Shenzhen, which connects Hong Kong to China's mainland, is one of the most popular cities in southeast China. It is a popular spot for shopping and entertainment, thanks to its large malls and many family-friendly amusement parks.
Nearly 50 years ago, Shenzhen was little more than a fishing village. Today, the city of 8 million is rapidly expanding to become a top retail destination. Some claim that the best sights of Shenzhen are its shops, and they might be right. As the city has expanded, it has also created some major attractions, such as mini Eiffel Towers and bohemian artist villages.
If you are making a trip to China and planning on staying overnight in Shenzhen, spend some time exploring some of its main sights, beyond just the stores.
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Located in the heart of Shenzhen, the 370-acre Lianhuashan Park offers a bit of green space amidst the sprawling concrete city. The park is centered by a 350-foot hill with a bronze statue of politician Deng Xiaoping at the top. From here, you'll find sweeping views of the city as well as many families taking a picnic and flying kites. There is also a large lake, where you can rent paddle boats for a small fee.
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Dafen Oil Painting Village
Most major Chinese cities now host Artists Villages, where thousands of artists live and create millions of replicas of the world's best paintings. Dafen, which became an artist hub in the 1980s, stands out for its impressive past—it once produced more than 60 percent of the world's oil paintings. However, forget any ideas of a quaint artist's retreat. The estimated 5,000+ artists in Dafen often produce the paintings in factory conditions, turning them out like a car on a production line. However, there are also hundreds of individual artists who will paint a replica of Rembrandt or Monet in just a few hours. Paintings cost as little as $40. Even if you don't plan on buying, it's a fascinating cultural phenomenon and walking through the dusty streets, lined with works by the great masters, is nothing short of bizarre and beautiful.
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Window of the World
Window of the World is Shenzhen's number one attraction. It is a collection of about 130 replicas of world sights and landmarks, all within the 120-acre theme park. The word miniature doesn't really do the recreations justice as they are large, in some cases two-thirds of the size of the original. The focus is firmly on Europe, with recreations of London's Houses of Parliament, Paris's Eiffel Tower, and Rome's Coliseum. Elsewhere, there are substantial American and Asian collections. On top of the replicas, you'll find themed streets and food as well as dance shows. The park also puts on an impressive laser and light show. With its amusement park atmosphere, Window of the World is an excellent way to keep the kids entertained all day long.
Note: You may also want to check out Splendid China Folk Village, the sister site to Window of the World. This attraction focuses on the history, art, architecture, and culture of Mother China. It offers replicas of the... country's best sights, such as the Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors.