A Family’s Playground
Residence Manager of Somerset Garden City Shenzhen, Louis Tam, uncovers all the family-friendly fun the city has to offer
Issue: Jul 2012
Shenzhen is a modern city with excellently mapped out streets that make it easy for families to get around
Photo credit: www.happytellus.com
For a native of Hong Kong like myself, living in Shenzhen is a lot like being at home. Like Hong Kong, Shenzhen is a modern city. But because it is a relatively young city, established only in 1979 as the first of five Special Economic Zones, it has benefitted from excellent urban planning. The streets are neatly laid out and lined with trees, making it easy to navigate the city. The public transport system is efficient and with the Metro that links the city so clean and safe; families with children and the elderly will have no problems getting around, especially when the signs are in both English and Chinese, and announcements are made in English, Mandarin and Cantonese. The bonus for me is that Shenzhen is just an hour and a half away from Hong Kong so I can return home any time I want.
Somerset Garden City Shenzhen is well-located and has child-friendly facilities ideal for families
If you are coming to Shenzhen, Somerset Garden City Shenzhen, is a great family-oriented serviced residence to stay in. Not only do we have a roof-top swimming pool the kids would love to splash in, we also have a children’s playground. We are centrally located just a five-minute walk away from shopping options and a five-minute drive from the Shekou business district, as well as several cultural and tourist destinations.
With the CapitaLand family in mind, Somerset Garden City Shenzhen is offering a staff package to CapitaLand employees which include tickets to select theme parks with their stay The package is valid till end of July 2012.
OCT East Shenzhen is a theme park that has enough thrills for the whole family
Photo credit: www.aistudent.org
AWhat makes Shenzhen a perfect family destination is its abundance of theme parks that has plenty of excitement for the young and enough scenery, culture and history to interest the adults. Of course, there is no way you can possibly cover them all. But if there is one theme park you should not miss, OCT (Overseas Chinese Town) East Shenzhen would be it. As a testament of its fun factor, it made it to TIME magazine when it opened in 2007.
An hour and a half away by car from Somerset Garden City Shenzhen, OCT East Shenzhen is a mega theme-park-cum-resort perched on the mountain hinterland of Xiaomeisha seaside resort area in Yantian District. Thanks to its lofty location, the view of mountains and sea it offers is magnificent. But it is so much more than just a scenic spot.
The entire nine-square-kilometre area is divided into three large theme parks: Knight Valley, Tea Stream Valley and Wind Valley; with two 18-hole golf courses and resort hotels, providing something for every age.
This cable car ride is one of my favourite aspects of Knight Valley at OCT East Shenzhen
A replica of Swiss tourist town, Interlarken, at OCT East Shenzhen lets you go to Europe without leaving Asia
Photo credit: www.travelweekly.com
Knight Valley combines natural landscape with eco-tourism and all-out entertainment for an educational yet thrilling experience. My favourite part of Knight Valley is the cable car ride that takes you there. The journey up allows you a breathtaking view of the landscape around and I find it particularly peaceful to take in the view as the cable car slowly ascends. Another sight to behold is Knight Valley’s signature features - a 300-metre wide man-made waterfall with a 42-metre drop. Adrenaline junkies will not be disappointed. Knight Valley has its fair share of gut-twisting roller coaster and simulator rides. When you are done, hop onto the two-kilometre long Jungle Funicular and the Forest Train which will take you to Tea Stream Valley, meandering through valleys, forest, lakes and fields of flowers.
Tea Stream Valley’s best attraction is the recreation of famous Swiss tourist town, Interlaken. From the architecture to the cuisine to the culture, Europe is recreated to detailed perfection which the young and old will enjoy. Within this theme park you can also experience Chinese culture at the Ancient Tea Town and the Sanzhou Tea Garden replete with bridges and pavilions based on a Lingnan tea garden. Do not forget to go to the Tea Show which tells the story of tea and Zen culture in spectacular song, dance and special effects. Grandparents will enjoy the historical value of the show while the children can learn a little abit of China's past.
