JOIN US IN AN INTERVIEW WITH BRITTANY HARRIS FROM SHENZHEN, CHINA !
Brittany Harris is a full time travel blogger living in Shenzhen with her family for over six years. She was born and raised in a small town in California. While in college, she moved to Taiwan to learn Mandarin Chinese. She loves exploring new countries and learning about different cultures. Join her at Asia Undiscovered as she share her experiences in China and throughout Southeast Asia.
Shenzhen is considered as China’s richest city. It lies in the Guangdong Province and has a population close to 14,000,000 people.
Shenzhen which earlier began as an area of fishing villages is now one of the most advanced and modern cities in Mainland China. It is famous for its nightlife and myriad of theme parks such as the Window of the World which has 130 replicas of world wonders squeezed into just 118 acres of space., Splendid China Folk Village, Fold Culture Village, and Happy Valley.
Moreover it’s known as the Silicone Valley of China and is home to Ten Cent, maker of China’s most widely used social media app and Huawei, one of the world’s largest smart phone makers.
What is the best time to visit Shenzhen?
Shenzhen has a subtropical climate with plenty of sunshine and rainfall all year round. Summers in Shenzhen can get incredibly humid with soaring temperatures while Winters are extremely short. Hence, the best time to visit Shenzhen is in the Spring (February to April) and Autumn (October to January). Firstly, the weather is very pleasant and secondly, pollution is a lot less too during these seasons.
Which is the most convenient and favored transport of Shenzhen?
Shenzhen’s metro system is fantastic!
The subways maps and instructions are in both Chinese and English. Moreover, passengers aren’t allowed to eat or drink on the train. Because of this, it’s one of the cleanest subway systems I’ve used.
The Shenzhen taxi system is also great and very easy for foreigners to use. Electric taxis are plentiful and taxi fare in China is much cheaper compared to other countries.
Getting to and from the airport is easiest and cheapest by subway. Last year a new subway line was opened that takes you directly to the airport in half the time. Further, if you want to sit first-class you can buy a first-class subway ticket for very inexpensive, as little as 10 USD.
Another option to get to the airport is to go by taxi. Taxis are easy to find but since the airport is located outside the city, the taxi fare will be more expensive than taking the subway or a bus.
Although there are plenty of buses in the city, the bus stops are mainly in Chinese and taking the bus to the airport takes twice as long as the subway and taxi.
What are the top three must visit places in Shenzhen?
Sea World, not to be confused with the American aquatic park, is a popular destination for both locals and foreigners in the Shekou area of Shenzhen. It is easily accessible by metro with its own station on line 2 (Sea World station). Sea World starts from exit A of this station.
Sae World is a lovely shopping square located near the sea with tons of cafes, foreign restaurants, and sports bars. Once you are done exploring them you can head to the surrounding areas. The open air Gateway mall, Nanhai E Cool (old factory converted into a centre for creative companies) and the Design city museum. Additionally, there is an entertaining water show at night that people can enjoy for free.
If you want to experience traditional Chinese culture for a day, then Shenzhen’s ancient city, Gankeng Hakka Town is a must-see for tourists. It’s a small historical town with over 300 years of history which was once inhabitated by the Yao people but later became home to the Hakka people.
Gankeng Hakka Town has recently been expanded preserving the original Hakka buildings and culture. When there, check out the European-style railway station, art gallery where you can find several old pieces engraved with Chinese history and Liangmao Village which specializes in woven hat of bamboos with a veil.
Dafen Oil Painting Village is one of China’s most famous painting villages. Located in a suburb of Shenzhen, it was founded in 1989 by Huang Jiang, a painter from HongKong. It’s said that to fulfil clients orders he started recruiting and training others which slowly lead to the birth of this art producing village.
This painting village once produced an estimated 60 percent of the world’s oil paintings. Currently, there are 700 small business outlets and thousands of artists that work and live in the area. They mainly reproduce works by famous artists. This colorful village is a great place to spend the afternoon admiring unique and inexpensive art. You can even find them online.
What are the best day trips for nature, culture and history from Shenzhen?
Dapeng Fortress is a former military fortress located about a couple of hours outside the city center of Shenzhen towards the east. It covers an area of 110,000 square meters. The fortress was originally built in 1394 to protect the area from pirates. Presently it’s a popular tourist destination, where you can see antique city gates, temples and traditional folk houses. This place is great for buying traditional Chinese candy and jewelry. Additionally, there are several hidden streets and unique cafes you can explore. Also, it is in the coastal area making it a perfect getaway from the bustling city.
