Shenzhen & Guangzhou

For many tourists who travel to Hong Kong, it is hard to resist the opportunity to visit Mainland China. The two most popular cities to visit are Shenzhen and Guangzhou for their proximity to Hong Kong. There aren’t a whole lot of sightseeing options but the journeys to and from these cities by train and catamaran, respectively, add plenty of flavor as you pass colourful farms, rice fields, banana groves and simple villages along the way.

Shenzhen is located just across the border from Hong Kong and is an hour-long train ride away. On arrival, you will visit Window of the World, a theme park that contains miniatures of the world's historical and architectural wonders; followed by a visit to the Terracotta Warriors Exhibition, which displays the miniature terracotta army that was buried with China’s first emperor (circa 200 BC); and the Shenzhen Museum.

Guangzhou is an hour-long catamaran ride from Hong Kong, and a day-long tour of China’s third largest city includes the Shenzhen Safari Park on Xili Lake, where you will see the famous Chinese panda, Asian elephants, cranes and Siberian tigers; Exhibition Hall in Shekou, which displays Qin Dynasty terracotta warriors and bronze ware dating back 2,000 years; and finally Guangzhou city. Highlights of this mini-city tour include the Six Banyan Tree Temple and the Memorial Hall of Dr Sun Yat Sen.

Both Shenzhen and Guangzhou have malls and markets that are notorious for rip-offs of brands and also a legion of unbranded items, from clothes, to fashion accessories, home products, curios and electronic goods. Given time and language constrains, the best way to do these excursions is to join an organised tour as the operator takes care of all arrangements, including visas. Also, China is not an easy country to navigate as the locals don’t speak English. So getting around on one’s own can be quite a challenge.