Shenzhen By Day
Secondary and senior CNET, Abbey Johnson, tells us how best to explore Shenzhen in just 24 hours.
Even though Hong Kong is one of China’s SARs (special administrative regions), it can sometimes feel like a daunting task to travel to the mainland. Often, a weekend in China is tragically overlooked for easier options, such as Macau or Taiwan. However, there is a way to do China in 24 hours by going to Shenzhen, Hong Kong’s closest neighbouring city. With a population of 12.5 million people, Shenzhen is one of China’s Special Economic Zones and is not a popular haunt for tourists. This is a shame, as Shenzhen has a lot more to offer than fake Gucci bags and cheap electronics. We’ll take you through where to explore in 24 hours in Shenzhen, as well as how to navigate crossing the potentially tricky border.
The journey to the mainland from Hong Kong is an easy one; hop on the light blue MTR line at Mong Kok East, Hung Hom or Kowloon Tong and travel all the way up to Lo Wu, the only place you can enter China without a standard visa. Upon arrival at the Cross-Border MTR station, apply for a 5-day visa on arrival. This will take around 30 minutes and will cost under $300 if you hold a British passport. Once you’ve received your paperwork and crossed the border, you’ll find yourself inside Shenzhen’s version of the MTR, which is just as clean and efficient as its Hong Kong counterpart. Unfortunately, your trusty Octopus card will not work, so buying single-ride tickets is definitely the way to go. Make sure to bring some local currency, as the MTR will only accept 50 and 100 RMB notes or small coins.
Once you’ve got your visa and your MTR ticket, it’s time to explore. Unlike the cramped Hong Kong city centre, Shenzhen has considerably more space. In the middle of town, there is a large cultural district that is an excellent place to start your morning. Start at the bottom of the promenade at the Children’s Museum and wander up the large walkway, stopping at the Concert Hall and numerous fountains on the way. At the very top, you’ll find the scenic Lianhuashan Park. This park is full of activity; families fly their kites here, there is open-air karaoke, and even a marriage market, where families negotiate arranged marriages for their single children. If you’re in the mood for an easy hike, follow the winding stairs that coil around a small hill and you’ll find a statue of Deng Xiaopeng at the top, the ‘mastermind’ behind Shenzhen’s economic success. This is the best view of the city and you’ll be sure to get your holiday instagram here.
|Abbey in the cultural district|
After lunch at one of the park’s street food vendors, head further out into the city for an interesting look into one of Shenzhen’s lesser-known industries; replica paintings. Dafen Village is home to artists whose job is to produce exact copies of famous paintings by hand. If you wander along the busy streets, artists will be recreating works such as Starry Night or even the Mona Lisa. You can buy small, hand-painted souvenirs or even take some art home with you (after some fierce haggling). If art isn’t your thing, head to Window of the World for a trip around the planet in less than 2 hours. This theme park has all of the great wonders of the world in scale-model form, as well as some rides and cultural activities.
Exploring can be tiring work, which is why we recommend finishing the day in one of Shenzhen’s many spas. Ease tired feet with a foot massage or, if you’re particularly knackered, then go for a full body. There are a lot of 24 hour spas to choose from, so you can stay as late as you like. Queen’s Spa is an affordable option, with lots of treatments on offer.
After 24 hours in Shenzhen, the MTR trip back to Hong Kong is almost jarring; Mandarin is swapped for Cantonese and everything seems to get a little bit closer together. However, one of the best parts about a 24-hour Shenzhen getaway is the short commute home, and the promise that you can always go back whenever you fancy escaping Hong Kong.