Shenzhen Travel Guide

A modern metropolis on the Pearl River delta, bustling Shenzhen links Hong Kong to mainland China. Home to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange and a number of home grown multinationals, Shenzhen is one of the most prominent financial centres in southern China and a popular destination for business. That said, it's not all work, no play. In addition to being featured on UNESCO's Creative Cities list, Shenzhen's popularity as a holiday spot is also on the rise.

Once nothing more than a small Chinese market town on the Kowloon-Canton railway route, things began to change dramatically in 1980 when the Chinese government designated Shenzhen the country's first Special Economic Zone, effectively trialling an experiment to grow capitalism in a test tube. It has since developed into a thriving urban environment with a population of around11 million.

It's easy to get overwhelmed by the modernity of Shenzhen's cityscape with its soaring skyscrapers and bright lights, and unknowingly bypass the city's historic prominence and critical role in major national events, including as the final stand of the Ming Dynasty and the Opium War. Visitors are often surprised to find that Shenzhen boasts a number of noteworthy sights, some of which are of great national significance.

Dapeng Fort was a prominent defence for the Pearl River during the Opium War and is now a very well preserved relic from the Ming Dynasty. A visit to the Ancient City of Xin'an (Nantou) provides a wonderful insight into life during the Ming era. Wander along Flower Street to see the remains of 18th century brothels and opium dens.

Shenzhen is one of China's greenest cities, and Fairy Lake Botanical Gardens is testament to this. Encompassing part of the Wutong Mountain, these gardens feature miles of rolling foothills, sweeping valleys, and flowing rivers. While Hon Fa Temple is the major drawcard for local pilgrims, visitors will also find peace sitting at one of the teahouses dotted around the garden's lakes.

Public transport in Shenzhen is excellent, with its intricate network of bus, train, tram and metro routes which extend across the city. Taxis are also readily available across the whole of Shenzhen. Rail and intercity bus routes connect Shenzhen with other parts of Guangdong as well as Hong Kong and Macau. The city is served by Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport and Hong Kong International Airport, both welcoming hundreds of international flights each day.

As home to over 50 different Chinese minorities, a good mix of China's regional cuisines can be found in Shenzhen. From hole-in-the-wall eateries popular with local workers to opulent fine-dining restaurants frequented by wealthy businessmen and politicians, Shenzhen has something to tantalize the taste buds regardless of one's budget. Shenzhen's eclectic range of dim sum, steamed buns, and egg cheung fun are just a few of the local gastronomic delights that shouldn't be missed.

Shenzhen has a humid subtropical climate and the best time to visit the city is from mid-October to December, when the weather is at its most pleasant. The high levels of humidity make Shenzhen summers somewhat uncomfortable. Torrential downpours in late September and early October, teamed with typhoon season from June to October, can also cause significant disruptions for travellers.

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