Shenzhen squeeze

Updated: 2012-05-11 07:51

(China Daily)

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Shenzhen squeeze

The Window of the World presents an extensive array of replicas of "world wonders" from different countries. Qiang Zi / For China Daily

Southern success story's attractions reward travelers even on short trips

Shenzhen became the first Special Economic Zone in China following the country's reform and opening-up in the late 1970s. The significant amount of foreign investment and openness with that status has powered this southern city in Guangdong province, bordering Hong Kong, into one of China's most vibrant, populous and wealthy cities. The former fishing village of 30,000 people has been transformed into a metropolis with more than 10 million residents.

Located east of the economically important Pearl River Delta, Shenzhen is now home to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange as well as the headquarters of numerous high-tech companies. It also boasts the third-busiest container port in China, after Shanghai and Hong Kong.

But Shenzhen is not all business. It offers an impressive range of attractions, including entertainment and culinary options, which showcase the best of the Chinese south and helped attract more than 83 million visitors last year alone. Here are some of the highlights that business travelers can squeeze into a short trip.

1. The Window of the World

Located in the Overseas Chinese Town, west of Shenzhen, this theme park covers 480,000 square meters and presents an extensive array of replicas of "world wonders" from different countries.

Based on major geographical features and various architectural styles, the park consists of eight themed districts representing five continents, as well as a World Square, a World Sculpture Park and an International Street. More than 100 attractions, including smaller replicas of historical relics and sculptures, are available.

In just one day, visitors can experience reproductions of world famous sites and sights such as the Eiffel Tower from Paris, the Pyramids and the Sphinx from Egypt and the Sydney Opera House by a lake.

The park also provides interactive activities and entertainment shows. Every year, it holds an International Beer Festival, Japanese Cherry Festival and Egyptian Culture Week.

2. Da Meisha and Xiao Meisha

Shenzhen is a coastal city and its beaches are always popular among visitors. Da Meisha and Xiao Meisha are some of the best among these.

Xiao Meisha lies in Dapeng Bay in Yantian district, occupying an area of 3,590,000 square meters. Well known for its white, soft sand and beautiful sunshine, many locals regard Xiao Meisha as the "Hawaii of the Orient". It is one of the biggest resorts and top scenic sites in Shenzhen.

Next to a blue sea and surrounded by a tropical rainforest, Xiao Meisha faces Hong Kong. Besides marine recreational activities such as ocean parachuting and power-boating, travelers can also enjoy performances by dolphins and seals in the nearby sea world theme park.

Da Meisha is halfway between Yantian district and Xiao Meisha. Boasting Shenzhen's longest beach at 1,800 meters, Da Meisha has four observation platforms for tourists to enjoy the seaside panorama.

3. Minsk World

Shenzhen squeeze

Situated on the shore of Sha Tau Kok, Minsk World is touted as one of only two military theme parks of their kind in China. The whole park is built around the Soviet aircraft carrier Minsk, which was used by the navy of the former Soviet Union. Another aircraft carrier Kiev is a theme park in the Tianjin Binhai area.

In 1998, the Minsk was purchased and renovated by a Chinese company and moored at Sha Tau Kok in Shenzhen. The park contains two parts, the Minsk aircraft carrier at sea and Minsk square on land. The first part has a demonstration area of 30,000 square meters. A torpedo launch cabin and missile launch system are some of the facilities open to visitors. Tourists can take part in Minsk World military and entertainment projects, such as combat simulation, gun firing and aircraft carrier war movies. There are also Russian-style dancing and guard-of-honor performances. The second site on land covers 80,000 square meters and contains weapon displays and theaters.

The theme park aims to combine tourism and science education with the experience of being on an aircraft carrier.

4. Dafen Village

Dafen Village is located in Longgang district, covering more than 405 hectares. The village is famous for being the largest mass producer of oil painting reproductions in the world. More than 60 percent of the global trade in oil paintings comes from Dafen, industry figures show.

There are more than 6,000 painters and 1,100 art galleries, studios and art-related businesses in Dafen. Besides getting a good discount on the hand-painted reproductions, visitors can also learn more about art at the Dafen Art Gallery, which is a piece of art in itself.

Apart from sculptures, people may also come across artists painting in the streets. There are several cafes and bars scattered throughout the village, offering a relaxed ambience of Western culture, food and drink.

Visitor can take the Longgang subway line and get off at Dafen Station. The village is located between Busha Road and Shenhui Road and is 10 minutes' walk from the station.

Eating and drinking

Reflecting its openness to migrants, eating in Shenzhen is a melting pot of the various cuisines of China. Diners can pick from more than 10,000 restaurants to enjoy their favorite dishes.

The top seafood street is located at the seaside of Yantian district, only half an hour's drive from downtown. Restaurants along the street are two-floor buildings with balconies. Dishes lean toward the Hakka, Chaozhou and Shantou styles. Fresh seafood is served simply steamed with a dash of soy sauce.

Bagua Road Eateries Street: This street in Futian district contains eateries that offer treats from all over the country, including spicy Sichuan and Hunan dishes as well as delicate Shanghai ones.

Shekou Bar Street: Located in Nanshan district and close to Shenzhen Bay, this street is where the first "Snake Pit" bar was born in 1987. Now there are more than 40 bars and clubs in this area, providing cross-cultural drinks and entertainment. The street is popular among expatriates and visitors.

Shenzhen snacks are also very popular with residents and visitors. One typical offering is steamed fish dumplings, fulled with fish and carrots. Chinese pudding, especially smooth and sweet, is also popular.

China Daily