Shenzhen

Shenzhen (深圳; Shēnzhèn) is one of the most populous and richest cities in China. It is situated in Guangdong, China on the Hong Kong border about 40 km north of Hong Kong Central and approximately 100 km south of Guangzhou. The city is on the list of UNESCO Creative Cities.

Downtown

Understand

In 1979, Shenzhen then a group of farming and fishing communities along the Hong Kong border with a total population of a few hundred thousand was designated the first of China's Special Economic Zones (SEZs). The plan was to create a sealed off enclave to experiment with market reforms and performance incentives without posing a threat or risk to the established political and economic system elsewhere in China. Shenzhen won the honor because of its proximity to the abundant capital resources and management expertise across the border in Hong Kong. Since then, it has been a real boom town and today is a bustling city of 14 million.

A 2010 study conducted by Forbes magazine ranks Shenzhen's population density as the 5th highest in the world. Shenzhen also boasts the highest per capita GDP in China, pulling in an impressive USD 13581 in 2009, but this is hotly disputed due to the method whereby the population figure is derived. But many observers also point out that, given the preponderance of privately held companies in Shenzhen and the widespread avoidance of tax, it is highly likely that the GDP figure is also severely understated. A walk around Shenzhen's leafy western suburbs will quickly allay any doubts as to the wealth in the city.

Although little visited by international tourists, Shenzhen is a popular destination for Chinese domestic tourists. They were originally attracted by its famous theme parks but as the city has developed and become richer they are increasingly drawn by Shenzhen's famous architecture, shopping, bars, restaurants and active art scene. Shenzhen's beaches have become famous throughout China. In 2006, the Dapeng Peninsula, the location of Shenzhen's best beaches, was nominated by the China National Geographic Magazine as one of the most beautiful coastlines in China. Visitors are also starting to recognize some fascinating historical sites, particularly those related to the Hakka culture and Hong Kong's annexation after the Opium Wars, which are scattered throughout the suburban area.

From a climate perspective, the best time to visit Shenzhen is October to December when the weather is pleasantly cool. Shenzhen has a sub-tropical climate with incredibly high humidity combined with soaring temperatures in the summer. For many, this is a season to avoid. The long intense summer also coincides with the typhoon season from June to October. Spring is cooler but is often afflicted by fog and heavy thunderstorms.

The question of the population of Shenzhen is a hotly discussed one. Official Chinese population figures have been traditionally affected by the fact that the basis for reporting is those who have official registration or "hukou" in the city. Shenzhen has many immigrant workers whose hukou are for their home town or village, so "official" numbers are wildly low. An advance on this front came a couple of years ago when, for practical purposes, "hukou" was replaced by a residents' registration certificate. This certificate, which is cheap and easy to administer, and which allows for travel to Hong Kong without returning to one's place of origin for passport application, has made population counting easier. The Shenzhen Statistics Bureau in April 2010, as of end 2009, says that Shenzhen has an official resident population of 8.91 million, out of which 2.41 million have legal household (hukou) status. The official Family Planning Bureau which bases its figure on police registration data gives the population as 14 million. Note that unlike Shanghai and Beijing which have large rural populations, all of Shenzhen's population is classified as urban

Get in

Visa

See the China page for more general information for entering mainland China.

Shenzhen is unique in that if you are travelling from Hong Kong and as long you remain in the Shenzhen special economic zone, you will not need a full China Mainland Visa. You can apply instead for a 'Special Economic Zone Tourism Visa' at the border between Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Do note that this type of visa restricts you to Shenzhen itself, so do not attempt onward travel into mainland China with it. Currently this visa is available for nationals of almost all countries, with the notable exceptions of the United States, France, the Philippines and India.

Certain nationalities arriving from Hong Kong can obtain a single-entry five-day Special Economic Zone Tourism Visa on arrival for ¥168-¥1,000. At the Luohu border (罗湖口岸), the office is immediately upstairs after clearing the Hong Kong immigration and customs. It is open 09:00-23:30 seven days a week and only accepts RMB for payment. It can be reached at +86 755-8232-7700 for enquiries. Note that the charge for UK passport holders is much higher at ¥469 for a five-day Shenzhen-only visa, while it costs only ¥168 for most other nationalities. Irish travelers are sometimes charged the same exorbitant UK fee when they are unlucky enough to get a border official who is unaware that the UK and Ireland are different countries. US passport holders are not eligible for this scheme and may even get fined for arriving without a valid visa! The same five-day visas are also available on arrival at the Huanggang and Shekou border offices. There is no visa-on-arrival office at the Futian border. The reason for the differing fees is that Chinese visa fees are set on a reciprocal basis.

