You can go ahead and spit out the question that instantaneously oscillated inside your brain: Why Shenzhen? Of all the inordinately modernized cities in China, it wasn’t until 2007 did I ever know of Shenzhen’s existence. Back then, it was just a budding economy trying to make its mark on the planet and was beginning to climb the peak of esteem as a tourist destination.
A package quotation from a travel agency ignited my curiosity. I thought it was a bargain for the price offered considering that China tourist visa is one of the most arduous things to consummate. At that time, I got a week-long off from work, something that is ferociously impervious in my career. Itinerary plus the prospect of contriving an unfamiliar soil, it was a done deal!
Snippets of what you should know. . .
Point of compass
One of the richest in China, Shenzhen could be found in the province of Guangdong, merely 40 kilometers from the border of the equally bustling city, Hong Kong. It has been listed as the 5th most densely populated city in the world, with a whopping 14 million citizens inhabiting within it’s 2,050 square kilometers land area.
It is a humongous urban expanse as compared to the rural cities of Shanghai and Beijing and has been considered as one of China’s wealthiest and strongest Special Economic Zones. Their economy was strengthened by foreign investors, particularly on manufacturing and service industries.
Chinese Yuan (￥)
1 ￥ = approximately Php 6.5
1 ￥ = approximately US$ 0.16
Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport boasts of its futuristic and modern architectural design. It has both domestic and international flights. Although the airport is huge and technologically advanced, they only have limited international routes via airlines like Silk Air, Tiger Airways and Air Asia. Located in Huangtian and Fuyong Village in Bao’an, it occupies a 10 square kilometer land, 3400 meters of which is the length of its runway for aircraft.
This is the virtual model of Bao’an Airport during it’s construction in the 90’s. It officially opened on October 12, 1991. (Photo courtesy of Christian Nesset from Urbika)
What you need to get in
Remember one thing, this is China. Almost all foreign passport holders are required to apply for a VISA. Citizens of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and numerous European countries can obtain a single-entry permit (valid for 5 days) upon arrival on the borders which costs around ￥200 -￥1,000. However, travelers from the UK has a much higher rate, so make sure to check the schedule of fees before making your trip. US citizens are not included in this special 5-day visa, the immigration might even impose a fine for travelers arriving without the necessary entry requirements.
Full China Visa can also be applied by other nationalities in embassies to their respective countries. You can obtain a single or multiple visa entry valid for a year.
For more information about China Visa, please click this site: http://www.chinaembassy.org.sg/eng/lsqw/t582778.htm
1. Winter Melon Bowl of Soup – Nothing special really about this dish, it just wow-ed me on how creativity on food could entice your tongue & eyes and make every thing tastes so delightful. The ingredients mixed together are egg, minced pork, ham, dried mushrooms and chicken soup, all prepared in a winter melon before heating up in an oven.
2. Chilli Crab – A famous Chinese Chef was once interviewed in the Asian Food Channel and was asked what food will he eat if he is to die the next day, his answer was Chilli Crab, and I am with him on that page! This dish is so gratifying, you won’t notice how much you’ve eaten until your table is filled up with crab shells. The mud crabs are cooked in a tomato based, thick sauce and flavored with chilli.
3. Congee – There couldn’t be any more obvious sign that you are in China other than finding yourself enjoying a bowl of hot congee. Shenzhen streets are filled up with vendors offering different variety of this local favorite, and mine is the popular Minced Pork Congee with preserved egg. It’s so delicious and ridiculously cheap – a perfect guilty pleasure!
Spots never dare to miss. . .
I. Windows of the World
To wander around the wonders of the world in 2 hours or less, this is what Windows of the World makes possible for its visitors. At ￥140 admission fee, replicas of world famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Liberty Statue in New York, Sydney Opera House among others are showcased in a 480,000 square meter park. The whole area has spectacular lights at night, and the day ends with a wonderful fireworks display.
II. Happy Valley of Shenzhen
About 86 acres of pure fun and amusement, The Happy Valley is Shenzhen’s heaven for kids and adults who are looking for genial entertainment. There are 9 themed areas, each with sigh-seeing spots, shops and restaurants.
III. City Parks and Gardens
Over 20 public parks are scattered around the city, a distinct sign of Shenzhen’s wealth. The most central of these is the Lianhua Mountain Park located at the Futian District. It is a vast mountain area with lush greens where residents gather each morning to enjoy the view and fresh air.
Fairy Lake Botanical Gardens in Lian Tang Road, Luohu District houses the Hong Fa Temple and is considered the most peaceful and beautiful park in China.
IV. Sea World Shekou China
Just like so many tourists, I automatically thought of dolphins and sea creatures when i first heard of Sea World. Unlike the one in Australia, Sea World in Shenzhen is actually a big ship docked in the shore of Shekou named Minghua. It is filled with people enjoying tons of food choices from restaurants that serve all sorts of cuisine, from local Chinese to Western. It is a unique experience because of the festive mood you’ll get to feel once you board.
Strategically, Shenzhen has an ideal location on the world’s map. And although it lies between a quick city escape from Hong Kong and a gateway to China empire, I would strongly suggest that make an itinerary that will include Shenzhen as a mere stop along the way. Yes, there’s a ton lot of activities and sights to traverse here, BUT it can only take you 2-3 days max to experience every single bit of it. I say plan a holiday to either Hong Kong or Macau and then cross the border if you like. As much as I have grown fond of Shenzhen’s sophistication, remember how limited their International flights are, as they focus more on engaging to domestic travels. Or, if you have in your passport a China Visa, savor an extensive China tour and hop from one great city to the next.
An admirable thing about China major cities is their effort to create an efficient transportation for their people. Their railway system is so convenient that a subway map is made downloadable and one can always log on to their website for advance information about travel time, operating hours and train schedule.
And there goes the phenomenal language barrier. For a fact, there aren’t many people here who can actually understand and speak English. There are two options that can make your travel blunder free:
1. Hire an English speaking tour guide which I know will never go short of for many young college students in Shenzhen take this as part-time job.
2. Book a travel tour from a reliable agency who will take care of your whole stay.
By now I could imagine you struggling to find some inside information about Shenzhen shopping. Talking about cheap finds, this is the right place because you could snatch a great deal of items at a fraction of the cost as compared to Hong Kong. But I had a few godawful experiences, vendors will trick you and offer a price that might be doubled or tripled than the real one, but you could always apply your haggling skills. They usually use a calculator to key in their price offer, just be smart enough to type in a much lower digit and act as if you’re not that interested to buy, that way, I’m pretty sure your savings will pile up.
I am giving a rate of 7 for Shenzhen primarily because it’s a pit stop of true beauty, minus the pollution and pandemonium of nearby Hong Kong. This is an opulent city promising tourists of demonstrable Chinese heritage and an infallibly holiday alongside with nature. Include this in one of your China visits, after all, you don’t need a week-long stay to be able to delve into it, just pack your luggage and ferret out to a contemporary side of China that swanks of pure affluence and bliss.