Friday, May 10, 2013

Our Second Day Exploit (Shenzhen) - Hong Kong / Shenzhen / Macau Family Trip

We closed a deal with Destiny Joy Travel & Tours located at 3rd floor of World Wide Plaza, Central for a day trip to Shenzhen, China. They sent a copy of our passports to their contact in Shenzhen for group visa preparation. The tour package cost was 350 HKD thus I paid 1,750 HKD for our family of five. Actually, at least 3 people are required before a group visa can be issued according to "Joy" the Managing Director. Since we were 5, she told us that our group could be lucky touring Shenzhen without joining other groups.

The tour includes transportation (inside Shenzhen), lunch and entrance fee to Window of the World theme park. We were instructed to be at Shenzhen immigration window no 8 from 9 AM to 9:30 AM where our tour guide would be waiting; at the other side of course. She then gave us several copies of our tour itinerary. Furthermore, Joy reminded us that our visa was valid inside Shenzhen only hence we were not allowed to travel outside Shenzhen.

Since we need to travel from Causeway Bay to Shenzhen border we woke up at 6 AM and left our hotel at 7 AM; we need to change train four times before reaching the border. Upon reaching Mongkok, we decided to go out and have our breakfast at McDonald's. At Kowloon Tong MTR station where we need to transfer to the fourth and final train going to the border we noticed that there were 3 final destinations being shown at several LED electronic billboard namely: Tai Po Market / Lok Ma Chau and Lo Wu. We waited for Lo Wu train.

We arrived at Lo Wu station at past 8 AM; after clearing Hong Kong immigration we walked for some time until we reached Shenzhen immigration arrival counters at around 9 AM. We saw a couple of ladies (kabayans) waiting near window 8 and it seemed they were also waiting for their tour guide. Moments later we were called by one lady at window no 8 and showed me a list of name on a group visa. Unfortunately, we were not included on that list. She then asked us to wait for our tour guide.

Shortly thereafter, a guy arrived and called me from the same window no 8 and showed a list of name. Aha! He was our tour guide. He asked us to fall in line in front of the immigration counter according to the sequence appearing on our group visa. Shenzhen immigration procedure was a breeze though our passports were scrutinized thoroughly. To add, another Filipino family of four on a separate group visa joined our group. It was a welcome relief to have another Filipino family joining our group while touring an unfamiliar place.

Our tour guide name was Bruce Wong. He spoke English well and a bit comical which we really appreciated. While traveling in our 15-seaters van he explained to us many things about Shenzhen and how the locals live before and after the hand-over of Hong Kong to China.

First in our itinerary was the usual Jade Shop.

A pair of Pixiu guarding the treasure
A large Chinese Sampan made of Jade


I was a bit disappointed initially but when I saw a pair (husband & wife) of jade Pixiu, they always come in pair, I told my wife that we need to have one. For Filipinos with Chinese blood or those who believe in Feng Shui (Pungsoy), Pixiu symbolizes wealth and fortune. You would see these Chinese mythological creatures normally at the entrance of the shop. If my recollection is correct, there is one pair of giant Pixiu outside Tangs Mall at Orchard Road, Singapore. You would see them also in many Chinese owned shops in Philippines. In short, we bought a pair of medium size jade Pixiu for 200 USD with free Moon (luminous) Ball; this ball absorbs light and it releases the light when it is dark. Aside from that, we were given a 50% discount for a jade Chinese Sampan that symbolizes Happy Family. Hence, from 2800 pesos the price of the Sampan went down to 1400 pesos. Yes, this jade shop accepts pesos. Moreover, all the items being sold here comes with certificate attesting the authenticity of the jade. This is one of the advantages in buying in a government accredited jade shop or factory unlike in Bangkok where selling of imitation and fake gems or jade is a norm. Our group spent an hour here and wife and kids and the other family in our tour group bought several jade bracelets and pendant. While inside, we tasted free sample of local tea. I loved its taste but considering that I am the only tea-drinker in our family, I decided to forego my plan of buying it.

Second in our itinerary was the Silk Shop.



That was definitely a let-down since Filipinos were not very fond of wearing silk though it was a very informative tour. Nobody from our group bought anything from here.

Third in our itinerary was the local costume shot at Splendid China.

daughter in Kung Fu pose
my youngest kid

In front of Splendid China

The Royal Family - I will treasure this shot

At the entrance of Splendid China were several souvenir shops and one of them was a local costume shop. You can rent a Chinese / Korean / Mongolian costume for 20 Yuan each; included on the price is a small free picture. The shop has its own lady photographer for some photo shoots. Hence, I paid 100 Yuan for five of us. The activity was unforgettable; we were laughing at each other and continuously taking photo shoots at the entrance of Splendid China. Sad to say, Splendid China was not included on our itinerary thus our shots were limited at the entrance. By the way, when we were asked by the photographer to pose for a group or family shot some tourists also took part in taking our shots.

LUNCH TIME

Inside the restaurant
Waiting for 'Pancit" and pork dish

After the local costume brouhaha we raced to nearby restaurant for our lunch. There were nine of us in our tour group thus we occupied a single round table for 10 people. Foods were plentiful though nothing spectacular or especial. We had fried scrambled egg, sweet and sour fish, roasted half-duck, noodles (pancit), vegetables, among others. Drinking water was free. However, to be on the safe side, we opted to buy a large bottle of 7-UP for 35 Yuan or 40 HKD for five of us while a small can or bottle of soft drink would cost a staggering 20 HKD. Quite pricey isn't it?

