Shenzhen is a young city with a lot of entertainment options. It has a reputation as “City of Creation and Fashion”. From wild beaches to amazing theme parks, there is something for everyone here. Following is a brief guide to the 10 must-go spots.
- Window of the World: See world-famous landmarks in a day
This is a must-visit for both adults and children. It was designed and launched at a time when many Chinese either couldn’t afford, or couldn’t get visas, to go overseas. Today, it is a marvel of what a theme park can do. The Arc d’Triomphe, Mount Rushmore, The Sphinx, and Taj Mahal are just some of the scale-model replicas on display here. It can also be an interesting way to teach young children about world cultures and geography. Part of the Overseas Chinese Town (OCT) district, it is surrounded by a beautiful bay in the western part of Shenzhen. There are plenty of good hotels and restaurants nearby.
- Happy Valley: Thrills galore!
Very close to Window of the World is Happy Valley, one of the best theme parks in China. It is part of a new generation of large-scale theme parks under Overseas Chinese Town (OCT), and a National Grade-5A Tourist Attraction. There are nine themed areas: Spanish Square, Magic Castle, Mt. Adventure, Gold Mine Town, White Shangri-la, Typhoon Bay, Sunshine Beach, Happy Time and Playa Maya Water Park, including over 100 interesting amusement rides suitable for most ages, although some are height-restricted. Try the “Bullet Coaster”, or “Suspended Looping Coaster” if you dare. The “Round-Park Train” is a bit gentler. There is also a 4D Theatre, a “Jungle Water Fight” on a warship, and the Playa Maya Water Park, the only water park in Asia to be awarded the international “Industry Innovation Award”.
- Shenzhen Safari Park (Shenzhen Zoo)
A short ride away from OCT is the Shenzhen Safari Park, the first zoo in China to have free-ranging animals. With green mountains to the north as its barrier, it is like a bright pearl in the bustling metropolis. There are more than 300 kinds of wild animals here. Many are rare, such as giant pandas, South China tigers, golden monkeys, Siberian tigers, flamingos, giraffes, zebras, and Asian elephants. The park is divided into three zones according to the living habits of different animals, including Wild Beasts Zone, Herbivorous Animals Zone, and Ocean World.
- OCT Loft: Art + Food + Coffee
Back to Nanshan’s OCT area, and time for some fun at OCT Loft. Located in the old eastern industry park, this is a base for creative types, with many artists in residence in this hip, leafy peaceful space. The International Youth Hostel is located here, as well as many trendy design shops, galleries, cafes and restaurants. For a great “cold drip” coffee experience, try GEE Coffee Roasters. They also have art exhibitions at the back of the cafe. La Patisserie is in the northern sector of the Loft area and provides a beautiful shaded garden for lunch or snacks. Live music is regular here. Creative Market is where you can connect with local artists and even buy their works. If you want to escape the non-stop noise of the city for a while, then this place will be the best choice.
- Nanshan Mountain: Escape the city
Moving a little bit over to the Shekou area, Shenzhen Nanshan mountain, also known as Nanshan Park, is one of the most popular mountains in the city. It is a quiet location, perfect for ocean bay sightseeing, and not too difficult to climb, with 700 neatly concreted steps to the top. It will take 1 to 1.5 hours for the up and down hike. There are three entrances: Nanshan Park (the main one), Haiguan (customs entrance), which is near Shekou Customs, and Lilin Park (litchi park entrance) which is near Nanshan avenue.
- Mangrove Seashore Ecology Park: Bird watching
China’s smallest national park, this pristine area faces Hong Kong’s Mai Po Marshes, which is a bird-watchers’ paradise. Throughout the year, around 200 different birds migrate to Mai Po and to the Shenzhen mangroves, some from Siberia. In addition to the mangrove plant group in the protected area, there are 55 other species of plants. There’s access to the Shenzhen Bay area and you can enjoy shaded walks, cycling (there are bikes for hire) for views of the beautiful coastline, or you can just sit and enjoy the views across to Hong Kong.
- Dameisha & Xiaomeisha Beaches
Moving way across to the eastern side of the city, Dameisha is a fairly large coastal town. There’s a typical Chinese area to the west but if you walk along the beach to the east you can exit into a modern mall and an equally modern marina. There are quite a few seafood restaurants providing live fish and seafood. You can make your choice from the small aquariums lined up outside the restaurants and have it cooked while drinking the local TsingTao Chinese beer! Dameisha Beach is the first long stretch of fine sand in Yantian District. This is a free beach and there are a number of activities such as diving and paragliding. Smaller and less busy Xiaomeisha Beach is a little further along the coast and it asks an entrance fee of RMB 30. This is a popular camping spot and throughout the summer weekends you’ll see many tents (rent or take your own) pitched up, literally side by side, on the sand.
- OCT East Park: Enjoy adventures as well as nature
OCT East is a large-scale ecological resort with beautiful scenery, including Heroes Valley Ecological Park, Tea Valley Leisure Park, Yunhai Valley Sports Park, themed hotels, Dahuaxing Temple and Tianzhu Estate. Heroes Valley is a fusion of natural scenery and thrilling rides. You can experience the world’s longest torrent in the fjord forest, enjoy a variety of thrilling adventures in the ecological canyon, and enjoy water sports. You can also stroll along the fjord path, admire the waterfall and garden landscape, or take a panoramic view of the entire eastern OCT. The Tea Valley is an idyllic landscape. Enjoy the flowers in the wetland garden, and squat in the tea fields and jungles of Sanzhou Tea Garden. There are reproductions of towns, such as Switzerland’s Interlaken, and the ancient town of Chaweng. You can see various special performances and participate in interactive programs.
9. Meridian View Centre: Bird’s eye view of the City
Back in the center of the city, the location of the observation deck is the Diwang Building, a well-known landmark in Shenzhen, on the 384-meter-high top floor (69th). Here you can look south to Hong Kong and have a panoramic view of Shenzhen. It is a themed high-rise sightseeing tourist attraction. With the melodious music on the elevator, it takes only 50 seconds to reach the top floor where you can watch a novel and exciting multi-dimensional film, a digital folding slide projector documentary, and 15 interesting landscapes. The coffee house has some delicious food and drinks. Also, the layout of the shopping area imitates the Chung Ying Street, the most renowned shopping street in Shenzhen. There are some souvenirs for tourists, including distinctive ornaments and the postcards.
- Dapeng Fortress & Ancient City: Cultural relics
Way out on the border with Huizhou, this is probably a day trip on its own, although you could stop off at Dameisha Beach on the way back. The attraction was built in the 27th year of Ming Hongwu (AD 1394), a Ming/Qing dynasties fort with 600 years of history. Many national heroes and generals made their fame here. Dapeng City retains some antique city gates, castle towers, ancient streets, and ancient dwellings. You can spend some hours wandering here and the place is very photogenic. You can also try the snack stalls and a few casual restaurants along the road.