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Shenzhen borders Hong Kong and offers convenient transportation to nearby countries. The city itself is also a growing tourism city. If you are planning a trip to Asia, Shenzhen is a wonderful layover city.
Just read on to see if you need a visa to stay in Shenzhen and what you can expect to do during your layover time.
At present, there are two policies for travelers to stay in Shenzhen for a period without applying for a full China visa: use the 144-hour visa-free transit policy or apply for a Visa on Arrival. Passport holders from certain countries can even enjoy a visa-free policy.
Passport holders from the following countries can visit mainland China without a visa for a period, and Shenzhen is included, of course.
This policy is valid for travelers from 53 specific countries who are transiting to a third country or region (Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan are each considered to be a third region). Travelers can stay within the whole of Guangdong Province (not just Shenzhen) for up to 144 hours (6 days).
If your nationality can enjoy this policy and you have planned to visit another country or region (such as Hong Kong or other Asian countries), using this policy is better than applying for a VOA.
Read detailed information about the 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit Policy as well as how to use it.
Travelers from any country that has diplomatic relations with China can get this visa in Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport. Getting this VOA is quick, convenient, and cheap.
This VOA allows you to travel within Shenzhen then leave for any country or region (including Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan) out of mainland China. However, you cannot use this visa to visit any other cities in China.
Check out the detailed information about the Shenzhen Visa on Arrival and how to apply for it.
If you have a long layover and have qualified for one of these visa-free policies, you can plan to leave the airport and explore Shenzhen.
You may need a layover of at least 8 hours to explore the city then set off for the airport at least 2 hours before your flight departs.
Here, we have listed some activities to do during your layover. They don’t need too much time and effort to experience but can offer a glimpse at the city and its development history.
Time needed: 1 hour
When ascending a skyscraper in Shenzhen, it might be hard to imagine that the view below used to be small fishing villages decades ago. Enjoying a bird’s-eye view is the easiest and quickest way to get to know the city.
The following skyscrapers are suggested:
Time needed: 2–3 hours
Shenzhen is a good shopping opportunity next to Hong Kong. The better buys include electrical appliances, digital products, clothing produced in China, and jewelry.
Shopping in Shenzhen is not just about buying items but is a good way to get to know the city from another perspective. The shopping areas or malls listed below may interest you.
Check out more information about Shenzhen Shopping.
Time needed: ½ hour
Shenzhen is nowhere near being a gastronomical capital like Hong Kong but you'll find cuisines from all over China due to the migration of large numbers of people from across the country.
Shenzhen’s local dishes are refreshing and tasty, and you are advised to try them. There are also many Asian restaurants and Western-style restaurants. They are notably less expensive than those in Hong Kong.
Time needed: 2 hours
When you step away from the downtown area, you will discover the urban villages of Shenzhen. Today, 60% of the population in Shenzhen lives in over 1,000 urban villages.
Different from the slums in some countries and cities, the urban villages in Shenzhen are not about being dirty and disorderly but are lively places for people who go to Shenzhen to realize their dreams.
Here are some urban villages for you to visit:
Time needed: 4 hours
Although the theme parks in Shenzhen are not world class like the ones in Hong Kong, they are fun options to spend a day or half a day in, or when you are traveling with your kids.
They are clustered just north of Shenzhen Bay around Window of the World. You can take Metro Line 1 or 2 to Window of the World Station.
In Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport, there are layover and overnight rest areas on the second floor of the terminal. There are also 24-hour restaurants and stores to suffice for a short rest.
If you are holding airline tickets for a business-class seat or first-class seat, you can use the VIP rest areas on the third and fourth floors of the terminal. There are dining areas, reading areas, Internet cafés, children’s areas, tea bars, and massage chairs.
There are no sleeping cabins in the rest areas mentioned above. If you want some sleep, there are two hotels in the airport terminal for you:
Two metro lines connect Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport, namely Line 1 (Airport East Station) and 11 (Airport North and Airport Station).
Taking Line 1, you can get to the central districts of Futian and Luohu. You can also get to Luohu District on Line 11.
You may also take a taxi, which is faster than the metro during non-rush hours.
By metro, you can get to downtown Futian in about 40 minutes and to downtown Luohu in about 1 hour. The cost is 7 to 8 yuan.
If you take a taxi, it will take you about 30 minutes to reach Futian District and about 50 minutes to get to Luohu District. The cost is 100 to 150 yuan.
You are advised to set aside at least 2 hours to return to the airport to ensure you don’t miss your flight.
During the rush hours of 8 to 9am and 5 to 6pm, taking a taxi may not always be faster than taking the metro. Allow one more hour in rush hours.
Having a private tour for your layover time is recommended as you can choose the time we pick you up/see you off at the airport as well as your preferred experiences.
You will have an experienced guide and a private car to take you around and ensure you return to the airport on time.
Check out our most popular Shenzhen tour for inspiration:
Or contact us to create your unique itinerary.