This 25-metre tall four-faced statue of the Goddess of Mercy symbolises loving-kindness that I appreciate
The Wind Valley, built around the lakes, waterfall and mountain of the area, is where you can indulge in all manner of outdoor sports, including some Olympic-style games as well as thrill rides. But even in the midst of these high-octane offerings, the seniors will not be neglected. There is a tranquil respite in the form of Huaxing Temple (大华兴寺). I love the magnificent 25-metre tall golden statue of Goddess of Mercy, Guanyin (观音) there. The four-faced statue symbolises the loving-kindness of Guanyin which I appreciate. All in all, my family and I enjoy the escape from the concrete jungle of city life that OCT East Shenzhen affords. This destination within a destination is certainly worth a few days’ visit.
Also in Futian District in central Shenzhen is the Shenzhen Museum of History. So, if you are looking for something educational for the little ones and a more sedate way to spend the day, this would be the place to go. The museum is in the eastern end of the wing-roofed Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government building. I love the architecture of this iconic building and find it most fitting that a building of such significance should hold the secrets if the city’s past. Shenzhen itself may be a new city but the site it sits on traces back thousands of years. At this museum, you can travel from ancient times to the period of reform to the opening up of Shenzhen, floor upon floor. There is also a level for travelling exhibitions.
Walk through China’s culture and history at the China Folk Culture Village that has replicas of its major attractions and ethnic villages
Photo credit: www.jarofphotos.com
For an experiential take on China’s history, visit China Folk Culture Village, 20 minutes away by car from Somerset Garden City Shenzhen. Technically, it is a theme park. But China Folk Culture Village is also a cultural destination that has a lot of educational value and is thus an ideal place to educate the little ones on China’s history.
The China Folk Culture Village is made of two theme parks: Splendid China Miniature Park and China Folk Culture Village. The latter features 24 life-size ethnic villages that showcase the history, culture, arts, architecture and cuisines of the 56 cultural groups in China. The former has over 80 Chinese landmarks in miniature, like the Forbidden City, the Great Wall and the Terracotta Army set within landscape gardens with bonsai trees. I like this attraction because in a single day, my family and I can learn about the ethnic groups in China as well as tour the major attractions of the country.
When you need somewhere for the whole family to re-charge, I recommend two restaurants that are my personal favourites. At OCT Loft Park, 20 minutes by car, is a place called Yi Zhou (一粥) or One Congee. As its name suggest, it specializes in congee which is comfort food for young and old. What is special about their congee is that it is made and served in clay pots, keeping them piping hot for a longer time. Each pot is made to order so you have to be patient. But I promise you it is worth the waiting for. The congee is thick and flavourful. My favourite is the shrimp and crab congee because the seafood is so fresh and sweet, and it goes so perfectly with the soothing congee. The side dishes are delicious, too. Try their charcoal grilled chicken wings, and eggplants. My colleagues and I frequent this restaurant too. As a rather large group, we can order different congees so we get to enjoy the variety offered at the restaurant.
I not only take my family to Yi Zhou, it is a place I enjoy sharing with my Ascott family as well
Nearer the property just five minutes’ drive away is Chunmanyuan (春满园) Maillen Branch located next to Ascott Maillen Shenzhen. The dim sums there are superb. Each is light and simple, made with the freshest of ingredients. My family and I go there very often for lunch or dinner. When friends visit, I like to take them there as well.
Finding a place that would appeal to children and adults alike is not easy. But Shenzhen will definitely please them all with its mix of fun and gorgeous scenery. This playground for children and adults is surely a destination for all.
Come stay with us ...
Somerset Garden City Shenzhen
No 1068, Nanhai Avenue
Shenzhen 518067, China
Tel: (86-755) 2602 9988
Fax: (86-755) 2602 9966