Shenzhen – a shining example of China’s evolution.
Away from the retail whirl and within Shenzhen's deeper reaches are surprisingly lush greenery and several culture spots.
To visit Futian in Shenzhen, China, is to witness a region in transformation. The city's Shenzhen Convention and Exhibition Centre has a total capacity for 5,000 booths across nine halls and last year hosted over 65 large scale events including the International Gold, Jewellery and Gem Fair and The 9th China International Exhibition on Nuclear Power Industry. The cutting-edge development has spearheaded projects that will propel the city into a well-known business destination. Already the Shenzhen Civic Centre, with its S-shaped primary coloured roof, stands out in Futian’s landscape. Soon, the stock exchange will move from neighbouring Lowu to a 246-metre tall structure and then, doubling that, China insurance giants Ping-An will complete a new headquarters building in 2014. At an estimated 588 metres, or 115 floors, this will be home for China's tallest building.
Naturally these moves bring big business from all over China alongside growing interest from migrating international firms looking to capitalise on the country’s phenomenal growth. In the process, areas like Futian race to provide facilities and entertainments for those with time off the clock.
Futian and its surrounding areas have a lot to offer those on a tourist track. Lowu, around 20 minutes east by car, has long drawn attention for its Commercial City, packed to the rafters with cheap goods, from watches to curtains. In Futian, Coco Park and the Crystal Island International Plaza malls house home-grown Chinese and internationally branded shopping, entertainment and food and beverage outlets.
Away from the retail whirl and within Shenzhen's deeper reaches are surprisingly lush greenery and several culture spots. Within Futian itself is Litchi Park, complete with themed gardens, plentiful lychee trees and quaint bridges allowing visitors to meander surrounding Lake Lihu. If the Zen found in the tranquil surroundings inspires, more green is available close by. Fairy Lake Botanical Gardens feature magnolia and orchid gardens; bonsais and pretty pavilions seem to echo an older world.
Take a car 20 minutes away from Futian's centre to discover the cobbled streets, artsy cafes and sleek design spaces of the OCT Loft. The area is in line with Shenzhen government's mission to create not just an economic centre but also a cultural one, and is similar in nature to projects like Beijing’s 798 art zone.
Visit on the first weekend of the month and alfresco stalls offer handicrafts in a relaxed, laid-back setting. Visitors can stock up on goods as varied as vintage games, hand-designed shirts and bags, and locally-produced food items whilst picking among the stalls set up among tree-lined walkways, and then retire to a courtyard of one of the district’s famed coffee houses.
For those more at home on the golf green, the exclusive Xili Golf and Country Club offers a 36-hole champion golf course in the scenic countryside of Shenzhen’s Nam Shan area. Designed by award-winning Lynx architects Nelson, Wright and Hawoth, the courses showcase natural beauty, while providing a challenging day for players of all levels, in magnificent surroundings. What better place to impress prestigious clients?
Best for Last
As a migrant city, Shenzhen can boast food options born in regions from all over China. Worth hunting is Jiangsu regional speciality, Huaiyang cuisine, Sichuan province’s warming dishes, traditional Hakka foods and a great selection of Cantonese. The Wei Long House Hakka restaurant, Miu Family Sichuan Restaurant, and the Tao Heung Restaurant, which serves dim sum, seafood and hotpot are all noted recommendations found in Futian.
And for a place to stay, Futian Shangri-La, Shenzhen achieves a comfort and personalised service normally associated with boutique offerings—welcome amid the rapid pace of change and large-scale development outside. From the moment they step into the expansive lobby guests are treated like old friends, while the décor, in wintry blue, white and red depicts gentle Chinese scenes of nature that are plush and soothing. Some might call it a perfect respite from a tiring day of work and play.