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10 Helpful and Amazing Shenzhen Facts for Travelers

Shenzhen location map
  • Location: Southeast China, next to Hong Kong
  • Population (urban area): 12.5M in 2018
  • Chinese: 深圳 Shēnzhèn /shnn-jnn/ 'Deep Drainage Ditches'

Shenzhen was just 40 years ago a region of fishing towns and swamp, and now it is China's 7th biggest city and the main gateway city for foreign travelers. It is a city with a laid-back feel and an excellent place for tourist sightseeing with convenient trains and buses for onward travel inland.

You might know it is China's main electronics manufacturing and export city, but did you know it is considered the second financial capital and is China's most affluent big city? It has convenient transportation and amusement parks, beaches, and mountain parks for tourists. 

Here are 10 interesting and useful facts for you if you're already planning your trip to Shenzhen, or if you're just starting to think about it.

1. From mudflats to megacity, Shenzhen grew 50x in 40 years!

ShenzhenShenzhen night view

In the four decades since it received special economic administrative status in 1980, the population grew by 19.5 million people! In the late 1970s, there were a few towns with several hundred thousand people.

Shenzhen is China's 7th largest city measured by urban area with about 12.5 million registered inhabitants in 2018. Counting unregistered workers and others, the total population is 20 million!

Statisticians regard Shenzhen to be part of the world's biggest megacity, the Guanzhou metroplex, with 44 million people including Foshan and Dongguan. The new metro and bullet train lines help to make these cities feel like one big city.

  • Area: 2,050 km2 (790 sq mi)
  • Population density: 6,100/km2 (16,000 per sq mi)

2. Shenzhen has some of China's tallest buildings.

shenzhenThe KK100 in Luo Hu is the second tallest in Shenzhen

Ping An IFC: It is the world's 4th tallest building (2018) and China's second tallest, with a world-class observation deck at 550 meters (1,804 feet), mall, and the world's second highest luxury hotel. Visitors enjoy the mall's restaurants and the view.

KK100: About 4 km away, the 442-meter (1,450-foot) KK100 is the second tallest in Shenzhen and the world's 22nd tallest. It's observation deck gives a good view of the sea. It is rated #10 of Best Things to Do on TripAdvisor.

More on China's 10 Tallest Skyscrapers — About Half of the World's Top 20

3. Shenzhen's parks and beaches are popular.

Shenzhen's outdoor places are the most popular places in Shenzhen according to tourist ratings such as TripAdvisor.

Shenzhen has mountains, hills, and beaches. The mountains are places to sightsee the city scenery and exercise. For example, Wutong Mountain (梧桐山 Wútóng Shān; #2 of Things to Do on TripAdvisor) is the second tallest mountain in the Pearl River Delta after Hong Kong's Tai Mo Shan.

In the urban city parks, you can see and meet the local people and appreciate the scenery. See more on these on Free Things to Do in Shenzhen.

4. Shenzhen is great for Cantonese cuisine.

baiqiejiWhite-cut chicken (baiqie ji), prepared simply by boiling, is an example of a light but delicious Cantonese main course.

You really shouldn't be leaving Shenzhen without trying the popular local Cantonese cuisine dishes.

Dim sum is popular for midday snacks and meals. For breakfast, try congee, a common breakfast food, if you want to taste what the locals eat for breakfast.

As China's melting pot, you can find almost every type of Chinese food. If want to know more, check out Shenzhen Food.

5. Shenzhen is excellent for bargains on manufactured products.

If you want to shop for any electronics or any kind of product, you can go to the major markets. The Huaqiangbei electronics goods market is the biggest and best in the world and world famous among buyers. There are eight electronic goods markets in this area, and the most famous is the SEG computer market with 72 floors. The first eight floors are packed with dealers for both software and hardware. You can find everything from cutting-edge microchips to tablets.

The sellers try to make an extra profit from tourists, and there is a language barrier, so it is a good idea to have a local with you to help you translate and get good buys. Remember that Shenzhen is noted for cheats and dishonest operators, so understand the technology that you want.

