Once you’ve arrived to marvel at Shenzhen International Airport’s gleaming new Terminal 3, what else is there to do?
See the wonder of Shenzhen itself, a city of over ten million that grew out of a fishing village in the span of thirty years. This open, confident, creative city is always changing, so visit now to see history being made. Here are some exciting things to see and do while in Shenzhen, and none are related to shopping, Hong Kong, or themed entertainment!
Visit Civic Center, and see the soaring City Hall and the vast People’s Square. Shenzhen is sometimes known as the Pengcheng (鹏城), the city of the Peng or Roc, a great mythological bird. The building’s upturned eaves connect to Chinese tradition and harken the image of the great bird. School kids are often improvising dance routines or flying kites in the large square.
Head north to climb Lianhuashan (莲花山), or Lotus Mountain Park, for a view of elegantly planned Futian, the surrounding district. A statue of Deng Xiaoping looks down from the peak, surveying his legacy of the Special Economic Zone of Shenzhen with an eye on Hong Kong on the southern horizon. Weekends and evenings bring out crowds to dance, exercise, play Chinese chess, and enjoy Shenzhen’s great weather while in the park.
Between Civic Center and Lotus Mountain is the central branch of Shenzhen’s Book City (中心书城 zhongxin shu cheng), the biggest bookstore in the world. This huge mall devoted to the literary arts is always filled with masses of students exploring the stacks, young children reading story books, cafes, specialty gift shops, art exhibits and traditional craft and music demonstrations.
See stunning architecture and infrastructure throughout Shenzhen, and be sure to watch the ongoing construction of the Ping An Finance Center, which will be the tallest building in China when it is completed in 2016.
Visit Shenzhen’s beaches and parks. Dameisha and Xiaomeisha in eastern Shenzhen are pleasant beaches, Mangrove Park stretches along Shenzhen’s western bay, and gardens and parks give life and recreation to the city’s neighborhoods. The Shenzhen International Garden and Flower Expo Park, or 园博园 (yuanboyuan) for short, is a garden of gardens representing dozens of Chinese styles and regions. Climb to the highest point to see the marble pagoda and views of Shenzhen’s surrounding hills.
A short drive to the east of Shenzhen brings you to the Ming fortified town of Dapeng (大鹏). In this 600 year old military town you can see the ancient city wall and gates, officers’ homes, granary, and other original structures. Shenzhen’s nickname as the Pengcheng preserves its connection to the ancient history of the region.
Today a Chinese visa is required to visit Shenzhen, so contact your nearest Chinese embassy to apply for the correct visa for your trip to China. Some countries’ travelers (not US) may be eligible to apply for visa on arrival when entering by ferry or metro from Hong Kong or Macau, but it’s best to have a Chinese visa before arriving to avoid any complications or fines.