It is worthwhile to point out here that even though the Huanggang (皇岗口岸) and Futian (福田口岸) borders are only a few hundred meters apart, they are different land crossings that connect to different points in Lok Ma Chau on the Hong Kong side. Huanggang connects to the 24-hour Lok Ma Chau Control Point, while Futian connects to the Lok Ma Chau MTR station.

Besides the five-day SEZ visa, you may also apply for a full China visa (single and double entry only) at the Luohu border. This visa can be obtained only between the hours of 09.30-16.30. Again, UK passport holders are expected to pay more and US passport holders are not entertained at all. It is better to apply for a one year multiple entry visa at any consulate in the US for $140. For US passport holders, the length of the visa will depend on the previous visas that have been issued. The first visa will be double entry, the second will be six month multiple entries, and so forth. If you have an old Chinese visa in another passport, it will be helpful to include the old passport in the visa application.

Getting a tourist visa in Hong Kong by applying in person at the visa office now takes 3–4 days and costs HK$150–1,100. A list of costs is available. The old approach of arriving in Hong Kong and immediately applying for a visa is no longer worth the time and cost, as you will face expensive hotel bills in Hong Kong until your visa is granted. Macau's visa office is less crowded and the hotels are a bit cheaper, but it takes just as long. In general, only single and double entry visas are granted to visitors without HKID cards, although foreigners with previous entries into the mainland and Hong Kong student or work visa holders have been known to be approved for multiple entries.

Note that many Hong Kong travel agencies (such as CTS) offer a faster visa turnaround service for a fee. If you need to get a visa faster than using the public visa office method and are willing to pay then this would be your best option.

In addition, a travel agency has some capacity to 'negotiate' on the length of your visa. You might apply for a one year visa and have that rejected, however they may well be able to get a shorter one for you instead (i.e. 6 months) which is much better than nothing.

You can get a taxi van from Hong Kong International Airport to Shenzhen via the Huanggang border for HK$150. This fee includes ferrying you onwards to some destination within Shenzhen (e.g. hotels) after you have cleared the China immigration, but do clarify with the airport service counter staff first. Well worth it if you have a valid visa.

By air

There are three options for getting to Shenzhen from abroad. Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport is the closest, followed by nearby Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport and Hong Kong International Airport are larger alternatives offering more flights and destinations.

Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport has domestic and international flights. Metro line 1 connects the airport to downtown Shenzhen in 50 minutes, (¥5.7).

In addition to domestic flights, the airport also serves limited international flights from the following destinations:

There is also a helicopter service from Terminal Marítimo in Macau to Shenzhen Airport, though it is very expensive.

Taxis to central Futian are approximately ¥100 and to Luohu approximately ¥150 including tolls.

Airport Shuttle Bus Price is ¥20 and it will take you directly into the downtown Shenzhen. You should mark down the Schedule Table, so as not to miss the bus. Note that there might not be English services on the Airport Shuttle Bus.

Shenzhen Metro Shenzhen Metro Luobao Line has a station directly in front of Terminals A and B at Bao'an Airport. While taking this Metro line to the City Centre is very slow, it's the cheapest way and it provides stops at suburban areas such as Bao'an Centre Station.

  1. From Luohu check point to Hualian Mansion, in addition to taxi, one can take No. 215 and get off at the station of "Xinhua Hotel" or take No.25 and No. 12 and get off at the station of "Technology Gallery".
  2. One who holds the ticket of FM, MF, 3C and HU gets off at waiting hall of terminal A. And the passengers who hold the tickets of ZH, CA, MU, SC and international flights get off at waiting hall of terminal B.

Transportation from Hong Kong International Airport to Shenzhen

Public transport. A cheap and quite comfortable way to Shenzhen is to take the Airport Express train from Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) to Tsing Yi, then the Tung Chung underground line to Lai King, then the Tsuen Wan Line to Prince Edward, then the Kwun Tong Line to Kowloon Tong and then the East Rail suburban rail line to Lo Wu. This costs in total HK$60 (the Airport Express fare only, because free transfers are permitted along the way) and takes 78 minutes to Lo Wu. Another option is to take the bus from the airport to Sheung Shui (Bus A43) and transfer to the East Rail line. The bus is cheaper (HK$30.90) and rarely full, so you are almost guaranteed a seat and a view of the outside for the whole journey. The bus terminus is to the right of the Airport Express station coming from Arrivals of HKIA. From Lo Wu you pass through a long corridor and a large international border gate (make sure to have your visa ready for this) after which you'll find yourself on the mainland, where the Shenzhen underground (Metro) will take you from Luohu station to the rest of Shenzhen and the airport.

