First things first, welcome all newcomers to Shenzhen! You are about to experience the most unique time in your life.
Do not waste a moment getting settled in! The best way to get to know the city is to get out and explore it with new friends! Before you know it, you will get stuck here on campus doing work! There will be group projects, quizzes, midterms, student clubs, athletic events, lab reports, essays, and finals coming your way. All these things will stop you from seeing the best parts of Shenzhen! Don’t let this precious time go to waste.
To help you get started on your journey, I prepared a “Shenzhen checklist”. This list provides you with many suggestions for this rough beginning time when you are not familiar with the city and its perks, but still have some freedom before school really takes off. So, buckle up in your DiDi and let’s discover Shenzhen and what it has to offer!
☐ Dim Sum
A Cantonese cuisine, dim sum is small sized bites prepared in steamer baskets. If you choose carefully, dim sum is also very photogenic. It is best served and eaten with tea. Consider it the perfect meal for Sunday brunch.
☐ Try street food
Transportation can be quite time-consuming in Shenzhen, especially when solely traveling for food. One hidden jewel is the street food in the ‘urban villages’. Close to us in the Shenzhen University Town and right outside the gate of the Harbin Institute of Technology is Pingshan Village. Street food starts to appear in the late afternoon hours and sticks around until the late night. Multiple stands offer various dishes, like kaolengmian (noodles with various stuffing), fried noodles (with meat or sausage), zhachuan (ingredients strung on the bamboo stick), chuanchuan (contains variety of meats and veggies fried in oil pot and then put on iron clamp and seasoned) and many others. More suggestions and map to the HIT gate street food market can be found in our article here.
☐ View from Shenzhen Ping’an Finance Tower
Located in the lively Coco Park, Ping An Tower represents the ideal place to take your time and see Shenzhen from above. Either choose the sightseeing floor located on the 116th floor or the restaurant. Of course, at the restaurant, you can enjoy the view with delicious food and drink in hand.(Local tip: it’s free to visit the sightseeing floor on your birthday for you and 1 friend, just bring ID!)
Shenzhen has many faces and one of them is to be found in the artsy village of Dafen. Visit this place to see how the paintings are painted from scratch. Possibly bring a new piece home for your art collection. If you are on a tight budget, you can still enjoy the atmosphere and take great photos. The Dafen Art Museum is free as well and features original works from local artists.
☐ Tour de Shenzhen parks
When life gets too hard, one way to deal with it is to escape to one of Shenzhen’s parks. Pack some snacks, bring friends, and go enjoy good weather. My personal favorites are Shenzhen Bay Park and Shenzhen Rencai Park.
☐ Shenzhen Bay bike trip
Once already in the Shenzhen Bay Park, you can gradually transform your day from a chill picnic to a more active day when renting one of the many bikes laying around. Take a ride along the Shenzhen coast while feeling surrounded by a spectacular panorama.
☐ Dapeng fortress
Dapeng fortress is a 600 year old structure and community very close to Shenzhen. If you want to see some history and feel transported to a different era, definitely make the journey. You need to first take the subway and change for line 5 at the Xili station and continue until Yijing station where you will change for a bus heading for Dapeng.
☐ Sushi in Xili
A suggestion specific for those of us in Shenzhen University Town! If you are a sushi lover, you are at just the right place. 米彩料理寿司, the famous sushi place international students visit at least once while living at the university campus, is a five minute walk from the Xili metro station. Favorable prices and excellent selection will make you a regular at this place (address: 西丽镇街道同沙路24号)
☐ Convention center at night
If you enjoy the blinding lights of the city, you will for sure like the downtown area after sunset. Many buildings are changing their colors and various visuals sights can be spotted on the buildings. (Convention Centre (会展中心, Line 4, Metro: 会展中心站, Exit D)
☐ Explore Guangdong province, Macao and Hong Kong
Once settled in Shenzhen, go and explore the Guangdong province with its specific cultures and sights. Trip to Guangzhou is a must, to see a different version of a Chinese mega city. If looking for a more original experience plan a trip to see the Diaolou or the watch towers in Kaiping. If looking for an interesting mix of cultures visit Macao or Hong Kong.