland against Japanese pirates and ward off British. If you wander about the streets, you will be astounded to find people still living there. If you are craving some jellies, you are in luck. You will find a lot of street sellers that sell yummy sweets.
Just round the corner is Jiaochangwei Village which was officially the quarters to the local anglers. Those properties here have now been changed to chic boutique guest houses. Most of them are now under the ownership of affluent Chinese men who have a penchant for art and culture. If you are visiting on the weekends, make sure to make the prior appointments as they tend to get booked out pretty quick. However, you will have no trouble finding rooms on the weekdays. If you are planning to grab some meal or snacks, there are plenty of restaurants and eateries to choose from.
Acquaint yourself with the city’s attractions at Splendid China Folk Village
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Finished with the country’s most significant historical sites in a miniature capsule, the Splendid China Folk Village provides a pleasant experience. With over 26 miniature villages and 56 ethnic groups that are emblematic of the country’s rich cultural heritage, you will find yourself overindulging on miniatures. They have also tried to replicate some of the scenic tourist attractions outside of the country. In addition to these, they occasionally become ground to gala parties, live performances and craft exhibitions. Be assured that you will leave for home understanding a great deal about China. The ticket price is 150 Yuan.
Experience a welcome reprieve at He Xiangning Art Gallery
If you want to take some time off the gaga of the theme parts, this is the place you must come to. Named after a painter and social activist- He Xiangning , this art gallery is sited between Window of the World and Splendid China Folk Village. The art gallery displays a permanent collection of the artist’s work along with several temporary artworks and installations. This has undoubtedly served to usher a chief influence and support of contemporary art scene in the country.
Stock up goodies in Futian District
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Futian district needs little or no introduction. It enjoys a special standing as the executive, administrative and commercial centre of Shenzhen. The district is distinguished for its hectic and eventful commercial streets, making it quite the shoppers’ paradise. If you are looking for a stay amongst the city’s five-star hotels, then this is where you have to come.
There is definitely more to Futian district other than the hustle and bustle of business and commerce. There are a lot of tourist attractions including The Civic Centre, Shenzhen Museum, the Central Book Mall, and Guan Shanyue Art Gallery. If you in quest of some green spaces, head on to Coco Park which coalesces posh shopping with dining in some of the city’s most fashionable eateries.
Shop till you drop at Huaqiangbei District
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As a much-frequented area in Shenzhen, it is of no surprise that Huaqiangbei District has held a space in our list. With hundreds of shops that spread across floors, this place is certainly a rabbit warren. It is safe to say that it a one-stop for everything electronic.
It houses the biggest electronics market in the country and has even the smallest technological gears to techno gadgets. But be wary of the non-genuine components. You are advised to shop wisely and use your sense to make out the fake products. As a word of suggestion, if an item seems to be too good to be true, chances are, it is unauthentic. Make sure to open and inspect the box before handing over your money as chances of fraud are much possible. The trendiest markets here are the SEG Electronics, Huaqiang Electronics, and Cyber.
Spot birds at Mangrove Seashore Ecology Park
China’s smallest national park, Mangrove Seashore Ecology Park is truly a bird watchers delight. All through the year, hundreds of birds flock here. It would be quite a treat to watch the birds in this tranquil green area. The visitors have easy access to the Shenzhen Bay area to take pleasure in dappled walk areas, cycling or simply taking in the stunning views of Hong Kong. Therefore, if you are in search of a perfect place to relax and unwind with family, this could be your best bet.
Go posh at Coco Park
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If you’re planning your trip for dining and entertainment, then Coco Park should be on your list of must-visits. This modern mall over five floors is a superlative choice when it comes to Chinese and international brands. With a wide array of shops to choose from, you can grab some amazing deals from here. There is also a cinema if you are into movies. It is safe to say that the whole of the malls comes alive at night. If you love everything luxurious and sophisticated, you will likely have the best time of your life here.
Have a stayover at Wutong Shan Mountain Area
If you are planning to head over to Damesiha Beach, The Wutong Shan Mountain area would be a great stop for the night. This area overlooks the coast and is a wonderful and rather popular spot for hiking. With some of the most breathtaking views, it is the highest within reach point in the length of the city’s coastline. This mountainous area is quite plentiful when it comes to rivers, waterfalls, and forests. On a clear day, you will most definitely notice the welcome respite this area offers. If you are lucky, you will have the opportunity to spot some protected wildlife such as pangolins and kites.
Tour OCT East Park
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Set upon the saddle behind Dameisha town is this picturesque theme park. One can effortlessly spend a whole day wandering around here. At an entrance fee of 160 Yuan, this country park is agreeably landscaped and is a great spot for families to chill. The park offers themed rides, waterparks, and a hot springs spa. If you have time left, you can visit the absolutely beautiful tea plantation.
Reconnect at Hakka Villages
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With only about twenty Hakka walled villages left behind in Shenzhen, a visit to them would truly be worthy and meaningful. Each of these villages has their own highlights, but if you have a love for historical buildings, consider visiting Longtian Shiju. It is perhaps the finest and best conserved Hakka village out there.
Walk like a local in streets of Nantou
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The past and present have in some way interweaved on to the streets of Nantou. Even though large scale modernization has changed every nook and corner of the city, this part of Shenzhen remains unscathed. At the South Gate, you can walk through the historic landmarks through a protective wall. All in all, this street provides a captivating blend of ancient and contemporary.
Hike Wutong Shan
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If you want to shelve the city jungle for a real one, Wutong Shan would be our top pick. Standing at 943 meters, it is not only the city’s highest mountain but also an admired destination among locals and tourists both alike. Once you reach atop the mountain, you would be blessed to see the sight of the city sprawled below, and even the gleaming harbour of Hong Kong.
Spend an afternoon at Xianhu Botanical Garden
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With six distinct areas, Xianhu Botanical Garden is a popular destination that you should visit when in the city. Some highlights of the garden include Fairy Lake and a prominent Buddhist temple. You can easily stroll around the garden, taking in the views of the beautiful garden. If you are not a fan of crowds, do consider visiting on weekdays as the garden is quite crowded on weekends.
Have a picnic planned at Lychee park
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True to its name, the Lychee Park is to see the many lychee trees set around the lake. The park is replete with arched bridges in which you can take a stroll, if you so wish. You can also try feeding the ducks if you are into the idea. Situated in Luohu District, this park is for anyone and everyone who have very little time to drop a visit to the bigger parks in Shenzhen.
Shell out your wealth at Dongmen Pedestrian Street
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The prevailing consensus is that you haven’t been to China if you’ve never found yourself lost in the Dongmen Old Street. Spanning across quite a few blocks, the street is famed for its shopping scene. From international to local, clothes to shoes, you will get anything and everything here, making it quite a shopping heaven. The market stalls are renowned for being largely inexpensive and with a bit of skilful bargaining, you are certain to grab the best deals. All of these factors make this street oddly chaotic and busy. In order to avoid this human traffic, consider visiting it on the weekdays.
Escape all hurry-scurry at Dapeng Peninsula
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If you want to get away from the hubbub of the city, we highly recommend planning a picnic to the Dapeng Peninsula. Positioned in the south-eastern side of the city, this region boasts remarkable countryside, ancient volcanoes and verdant landscapes. The distinguishable highlight of this area has to be its limitless coastal features. Presently, this area continues to be a quiet oasis with out-of-the-way beaches and a superlative option if you want some serene time with nature.
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