Tourists are finding more and more things to do in Shenzhen, one of the most rapidly-growing tourist regions in China. A mere fishing village called Bao’an County until 1979, Shenzhen was the first city designated as a special economic zone, a move that helped boost the region’s economy as well as its number of residents. Shenzhen’s population has climbed from 310,000 to more than 8.6 million people in less than three decades! While modern attractions prevail, historic landmarks also can be found in Shenzhen. Spend a day ogling at artsy replicas of world-renowned attractions at Window of the World, and then step back in time at Dapeng Ancient City.
1. Dafen Oil Painting Village – Longgang District
Backpackers who would like to own a Van Gogh painting but would rather spend money on traveling to cool cities like Shenzhen can find the best of both worlds in Dafen Oil Painting Village. Artists in this out-of-the-way community pride themselves on knock-offs and reproductions of some of the world’s most famous pieces of art. Visitors can, of course, find plenty of original works from local artists, and even if buying a souvenir painting isn’t on the top of your list of things to do in Shenzhen, walking through this quirky area should be. The quiet cobblestone streets are virtually traffic-free, and the radiant architecture is fun to photograph.
2. Window of the World (Shi Jie Zhi Chuang) – Nanshan District
Visit some of the world’s most famous landmarks all in one day at Window of the World, a wacky theme park overloaded with undersized replicas of architectural and natural wonders. The park in Nanshan District contains copies of more than 120 world-renowned sights and landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower and Mount Rushmore, and it also offers plenty of food, entertainment and theme park rides to keep families busy all day. Guests should stay until after dark to catch the impressive light show.
Window of the World is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Day tickets are 180 RMB, and night tickets are 60 RMB. Entry time for night ticket holders is 7:30 p.m.
3. Shenzhen Museum – Futian District
Enjoy a free tour of Shenzhen Museum to learn about the city’s history as a port town and industrial front-runner. The museum is divided into four sites which cover more than 60,000 square meters, and visitors can explore the many different influences that shaped Shenzhen into the city it is today.
4 Museums of Shenzhen Museum
- Shenzhen Museum of Ancient Art (closed to the public since 2015)
- Shenzhen Museum of History and Folk Culture
- Dongjiang River Guerrilla Command Headquarters Memorial Museum
- Shenzhen Reform and Opening-up Exhibition Hall
Shenzhen Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.
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4. Dapeng Ancient City – Longgang District
Located on Dapeng Peninsula, about an hour east of central Shenzhen, Dapeng Ancient City (sometimes called Dapeng Fortress) gives guests a rare glimpse into a traditional Chinese neighborhood. The walled city was built in the late-14th century to keep Japanese pirates and British invaders at bay. Today, visitors can stroll through winding alleyways to view ancient houses, fortress gates, temples and other artifacts. Guests can also stop by Shenzhen Dapeng Ancient City Museum to get in-depth information about the community.
The site is most noted for its granite and blue stone bricks, and some locals refer to the area as Pengcheng, meaning “the city of the mythological roc bird.” While the area is loved for its historical significance, many of the buildings now contain working restaurants, modern shops and trendy boutiques, making Dapeng Ancient City a well-rounded attraction in Shenzhen.
5. Nanshan Mountain – Nanshan District
Shenzhen might be recognized as an industrial city, but it also has its fair share of natural escapes, one of the best being Nanshan Mountain. The scenic peak on Shenzhen’s west coast towers over Shenzhen Danan Mountain Reform and Open Memorial Park and includes hikes to connected Danan Mountain and Xiaonanshan Park. Hikers can admire panoramic views of Shenzhen and see Neilingding Island, Shenzhen Bay and parts of Hong Kong.
The hike up Nanshan Mountain takes several hours and includes lots of resting spots along the way. The hiking trail contains stairs and is well marked, so even novice hikers can make the trek.
6. OCT-Loft – Nanshan District
Plan on spending at least half a day exploring contemporary art spaces, music shops, chic cafés and some of the city’s best bookstores in OCT-Loft. This industrial complex in Nanshan District started as a television factory and later was transformed into a hub for creative businesses. The massive complex, short for Overseas Chinese Town, covers several city blocks and contains dozens of local and international restaurants, design shops, cultural experiences and tea stores.
Guests should consider spending the night in the area as Overseas Chinese Town is nestled in the center of three of Shenzhen’s most scenic parks and green spaces. Book a room at City Inn Oct Loft and be within walking distance of Yanhanshan Country Park, Shenzhen International Garden and Flower Expo Park and Window of the World.
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7. Beaches at Dameisha Seaside Park & Xiaomeisha – Yantian District
Stretching more than a mile along the coast of Mirs Bay, Dameisha Seaside Park is a beach area known for its water sports, fresh seafood restaurants and relaxing sands. Visitors can rent a motorboat for a few hours, stretch out on a beach chair or ride horses along the shore.
Dameisha Seaside Park tends to fill up with locals and tourists on the weekends, so travelers looking for a little alone time should head up the road to Xiaomeisha, a resort area surrounded by mountains. The quieter beach is popular for diving, swimming and surfing and also is next door to Shenzhen Ocean World.
8. Luohu Commercial City – Luohu District
A popular daytrip attraction for Hong Kongers, Luohu Commercial City features more than 700 shops on five floors full of fashions, electronics, jewelry and replica wares. Travelers looking for name-brand products without designer price tags can find them at Luohu Commercial City in Luohu District. Not only can shoppers find all the goodies they need and want, but they also can sit down to a fabulous massage and 5-star meal while in the area.
9. Lianhuashan Park – Futian District
Fly a kite or sit by a lake in this relaxed green space in the middle of the city. Lianhuashan Park is one of Shenzhen’s most attractive getaways and is loved for its quiet reserves as well as its location in the central business district of Futian. Guests can relax under a shade tree by the water or trek up to the highest outdoor plaza in the city to get a view of the Shenzhen skyline.
The South Zone of the park features a coconut forest, complete with walking trails and resting benches, and Kite Square, on the southeast corner, is a popular place for children to fly kites or simply run off some energy in an open space.
The park is gorgeous year-round, but visitors who arrive in spring will catch more than 2,000 peach trees in full bloom.
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