The choice of Shennan Avenue as one of Shenzhen’s great sights was an inspired one.
Shennan Avenue runs the length of the city for approximately 30 km starting at Wutong Mountain in the East and ending at Nanshan in the west. It is wide all the way, but at the beginning of the Futian CBD it widens even further to eight lanes plus two service roads and a wide flower-filled median strip. Crossing by pedestrian subway from one side to the other is a major exercise.
For the whole of its route it is flanked by some of Shenzhen’s most spectacular buildings including the Diwang building, the SEG Tower, the Civic Centre building, the China Merchants Bank Headquarters, the 87-storey East Pacific International residences, and many others. The beds of brilliant tropical flowers in the median strip through Futian give way to a veritable jungle as it passes through Overseas Chinese Town with palms, coconuts, brilliant pink bauhinia trees and bright red bougainvillea.
Many people think, however, that the best time to see Shennan Ave. is around 9:30 pm. At this time the street is packed with cars and the lights of the main buildings are still shining before being turned off for the night. Highlights are the ellipse of the Shenzhen Media skyscraper, the Daily Planet-like globe on the side of the Shenzhen Special Zone Press Tower and the spectacular lights of the Wuzhou Guest House. You should also not miss the laser light shows on the buildings surrounding the Civic Centre building.
Lao Jie Old Street, also known as Dong Men East Gate, is the original Shenzhen Village. It is normal in City Government publications to refer to Shenzhen as having grown from a fishing village and certainly there were some fishing villages in old Shenzhen. But the village that gave the city its name had nothing to do with fishing. Its
inhabitants were engaged in rice farming but, above all else, administration. The administrative centre of the county was moved here in the early 1950s because of its proximity to the railway line.
As the city grew in the 1980s and 1990s, not a lot seemed to change in the old town. Locals and immigrants found it a welcome respite from the flash newness of everything and would take refuge there for food, shopping and entertainment. In the late 1980s China’s first McDonald’s opened here not in Beijing as you will often see claimed. It’s still there dispensing burgers and efficient service.
There are plenty of more sparkling places to see in Shenzhen but if you ask a locals where they most like to go for a bit of comfort food and fun, they’ll nearly all answer: Lao Jie. This is especially true of the young who can be seen preening and courting on every corner. You can get a bite to eat, shop in innumerable places for trendy clothes, have your Korean boy band haircut repointed, get new hair extensions just about anything that a young male or female worker wants.
Lao Jie also has several large department stores such as MOI. It also specialises in cloth and piece goods with several markets mainly in Dong Men Rd.
Address: Bounded by Shennan Ave, Dongmen Rd. Jianshe Rd. and Wenhua Garden
Metro Lao Jie, lines 1 and 3
Buses: 1, 3, 102, 103, 106, 113, 203, 64
See also the section on shopping in Shenzhen
XIAN HU BOTANICAL GARDEN SHENZHEN
This is Shenzhen’s biggest and most beautiful public garden, which also contains Shenzhen’s main Buddhist temple, the Hong Fa Temple. See the section on gardens and walking.
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