The city of Shenzhen has quickly risen from a small border town to one of China’s fastest-growing hubs for technology, shopping and entertainment. It’s home to some of the most audacious building projects that China has ever seen, and is attracting investment from brands like Burberry and Balenciaga.

But while Shenzhen has come a long way since its opening as a special economic zone in 1979, many of the challenges remain. Among them, how to navigate the complexities of housing and property development in a migrant city that’s also struggling with population growth.

Getting There

Shenzhen is a major hub for Chinese and international commerce. It boasts a number of big malls where goods ranging from designer clothing to electronics can be purchased.

Shenzhen’s subway system is also a convenient and affordable way to get around the city. Single ride tokens are available in green plastic coins that can be fed into the coin slot at each subway entrance/exit gate.

Public buses are another efficient means of transport in Shenzhen. These are clean, comfortable and quiet and will take you to most parts of the city.

Expats will also have easy access to a number of long distance bus stations. These connect Shenzhen with cities like Dongguan, Guangzhou and Zhuhai.

Taxis are a popular form of transportation in Shenzhen and are often used by expats who live close to the city centre. They can be hailed on the street or via an app, such as Didi (available outside China), which allows you to hail a taxi remotely from your smartphone.


Shenzhen has a large range of accommodation options for all types of travelers. From first-time visitors to families and couples, there is something for everyone.

The most popular areas are Nanshan, Luohu and Futian. These districts are well developed and offer convenient public transport access to most attractions in Shenzhen.

Nanshan District is a popular choice for many expats due to its easy access to some of Shenzhen’s most beautiful green spaces. In addition, Nanshan is an ideal location for families because of its proximity to a large selection of international schools.

The upscale Luohu district is also a popular choice for expats because of its rich cultural experiences. Residents will find a plethora of shopping opportunities, with luxury designer clothing and pricey antiques at their fingertips. There are also plenty of bars and nightclubs in the area to keep people entertained.


Shenzhen is famous for its shopping streets and commercial centers, but it also has plenty of museums to explore. From a museum of science to war museums and memorials, these places give you a glimpse of the city’s culture and history.

There is no better way to learn about Shenzhen than by taking a tour of its museums. Shenzhen Museum, for example, has a mix of historical heirlooms that will take you back in time.

Another place to get a feel for Shenzhen’s past is the Dapeng Ancient City. This historic district is a bustling collection of buildings, some of which date back to the East Jin Dynasty.

In addition to ancient relics, this museum also features contemporary pieces that reflect Shenzhen’s opening-up policy and its folk traditions. It’s a must-see for history buffs and a perfect place to spend the day with your kids. The museum is free and open daily. There are plenty of interactive games for children, too.


There are a surprising number of hiking trails in Shenzhen, many of which offer great views and some exercise. Shenzhen is a big city and there are often long distances between locations, so it’s best to use a map app to estimate travel times before you start your adventure.

Hiking enthusiasts in Shenzhen will be happy to hear that the city has just launched a new series of wild and handmade trails, aiming to encourage people to explore the mountains and seas on foot. The main hiking routes will span five mountain areas and will include branch lines.

The longest route in Shenzhen is a 7.4-mile hike around Wutong Mountain, one of the highest in the Pearl River Delta. The trail is a little challenging and requires a lot of physical fitness, but the views from the top are worth it. There’s also a trail to the Salt Fields, an area where sand mines were once used.