Luohu district, Shenzhen. Our first sight of China, when approaching from Hong Kong.
Population: 10 - 15 000 000
Part of Pearl River Delta Mega City (44.7 millions)
Tallest building: KK100 (442m, 100 floors).
2016: Ping An International Finance Centre (115 floors, 600m)
Region: Guangdong Province
Founed (city rights): 1979
Area: 1 991 km² (urban)
Year visited: 2015
Shenzhen was the first so called SEZ (Special Economic Zone) of China, where experiments of market economy started. TIn the late 1970s Shenzhen was only a village with a few thousand inhabitants, now it is a metropolis with something between 10 and 15 million inhabitants! It is Southern Mainland China's main financial center and a lot of Chinese and international high-tech companies have their offices in Shenzhen. The exact figures of the population remains unclear, but Shenzhen is most likely among the 3 or 5 largest cities in China. Shenzhen is China's fastest growing, richest, most developed city and one of the places with the largest construction activities in the world. Some of the world's tallest and most innovative skyscrapers are under construction in Shenzhen and the city has one of the world's largest container ports.
Shenzhen is a very large, but also very narrow city; Most attractions, shopping malls and modern skyscrapers have been built along Shennan Boulevard, to the south and north it is sometimes very close to the borders of the city for example Shenzhen River that flows between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, is situated only 3 blocks from the busy Shennan Blvd. So everything along this boulevard can be considered the city center. Shung Hing Square, Ping An Int'l Finance Centre (under construction) and KK110 are the tallest and most significant skyscrapers, and all of them have been built in Shennan Blvd. Two of them have over 100 floors. In the East Shennan Bldv passes the Luohu District. This district is where you find the Luohu Station, a huge railway station where you most likely will arrive when taking the train from Hong Kong, to go through the visa and customs. This area also has huge shopping malls, de luxe hotel and new skyscrapers. Our hotel, the 5-star Panglin Hotel, a 55-storey building with a revolving rooftop restaurant, is also in Luohu. And so is Dongmen Shopping area, an area with nice pedestrian streets that I didn't manage to find. The streetscape of Shenzhen is very modern, even with western standards, with large trafficated roads, palms and skyscrapers.
Further to the West, Shennan passes the Futian District, where you find even more skyscrapers and shopping malls and two large parks, Central Park and Lizhi Park (we visited the latter one). In Futian you also find the enormous Civic Center, a culture center with curved roofs and open space, is one of the world's largest buildings. It is also here that Ping An Finance Centre will be not only Shenzhen's but also one of the world's tallest buildings when topped out at a height of 600m. At night you will find the buildngs illuminated in strange neon patterns.
Even further to the West, in Nanshan District, you find the Overseas Chinese Town (OCT), a special area with hotels, office buildings, tall apartment buildings and furthermost several large theme parks. Windows of the World (WoW) is the most famous one. We visited WoW, where you will find copies a lot of famous landmarks all over the world 1/3 of the full scale, like an impressive copy of the Eiffel Tower, the Arch of Triumph, Manhattan, Niagara Falls, the Jesus statue in Rio, Colosseum, the pyramids of Egypt, the White House in Washington DC, Big Ben, Thai temples, a full-scale Cambodian village, scenes with performance shows and much more. You can take an elevated monorail train trough the whole theme park. Just next to WoW there is an Alp village, that consist of buildings that tries to look like old buildings in Austria.
In nearby Splendid China you will find impressive copies of famous landmarks from all over China. China Folk Culture village is a full-scale Chinese village with a lot of native Chinese events. Happy Valley is more of an amusement park.
We visited Shenzhen for 2 days; one day in the city (including the trip from Hong Kong) and one day in the city, spending more then half a day in the theme park Windows of the World. I have always considered Shenzhen a must during a Hong Kong trip. The stunning modern architecture, the boulevards, the supertall skyscrapers, large and nice parks and the many huge theme parks with interesting themes, makes the city worth a visit. Especially since it is only one hour by train North of Hong Kong. The Visa procedure takes some time though, and can be costy. Shenzhen borders Hong Kong, Dongguan and Huizhou, other cities with several million inhabitants. Little known to the outside world, is that Shenzhen has some of China's finest beaches. The most famous one is the Daimesha Beach in the west part of the city.
During my visit, I figured out that Shenzhen is definately the hipster capital of China! International. In Shenzhen you will find pop bands performing, expensive restaurants with bohemic atmosphere, students with "hip" clothes etc. And many rich people! Luxury cars, international luxury hotel chains, international restaurants etc. Shenzhen is a good food city with everything from local food to Italian and American fastfood, that is the most common type of food in the new China. Just keep in mind that if you are a Westener, you can forget what you call Chinese food at home; fried things are very rare, and there are bones in most meat, that you have to spit out! It is not as hot as you might think either and you will not get a lot of vegetables. Dumplings, ducks, fried rice, differents steaks with a lot of bones are common food. The restaurants don't look like traditional Chinese restaurants either, except for a few old fashioned ones with dragons and red lanterns. They look more like a modern Japanese restaurant with a very bright and modern atmosphere, or sometimes even Western.
