Five days in Shenzhen
November 23, 2011 9:41 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to be in Shenzhen for five days week after next, Monday-Friday. Travelling with my husband who will be working on the Wednesday and Thursday. What should we see and do, and what tips do you have for a culturally ignorant foreign female exploring Shenzhen solo?
posted by tracicle to Travel & Transportation around Shenzhen, China (4 answers total)
What part of the city will you be in? Futian, LuoHu, Nanshan? It makes a pretty big difference, the city is huge, about 45 minutes from downtown to some of the major districts in the West.

I'd suggest hanging out for a few hours at Lychee park if you're in the downtown area. There are a few decent parks here and there, but Lychee is pretty cool, there are always lots of people hanging out, you can see older people out doing traditional dance classes, sidewalk caligraphy, that sort of thing. Shopping at DongMen, which is the semi-outdoor pedestrian area lined with hundreds of shops shelling cheap clothes. Although it's been a few years since I've been there, so it might have changed.

If you enjoy going into tall things and looking down on the world, I'd check out the observation deck of DiWang skyscraper, the tallest building in the city (unless they built a bigger one and I didn't hear about it).

For food, SZ has pretty good seafood restaurants, though I found these the hardest to order at, and I never went unless I had a Chinese friend with me. Do you like lamb meat, kebabs, flat bread? Then go to a Uyghur restaurant, my absolute favorite food in China. They're all over, but you'll probably need a local recommendation for your neighborhood to find one.

Da Fen artist village is interesting, it's sort of an industrial art park. Hotels and such go there they need to buy several hundred oil paintings. There is also original art.

LianHua Mountain is a nice park for an afternoon. You can hike up to the top to see a semi-famous statue of Deng Xiao Ping done in that socialist/modernist style, don't know the right name for it.

Windows of the World is famously kitschy, it's a theme park with recreations of some of the famous tourists sights of the world (Great Wall, Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower, Parthenon, etc.) I think it's kind of charming, but I'm weird.

Have you ever been to HK? If not, I'd go for a day or two if your visa allows it. If that's not doable, I'd try Guangzhou for a day.

Shenzhen's obviously not a tourist paradise, but it's got a great social scene, very easy to meet people. It's not a dangerous place, you're very unlikely to get mugged, but you might get pick-pocketed if you're not careful. It's a very fast-moving city, quote overwhelming at first. The traffic is horrible during rush hour. They've got a very modern but limited subway system you should definitely use to get about.
posted by skewed at 10:08 PM on November 23, 2011

Oh, and if you have any other specific questions, let me know. Have fun!
posted by skewed at 10:08 PM on November 23, 2011

We're staying in Futian, right on the red line so will be able to get around via rail quite easily (I assume).
posted by tracicle at 10:23 PM on November 23, 2011

A few things I was told/figured out on my trip to Guangzhou a few years ago that might apply:

Never give money to beggars, especially children, unless you want people surrounding you like pigeons.

Your hotel will usually give you a business card with the address on it so you can always find your way back to home base in the event you get completely lost. It will often have phonetic writing in English. Give it to a cab driver and tell him to take you there.

If you need to use it, hand it to the cab driver upside down. (This could be entirely what I was told versus something true). Some taxi drivers will be illiterate. If he says yes, but doesn't turn the card upside down, get out of the cab because he doesn't know where he's taking you.

There are real and fake cabs, at least in Guangzhou. I couldn't tell the difference, but the translator with me could and she really freaked out when I accidentally hailed a fake cab.

Lanes are kind of suggestions in China. Don't panic too much.

If you have or can get an unlocked phone, SIMs are dirt cheap to buy there, I spent 20 bucks on one and used it for my entire trip, including a couple calls back to the US. It did change the language on my RAZR (at the time) to Chinese so I had to have my translator undo it.

As noted above, I had a translator for a fair amount of the trip. As far as food I told her to just take me to where she wanted to eat, and to forget the fact that I was American. I ended up eating some parts of chickens and fish that I didn't know existed and had some of the best Chinese food of my life. A few other English speakers walked out of the place when they couldn't understand the menu. I felt really fortunate to have a native with me. So if it's an option at all, go that route. My translator was studying English at a local university.
posted by mikesch at 11:03 PM on November 23, 2011

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