China, Shenzhen, The first time Going Solo -Tips and tricks
July 19, 2019
by Natasa Kuzele
When visiting China the first time or specifically Shenzhen solo, you need a detailed plan. How surprised I was entering China the first time five years ago! When I crossed the Chinese border and entered Shenzhen, I was literally in a state of shock! At the time, there were no signs in English, no tourist information office, and no one spoke a word of English. I found a regular taxi and said my destination: KK Mall! Five years later, I experience odd situations every day. But, before exploring the culture there, please read these essentials!
Things You Need to have when entering China
Visa and passport requirements
- If you are visiting China, you need to have a Passport with at least six months’ validity left. Pay attention to the number of free pages for stamps! You may need to exit and enter Shenzhen many times, depending on the visa type.
- The travelers heading to China need to apply for a visa in Chinese diplomatic missions in the country of their residence or the nearest possible one. If you reside in China, you can ask for a visa extension in the Exit and Entry Administrations of the county of the Public Security Bureaus, in this case, Shenzhen. China government allows to Holders of standard passport from some countries to stay in China for a specified period without any visa requirement.
- If you want to travel to Hong Kong and Macau, although they are China’s administrative territories, you need to follow their visa regime.
Health and safety
You may get typhoid so please check the official recommendation from your government. Buy an excellent health insurance package; Treatments of severe conditions cause high costs. Shenzhen is a safe city, no dought.
Other essential things that you need before entering China
- Install the VPN application on your laptop and mobile phone ( possibly Express VPN or Astrill), along with USB containing the full installation package in case your installation gets broken or damaged. Without this, there is no internet connection at all!
- An amount of local currency (Chinese RMB), an approximate value of fifty US dollars or EU euro to avoid trying to find a rare exchange office or a crowded bank with your luggage. Your bank cards most probably will not be accepted for payments.
- Have a picture or a printed copy of your accommodation booking with an address in Chinese. People in China generally do not speak foreign languages, even in hotels.
- Install the WeChat application, the Chinese platform of communication. It will help you connecting with Chinese and foreigners in Shenzhen or China generally, and it includes the English-Chines translating option!
- Contact details of a Chinese friend or a foreign one who already lives there.
- An open mind and a lot of patience! After you pass these obstacles, you will have a memorable time in China, especially in Shenzhen 🙂
Seven ways to enter China, Shenzhen and seven border checkpoints
Shenzhen is one of the most visited cities in China, as a commercial, business, and touristic center of Guangdong province. Seven different ways exist to get to the Chinese border in Shenzhen. If starting from Hong Kong International airport going directly to Shenzhen, you can take a ferry, train, coach, or cross- border bus. If starting from other parts of Hong Kong to the Chinese border, you can use MTR, city bus, and taxi.
Just like with transportation, you have seven different border crossings for different parts of Shenzhen :
1.Shekou ferry terminal
2.Shenzhen Bay checkpoint
5.Futian Huangang checkpoint
For detailed information about border crossings jump to http://english.sz.gov.cn/
You can also enter Shenzhen (China) from Macau, using a ferry for Shenzhen Shekou port or Shenzhen Baoan Airport. Check on https://www.turbojet.com.hk/en/
If you are traveling from other parts of China to Shenzhen check options on https://chinatour.net/train/ and http://eng.szairport.com/
Expected costs while in Shenzhen
Let me emphasize things you need to know when you book a hostel, hotel, or apartment. Before you determine the type of accommodation, do some research about the following:
What cultural or natural sites you want to see?
Shenzhen is a big modern city offering you a variety of things to see and do. You can visit cultural and natural sites: Windows of the world, Shenzhen Safari park, Dafen painting village, Wutong mountain, and Fairy Lake, Buddhist temples, Dameisha, and Xiaomeisha beaches, and many more. The costs of the tickets vary from 10US$-30US$ and you can reach them using eight MTR lines and hundreds of buses for the very cheap price, 0.1US$ – 2US$. Thirteen million people live in Shenzhen, so when deciding the area and the dates for booking accommodation, choose wisely. During the holidays and weekends, Shenzhen citizens like traveling, walking in parks, visiting family, friends, eat in restaurants. In real life, that can cause enormously crowded metro stations and long lines for boarding the train or bus. If you are coming as a tourist, check the holidays’ calendar and pick carefully.
Accommodation costs vary in Shenzhen. So, please read reviews from other foreigners to get the best value for the money. Chinese people fill comfortable in small spaces, and they do not mind crowding. If you are coming from “the western world,” it can be a challenge. Rooms can be tiny, often without windows and toilets have halls instead of toilet seats. In hostels, an average bad in a dormitory costs about 10-15 US$ per night per person. If young, try the capsule 🙂 It is fun, and you will spend time mingling with people!
An average hotel room costs 30 US$ per night per person. In a branded hotel, the price per night can be up to 250 US$. If you rent an apartment, the costs vary from 200US$ per month up to 2000US$, depending on the position, size, and length.
Food and drink costs
Dumplings and chicken
Shenzhen dishes are a part of the Cantonese kitchen. At breakfast time, go to the streets, try food that locals eat — a lot of pastry options, boiled tea eggs, flatbreads, small sandwiches, and sweet drinks. For lunch or dinner, try roasted duck, noodle soup with vegetables, hot-pot and dumplings. If you are adventurer, try some exotics, like barbequed grasshoppers, cockroaches or scorpions:-) Yeah, I know what you mean, but live wild, you only have one chance! The street food dish costs from 2-3 US$ and up to 30US$ in a restaurant. Try other Asian plates like Korean Ramen and Japanese sushi and Muslim dishes with fresh noodles made right in front of you! Sadly, the western fast-food restaurants like Mc Donalds’ or Burger King are present and widespread.
China is unknown for alcohol spirits. Though, you should taste the renowned Baijiu that has a minimum of 30% of alcohol and some sweet rice vine. The costs of the drinks are high. Chinese drink tea, thousands of different types. But, I learned from the early days, “the holly drink” is HOT WATER.
In the end, I need to say: China is a strange country, full of surprises and cultural turbulences but it is certainly worth to see it because it will leave you speechless, regardless of your experiences!