3 Best Things to Do in Shenzhen

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 thrown up some attractions, from Soviet-era aircraft carriers to mini Eiffel Towers.

If you are making a trip to China and planning on staying overnight in Shenzhen, you will want to spend some time exploring some of its main sights, beyond just the stores.

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    Window of the World

    Shenzhen window of the world in miniature landscape attraction.
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    Window of the World is Shenzhen's number one attraction. It is a collection of around 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.

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    Splendid China Folk Village

    Minature people and buildings at Splendid China theme park, Shenzhen, China. Splendid China is an attraction that has scaled down replicas of China's historical buildings, wonderful scenes and folk customs. The scale models are in the main in a ratio of 1:15 and the exhibits are positioned to replicate their geographical locations. It is one of the world's largest scenery parks in the amount of scenarios reproduced. The park is developed and managed by the major travel and tourist corporation,
    ••• In Pictures Ltd./Corbis/Getty Images

    Sister site to Window of the World, Splendid China Folk Village 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. The miniatures here are somewhat less monumental and impressive. Splendid China is at least instructive in seeing the best China has to offer, but if you were to pick between the two parks, Window of the World is far better.

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    Dafen Oil Painting Village

    A salesperson rests in folding chair at an open-sided gallery featuring reproductions of Van Gogh in one of the laneways at the artist village on June 12, 2014 in Shenzhen, China. The Dafen Artist Village in Guangdong province, China, is home to thousands of artists who reproduce some of the world's most iconic paintings as well as create their own works. The village, on the outskirts of Shenzhen, is becoming a major center for original Chinese art.
    ••• Palani Mohan/Getty images

    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.