See Shenzhen Shopping for more on wholesale markets, tourist shopping streets, and the popular malls.

6. Shenzhen has four popular theme parks.

 happy valleyWindow of the World has miniature replicas of famous places.

After the mountain parks and beaches, foreign tourists most like the theme parks. Four quite popular theme parks are in the Huaqiaocheng area (深圳市南山区华侨城) of Nanshan around Window of the World (世界之窗).

These parks are not of the scale or quality of Hong Kong's Ocean Park, but they are all rated as among the 20 Top Things to Do in Shenzhen by tourists on TripAdvisor.

  • Window of the World is a theme park with miniature replicas of famous places. Take metro Line 1 and get off at Window of the World Station (世界之窗站).
  • Happy Valley is a kids amusement park that strangely showcases health and fitness and world cultures. Rated #14 of Things to Do on TripAdvisor
  • China Folk Culture Village has dancers and musicians and artists representing China's various ethnic people groups. Rated #7 on TripAdvisor
  • Splendid China has replicas of famous places in China. It is a part of China Folk Culture Village.

7. The best time to visit Shenzhen is autumn.

shimen national forest park Shimen National Forest Park in nearby Guangzhou is best for hikes in fall.

Shenzhen can get hot and rainy in the summer, but it's climate is mild and usually sunny from September through December after the rains and monsoon weather ends. Avoid national holidays.

Typhoons are rare — once in two years on average. Hong Kong Typhoon Season.

See more on Shenzhen Weather.

8. Shenzhen's air quality is good for such a large Chinese city.

If you've only ever heard about Beijing's pollution on the news, you might be concerned about the air quality in Shenzhen. But because it is along the coast, the air quality is among the best of any Chinese city, even those much smaller.

For comparison, Shenzhen's air quality is rated higher than that of nearby Guangzhou. The area around Shenzhen and Guangzhou used to have smokey factories spewing out fumes, but these have been moved and/or controlled. Pollution is worse in January and February.

Shenzhen is one of the 5 Best Destinations in China for Air Quality.

9. Shenzhen is China's richest city.

shenzhen

Shenzhen is Mainland China's most affluent city with a per-capita income of about 26,000 USD, 4,000 USD more than Guangzhou, but still less than half that of Hong Kong. For comparison, Beijing's per-capita income is only 17,000 USD.

Tens of thousands of foreign buyers are there from all over the world to source products, and it is now Mainland China's second most important center for finance after Shanghai.

  • 2018 GDP: 2.24 trillion yuan (332 billion USD)

10. Shenzhen has excellent transportation and visa-free access.

Shenzhen Baoan International AirportShenzhen Baoan International Airport

With tens of millions passing back and forth between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, it is the official 'Gateway to China', and the local government has been upgrading the transportation connections. It is becoming an increasingly popular way in to visit the whole Mainland with a new bullet line soon connecting Hong Kong to Shenzhen and Beijing.

Shenzhen Baoan International Airport is the 5th busiest in China.

HK Border Crossing Points: There are three for pedestrian crossing (Luohu, Futian, Huanggang), one for ferries to/from Hong Kong (Shekou), and an automobile-only crossing point. See Border Crossings and Ports to Hong Kong.

Rail:  High-speed train travel to Guangzhou and many cities, and overnight rail links are available.

  • 8 subway lines cover a total length of 286 km (178 mi).
  • 5 major train stations: Shenzhen (Luohu)North, West, Futian, and East. All of these except the West Station allow bullet train travel.
  • Bullet train travel is especially fast and convenient now for Guilin and several other popular regional attractions.

Now, the Guangdong 144-hour visa-free travel policy makes it easy for travelers to enjoy the whole big province and shop for 6 days. See Shenzhen Transportation>>>

Planning Your Shenzhen Tour

Wutong MountainWutong Mountain is a popular hiking spot, towering above Shenzhen's phenomenal high-rise growth.

Most visitors to Shenzhen also visit nearby Guangzhou. We can tailor your tour as you wish.

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