News Why it’s known as China’s sleekest city – The...

Why it’s known as China’s sleekest city – The South African

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If you haven’t yet heard of Shenzhen, China’s glittery southern crown jewel, you’re far from alone and there’s probably a good reason too: Shenzhen is new, in every sense of the word, especially in a country prized for their ancient wonders and long string of unique histories.

Shenzhen only truly started being transformed around 40 years ago, having started off as an underdeveloped, albeit large, fishing community. Now, a sprawling, developed and affluent metropolis — one of the richest cities in the world — and known as China’s most innovative city, Shenzhen offers visitors more than captivating Chinese culture and city-vibes (although, these are often quite enough to draw travellers).

SHENZHEN BORDERS HONG KONG

Shenzhen is located in Guangdong, a Southern Chinese province, bordering autonomous Hong Kong.

In fact, a fifteen-minute speed train ride is all that is needed to transport you directly from Shenzhen’s city centre to the heart of Hong Kong. Several other border crossings exist, including one in the form of a ferry, and three pedestrian crossings, allowing visitors to easily flit between cities.

This ease of access allows Shenzhen to easily be carved into itineraries juxtaposed to infamous Hong Kong, and, for its close proximity to one of Asia’s economic hubs, China has declared Shenzhen a Special Economic Zone.

SHENZHEN ATTRACTIONS

It’s hard to bore in Shenzhen, with a surprising number of tourist attractions, all carefully inset amongst traditional Chinese living, without sacrificing cultural nuances.

If you’re looking to absorb some crazy Asian bustle, DongMen Pedestrian Street houses rows of shops, hundreds of busy, chatty shoppers, an exotic street-food market where you can feast on anything from scorpions to insects, underground markets with bargain clothing finds, a selection of popular commercial international names and riveting Chinese-centric stores and entertainment.

Theme parks, though not as well-known as the parks in neighbouring Hong Kong, provide thrill-seekers with their doses of adrenaline, while the cultural theme parks serve as fascinating educational experiences.

Window of the World is a popular attraction, a theme park that contains over a hundred replicas of the world’s tourist attractions, from the Egyptian Pyramids to the Louvre. Travellers leaning towards a refined alternative, can indulge in a mesmerising art scene, from trendy complexes designed to promote art culture, to Dafen Oil Painting Village, an area that produces the most number of oil paintings in the world.

Here, oil paintings depicting any and every landscape may be purchased, while talented craftsmen line the streets producing almost perfect copies of the world’s most famous canvases.

TECH-HUB OF THE WORLD AND LARGEST ELECTRONICS MARKET

Shenzhen is famed for its electronics goods output; producing, developing and replicating millions of devices and electronics, and, often earning its title as the Silicon Valley of Asia.

The Chinese tech industry’s largest names, such as Huawei and Tencent (the owner of WeChat) all call Shenzhen home.

Travellers can bask in the vast amount of electronics and swoop in on bargains in the world’s largest electronic goods market, known as Huaqiangbei (the name of the area and the market too), which hosts a number of electronics malls and markets.

Clever and nifty duplicates of some of the most expensive devices can be found, as well as the real things, for a portion of the South African price. Computer chips, software, every model of laptop ever, handheld devices and individual parts can all be sourced here. Ensure that the language of the device purchased is changed to English in the store, to avoid future complications.

WORLD-CLASS ARCHITECTURE IN SHENZHEN

Besides housing two of the tallest buildings in the world (The IFC Ping An Centre is currently, the fourth tallest, and the KK100 the 22nd), Shenzhen houses various architectural gems.

In a city that evidently cares about art, intrigue and craftiness, a stroll through the Shenzhen’s Children Park area, with buildings lit up in all the right places, mirrored reflections and calculated curves in buildings all hone in together to provide a breathtaking backdrop, especially at night.

Meanwhile, OCT-Loft, an upmarket art and design scene, is a factory-turned museum, gallery and boutique area. With trendy cafes, street-art and carefully selected exhibits, this area will certainly transport you to another dimension.

PRACTICALITIES

Shenzhen is home to a top-notch international airport, receiving arrivals from innumerable international destinations.

The most popular way to reach the city from far abroad, is, however, via the Hong Kong border crossings.

English is uncommon, and it may be extremely difficult to individually navigate through the streets and, even, to your hotel, without organising an airport or border pick-up in advance and a tourist guide or translator.

While bargain finds, local foods and city transport on the efficient, clean and sophisticated metro are all affordable, prepare to pay more than the average for accommodation and day-to-day expenses in Shenzhen.


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