Like most cities in China, Shenyang offers each visitor a rare glimpse into the unusual merger between past and present. Nestled within the bustling metropolitan landscape lies a curious array of ancient monuments steeped in local history and culture. Despite its initial overly-industrialised feel, this city has so much to offer a keen-eyed and adventurous traveller. There are sites to whet the appetite of just about everyone, whether you prefer to seek out the remnants of an ancient Chinese dynasty or simply want a boutique shopping experience in the heart of the city.
The Mukden Imperial Palace, home of the early Qing dynasty, is a great place to start your trip. Besides Beijing’s Forbidden Palace, it is the only other of its kind, making it a real must-see when in Shenyang. Once you’ve spent the morning strolling through these opulent Imperial rooms, complete your journey into the ancient world by exploring the Zhaoling and Fuling tombs of the Qing dynasty emperors, finishing off with a stop at the Liaobin Pagoda.
After you’ve had your fill of palatial architecture and ancient folklore, it’s time to get into the heart of modern China. Enjoy a walk through the Botanical Gardens, especially in spring and summer when the flowers are in full bloom, before heading to Zhongshan Square. Not only is this a great point to begin a shopping trip, but for many, this is also a wonderful place to sit, relax and enjoy the mesmerising city lights before heading to a nearby bar or restaurant to sample the local beer or sushi.
Shenyang has a climate of extremes, with summers being hot and humid, and bitter cold winters. Visit between May and June, or between September and October if you prefer a milder, and usually more pleasant weather. Also as most school term time falls within these months, many tour operators and airlines will offer better deals. It’s worth noting however, that that there can be a peak of visitors during colder climates when many travel to Shenyang to take part in various winter sports.
As well as the shuttle bus and taxi service, Shenyang also has a very developed transport system. The inner city buses can take you wherever you need to go, but unless you can read Chinese, it’s best to pick up an area map. In addition to the large central train station, there is also a metro line that will take you both north and south of the city.