Ferry. There is a ferry service from Hong Kong airport to Shenzhen; check at the information desk for their schedule. A further alternative is to take "Skypier". This service takes you direct from HKIA to the mainland (Shekou area in Shenzhen, Shenzhen Airport Fuyong Terminal or Zhuhai) without going through Hong Kong immigrations or customs or in fact the city itself. There is a booth before you get to immigration and you purchase your ticket and ask them to get your luggage transferred and then you go by bus to the ferry and then straight to China. It is cheaper, easier, and faster than going into Hong Kong Central or Kowloon. If you exit China this way you get HK$120 departure tax given to you when you arrive at HKIA.

Private limousine van service. There are a number of companies that operate luxury vans from HKIA to destinations in Shenzhen and Shenzhen Airport. They typically involve crossing via the Shenzhen Bay Bridge Customs Point. Passengers are often not even required to leave the vehicle at the border post, with the driver handling all the passports and details. Costs can be from HK$200 upwards. It is a unique experience, being driven on the left side of the road in Hong Kong and then the right side once on the mainland.

By land

Shenzhen has border train and bus connections to Hong Kong. There are trains to Guangzhou and buses to most nearby cities.

Hong Kong border crossings

There are six land border crossings: Lok Ma Chau/Huanggang, Lok Ma Chau/Futian Kou'an, Lo Wu/Luohu, Sha Tau Kok/Shatoujiao, Man Kam To/Wenjindu and Shenzhen Wan which is at the end of a long and elegant bridge across Shenzhen Bay.

Lo Wu/Luohu is one of two ports for train connections and the most popular crossing point, operating daily 06:30-24:00. Be aware that the last several trains do not go to Lo Wu, they terminate at Sheung Shui. Lo Wu is the last stop of the MTR East Rail Line. East Rail, which connects to central Kowloon at Hung Hom Station. Because Lo Wu is in Hong Kong's Border Restricted Area, MTR Eastrail is the only way to reach it. Lo Wu Station is only open for travel to Shenzhen or beyond, and a valid travel document is required to travel there.

For people travelling to Futian including the Free Trade Zone and other destinations in Central and Western Shenzhen, the most convenient rail route is the train from Hung Hom to Lok Ma Chau station, this is not the Lok Mau Chau/Huanggang border crossing, but the Lok Ma Chau/Futian Kou'an crossing. It connects directly to the Shenzhen Metro line 4 Futian Kou An Station. The train follows the same route as the Lowu one but turns off at the last station. This service only goes til 21:30.

The MTR East Rail Line commuter train which connects Hung Hom to Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau with several intermediate stops mainly serves Hong Kong locals. It interchanges with the urban section of the MTR at Kowloon Tong Station and East Tsim Sha Tsui Terminal. For those travelling to or from Hong Kong Island, it is recommended to transfer to Cross Harbour Bus in Hung Hom Station or the Tsuen Wan Line at East Tsim Sha Tsui.

The journey from East Tsim Sha Tsui to Lo Wu takes 42 minutes and costs HK$33–36.50, first class is charged double. However generally you can save about HK$7 if you get off and exit the gates at Sheung Shui and get back on again from Sheung Shui to Lo Wu. Trains depart every few minutes but some short trips are operated in rush hour, so check the destination screen before boarding. The train can be crowded during rush hours as it serves millions of commuters along the line as well.

For more details, check the MTR website.

The road border crossings (such as Lok Ma Chau/Huanggang) are accessible by cross-boundary coaches from Hong Kong.

By train

Shenzhen is served by 3 domestic intercity railway stations with another under construction.

By bus

There are several long-distance bus stations - the most convenient is Luohu Bus Station - adjacent to the rail station and the border crossing. It has regular services to Dongguan, Guangzhou (Tianhe, Liuhua and Guangyuan stations), Zhuhai, Foshan, Zhongshan, Shantou and many other cities in Guangdong. Unlike most bus stations there is no ticket office - instead bus station employees will ask you where you are going and will direct you to the bus and you buy your ticket from the conductor on board. NOTE if you are going to Guangzhou it's important to check which bus station you will arrive at (qu na ge zhan? - lit. Go to which station?) - if you arrive at Tianhe or Liuhua bus stations then both have direct subway connections, but many go to Guangyuan bus station which is in Baiyun district and requires a long connection by bus to the city centre.

Be sure to watch out for scams at the Shenzhen bus station. For example, if you are traveling between Hong Kong Airport and Shenzhen Airport, you may need to transfer between vehicles when crossing the border from Hong Kong to Shenzhen. Your bus or limo company may supply you a sticker to attach to your shirt. When you cross over to the Shenzhen side of the border, a scam artist may spot your sticker, claim to work for the bus or limo company you are using, and demand that you pay an additional fee to complete the journey. To prevent this from happening, go to the actual counter or stall that represents the bus or limo company you are using. The bus or limo companies are aware of this problem but have no incentive to correct it, nor do the local authorities care, so you need to be extra careful when crossing the border.

