China (Guangdong) Pilot Free Trade Zone
Shekou is situated on the eastern coast of Pearl River estuary approximately 25 nautical miles from Hong Kong, and is a major part of the Shenzhen Economic Zone.
There are many methods of travelling to Shekou, most of which I will try to cover on this site, they can be accessed via the menu bar options on the left hand side.
Shekou itself has been undergoing a lot of modernisation. Many of the older buildings have been torn down and replaced with modern shopping areas, supermarkets and high rise accommodation, whilst many of the other buildings are undergoing "face-lifts" (still the same inside but looking almost new from the outside).
With the recent construction of the new bridge linking Hong Kong New Terrortories to Shekou, along with many Chinese people speculating in property, prices in the area (especially the property) have increased steadily in recent years, particularly housing in the sought after areas.
New Bridge Linking Shekou to Hong Kong New Territories
The area being mostly modernised currently in Shekou is around the Sea World area. This area has been redeveloped to include many new "foreign" restaurants and bars, and is located with a refitted cruise ship (static hotel, nightclub, restaurant and bar) as it's centre piece. Most places are now open and there is a water show that runs hourly that is worth seeing.
Shekou New Seaworld
Shekou New Seaworld Buildings
There is a water fountain display that is run at regular intervals in the new Seaworld area, alongside the ship, that is well worth a watch. It can get crowded so if you decide to do this get there early to avoid the crowds and get a good view.
Seaworld Water Fountain Display
Shekou is a very beautiful place to visit and, if crossing from Hong Kong, a gentle break-in into the ways of China. If you want real China though, you will have to go outside of the Shekou / Shenzhen area (infact away from any of the major cities). Access to all of these locations is very simple from Shekou, by whatever method of transport is your preference.
For travelling to most areas however, due to the size of China, air flight is the main means of travel. The brand new Shenzhen Bao’an airport recently opened is close by and is a very impressive airport (be prepared for a LOT of walking though!).
New Shenzhen Bao’an airport
Shekou is also a very safe place to be and crime is I'm pleased to say well controlled by the Chinese authorities. Petty crime unfortunately does exist (I had my bicycle stolen, from between 2 security guards where I lived, within days of buying it!) but I have to say I feel safer on the streets of China than I do in most other parts of the world that I have visited.
Customer service is really a term that Chinese business in general hasn't gotten a grasp of yet. Whilst some of the major chain stores are superb, SOME of the small and private businesses leave a LOT to be desired. The Chinese (generally) have no concept of queuing, so don't get angry when they push infront of you, just do the same or wait (although you could wait a LONG time)!
If you are shopping, be aware that many "independant" stores will sell copy goods, so if a price looks too good to be true then it usually is. Authorities are cracking down on these outlets, but generally only in areas frequented by westerners, and if you are looking for something it is usually pretty easy to find.
Care should be taken when shopping. Even if an item is marked with a price, unless it is a major chain store then this should be totally ignored. Just because it is marked as being expensive it doesn't mean that it is!! In reality, outside of the chain stores, it is unusual to find a price marked on an item. The shop will price any item at what they feel they can get away with charging you. A price quoted to a westerner is always far higher than that given to a local so be prepared to bargin hard and ALWAYS be prepared to walk away! TIP: If you have been engaged in haggling with a seller, they HATE to see you walk away so drive a hard bargin! However, if you can't get the price you are willing to pay, there is ALWAYS another shop nearby selling the same thing, so try there! DO NOT BUY at the first stall in a market etc, look around first or you will end up kicking yourself!! Do not be fooled by "closing down" sales! These places tell you that something is drastically reduced as they are closing down and so they cannot discount! Rubbish! Walk away and then see if they can't discount! If you are not sure on prices, watch what locals are paying for things (as well as where they are buying them!)!
There are many "unauthorised taxis" that will approach you during your time in China (especially when you arrive in China) - my advice is not to use them! They will cost more than a taxi and you have no insurance cover in them (as well as they're being illegal). That said, if a taxi is not available (change times or bad weather), I have used them and personally never had any issue.
You should also be aware, as I am sure you have seen in the news, that China is unfortunately suffering from a high level of pollution, especially atmospheric pollution more recently. Not really a lot you can do to avoid this other than be aware.
Shenzhen Bay Crossing Disappearing into the Pollution