A week ago, I moved back to America after living in Shenzhen, China, for eight months.
Shenzhen has become my second home, in a way. Here are the best ways to enjoy time in Shenzhen.
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Give me a rundown of Shenzhen, China.
Shenzhen is a large, tier-1 city in southeast China, with a population of 11.9 million. It’s just across the Hong Kong border, and about a 30-minute high speed train ride from Guangzhou. Shenzhen has only technically been a city for a little under 40 years, so the culture is … interesting. It’s pretty much a mixture of city and rural people, because a lot of people recently moved to Shenzhen from their small villages from various parts of China.
What are the best outdoor activities?
- There are good spots to hike. If you want a long, classic Shenzhen hike, go to Mount Wutong. If you want a shorter walk, check out Nanshan Mountain.
- There are a lot of good beaches on the outskirts of the city. The best ones are in a sub-district called Dapeng, where the sand is good for lying out in the sun and the waves are ideal for surfing.
- Shenzhen is a great city for riding bicycles. There are several bike sharing apps, my favorite being MoBike, which you can use to rent bikes for as long as you want. My favorite place to ride is Shenzhen Bay Park.
What free things are there to do?
- There are a ton of gorgeous parks, my favorite being Lianhuashan Park in Futian District.
- The aforementioned hikes are free.
- Most beaches require a tiny fee. However, Dameisha Beach has no entry fee.
What/where should I eat?
- Try a hot pot restaurant, such as Wu’s Old Pot Hotpot or Hualong Chongqing Hotpot. At these restaurants, the food you order is brought out to you raw, and you cook it in a boiling pot of water yourself.
- Try dim sum at the Royal International Hotel in Bao’an District.
- If Chinese food isn’t agreeing with you, go to Sea World. (It’s a metro stop, not a theme park.) That’s where a lot of Western and ethnic food is.
What/where should I drink?
- Baishizhou is a good bar neighborhood, where places serve craft beer.
- COCO Park has a good mixture of bars, clubs, pubs, and lounges.
- You can order báijiu at a restaurant, but at your own risk. This drink is rice wine that is very popular in China. Think Chinese version of sake or soju–but it tastes way worse!
- As long as you order something at a restaurant or bar, most places are pretty lenient about your bringing your own alcohol. You can stop by a corner store and buy much more affordable booze, then meet your friends at the bar.
Which tourist spots are worth the hype, and which aren’t?
I went on TripAdvisor to see the highest-rated attractions in Shenzhen. Let me see here …
- Personally, not a fan of Window of the World or Splendid China Folk Village. The Chinese have this obsession with creating parks full of miniature versions of real attractions. Window of the World has mini versions of landmarks all over the world, and Splendid China Folk Village has mini versions of landmarks around China. However, these are good spots if you’re traveling with children.
- Lianhuashan Park, which I mentioned above, is beautiful and worth a visit.
- Luohu Commercial City is great for shopping. You can find cheap designer handbags, backpacks, shoes, clothes, and sunglasses.
- OCT LOFT is a fun area for eating and markets.
How do I get to Shenzhen?
- Bao’an International Airport is in Shenzhen. It’s very easy to navigate, as there is only one terminal.
- If it’s cheaper, you can fly into Hong Kong, then take a driving service or bus into Shenzhen.
- Trains run to Shenzhen from many other major Chinese cities.
- Don’t forget to buy a VPN first if you want to use Google or social media while you are over there! Express VPN is definitely your best option, in my opinion.
- The metro is very easy to use. Buses are cheaper, but more confusing. Taxis are cheaper than in America.
- Red taxis will only take you from one district to another. Green taxis will only take you within the same district they pick you up in. Blue taxis are more lenient about where they will take you, but they are electric cars that charge a bit more.