By sea

There are ferries from Hong Kong (Tsim Sha Tsui, Central (also known as HongKong/Macau Ferry Port) and HK airport), Macau, and Zhuhai. Most services land at the ferry terminal at Shekou. The Shekou ferry terminal is connected by subway and bus services to the rest of Shenzhen. There is further information available online: Hong Kong Ferry Info, Shenzhen Ferry Info (site only in Chinese, English version under construction).

There is also a ferry port at Shenzhen Airport Fuyong which features a bonded service to HK Airport avoiding HK customs and immigration plus check-in facilities for some flights leaving from HKIA. There are also limited services connecting the airport to Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai.

Get around

By metro

Shenzhen Metro

Shenzhen Metro (深圳地铁) is the most convenient and easy to understand method of transport around the Shenzhen city area. Fares are ¥2-9. Trains come every 3 minutes or so and the metro runs until 23:00. Note that there is a relatively high standard of public courtesy on the Shenzhen Metro. Some customs are unusual to foreigners. For example, people will often give their seats up to young children. Lines are referred to by both numbers and Chinese names. The Shenzhen Metro currently has 5 lines, 137 stations, and 178.44 km (110.87 miles) of total trackage in operation, and is being rapidly expanded.

Line 1 (Luobao Line) - East-west line from Luohu (HK Border / Shenzhen Railway Station) to Shenzhen Airport East. Most convenient line for many tourist sites. Luohu Station is connected to Lo Wu Station of Hong Kong MTR through Luohu Checkpoint in Shenzhen and Lo Wu Control Point in Hong Kong

Line 2 (Shekou Line) - East-west line from Chiwan to Xinxiu, best for ferry connections and Shekou Seaworld

Line 3 (Longgang Line) - From Yitian running north east to Shuanglong

Line 4 (Longhua Line) - North-south line from Futian Checkpoint (HK Border) to Qinghu. Futian Checkpoint Station is connected to Lok Ma Chau Station of Hong Kong MTR through Futian Checkpoint in Shenzhen and Lok Ma Chau Control Point in Hong Kong

Line 5 (Huanzhong Line) - East-west Line through Shenzhen's northern suburbs from Qianhaiwan to Huangbeiling

Buy your ticket at the ticket machines on the concourse. The machine will dispense a round green plastic token. Touch it on the reader on entering the station and deposit it in the slot on the turnstile on leaving. The machines often reject old or worn notes. The most convenient way to travel is to buy a Shenzhen Tong (深圳通) card at the ticket window. This is a stored value ticket. Touch it on the turnstile reader on entering and leaving the station. It can also be used for purchases in convenience stores.

Note that unlike most subways, the exit-guide signs in the station are only written in Chinese except for a handful of major attractions. There are also a limited number of maps of the local area (often in Chinese) in the station so finding the right exit can be a problem. But this has since been changed in most places in response to hosting the 2011 Universiade Games.

Metro pdf map: http://shenzhenshopper.com/shenzhen-metro-2011-a.pdf

By taxi

Taxi meters start at ¥10.00 for the first 2 kilometers, then ¥0.60 for each 250 meters. Late night costs slightly higher. There is a ¥3.00 fuel surcharge added to all fares. Taxis are unusually (for China) well regulated and managed in Shenzhen. It is very rare to have a driver give you problems or take you the long way to your destination. However, be sure that the cab has a licence prominently displayed in the plastic stand provided for this purpose on the right hand dashboard of every taxi. If there is no licence, get the next cab. Unlike in neighbouring Hong Kong, it is rare to find any drivers who speak English, so be sure to have the names and addresses of your destinations written in Chinese to show the taxi driver.

Driving is notably incompetent and terrifying. If you think your life is in danger, do not be afraid to get out and get the next taxi. Sadly there is little assurance that the next driver will be any better. If you have a major problem, threaten to complain. (use the word "tousu" (toe-soo) meaning "complaint"). It is not clear what happens when you complain but it is expected to be BAD (usually a ¥200 penalty per complaint - 5 complaints and their license will be revoked). On the receipt you should get when the driver prints out the ticket is a phone number and his taxi license. Use this if you want to file any type of complaint.

Unless you are extremely familiar with local conditions or an expert Chinese negotiator, avoid like the plague illegal unlicensed taxis of the type which proliferate in places such as border crossings as otherwise you are just inviting considerable trouble. If you ask for a driver from a hotel it is likely they will get a private driver. Negotiate the price before you leave.

