China is widely expected to become the world's largest economy in the near future, and it is the rise of cities such as Shenzhen in Guangdong Province that will help the Asian country to overhaul the US.
Shenzhen was the first Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in China and it has been one of the most successful, becoming one of the world's most built-up areas due to foreign investment creating a vibrant local economy. In 2014, around 11 million people lived in Shenzhen, which is the major financial center for southern China.
Shenzhen has fantastic transport links and is one of the best connected cities in the east. It has the world's fourth busiest port, which is a major part of its economic success, while expats living in Shenzhen can fly to most domestic cities from Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport. International destinations available from the airport include Tokyo, Pyongyang, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Seoul, and Singapore among other major international cities.
The Shenzhen Metro system has become a very important part of the city's transport infrastructure since it was opened in 2004. More lines are under construction to extend the network, as China tries to keep on top of its growing population and rising economy.
Taxis are also widely available in Shenzhen and the surrounding area. They come in three colors; yellow (restricted to inside the SEZ), green (restricted to outside the SEZ), and red (can travel anywhere).
For journeys further afield, high speed trains are available to Guangzhou, with Beijing, Shanghai, Changsha, Jiujiang, Maoming, and Shantou among the other destinations that can be reached via a long train ride. A further high speed rail link is currently under construction at Futian Railway Station, which will become a hub for the Beijing-Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong HSR route when completed.
The Shenzhen road network is good and even more transport links are currently being built to improve the infrastructure in the south of China. The planned Shenzhen-Zhongshan Bridge is due to link the city of Zhongshan on the Eastern side of the Pearl River Delta.
Hong Kong Island, Macau and Hong Kong International Airport can all be reached by fast ferries. A road border crossing at Huanggang and Lok Ma Chau in Hong Kong is open 24 hours a day and is often used by business travelers.
Shenzhen is famous for its theme parks and these make the city a popular destination for people from all over China. Window of The World is one of the best of the Shenzhen theme parks, with each day finishing with a spectacular dancing performance and a fireworks extravaganza.
There is a lot of leisure space in Shenzhen, which is one of the greenest cities in China. The Shenzhen Garden and Flower Exposition Center and the Fairy Lake Botanical Gardens are two of the best places for expats living in Shenzhen to go for a relaxing stroll. Shenzhen is also famous for its lovely beaches, which are popular with both locals and tourists alike.
Even though Shenzhen is a new city, there are a lot of notable galleries and museums to check out, with the OCT Contemporary Art Terminal and Loft Area and the Guan Shan Yue Art Gallery two of the best.
The area Shenzhen was built on has a rich history, playing a role in the Southern Song Dynasty in the 13th century, the last stand of the Ming Dynasty in the 17th century, and in the 19th century Opium War. As such, historical sites such as the Tomb of the Young Song Emperor, Crane Lake Fortified Hakka Village, and Hakka Culture Museum and Xin'an (Nantou) Ancient City are worth visiting.
Shenzhen Ruby FC is the main local soccer club in the city, playing their home games at the 40,000-capacity Bao'an Stadium. The team won the Chinese Super League title in 2004. Shenzhen also has some of the best golf courses in the east, with the 216 holes at Mission Hills Golf Course hosting international tournaments.
Shenzhen is not a particularly dangerous place, but expats should be on their guard for petty thefts and pick-pocketing due to the fact that foreigners are often targeted by criminals. Many of these attacks take place on public transport, especially on the Metro, which can be crowded.
An area to avoid is around the Luohu border, and expats living in Shenzhen should take care to only use regulated taxis as there have been reports of unscrupulous drivers scamming or robbing their passengers at knife-point.
In general, however, violent crime, especially against foreigners, is rare and the city is safe by western standards.