Travelers visiting Hong Kong may consider taking a day off to visit Shenzhen, China, which shares a border with Hong Kong.
A booming city fueled by growth after it was designated as China’s first Special Economic Zone in 1979.
Now, more than just a destination for both businessmen and migrant workers, Shenzhen is now a place for tourists to visit.
How to go Shenzhen from Hong Kong
Take the East Rail Line of the MTR from Hung Hom towards Lo Wu or Lok Ma Chau stations which share the border with Shenzhen. A single ticket fare from Hung Hom, Mong Kok east or Lok Ma Chau to Lo Wu or Lok Ma Chau using Octopus card is HK$38.1 ($4.9) and HK$40 ($5.16) using single journey card you can buy at the station. It takes 45 minutes to travel from Hung Hom to Lo Wu or Lok Ma Chau.
At Sheung Wan
You can also take the ferry from Hong Kong – Macau ferry terminal in Sheung Wan (MTR exit D). There are six trips daily, each of which takes an hour from Hong Kong to Shenzhen’s Shekou ferry terminal. A one way ticket costs CNY120 ($17.45).
At SkyPier at Hong Kong International Airport
Shenzhen Shekou is one of the nine destinations served by ferry transport from Hong Kong International Airport’s SkyPier. Note that this ferry service is only available for transfer passengers arriving at the airport and not applicable to passengers originating from Hong Kong.
What to do in Shenzhen
For tourists, there are a number of attractions such as theme parks.
1) Splendid China Park. A theme park which features an overview of China’s provincial attractions. It costs 85 CNY to get in and rides cost 20 CNY around the park.
2) Windows of the World. A theme park which showcases attractions from around the world. From Taj Mahal, Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower and other popular landmarks, you’ll probably find them here. It is also accessible by metro.
3) Splendid China Folk Village. This theme park, managed by China Travel Service, highlights on the folk Chinese culture, including art, architecture, customs and features a wide variety of shows. It is accessible by bus (101 or minibus 23) or 35 minutes from Luohu Station metro via Line 1.
4) Luohu Commercial City. A large six-storey commercial shopping center just across the border railway station. It’s a place for those who look for souvenirs and cheap goods such as bags and watches where customers can attempt to bargain.
5) Happy Valley Shenzhen. It’s another theme park in Shenzhen covering an area of 86 acres with nine themed sections with rides. Entrance fee is CNY 230 ($33.44) and night ticket at CNY 100.
Tips for travelers to Shenzhen
1) Obtaining visa to Shenzhen using a five-day Special Economic Zone Tourism Visa is available from CNY 168 to CNY 1000 depending on passport. In general, most nationalities (with French and Americans notable exceptions) should be able to obtain such visas, although there are no guarantees.
It is advisable to pay an agency to handle your tour, which also usually includes visa processing, transport, food, theme park tickets, etc.
2) From Hong Kong, it’s best to secure your passport and valid stamp or permit allowing you to return to Hong Kong. Remember that Hong Kong and China have their own set of immigration counters so bring your passport and corresponding visa stamps always.
3) Apart from having different immigration counters, Hong Kong and China have different currencies. Exchange your currency to Chinese yuan upon arriving or before entering China. There are banks such as HSBC or Bank of China ATMs that dispense Chinese yuan. Or you can also approach money changer shops to exchange your foreign currency to that of China’s. This becomes handy as some smaller shops don’t accept currencies other than yuan.
4) Big crowds is not a surprise and you can easily get hungry or thirsty, so securing biscuits a small bottle of water comes in handy.