There are still a few gold coloured taxis which can only operate inside the SEZ. Green coloured taxis can only operate outside the SEZ. They cannot enter the SEZ. Red taxis can operate anywhere. Tipping is not expected at all, but simply round up to the next Yuan

By bus

Local buses run everywhere and start at ¥2 for most trips. The longest bus trip in the city will cost ¥10. There is an attendant on the bus that can give change. Buses are comfortable and almost always air-conditioned. Bus stops are signed in Romanised Chinese. The next bus stop is always announced although it may not be particularly comprehensible. Buses usually stop at all stops so counting stops is a viable alternative for finding out where you are. All announcements are made in Mandarin and English. You can pay with your Shenzhen Tong card (see Metro Section).

Mini-buses have been phased out within the Special Economic Zone but are still operating outside of it. Most bus lines operate every couple of minutes.

Free shuttles run from the basement of Luohu's immigration building to and from various attractions such as spas in the area.

By bike

Cycling is not as popular as in Beijing for example but Shenzhen is nearly as cycle-friendly as neighbouring Guangzhou, and much more cycle-friendly than most of neighboring Hong Kong, Macau, and Humen. Downtown is relatively flat and traffic is not as heavy as in other cities (thanks to a good road infrastructure, although bicycle lanes can be sporadic which means bicycles have to run in the vehicle lanes or sidewalks).

There is a new bike path that runs along a new park the length of the Shenzhen Bay, opened up for the Universiade in July 2011. From there you can go up along the Shahe (Sand River canal) most of the way to the GZ Greenway without crossing any vehicular traffic. Unfortunately the GZ greenway is not well marked, so it can be difficult to find your way from Shenzhen to neighboring cities such as Guangzhou. Another small canal also runs north from the southwest of Shenzhen Bay Port, connecting to the bayfront park bike path.

The Bike rental is not easily available but a cheap bicycle from a major supermarket or a second-hand bike shop will get you around easily. Note that electric-bicycles and motorcycles are banned within the SEZ area.

Because of Hong Kong's obsolete Frontier Zone policy, you cannot bike between Hong Kong and Shenzhen at the Hong Gang port because the road is closed except to public busses and taxis. You can, however take your 20" folding bike across to take the green public light bus #75 between there and Hong Kong's Yuen Long for HKD$7. Hong Kong's MTR is unusually expensive at border terminals, but bikes are allowed on the trains. 20" folding Bikes are also allowed on Shenzhen Metro trains.

Communication tips

Talk

As part of the Pearl River Delta of Guangdong province, Cantonese was historically the primary language in Shenzhen. However, since the designation of Shenzhen as a Special Economic Zone, many people have migrated here from other parts of China to take advantage of its proximity to Hong Kong, and today, the migrant population far outnumbers the native Cantonese population in Shenzhen. As a result, Mandarin has since replaced Cantonese as the primary language in Shenzhen. Nevertheless, due to its proximity to Hong Kong, most people working in the service industry will be able to speak Cantonese.

As with elsewhere in China, English is not widely spoken, though English speakers can be found working at the major tourist attractions and hotels.

See

Amusement parks

Shenzhen has many theme parks, which are popular with Chinese tourists, many of whom go to Shenzhen mainly for these. Reactions of Western visitors vary widely, from enjoying them immensely to finding them amazingly tacky. Most of them are owned and operated by the Shenzhen OCT (Overseas Chinese Town) Group:

Museums and galleries

Religious structures

Historical sites

People, even long time Shenzhen residents, will confidently tell you that "Shenzhen has no history". However there is a surprising number of sites, some of great national significance, dating back to the twelfth century. Shenzhen, it seems, was critically involved in a number of historical events, especially the collapse and final stand of the Southern Song Dynasty (13th century), the last stand of the Ming Dynasty (17th century) and the Opium War (19th century).

Other

Do

Theatres and concert halls

Spas and massage

Shenzhen is a popular place for Hong Kong people to go to get a massage. Prices are low compared with Hong Kong, though generally higher than elsewhere in China. (洗脚 xǐ jiǎo) (which often consists of massaging your shoulders, back, arms, legs, and feet) costs ¥25-50 for 60-80 minutes depending on the location, time of day, and quality of the establishment. A full-body massage (按摩 àn mó or 松骨 sōng gǔ) costs ¥50-150 for 90-120 minutes.

