Originally a market town (aka Sham Chun Hui) on the route of the Kowloon-Canton Railway, Shenzhen became designated as China's first Special Economic Zone in 1980 and is a thriving metropolitan area of over 18 million people. Foreign investment played a major role in the transformation. It is now home to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange and the headquarters of numerous high-tech companies with one of the busiest container ports in the world. Also known as "Pengcheng", it sits in the province of Guangdong, separated from Hong Kong by the Shenzhen River. Sometimes referred to as the "Black Garden of Hong Kong", it is not a place of natural scenic beauty, but of man-made attractions to grab the tourist dollar.
Known as a shopping mecca from tailor made clothes to knock-off designer bags, it is a modern city with a number of amusement parks. There is the national style museum, China Folk Cultural Village, where you can have glean a taste of the local culture and a miniature scenery park named Splendid China, where everything is "little" but in the right place on the map of China. This is for those wishing to view the whole of China in a day in "Lilliputian" size. You can find folk performances and historical relics at the Window of the World and the Shenzhen Happy Valley is a theme park of 350,000 sq mts where you can play games and let the inner child out to run wild. The Fairy Lake Botanical Garden sits on the hillside of Mt Wutong and is perfect for those into fossilized trees and maybe the odd fairy garden gnome or two. Donghu Park is where to find chrysanthemum exhibitions and animal sculptures overlooking the Shenzhen Reservoir. There are a couple of beaches, Dameisha and Xiaomeisha to have a splash at and a safari park with the largest swan lake in China and cute pandas to talk to.
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