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  HOME > Sight>Shenzhen Tourist Attractions

Nantou Ancient City

Located in the far west of Shenzhen, close to the east bank of the mouth of the Pearl River, is the ancient city of Nantou (a.k.a. Xinan city). Nantou is one of the earliest urban areas in what is now Shenzhen and was a busy commercial port in the Ming Dynasty. Excavations in this area have revealed evidence of civilization as far back as the Shang Dynasty (1700 –1100BC), contradicting the traditional believe that, until relatively recent times, Guangdong was a forlorn wilderness to which errant officials were exiled. 

Nantou is still home to thousands of residents today. They mostly live in modern apartment blocks within the citys ancient walls. Between the functional white-tiled blocks, architectural gems from bygone days, such as the Dongguan Clubhouse, Sir Xinguos Shrine and the Baode Shrine, are preserved.   Conspicuous for its European style, the Foundling Hospital is a reminder of foreign influences in this part of China. Today, it functions as a church for Nantous Catholics. 

A museum, located near the South Gate, provides an excellent insight into the citys past with dozens of excavated artefacts on show. Unfortunately, the captions have not yet been translated into English. The RMB20 entrance charge includes a bilingual map of Nantou.

If you prefer to experience history with a sense of continuity, Nantou Ancient City is a treat. This is a lived-in historical area, as opposed to a museum-type showpiece. Life goes on, somewhat changed, somewhat the same, in its narrow alleys. Farmers sell vegetables in the arches of its gates, as they have been doing for centuries. The heaps of fresh incense ash in its ancient shrines indicate that these deities are still being worshiped. Children play in streets, which are pungent with the smell of the same foods their ancestors cooked and ate. Open doorways provide flashing glimpses of meals being prepared, intense mahjong games and other scenes of family life. The contrast with the wide soulless roads and department stores outside its gates is dramatic to say the least. For a similar but quieter experience check out Dapeng Ancient City.

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Meisha Beach Parks

The tourist brochure for the Meisha Beach Parks, somewhat needlessly, states that this area “is a good land where people lived, procreated and done diving into the sea” since ancient times. You might not want to live or procreate here but it is not a bad spot to feel some sand between your toes and gaze at fishing boats at work. 

Da Meisha and Xiao Meisha are the two beaches, which make up this coastal scenic area. Both of them have been shaped into parks, with restaurants and shops serving day-trippers from Shenzhen. There is an aquarium zoo, jet skiing, boating, bungee jumping, and other resort type activities. Da Meisha is a public area, while Xiao Meisha has a RMB20 entry fee. The only real difference is that the ticket price ensures no hassle from beggars. 

At one end of Da Meisha there is a rocky little cove next to a public garden called Lunar Square (Moonlight Square would be a better translation). This is a popular spot for wedding photos and there seems to be a few wedding parties there almost everyday. It’ s quite a spectacle to behold as photographers have the newly wed couples precariously perch themselves on rocks while frantic bridesmaids try to keep wedding gowns out of the surf. There is a bar and “western food” restaurant next to Lunar Square. The food is sub-standard but the beer garden is a nice setting for a drink. 

Xiao Meisha, the smaller of the two, tends to be a bit less crowded but has more restaurants and shops near it. Xiao Meisha usually offers the bizzare spectacle of local tourists all wearing the same 1950s-style swimsuits. 

While the Meisha Beach Parks are too built-up and busy to inspire castaway fantasies, they are decent places to have some seaside fun and are easy to get too from the city. 

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Window on the World

Theme parks feature high on the official list of Shenzhens tourist attractions and Window on the World is the most famous. The foreign visitor will be less interested in this attraction. A notice at the gateway boldly declares, “See the worlds landmarks in one day.” What it neglects to mention is that you will be seeing tasteless miniature replicas of them. The park also has some rides and “cultural” performances. Unless you have kids, are fantastically bored, or have some peculiar fascination with the tacky side of tourism, you can give Window on the World (and Shenzhen’s other theme parks) a wide berth. 

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Splendid China and China Folk Culture Village

Splendid China and China Folk Culture Village are two theme parks combined into one. They attempt to do for China what Window on the World does for the rest of the planet. Splendid China represents China’s architectural wonders. In China Folk Culture Village, happy, shiny Chinese ethnic minorities give demonstrations of their craftwork and dance performances to gaping tourists. The parks replicas of famous places follow a “most” theme. For example, Zhaozhou Bridge is represented as the “most ancient stone arch bridge” A replica of the park itself, under the title “most overrated tourist attraction”, wouldn’t go amiss. 

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Happy Valley

Fun rides, thrill rides, performances and activities make Happy Valley a happy place of family fun. Strictly for kids and kidults.

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