In recent years many large spa and massage complexes have appeared in Shenzhen. For an entrance fee of around ¥100 (waived if you purchase around ¥160 of spa and massage services) you get 24 hours of access to a spa pool, saunas, showers, baths, and other amenities depending on the facility such as a gym or pool. Paid services often include Internet access, billiards, and rentable "multi-purpose rooms" with KTV/karaoke and games. Complimentary items include drinks (sometimes restricted to fruit juice) and fruit; food can be bought for ¥20–¥50 a plate. For around ¥50 for 45 minutes (not including a ¥10–¥30 tip and often a 10% service charge) you can have head, foot, leg, shoulder, back, or hand massage while lying in one of the many reclining chair-couches — two types at once if you wish — and watch personal TV, read a book, or relax. For around ¥150 you can have 90 minutes of full-body Chinese, Thai, or Hong Kong-style massage in a private room or with your friends. Chinese Medical Massage and aromatherapy oil massages are usually available at a premium. Masseuses and masseurs hail from various regions around China and are listed with pictures and statistics in catalogues and can be selected by number. Very few of them speak any English.

Spa complexes can be found around the border crossings with Hong Kong, so as to cater to the relatively rich Hong Kong population looking to unwind. In the basement of the Luohu customs and immigration building (not the LCC mall) free shuttles are available to various spas, some of which also have themed waiting areas with price lists and pictures of the facilities. Some spas have representatives standing around to give out discount tickets (often ¥20) as an enticement.

Massages tend to be rather painful, especially on the feet! If you can endure it, you'll notice the lasting benefits. But if it is too much, you can say "Teng! Teng!" (pronounced like "tongue") to express your pain and make them ease. It is best to not reveal you know any spoken Chinese because you will immediately face uncomfortable questions about your salary, weight, etc.

Caution: In most hotels, prostitution is widespread. In some seedier areas, "massage" may actually mean sex. Use your best judgment. See also the China article for information on massage.

Golf

Shenzhen is one of China's and indeed one of the world's great golfing Meccas. It boasts some of the earliest golf courses in China and, in Mission Hills, the world's largest golf course which is the scene of leading international tournaments.

Beaches

Shenzhen has some of China's best beaches, many of them untouched stretches of National Park. In 2006, Chinese Geographic Magazine named the Dapeng Peninsula, where most of Shenzhen's beaches are situated, as one of China's top ten most scenic coastlines.

Learn

Buy

Major credit cards i.e. Visa, Masters, HSBC are accepted throughout Shenzhen. But note that in many establishments only local Chinese and not International Visa etc. cards are recognised. Ask first if they accept international cards. JCB and American Express have limited coverage. Cirrus, Plus & Maestro facilities allow owners to withdraw money from banks (but not all bank ATMs. Bank of China ATMs at all Metro stations accept foreign cards). Remember to activate your card for the pin usage. MixC has ATMs for some of the international credit cards, where cash can be withdrawn in those ATMs against your credit limit.

Bank of China, China Merchants Bank, and many but not all Chinese banks accept foreign cards. You may check with your bank to see if they have a local branch here. Most ATMs are open for 24 hours. Some are only opened if you swipe the card at the security doors.

At places in Luo Hu, cash is highly recommended. Some places charge an extra 10% for credit card purchases. The shop assistants will bring you to shops that have credit card processing machines. At shopping centers, remember to check with the cashiers to see if they accept credit cards before making purchases. There are few shopping centers that accept credit card with passport verification, though you may lose your discount on the purchase.

Be careful when getting change from large notes as people may try to give you Hong Kong dollars instead of Yuan. The Hong Kong dollar is worth less than Yuan.

For currency information, see the China page.

Renmin North Road Wal-Mart

Eat

Because Shenzhen is a migrant city, all of China's regional cuisines are represented here. Restaurants range from hole-in-the-wall establishments for homesick working class arrivals to opulent food palaces for businessmen and politicians entertaining clients. If you are a foreigner, spending ¥100 on a fantastic meal is no problem (though, you can spend ¥35 or less on a fantastic meal in Shenzhen). Treat yourself, and enjoy the wonderful food and variety of Shenzhen! In the early morning, vendors sell egg cheung fun for as little as ¥2.5 per order having 2 vegetable and 2 egg cheung fun noodles - enough to fill you up.

Areas to eat

There are a lot of bars and restaurants in Shekou which is the main residential zone for Shenzhen's sizable Western expatriate community. There are plenty of eateries in the Hua Qiang Bei area, for non-China based brands, e.g. McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, and AijiSen Ramen.

Overseas Chinese Town (OCT) is famous for its numerous dining options, including some of the best Korean restaurants in Shenzhen. All are within easy walking distance from Hua Qiao Cheng (OCT) Metro Station, behind the recently opened InterContinental Shenzhen Hotel.

As well as casual restaurants and fine dining, Shenzhen is famous for its "Eat Streets". These are agglomerations of cheap and cheerful restaurants serving food from all over China. They are not elaborate but they are friendly and fun and some of the food is to die for. Different Eat Streets often specialise in food from different parts of China. Some of the best known are set out below.

