Beaches and a stunning coastline. Modern megamalls and age-old markets. Shenzhen has developed at breakneck speed from a rural village to a hightech mega-city in under 40 years.
Experience South China's most exciting city, where you'll be amazed with a flavour of the past and contemporary architecture, a flourishing art scene and vibrant night life.
WHERE ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
With its back to the mountains, Shenzhen is a long, narrow city facing the sea, across the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong. As China's earliest Special Economic Zone, it's now one of the country's largest cities with a population over 12 million, considered the nation's Silicon Valley because it's home to companies like Huawei and Tencent.
WHY GO THERE?
Exciting and ambitious, Shenzhen has a young population, creating a melting-pot of cultures, cuisines and an 'anything goes' attitude. You'll be surprised with quality day spas, peaceful parks, and a stunning coastline dotted with more than 20 beaches like the ever-popular Dameisha and Xiaomeisha - known as the 'Oriental Hawaii'.
Shenzhen is the ultimate contrast to the old world of Europe and has international connections to Madrid, Paris, Rome and more. It's also a gateway to mainland Chinese cities, and a drive away from Hong Kong and Macau via the world's largest oversea bridge.
WHAT'S THERE TO SEE AND DO?
Despite its mega-structures, miniature parks are big in Shenzhen. Check out more than 100 major - or is that minor? - Chinese tourist attractions, like the Great Wall and Forbidden City at Splendid China Folk Culture Village. You'll learn the ways of the country's various nationalities as you meander its 30ha.
Nearby is the Window of the World with 130 miniatures of world-famous tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower and Taj Mahal. Then there's the life-size Happy Valley theme park, with 10 areas including a water park, magic castle and adventure mountain – perfect for the kids. At night, the world's largest water show plays at OCT Bay. Stay on at the Culture Village for a dragon and phoenix dance performed by over 500 actors and acrobats. Later, get measured for a custom suit or haggle for electronics; from megamalls to chaotic markets, the city's vendors open early and close late.
Tip: head to 300-yearold Dongmen Pedestrian Street for shopping with soul.
Afterwards relax amid Shenzhen's impressive craft beer scene – influenced by Hong Kong expats – sipping and savouring at brew pubs like Evil Duck, Peko Brewing and Bionic Brew.
Explore the leafy, creative culture park of OCT Loft, with art exhibitions, live music and stylish bars, or Fifth Avenue Bar Street for a more European vibe of themed and basement disco bars.
WHAT'S THE FOOD LIKE?
In a word, diverse. For authentic Cantonese dim sum, book a table at the Shangri La Hotel's Shang Palace, or cook your own at a Chinese hot-pot restaurant.
(Tip: Tables with QR codes remind you you're in a tech town – although only Chinese bank account holders can use them.) Chaozhou cuisine is another favourite. Fresh, lightly seasoned flavours emphasise local seafood, with oyster omelettes aplenty. For a belt-loosening extravaganza, book a Chaozhou banquet or jiat dot, roughly translated as "eat table".
WHAT SHOULD I BUY?
Unsurprisingly Shenzhen has the world's greatest electronics market, Huaqiangbei. Spread over multiple buildings and floors, each stall represents a factory - think Foxconn, which makes products for Apple, Wii and the like. It requires some local knowledge to navigate, so find yourself a guide and don't be afraid to haggle. Save a few more pennies impressing, if not fooling, the neighbours with a 'masterpiece' by Van Gogh or Renoir.
Dafen oil painting village, located in the suburb of Longgang is regarded as China's best spot for producing replicas and outsourcing original art.
MOST INSTAGRAMABLE PLACE?
Shenzhen's skyline is vast and impressive, ranking among the world's top 10 for the number of skyscrapers, so head to a rooftop. Alternatively, snap architecture of this UNESCO City of Design at ground level, including the silver, egg-shaped Oct Design Museum, the Tai Chi Sales Center origami box, and the 600m Canton Tower at night.
For something techy, head along to RoboMaster's August tournament – like gladiator battles but with robots. The annual competition draws global teams, not to mention an animated audience.
WHAT'S THE WEATHER LIKE?
Shenzhen has a warm, monsooninfluenced, subtropical climate. As it's coastal, winter and spring are mild and relatively dry – winter only lasts 24 days – but rainfall picks up dramatically from April to October. It can be hot and humid with the mercury rising into the 30s.
HOW DO I GET THERE?
For competitive fares flying on modern aircraft, book Hainan Airlines. Travel May to September on return flights from Auckland to Shenzhen from $600 NZD economy, and $2800 NZD business class, and you'll soon be enjoying your second summer. Hainan flies direct from Auckland to Shenzhen 3x times per week, year round.
Avoid peak travel periods in China around traditional festivals like New Year's Day,
Spring Festival, May Day, and the National Day holiday. These impact transport and
accommodation costs and availability.
For more information and ticket purchase, please visit Hainan Airlines overseas official website: https://www.hainanairlines.com/NZ/GB/Home
Further T&C's apply see www.hainanairlines.com