One of modern China's most striking success stories, Shenzhen was little more than a loose array of rice paddies before the 1980s. Then in 1979, Chairman Deng Xiaoping decided to give capitalism a tightly-controlled chance. The Shenzhen Special Economic Zone was launched, and China's economic future was all but written.
When the Shenzhen experiment was first launched, developers and investors scrambled to establish an economy that could capitalize on the success of its neighbor, Hong Kong. Today it is one of the country's most popular shopping destinations, with an astonishing selection of goods.
Options for diners in Shenzhen rival those for shoppers. In fact, anywhere there are shopping centers, department stores and marketplaces you're sure to find restaurants, food courts and fast-food establishments.
As it sits directly across the causeway from Hong Kong, Shenzhen is used to international exposure. In its earliest days it was strategically placed here to capitalize on the international business community in Hong Kong. So it's no surprise that locals are accepting and tolerant of Western culture.
While Shenzhen doesn't receive large numbers of international tourists, its annual contingent of domestic visitors is massive. Facilities prosper as a result, and there are more grand-scale entertainment venues here than in most Chinese cities.
While the modern city is only three decades old, the region boasts a few worthwhile historical sites that date to the days of the Ming Dynasty. Visitors are often surprised to find more than theme parks and skyscrapers.