Shenzhen travel guide
Home to ten million people, the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) of Shenzhen is bustling hotbed of Chinese culture. Starting as a small fishing village near the Hong Kong border, Shenzen has become the wealthiest city in China within 20 years. Drawing businessmen, investors and even illegal migrant workers, Shenzhen has a flavour and culture which is utterly unique.
In 2010, Shenzhen celebrated its 30th birthday, an event which saw thousands of fireworks illuminating the night sky and rejoicing throughout the streets. Both Chinese and international visitors require a special permit to enter the city which you can obtain from your local embassy or whilst you are in Hong Kong if coming from the island. Please note that you will still need your Chinese visa as well.
You will find many cultural attractions and things to do, so a city guide to Shenzhen is important. The Shenzhen Museum (Shenzhen Bowuguan) should be your first stop. Opening in 2008, this remarkable museum features artefacts on loan from some of the best museums around the country. Located in Shenzhen City Hall Centre, you are taken on a fascinating journey of Chinese history. The highlights of the collection include a jade burial suit and bronzes from the Shu Kingdom and the Shang Dynasty.
There are several temples in Shenzhen that are well worth visiting but the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple, dedicated to the goddess of Heaven is by far the most popular. The goddess is also known in other parts as Mazu and watches over sailors at sea. This beautiful temple complex dates back to the 15th century and was commissioned by Zheng He, the famous Chinese admiral. It was said that he had it built in honour of the goddess who saved him when he was shipwrecked off the coast here.
Most places will say that Shenzhen is of no real historical importance but when you visit the Tomb of the Song Emperor you will certainly see otherwise. Located near the Chiwan Tin Hua Temple, this is the last Song emperor who fled and died here when the Mongols invaded and conquered China. Although it is still in debate as to whether it is the emperor’s final resting place or not, it certainly is a fascinating place to visit.
Dapeng Ancient Fort is another historical attraction in Shenzhen. Built back in 1394, this ancient Ming Dynasty fort was an important military post during the Opium Wars with the British.
Because Shenzhen is home to migrants from all over the country, restaurants in Shenzhen represent each corner of Chinese cuisine. The city’s Eat Street is an iconic street where several restaurants are located, each representing a different region in the country.
There are numerous hotels in Shenzhen, all ranging from budget to mid-range to luxury. Take advantage of hotels when they offer a 50% discount on normal rates during the weekdays, but ask for a discount anyway as most will.
Shenzhen is one of those cities which will confuse you for all the right reasons – modern but ancient, Chinese but diverse, a vibrant city but with stunning natural beaches – Shenzhen will put a smile on your face as soon as you cross her borders.