Despite a population of over twelve million, Shenzhen, China is still very much a city in the midst of prosperous growth. The former fishing village of a few dozen thousand has been bursting at the seams ever since being designated as China’s first Special Economic Zone forty years ago. Today, “the Silicon Valley of the East” offers several landmarks and sites worth visiting, as well as lesser known nooks and crannies. Further, the metropolis is comfortably located between two other megacities – Hong Kong and Guangzhou – in Southeast Asia, making it all the more appealing for adventurers.
Shenzhen offers a surprising amount of outdoor scenery for nature lovers. Wutong Mountain, the highest point in the city at 3,100 feet / 9,000 meters, literally stands above the rest. Trails of varying difficulty are available, so hikers of all abilities are encouraged to take a few hours out of their day to embrace the incredible view from the top. Lianhuashan Park yields another opportunity to soak in Shenzhen’s natural side.
The park is massive, which may sound daunting, but is in fact ideal because it means that a bit of everything is available. A long but easy hike to the top will allow you to have a great view of the Futian District overlooking the unique architecture of the Civic Center. If you’re not interested in hiking, you can take a boat ride on the pond, fly kites in the open fields, or simply relax at any of the many spots throughout. Shenzhen Bay Park is a beautiful place to go for a stroll, run, or bike ride. The park will likely be less crowded during the day, but the night brings the benefit of seeing Hong Kong lit up in bright lights from across the water.
If you’re feeling touristy, pay a visit to Window of the World. The theme park offers scaled-down models of many of the world’s most popular destinations, including the Eiffel Tower, Sydney Opera House, the Grand Canyon, and many more. Nearby “Shenzhen Happy Valley” is a great spot for adrenaline junkies to visit. The theme park hosts nine distinct sections, each providing various amusement park thrills from water rides to 4D films and everything in between. For Chinese history and culture buffs, China Folk Culture Village (a section of the bigger Overseas Chinese Village theme park) is the world’s largest and most in-depth miniature theme park. Similar to Window of the World, CFCT displays replicas of famous attractions found throughout China, as well as twenty-five full-scale ethnic villages.
While Shenzhen has plenty to offer everyone from all walks of life, it is only the beginning of the region’s opportunities. You can travel to Hong Kong from Shenzhen via a brand new high-speed train in just eighteen minutes! Pay a visit to Disneyland in Hong Kong, enjoy a breathtaking view of the city from Victoria Peak, or cruise along Victoria Harbour itself along a Star Ferry ride.
If you’d prefer to stay in mainland China, take a 30-minute ride on the high-speed train to Guangzhou, the capital of the Guangdong Province. While there, enjoy the wonders of the Chimelong International Circus, play with the pandas at Chimelong Safari Park, and catch a show at Guangzhou Opera House.
Big city life getting to be too overwhelming for you? Spend three hours on the speed train to the Guilin Mountains, where you can cruise along the Li River aboard bamboo rafts. The scenery, with its cascading karsts and natural serenity, brings to mind the famous Ha Long Bay in Vietnam.
Speaking of, Shenzhen is a great location for international Southeastern Asia travel as well. Affordable flights are available from either Shenzhen International Airport or Hong Kong International Airport. In the first three months of my being in Shenzhen, I have flown to Vietnam to split a week in Hanoi and Ha Long Bay, as well as to Thailand to spend a weekend at a Gaelic football tournament in Bangkok. I also have flights booked to visit Phuket, Luang Prabang, and Kuala Lumpur in the coming months! For as much as Shenzhen has to offer throughout its own streets, there is also so much more to explore beyond – all at very affordable prices! True to Shenzhen’s most popular attraction, use the city as your own “window to the world” and adventure one of the best corners on the planet!