The toilets are an absolute nightmare in China! They only have a hole in the floor, and you have to bring your own toilet paper and soap, because Chinese people never use it! Even at expensive restaurants and McDonald's!
Like most other Chinese cities, the pollution is very bad, the skies are constantly grey because of haze, making the impressive skyline and modern much less impressive.The metro is very modern with glass walls with automatic doors at all stations. The trains and stations are air conditioned and the security very high; you have to scan your bag any time you enter the train area. It can be complicated to buy a day card if you don't speak Cantonese, but once you have it after a lot of misunderstandings, it is very easy and extremely cheap to travel anywhere in the city.
Beware of taking a taxi from the Luohu Station! The cab drivers do anything to convince you that they are genuine, they even stand besides real taxi cars, but then they take you to a private car and you have to pay about seven times the normal price! Just go outside the station and try to take a taxi there, or do everything to ignore the illegal taxi drivers!
My brand new website about Shenzhen featuring the new gallery system:
Luohu was the first district in the new city of Shenzhen in 1979. It is the Easternmost district of central Shenzhen, and is filled with tall skyscrapers, hotels and large shopping malls. Shennan Boulevard is running right through Luohu, a very long road where most of Shenzhen's skyscrapers are situated. Luohu is the first place many see of China when arriving in Shenzhen from Hong Kong, since the Immigration building is situated there, as well as Shezhen's Main Railway Station, a huge and very train station. Luohu Commercial City, a 5-storey shopping mall near the border control, is the only place many foreign Shenzhen visitors will visit, unfortunately, since there are som much else to see and do in Shenzhen! Dongmen shopping area with pedestrian steets, stores, restaurants, malls and a vibrant nightlife is also situated in the Luohu district. Unfortunately I wasn't able to find it. Our hotel, the 5-star Panglin Hotel, was situated in the area.
Shun Hing Square (or Di Wang Bldg), the tallest skyscraper in Asia upon completion in 1996 (384m) is situated in Luoho, and was the tallest building in Shenzhen until it was beaten by it's neighbour, the 442m tall, 100-storey skyscraper KK100 in 2011, (that in turn will be surpassed by a skyscraper in Futian districtin 2016, and many more are planned). We visited the observation deck of Shun Hing Square, that also features an exhibition. Lizhi Park (Lychee Park) is a nice park with pavilions and bridges in traditional Chinese style, just next to these skyscrapers.
This part is focused on the area around Luoho border/immigration area, Dongmen and the hotel.
Shun Hing Square and KK100, Luohu district.
The Panglin, our hotel, Luohu district.
Shennan East Road, , Luohu district.
View from Shun Hing Square towards KK100, Luohu district.
Contrasts: Old bikes and modern skyscrapres.
- Civic Center, Citizen's Center, Cultural Centre, Ping An Int'l Finance Centre
Futian district, just to the West of Luohu, is Shenzhen's foremost financial district and also a residential area with almost 1 million inhabitants. Many new skyscrapers and other futuristic buildings can be found in the district, especially in Citizen's Center around the enormous Civic Center, that is famous for its colourful exterior and curved roof. Many new futuristic buildings are under construction, like Ping An Int'l Finance Centre that will become Shenzhen's tallest building ever, and one of the world's tallest, more then 600m (twice as tall as the Eiffel Tower). The Cultural Centre that includes the futuristic twin buildings of the concert hall and the library, the huge Convention Center and numerous fancy shopping malls, tall hotels and restaurants with Chinese and international cuisine can be found in the district. Central Park and Lianhuashan Park are huge parks in the district.
Shenzhen Civic Center or Citizen's Center is an enormous building complex, that is famous for its colourful exterior and curved roof. It opened in 2004 and was designed by John M. Y. Lee and Michael Timchula. It is one of the world's largest buildings and consists of two main halls, connected by a curved roof in the shape of a bird that can be passed underneath, after walking up through stairs. It houses the City Hall with 26 government agencies, as well as an exhibition center, a shopping mall, conference center and the interesting Shenzhen Museum, that has free entrance. Around the complex you wil find a large park, Wongtee Plaza and Central Walk shopping malls, several large hotels (Sheraton, Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton etc), one of China's larges book stores, the Childrens Palace and the Shenzhen Library and Opera buildings. Many concerts and performances are taking place in the area and it is a popular place to gather in Sundays.
Ping An Financial Centre, to become Shenzhen’s tallest in 2016 (600m, 115 floors).
Civic Center, one of the largest buildings in the world and a strange landmark of Shenzhen!
New Century Excellence Towers, 250-280m tall.
Futian skyline at night.
Futian skyline, with Ping An Internatinonal Financial Centre, to become Shenzhen’s tallest.
Live rock band.
Beatles influences musician.
Shenzhen Cultural Centre, with the Concert Hall and Library twin buildings.
Didn’t manage to find out what this will be.