The golf course aside, Shenzhen is home to a variety of interesting cultural features to visit and experience, proof that this thriving city is about far more than just hustle and bustle 1 Shop at Lowu Commercial City You can't miss it; it's the big building looming over the plaza just outside the border terminal. A veritable hive of activity, it is home to hundreds of tiny shops run by tailors, jewellers, herbal pharmacists, foot doctors, dentists, star-gazing telescope salesmen, and, yes, DVD entrepreneurs. Ignore the hustlers and focus on wandering through each floor, and haggling with a smile. The variety of products on display is truly amazing. Particularly good is the art and the dim sum served up on the top-floor Tian Hu restaurant (but you need to book a table early). Prices are a fraction of Hong Kong's, and the quality gets better all the time. Don't be disturbed by people sidling up to you and squeaking, 'deeveedee!'; if you ignore them, they will go away. If you say, 'No thank you,' however, they are likely to think you mean 'yes'. 2 Dine (or wine) at the Shangri-la If dim sum in a noisy restaurant is not your thing, then head for the oasis of civility across the plaza, which has recently been renovated. Prices are steep, but taste and service are excellent. Chilling out in the lobby coffee bar is fun for people-watching. If you are coming in later in the day, take the express elevator up to the top floor. The restaurant and bar, simply called '360', offers sweeping views of both sides of the border. 3 Take a taxi to the new Shenzhen Ask the concierge to put you in a cab and head to the new heart of the city, the Civic Centre in the Futian district. It is the headquarters of the Communist Party and the city government, but it looks more like an opera house from the outside, with a stingray-like roof. Walk around and get a feel for the new, rich China. Wide, grassy boulevards create a feeling of not being in Kansas any more. 4 Hike through Lotus Hill Park A short stroll north of the Civic Centre is the city's largest park, just off Hongli Road. At this time of year, the weather will be nice, and you can walk around in comfort or take a paddle-boat on the lake. The 106-metre hill at its centre has a 6-metre statue of Deng Xiaoping, the 1.5-metre giant of a man who gave Shenzhen life back in 1979, when it was still mostly rice paddies. 5 Ride the MTR The Civic Centre has a station on the new MTR line. It's easy to get a ticket, as the machines work like they do in Hong Kong, by touch. Just push the last station on the line, which is written in pinyin as Shi Jie Zhi Chuang, and drop in five one-dollar coins. Enjoy the ride. It deposits you right outside the next attraction on your itinerary. 6 See the world in Shenzhen Shenzhen is famed throughout China for its theme parks, particularly for the Window of the World, in the Nanshan district. Walk out of the MTR station and you cannot miss the Louvre's glass pyramid, with the Eiffel Tower in the background. It costs 120 yuan to get in, but that does not include a ride on the indoor ski slope, which needs an extra 80 yuan. It's worth a visit if you have time, especially to see the model of New York as it was before 9/11, with the Statue of Liberty somewhere in the Bronx. 7 See China in Shenzhen The Splendid China and China Folk Culture Village, a short walk away down Shennan Avenue, is more interesting for foreigners. Here you can get a good understanding of the variety of China's many cultures. The twin parks include exhibits and performances by Manchus of the northeast; Uighurs of the northwest; the Bai, Miao, and Dai of the southern provinces; and a host of others among China's 56 officially recognised ethnic groups. Tea houses offer some of the most famous brands in China. 8 Drinks and dinner at the Crowne Plaza Across the road from the Window of the World is the city's other top-notch five-star hotel. Gondoliers will welcome you to the Marco Polo-inspired lobby, but the place to go for drinks and dinner is upstairs around the pool. The V bar is where Shenzhen's bold and beautiful go to see and be seen. 9 Get healthy The morning after, you might be feeling in need of detoxification. If so, the Decleor Paradiso Spa at 268 Furong Road in the Futian District is the place to sort you out. Call (86-755) 8437-7832 for bookings. Besides the standard sauna, beauty treatment and massage, there is an indoor gym with basketball, volleyball and badminton courts, a heated swimming pool, hot tubs and a game room featuring ping-pong, snooker and pool tables. 10 Walk around the aircraft carrier It's a bit of a trek (an hour by taxi) to the eastern side of Shenzhen, so you might want to make a day of it. Start with the Minsk World, a decommissioned Soviet-era Russian aircraft carrier, in Shatoujiao, Yantian District. It costs 110 yuan to enter, but is well worth it. The ship is a living museum, featuring displays of Soviet-era propaganda posters, uniforms and military paraphernalia, and theatres showing movies about the Russian navy. Don't miss the armoury, but the highlight is undoubtedly the top deck, where the fighter jets and helicopters are parked. Every hour in the afternoons, women in military costumes perform an engaging dance routine. 11 Have fun at the beach Yes, really, Shenzhen has beaches. Further up the coast from the Minsk are the Dameisha and Xiaomeisha beaches, which are clean and pleasant. Giant-sized sculptures give the place a surreal feeling, and make for an authentic backdrop for photos. 12 Check out the marine life Across from the beaches is the Shenzhen Sea World, which has a wide variety of manatees, killer whales, sharks, seals, and other flippery friends. It is a good place for kids and the young at heart. When we last visited, there was a thrilling high-diving act from the Ukraine, so try to find out what the latest show is. 13 Shekou Seaworld Plaza On the other side of Shenzhen, next to the Shekou port, lies a different kind of Sea World. We are not sure how it got its name, but it might have something to do with the gigantic former ocean liner set in concrete at the end of what was once a pier. Now a cluster of bars and restaurants, this street is the centre of wining and dining for expats in Shenzhen. You can't miss the Minghua at night, as it has powerful searchlights shooting into the sky. Don't bother eating here, it should be enough to just poke your head in and look around the massive floating (well, sort of) restaurant. 14 Dinner below deck Below the Minghua is a plaza which houses a few of the best restaurants in Shekou. Thai, Russian, Italian and Cowboy food is available. If you are feeling much stronger culture shock, however, there is a Starbucks upstairs. 15 Pub grub at McCawley's Shenzhen's only Irish pub is just behind the main street, walking towards the ferry. Good starchy food and a pint of Guinness ought to get the evening going. 16 Walk on the wild side A block away from the plaza is the Taizi Bar Alley, which you will walk down en route to the ferry terminal. It has lots of little bars with friendly young women who will gladly help to empty your wallet before you can say, 'another tequila?' You can safely ignore them all and head for X-Ta-Sea, the big bar at the end of the street. The establishment, which is run by Bill Doubleday, has pool tables, dartboards, foosball, a giant television screen and a live band. 17 Dance the night away If Bill's place isn't hopping enough for you, then right behind it is the snappiest nightclub to be found in Shekou, called Soho. DJs play it all here, and the crowd is young and well-heeled. When you need a break, there is a nice outdoor seating area, too. 18 Take the ferry back to Hong Kong The best way to return to Hong Kong from Shenzhen is not through the often congested border crossings of Lowu or - heaven forbid - Huanggang (Lok Ma Chau). It is on a ferry. The trip down the river lasts only about 50 minutes, is smooth, you can enjoy a drink and read the papers (including this one), and there are no queues at immigration.