There were lots of left-over from our meal, I asked Bruce if I can bring them to Hong Kong, it was actually a joke; he laughed heartily.

We crossed the main road and visited another local shop which specialized in bamboo fibers. 

We learned that many products can be derived from bamboo fibers such as underwear, LOL. As expected, nobody from our group purchased anything from here. Another let-down.

The next place to visit in our itinerary was Window of the World. 


Window of the World

Yes! Everybody is excited because WOW is undoubtedly the main reason why tourists visit Shenzhen. Unfortunately, we are given only 2 hours to enjoy WOW. Nevertheless, it was quite an experience to visit this theme park especially upon seeing and conquering the one-third scale replica of Eiffel Tower. The whole park was sparkling clean and well manicured. Though we were not able to cover the entire park the adrenaline rush lasted for the whole 2 hours. Anyway, due to its sheer size, you would need to take rest after more than an hour of strolling.

Super Mario Brothers

The Grand Palace of Thailand

From U.S.



From Europe



I like this place

Climbing the Eiffel Tower

One of the two man made falls

Are we in Egypt?

After 2 hours we made sure that we would be at the KFC outlet outside WOW. Our tour guide together with the lady photographer was waiting for our group; the other group arrived earlier since the two ladies were on the chubby side thus we knew they won't last a couple of hours walking inside WOW. The photographer showed us several large framed pictures and picture plates. I expected this and I mentioned to my wife earlier that we would take only our family shots picture plate. In short, we received the free small pictures and purchased all our individual single shots with discount after haggling. For the picture plate, we bought the family shot only since we knew that they can easily remove our pictures from the remaining unsold plates thus no guilty feeling from our side.

Our last activity in our itinerary was Lo Wu (Louhu) Shopping Mall just outside Shenzhen border immigration office.

Inside Lo Wu Mall
Border immigration office beside Lo Wu Mall

Accordingly, our tour guide, Bruce Wong, beckoned us to buy class A imitation of signature brands from his friend's shop at Lo Wu Mall. Unfortunately for him, we didn't go to Shenzhen for this purpose hence we decided to explore Lo Wu Mall on our own. Eventually the kids got tired and hungry thus we grabbed a quick bite at Fairwood. There was nothing special at Lo Wu Mall either since most shops were merely selling cheap imitations and electronic items.

After an hour of exploring Lo Wu Mall it was time for us to go back to Hong Kong. Bruce Wong accompanied us to nearby immigration building and reminded us that in our itinerary we need to give at least 20 HKD tip per person if we were satisfied with our tour. I knew that he was trying his best to please us during the entire trip thus I gave him 100 HKD as family tip. Aside from that I gave another 20 HKD to our driver since we used to leave our bags inside the van. Again, we need to fall in line at immigration counter according to the sequence of our name as per our group visa.

We returned back to Causeway Bay by MTR. Each of us spent more than 70 HKD for round-trip MTR fare.

While nothing can be done about the compulsory visit to local shops when you avail a tour package, the entire trip nevertheless was an unforgettable experience for us since that was the first time we entered mainland China. I felt a bit nostalgic as well since I knew that I have set foot on the land of my ancestors.

My advice if you plan to visit Shenzhen from Hong Kong, better apply for China visa in your country (Philippines) first so as you would be able to avoid those "usual local shops" included on Shenzhen tour package and have plenty of time visiting Splendid China and Window of the World. It is likely also that it would be cheaper and trust me, you can make a DIY tour inside Shenzhen.

Right after dinner we called it a day and went back straight to our hotel to rest.

Stay tuned for our 3rd Day Exploit: Ngong Ping and Citygate


15 comments:

  1. Nice shots you got out there mate! :D

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  2. nice journey and story, i will go to shenzhen tomorrow for 1st time.
    regard from jakarta ^^

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  3. Hi, I'm planning to go to shenzhen too, I think its easier if I get my Shenzhen visa in HK. Do you have any contact numbers for Destiny Travel & Tours?

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    1. It's Destine Joy Travel & Tours. Sorry about the mistake. I searched its business card from my backpack. Tel (852) 25210780 to 81. Email add: destinejoy@gmail.com

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    2. thanks for this :) Are there any requirements needed to get the shenzhen visa?

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  4. In our case, only passport copies were asked.

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  5. For the 350hkd, kasali na ba ang visa processing fee or that just for the tour itself?

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  6. Hi again! I'm not sure whether my first comment was published. Anyway, I'm happy that I discovered your blog. We have plans of going to Shenzhen as part of our side trip to HK. I have a few questions though...
    1. Are Philippine passport holders qualified for the 5 day visa? We plan just to secure our visa in Lo Wu upon arrival. With the recent problems of PH against China, I'm quite apprehensive though.
    2. If we avail Destine Joy Travel and Tours, would they be able to secure us a visa in less than one day? I believe it is located in HK, am i right?
    3. May I know if you still remember the entrance fee in the theme park?
    Looking forward for your response. Thank you.
    Diane

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    1. I have given some details on my post above Like the package tour cost and how our visas were arranged by Destine Tour. Regarding the visa on arrival at Lo Wu, I doubt whether Filipinos are entitled for that.

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    2. I have given some details on my post above Like the package tour cost and how our visas were arranged by Destine Tour. Regarding the visa on arrival at Lo Wu, I doubt whether Filipinos are entitled for that.

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  7. hi! Were your passport stamped for your china group tour visa?

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