福田区八卦一路 (Buses: 7, 13, 24, 105 Ba Gua Er Lu 八卦二路or Kang Tai Wu Le Cheng 康泰吴乐城bus stops). This was Shenzhen's first Eat Street. Food was originally Cantonese brought by homesick Hobg Kong factory owners. Cantonese food is still good here but you can get food from all over China. Snake is excellent in season (October to January) here.

福田区泰然工业区 (车公庙地铁站 Metro: Che Gong Miao). Good Sichuan, Hunan and Taiwanese food here. There is also a good if unauthentic Macau style restaurant

福田区华强北路. The food's in the streets and alleys parallel to Huaqiang Bei. Hunan and Chaozhou are specialities. There are several shops specialising in Uighur "nan" bread. An alley behind the main street specialises in Moslem food

福田区香蜜湖新闻街 (Metro Xiang Mi Hu). This is where the journalists eat and just being there is fun. Good Heilongjiang, Jiangxi, Northern and Hunan food

福田区岗下村 (Metro Gang Xia). One of the earliest and most diverse Eat Streets. It specialises in "northern" food, Beijing, Shanghai, Yunnan (OK we know it's southern but.....) and Ningxia/Gansu Moslem food

罗湖区湖贝村 (Buses: 2, 10, 29, 104, 205, 220, 223, 311, 312). Hong Kong style seafood restaurants are the mainstay of this Eat Street set in the heart of an old Cantonese village in the heart of Luohu. But we also like the north-west China Moslem food of which there is plenty

罗湖区动门老街解放路标2001号 (Buses: 102, 103, 113, 203. (Buses stop in Dong Men Zhong Lu. Walk along one of the pedestrian streets near the Dong Men footbridge to get to the shopping area.) Metro:Lao Jie lines 1 and 3). Shenzhen's favorite comfort shopping street also has lots of cheap and cheerful food. There's the usual Cantonese, Sichuan and Hunanese but there's also Thai, South=east Asian and even German. All the chains are represented.

盐田区盐田海鲜食街. Dine among the container cranes. The theme is Hong Kong style seafood, allegedly fresh from the markets next door. You choose the fish from the tanks, they cook it how you like it

Restaurants

Budget

Just north of the Shenzhen Sports Center next to Blue Bird cafe at Shahe West road and Gaoxin South 11th road in front of the market in the early morning are steamed dim sum like dishes such as steamed buns and egg cheung fun. You must order in Chinese, as they don't speak English or even Cantonese.

Mid-range

Nanshan District (南山香山街波托菲诺会所),  +86 755 26003218. 08:00-23:00.

Splurge

Drink

Tap Water is safe to drink in the Meilin district and several nearby districts, but probably not in the area where you are staying. Use the free bottled water or distilled water provided by your hotel or buy some. It's easily available in all convenience stores and supermarkets. However, if you are buying water for ¥5 a bottle, you are getting majorly ripped off. Hepatitis is common in China and is most usually spread by using chopsticks to eat from a common dish. It is becoming increasingly common to use a separate set of chopsticks to serve from the bowl. Ask for "gong kuai" if they aren't provided. Otherwise minor travellers' stomach upsets are the worst things which you have to fear health-wise.

If you want to drink beer, Tsing Tao is a popular Chinese beer, or try Shenzhen's own Kingway Beer (金威啤酒), brewed in two locations in Shenzhen and available in any convenience store, bar, or restaurant. In stores such as a.best, Carrefour or Wal-Mart it will cost ¥3.50 per can, or ¥3.80 for a large bottle (you will need a bottle opener). 7-Eleven sells Kingway for ¥9, and local restaurants about ¥12-35. Bars typically charge slightly more that restaurants.

OCT LOFT - Redeveloped Arts Area by Qiaocheng Dong Metro Station.

Coco Park - the bar street of Futian, with all kinds of bars packed into the middle of the block.

Shekou - The Peninsula that sticks out in the South Western region of the city.

Sleep

Note: At Chinese New Year (usually February), prices usually double or substantially increase. Unlike other cities, however, the explosive development of hotels in Shenzhen means rooms, while more expensive, will generally still be available even at the busiest times.

