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Shenyang Travel Guide - How to Plan a Trip to Shenyang

Shenyang Travel Guide - How to Plan a Trip to Shenyang

Written by Candice SongUpdated Nov. 13, 2023
Shenyang Imperial Palace Shenyang Imperial Palace

Shenyang is the capital of the northeastern province of Liaoning and the largest city in northern China by urban population (8.1 million).

It is known for its status as a leading industrial, commerce, and trade city. It is also home to impressive aspects of Chinese history that span thousands of years and include recent events that have shaped China's place in the global theater.

Shenyang has been given the title of "National Environmental Protection Model City" and "National Forest City", and was awarded one of the Top Ten Cities in China for two years running.


Shenyang is located in the center of Liaoning province. It is named for its position in relation to the Hun River (formally the Shen River). China's capital, Beijing, which sits to the southwest of Shenyang, can be reached by high-speed train on the Beijing–Harbin HSR in under 4 hours.

See more on Shenyang Transport and our Shenyang Maps to help you plan a visit.

Top Reasons to Visit Shenyang

  • 1) 144-hour Visa-Free City: For travelers transiting China via Shenyang's International Airport, Shenyang is an excellent city to plan a brief stop for an introductory trip to China's northeast.
  • 2) Northern Experience: The atmosphere in northeastern China varies greatly when compared with China's southern cities. Experience the warmth of the Dongbei (northeast) accent, cuisine, and people on your visit to Shenyang.
  • 3) Ancient History: Shenyang was the seat of the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty (1644–1912), and briefly the capital of China. The Shenyang Palace and Qing Emperor tombs are UNESCO World Heritage and very popular with tourists.
  • 4) Modern Expansion: With government investment, Shenyang has grown exponentially in recent years. Strong connections with foreign companies such as BMW, have led to an increase in foreigners and modern attractions.

The Top 9 Attractions

Shenyang Imperial Palace

1. Shenyang Imperial Palace

While less well known than the Forbidden City of Beijing, Shenyang's Imperial Palace was built by the first Qing Emperor in 1625. During the Manchu reign of the Qing Dynasty, Shenyang became the political and cultural center of all China. It is one of Shenyang's three UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Zhaoling Mausoleum

2. Zhaoling Mausoleum

There are two tombs of the former Qing Emperors located here and both are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Admission is 50 CNY for the basic tour and visitors can expect to spend plenty of time learning the history of these early Qing Dynasty Emperors.

Zhongshan Square

3. Zhongshan Square

Located in a busy part of the city, Zhongshan Square is also home to the tallest statue of Mao Zedong in the world. The buildings around the square predate the Japanese occupation and many were built by Japanese architects. The square is a gathering place and landmark for the people of Shenyang as well as visitors.

Xita Street

4. Korea Town

Due to Shenyang's close proximity to Korea, the love for Korean BBQ is strong throughout the city. In Xita, or Korea Town, visitors can find the best samplings of Korean cuisine to be found in China.

Xita is also home to many bars, malls, and markets featuring uniquely Korean goods. This a great place to start your exploration of Shenyang's Nightlife.


5. The 9.18 Historical Museum

Perhaps one of the most recent historical events to affect Shenyang directly, the 9.18 Museum commemorates the events surrounding

the Mukden Incident of 1931. The museum is unique in both architecture and presentation. Visitors can browse both Chinese and English accounts of the event. The reality of the Japanese invasion and occupation is still a strong memory for the city of Shenyang and is observed with a citywide moment of silence on the anniversary of the Mukden Incident.

Beiling Park

6. Beiling Park

The largest and most beautiful park in Shenyang is Beiling ('North Hill') Park. With a fee of only 5 CNY, it's well worth the price of admission.

Ancient Chinese gardens, pristine lakes filled with pink lotus, and plenty of space for outdoor activities makes the park a popular place to spend the afternoon in Shenyang.

Nanguan Catholic Church

7. Nanguan Catholic Church

The original church was built in 1861, but was destroyed during the Boxer Rebellion. The present church was rebuilt and is known as the Sacred Heart Cathedral of Shenyang. Mass is done in both Chinese and English and visitors are welcome to explore the church grounds daily.

Muslim Food Street

8. Muslim Food Street

This neighborhood is home to many members of China's Muslim minority groups and creates unique experience apart from mainstream China. The shop, markets, and restaurants here all feature Halal options and cultural goods worth perusing.

Shenyang Expo Garden

9. Shenyang Expo Garden

Built for China's International Horticultural Exposition in 2006, the Expo Garden is now a permanent fixture on the Shenyang landscape. The immaculate gardens and natural areas provide an escape from the industrial city center. Calm ponds and interactive obstacle courses mean that the Expo Garden has something to offer for everyone.

Best Times to Visit Shenyang

The best seasons for visiting Shenyang are the Spring, Summer, and Autumn. Shenyang is known for its cold and dry winters, but the warmer months of April-October offer excellent weather for viewing all that Shenyang has to offer. Be sure to check your travel dates against the dates to avoid traveling in China that may impact your travel plans.

Visa-Free Travel

Want a visa-free trip to Shenyang? Since January 1, 2019. Passengers from 51 countries/regions including the US, Canada, and most of the countries in Europe using Shenyang or Dalian's airports for transit are now allowed 6 visa-free days in Liaoning Province.

Plan Your Visit to Shenyang

Let China Highlights craft a unique northern China experience for you with a custom tour of Shenyang.

Or, consider adding a trip to Shenyang to one of our popular Beijing tours to personalize the experience.

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