Exploring Shenzhen: Historical Charm with Modern Twist in Nantou Ancient Town

New students or visitors who have just come to Shenzhen always have these questions.

What fun places are there in Shenzhen? 

What about around campus?

It’s true! There is not much information about Shenzhen because it is a new mega-city and always changing! Make the most out of your free time and weekends to enjoy life and really get to know Shenzhen.

Today, we take all of you to an ancient town. This ancient town is in the center of the Nanshan District and has a history of 1700 years!

After 17 months of transformation, it was reborn again. The ancient town of Nantou was announced as a cultural relic protection unit in Shenzhen.

The government also strives to build an immersive and cutting edge history museum to make the spot an emblem of Shenzhen culture.

In Nantou Ancient Town, there are ancient gates, rare blue bricks and tiles, charming stone streets and some interesting modern elements.

Let us get started!

First Impressions

Before entering the ancient city gate, many words are printed on the bluestone ground. If you are interested in the development history of Shenzhen and the Pearl River Delta, you’d better not ignore it.

Shenzhen is an emerging immigrant city with a history of only 40 years. However, this fact can be misleading.

The history of this area and what was here before the city can be traced back to the Eastern Jin Dynasty 1600 years ago.

Ancient Nantou has witnessed the thousand-year history of civilization here and tells the past and present of this reformed city.

As the scholars of local history in Shenzhen say, Shenzhen is not a “cultural desert.” 

When getting closer to the gate, you can see the ruins of the ancient city wall, which is full of history.

You will also be delighted by Lingnan style buildings, restaurants and the occasional young person wearing Hanfu (a style of traditional Chinese clothing).

You truly get a sense of walking into history on this street.

Explore the Ancient Town

Nantou includes archways, Nanchengmen, Xin’an County Office, Xin’an Prison, Haiphong Office, Dongguan Guild Hall, Guandi Temple, Wentianxiang Temple, Opium Smoke House, Jieguan Hall, Juxiu Tower, Yili Pawnshop, Taomi Gong Bank.

Let’s take a look at some spots.

Xin’an County Office

Xin’an County Office is one of the highlights of the ancient buildings. In the first year of Wanli Ming Dynasty (1573), the Ming Dynasty government expanded the Dongguan Shouyu Qianhu Base, established Xin’an County, and established the county’s governance in Nantou, including area within present-day Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Here, you can experience ancient Chinese officialdom settings. At the same time, you can understand the path of promotion and treatment in China at that time.

Dongguan Hall

The Dongguan Hall is also known as “Bao’an Office”. It has a gray roof and glazed tile surface. It is carved with birds, beasts and flowers. The name of Liang Jinao’s handwritten script Shimen Kaishu Museum was the only one preserved in Shenzhen during the Tongzhi period. Here, you can feel the beauty and exquisiteness of Chinese architecture at that time.


This is a pocket-size museum, you can visit in half an hour. The second floor exhibition hall of the museum is quite similar to the Shenzhen History Exhibition. Here you can know the previous lifestyle, entertainment, travel, trade, etc. of Shenzhen people.

Modern Elements

If you think Nantou will only make you feel the ancient style, then you are wrong.

The ancient town has many modern exhibitions, so visitors can experience the “ancient” and “now”, “new” and “old”. It is a collision of Lingnan characteristics and modern fashion.

A special 4D display is vivid, taking us through time, as if walking on the streets of an ancient city thousands of years ago.

If you are coming with your family, the old town square is not to be missed. The square is large and the surrounding green environment is good, full of vitality.

Very interesting is the bamboo pavilion. Every bamboo here is imported from Vietnam, piled and weaved by hand, it is worth sitting and playing on.

Bamboo Pavilion

During the Mid-Autumn Festival, an audience area was also set up at the gate of Nancheng. Mooncakes and Chinese tea were provided on the spot, so that citizens could feel the strong festival atmosphere and enjoy the full moon. In the evening, there was a light show. After the light show, an immersive parade show covering the whole area of Nantou is staged. Don’t miss it next holiday!

An Underrated Food Spot

Don’t overlook the food scene of Nantou!

There are countless Cantonese snacks, for example, steamed rice noodlessweet and delicious sweet waterpastriesthat you can’t put down, and a tofu shop that has been passed down for three generations.

Here you can feel the nostalgic Lingnan style, with oiled paper umbrellas, eaves, graphite machines, old Cantonese tables and chairs.

In addition to Cantonese-style snacks, there are many other provinces’ cuisines, such as Nanjing duck blood vermicelli soupSichuan hot potHunan cuisine and so on.

There are also a lot of coffee shops and western restaurants with comfortable environments.


Bus: Take M176 and you can see when you get off at Nanshan Public Security Bureau (南山公安分局)There are also many buses that go to Nantou bus stop and Xin’an Ancient Town bus stop. They all are convenient!

Metro: Traveling by metro is not so convenient for this location, but the closest metro station is Taoyuan station (桃园) on Line 1

No entrance fees

Remember to wear a mask!

The recommended visit time is about 3h. There will be special exhibitions and programs on major holidays

Written by Raihbooo Yan