Travelling across the border from Hong Kong to Shenzhen is like travelling from Singapore to Johor Bahru; it’s cheap, it’s convenient, and it’s perfect for a day trip. Singaporeans can enter Shenzhen with their Singapore passport visa-free for up to 15 days, and depending on where you stay in Hong Kong, it should take no longer than an hour and a half to get to Shenzhen. There are many ways to enter Shenzhen, but we started the trip from Lo Wu, one of the terminals on the East Rail Line in Hong Kong.
Just like travelling to Johor Bahru, it is advisable to avoid travelling on the weekends as well as during peak hours as much as possible. If you are taking the MTR, make your way to the East Rail Line and get off at Lo Wu Station. At Lo Wu Station, cross the immigration and then from there, you can either pay 2 RMB (S$0.40) for a train ride to Guomao station (国贸站) which is just a stop away, or walk some 20 minutes to where King Glory Plaza (金光华广场) is located. Don’t forget to also download Baidu Map on your phone before you head over to Shenzhen.
At King Glory Plaza, start the day with a cup of Hey Tea (喜茶), which has become a national sensation where customers are willing to wait for up to an hour or two for a cup of cheese top tea or juice. Most of the drinks are priced under 33 RMB (less than S$7), which aren’t exactly cheap given the cost of living in Shenzhen, but it’s definitely worth a try.
There are many famous restaurants at King Glory Plaza including Hai Di Lao, which you will have to be prepared to queue up for. It was lunch hour and we had other plans, so we couldn’t get a seat for Hai Di Lao in time and decided to go for Si Ji Ye Lin (四季椰林) instead, which turned out to be a great choice. Essentially, if you have had Dak Han Ma Ri (닭한마리) in Seoul before, just know that it is similar but better. The taste of coconut water makes the soup taste sweeter and it makes for a great comfort food. There are many side dishes to choose from, and like any other hotpot restaurants, you can order additional ingredients to add to your hotpot. Asking for a refill of coconut water-based soup requires additional charges, but it is free to ask for a refill of chicken soup when your pot is drying up.
After lunch, we took a taxi to Shenzhen Fairy Lake Botanical Garden (深圳仙湖植物园), which has been around since the 80s. Although Shenzhen Fairy Lake Botanical Garden has been around for a couple of decades, it has only recently become more popular among Hong Kongers and tourists in recent years, as photographers and social media influencers make their way here for Instagrammable shots.
The highlight of the botanical garden is in its cactus greenhouse, which proves to be a photogenic location. For the religious, there is also a temple in the botanical garden. The entrance fee to Shenzhen Fairy Lake Botanical Garden is an affordable 15 RMB (S$3), and if you walking isn’t your thing, you can take a shuttle bus (3 RMB one-way) to the middle of the botanical garden where the lake is. The cactus greenhouse is about a 10-minute walk away from the lake. If you have all the time and energy to spare, you can also choose to walk in all the way from the entrance. You don’t need a day if you are only visiting the cactus greenhouse for some Instagram shots, but if you are a thorough person and intend to check out the whole botanical garden, it is recommended that you start your day early. Summer is also not the best season to visit, as it is way too hot.
When you’re done visiting Shenzhen Fairy Lake Botanical Garden, you have the option again to either pay for a one-way shuttle bus ride back to the entrance, or walk all the way back out.
We decided it was easiest to just get dinner back at King Glory Plaza, but there were long queues (over a hundred waiting in the queue) for the popular restaurants, so we took our chances with Jiu Mao Jiu (九毛九), known for their pulled noodles.
Another dish to try is the spicy fish with pickled cabbage (辣酸菜魚), which seems to be one of the must-try dishes while in Shenzhen.
Once you’re done with dinner, you can head back to Lo Wu Station and get back to Hong Kong. But before ending your trip, you can buy some tea and bread from Nayuki, which is another tea brand founded in Shenzhen.
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