Nearby Dapeng Fortress is Jinshawan Beach, 金沙湾 or the Golden Sands Bay. It’s one of the newer developed beaches in Shenzhen China and it’s just recently opened to the public. The water is very clean and because Shenzhen has a subtropical climate the water stays warm for a long time. This means you can still enjoy a nice swim as late as November or December. It also offers view of Hong Kong’s Peng Chau island which is only 50kms away from it.
What is the most celebrated holiday of the year in Shenzhen?
The biggest holiday in China is without a doubt Chinese New Year. Local people begin months in advance preparing for this holiday.
However, most people in Shenzhen are not originally from Shenzhen and go back to their hometown to celebrate the New Year festival. Because of this, during Chinese New Year Shenzhen is like a ghost town. Very few locals are around and most businesses are closed for at least a couple of weeks.
What is the most loved local food, savory and sweet of Shenzhen?
The number one food to try in Shenzhen is Hot Pot. Hot pot is a Chinese cooking method that involves using a hot electric bowl filled with broth and adding ingredients such as vegetables and meat. For those of you familiar with fondue cooking it’s like that. However, you add the food ingredients to a soup broth instead of to chocolate or cheese.
Depending on which part of China you visit, the flavor and method of cooking hot pot may vary. Another great thing about hot pot is you can have it either vegetarian or with meat.
Where to head for shopping in Shenzhen?
If you love hunting for bargains or want to look for souvenirs to bring back home and don’t mind the overall craziness that comes with many traditional Asian markets, you’ll love Dongmen Market Shenzhen. Get down at Laojie Station using the Luobao Line and Shaibu Station when on Longgang Line.
Dongmen Market Shenzhen also known as Dongmen Pedestrian Street, 老东门上场 is Shenzhen’s largest outdoor market. It’s a famous shopping destination where you can find anything from cheap prescription glasses to New Balance knockoffs. There are several multi level malls there for shoes, clothing and fashion, all at wholesale rates. You can also shop at retail departmental stores like Rainbow and Sun Plaza for branded good quality products. For food there are several options ranging from Starbucks to street stalls. There is even a Cultural Palace amusement park to keep the kids busy.
Which is the local craft or souvenir of Shenzhen?
While there’s isn’t a specific craft you can only find in Shenzhen. This metropolis is known for its popular electronic market. Huaqiang North Electronic Market is a great place for buying reasonably priced computers, phones and electronic knockoffs.
Which are the best streets of Shenzhen worthy of taking a stroll on?
Overseas Chinese Town also is known as OCT, located near Windows of the World is a beautiful neighborhood that’s great for taking strolls in both the afternoon and evening. Moreover, there are several delicious Chinese and Korean restaurants to choose from.
Can you suggest a place from where one can get the best view of the city?
For a fantastic view of the Shenzhen skyline, you must visit the Pingan Finance building. It’s currently Shenzhen’s tallest building. It’s China’s second largest building and the fourth tallest building in the world.
The Pingan Finance Building is 115 storeys tall. There is an observation deck on the 116th floor called the Free Sky. And this is where you get the best view in Shenzhen.
Would you suggest any shows on music, culture or art to tourists?
Shenzhen concert hall is a great place to see world renowned orchestra, violinsts and pianists. It’s also an impressive piece of architecture that’s shaped like a glass pyramid which looks stunning when lit up.
If you’re an art lover, you’ll enjoy the Shenzhen art gallery. The Shenzhen art facility was originally built as a laundry building for the nearby hotel in the 1980s. Later however the owner decided to remodel the warehouse and it became the OCT Art and Design Gallery.
This gallery is China’s first gallery dedicated to design. It’s packed with holograms, animation, unique paintings, and sculptures.
Would you recommend any local apps for food, transport or hidden gems in Shenzhen?
Spoonhunt for food. It has an extensive database which helps you find restaurants in any neighbourhood. Plus food images and translated menus are a big help for tourists and non-native speakers.
For accessing Facebook, Google, Twitter and other websites use the app Lantern which bypasses the Chinese firewall. It gives you fast, reliable and secure access to the open internet.
Do you want to give any suggestion to tourists coming to Shenzhen?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if and when you get lost. Even though people in Shenzhen speak Chinese many of them are also bilingual in English. Moreover, Chinese people love talking to foreigners and are always willing to help.