Budget

* Home Inn (Dongmen) (如家快捷酒店 (深圳东门店); Rú​jiā​kuài​jié Jjiǔ​diàn (Shēn​zhèn​ Dōng​mén​ Diàn​)​), 2028 Wenjin Middle Road, Luohu District (罗湖区文锦中路2028号; Luó​hú​qū​ Wén​jǐn​ Zhōng​ Lù)​.
* Home Inn (Shenzhen Luohu Kou'an) (如家快捷酒店 (深圳罗湖口岸店); Rú​jiā​kuài​jié​ Jiǔ​diàn (Shēn​zhèn​ Luó​hú​ Kǒu​'àn Diàn​)), 1064 Yanhe Nan Road, Luohu District (罗湖区沿河南路1064号; Luó​hú​ Qū​ Yánhé​ Nán Lù)​​​.
* Home Inn (Shenzhen Xinzhou) (如家快捷酒店 (深圳新洲店); Rú​jiā​kuài​jié​jiǔ​diàn (Shēn​zhèn​ Xīn​zhōu​ Diàn​)), 315 Shiji Gongyi Pin Jiaoyi Shichang Building, Xinzhou South Road, Futian District (福田区新洲南路世纪工艺品交易市场315楼; Fú​tián Qū​ Xīn​zhōu​ Nán​ Lù​ Shì​jì Gōng​yì Pǐn​ Jiāo​yì​ Shì​chǎng​ Lóu)​​.
* Home Inn (Shenzhen Zhuzilin) (如家快捷酒店 (深圳竹子林店); Rú​jiā​kuài​jié​ Jiǔ​diàn (Shēn​zhèn Zhú​zi​lín​ Diàn​)), 福田区竹子林益华大厦.
* Home Inn (Shen Zhen Bao An Station) (如家快捷酒店 (深圳宝安汽车站店); Rú​jiā​kuài​jié​ Jiǔ​diàn (Shēnzhèn Bǎo'ān Qìchēzhàn Diàn​)), 宝安25区前进一路海雅百货旁.
* Home Inn (Shenzhen Guomao) (如家快捷酒店 (深圳国贸店); Rú​jiā​kuài​jié​ Jiǔ​diàn (Shēn​zhèn​ Guó​mào​ Diàn​)), 罗湖区人民南路2011号.
* Home Inn (Shenzhen Railway Station) (如家快捷酒店 (深圳火车站店); Rú​jiā​kuài​jié​jiǔ​diàn (Shēn​zhèn​ Huǒ​chē​zhàn Diàn​)), 罗湖区滨河大道交和平路渔民村小区内.

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

Despite its sensationalized reputation from Hong Kong residents as being crime-ridden, Shenzhen is relatively safe by Western standards. It is no more dangerous than a major American city and violent crime remains rare. Nevertheless, as always, a little commonsense goes a long way.

The main problem is petty crime such as pickpocketing. Be careful in crowded shopping centres, subway trains, buses, stations and around the theme parks - keep your wallet in your front pocket.

Being scammed is not so common as in Beijing or Shanghai but be alert for people touting for business (massage, watches, shoes etc.) around the Luohu area, as they sell below-standard fakes at inflated prices. The 'touts' in Luohu bus station are not necessarily touts - there is no ticket office so they are simply there to direct you to your bus and don't require any payment - you should buy your ticket on the bus.

You will encounter beggars but they are confined to a few places. Notable among these places are border crossings, underpasses, Shekou and Christian churches. Ordinary Chinese rarely give beggars money so they concentrate in places where the punters are either ignorant or have just heard a sermon. They are not aggressive and are mostly harmless. Give money at your own risk - beggars are controlled by criminal gangs and your donation will be funding organized crime - giving food or a drink is more beneficial to them. Particularly avoid giving money to child beggars. There have been several high profile court cases in recent years against gangs who buy children from impoverished peasant families, mutilate them, and use them in the begging racket.

Driving in China can be dangerous, and care should be taken when crossing the street.

Prostitution is common - particularly around Luohu and Shekou. Scantily-clad, available-looking women may be prostitutes.

Cope

Television

Topway Cable Television offers a wide range of international television including BBC, CNN, NHK, HBO, etc. Hong Kong English TV is also offered.

Newspapers and magazines

Newspaper: Shenzhen Daily is the local English language newspaper and is widely available at news kiosks. China Daily is surprisingly difficult to get. South China Morning Post from Hong Kong is also available by subscription and in a couple of outlets. Eon Bookshop, Central Book City, sells a reasonable range of English language magazines. See Book City above.

Magazine: That's PRD is a local English magazine, published at the beginning of each month. 45,000 copies are mailed directly and displayed every month in carefully-selected public areas, including Starbucks, 5-star hotels, high-end restaurants & bars, villas and properties. PRD stands for Pearl River Delta.

Places of worship

Health

Four hospitals are recommended by the Shenzhen City Government for foreigners. They are:

The following dentists give excellent service

Communication

Go next

Routes through Shenzhen

Beijing Dongguan  N  S  END


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