"Shenyang" Top 5 Page for this destination Shenyang by mke1963

Shenyang Travel Guide: 197 reviews and 370 photos

As an experiment, this page and the tips in it are georeferenced and you can use Google Earth to link directly to the locations. Many more photographs will be available also at Flickr and they are directly linked to the Geoblogging map server although it does not yet (?) use Google Earth for delivering the maps.

I am planning to georeference all my tips, reviews and pages from VT via Flickr, and Google Earth but don't know an automated way to do this yet, so will probably rely on posting Google Earth KML files via my blog.

Let me know what you think, especialy if you are using Google Earth and have found an easier way to deliver the KML files (perhaps via the Keyhole BBS?)

So how do you use it?
Well either click on this Shenyang link and then on any of the Shenyang photos (this links to the maps via the photos) or click on Geoblogging (this links to the photos via the map).

Shenyang lies across the plain of the Hun River in central Liaoning province, a large modern city of 5 million people with a long history. As in so many Chinese cities, many symbols of that history were eradicated through a century of turmoil, culminating in the Cultural Revolution. In recent years, the authorities have recreated some of those traces, resulting in some very odd structures indeed. The new east gate looks impressive at a distance, but up close it seems peculiarly flimsy, like a film set to be viewed rapidly and without pause. The real Shenyang is definitely not flimsy, and the wide streets, the few remaining early 20th Century buildings and occasional socialist sculptures convey an impression of strength and determination. These are qualities definitely in need here, with bone-chillingly cold winters followed immediately by hot, dusty, airless summers.
If Hangzhou and Suzhou are dainty little ladies, fragile and brittle, Shenyang is all brawn, muscle and solidity: very much a male city. Its quest for modernity, looking enviously at its bigger brothers of Beijing and Shanghai, is hampered by an inability to design good looking buildings. Most of the city's skyscrapers look gawky and unbalanced, as if influenced by Chinese web-site designers: all bizarre little extras and pointless accessories, there not because they are needed but simply because they can be.
Shenyang is confused about where its centre lies: around old Zhongshan Square with the powerful machismo statue of Mao Zedong, arm raised? Shifu Square with its impressive but chronically badly-built post-modern museum and theatre? The Imperial Palace surrounded by the narrow arteries of old Shenyang? Or any one of a number of intersections graced with sculptures and those red-orange-green son-et-lumiere displays?
Shenyang is a bright, modern city aching to be "someone" in China. No-one wrote nice little poems about Shenyang, probably because Shenyang would have bullied them into writing something nicer. However, Shenyang is probably the city many other Chinese cities would like to be: Chongqing, Changchun, Hohhot, Lanzhou, Datong. Big, modern, successful, cosmopolitan, wired up, free(ish) of traffic congestion, tree-lined boulevards, and an intelligent dynamic population.

It wasn't always this way, and for many decades, Shenyang was a forgotten city, the southern city of the Dongbei rust-belt that started in Harbin and continued through Changchun to end in Shenyang and the nearby cities of Anshan, Benxi and Fushun (where people still make a living out of carving coal into landscapes as souvenirs for anyone keen on visiting one of China's biggest mining cities). Until the recent economic reforms, Shenyang's heyday was when it was a key railway city in the early 20th Century, growing prosperous, if unloved, on the back of Japanese occupiers and financiers. Today the Japanese influence has been erased, and the Shenyang people look further back in time to when the local Manchu king, having built a formidable empire in Manchuria, turned his attention towards the old Ming Dynasty. After successfully overthrowing the Ming court, the Manchu Qing dynasty always kept in touch with its north-eastern roots and successive emperors built and expanded the Imperial Palace in Shenyang. Today that palace is Shenyang's soul, but it forms a dislocated island of another era, and the integration of Manchu, Han and ethnic Korean peoples over the centuries in Liaoning province has created a different people from those who lived, ruled and died in this palace.

There is more to do and see in Shenyang than meets the eye: as well as the well-known Imperial Palace and the quarter around it, there are the Qing imperial tombs, plenty of manchurian, Russian and Manchurian 20th Century architecture, good shooping in 1001 malls, night markets, parks, a crusty old pagoda, the four towers of Shenyang, a good provincial museum, a particularly impressive memorial to Mao Zedong and several other local museums.

Shenyang is certainly not a city for walking, as the distances are long and it always seems too hot or too cold to walk. However, Shenyang’s taxis are among the best in China and the public bus system works well too.

Shenyang springs out of the Liao River plain rather like Dallas does from the north Texas plains, passing from fields of wheat and corn to skyscrapers in a matter of a few metres, from almost medieval farming to broadband internet access and cafe lattes within a block or two. Shenyang is modern, but just outside it is still the land that Lin Biao and the Communist brigades battled for against the Kuomintang back in the 1930s and 1940s.Shenyang is an island city, shackled by its past and the surrounding present. It is a city looking to be not just like Beijing, but better than Beijing.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Bright and breezy.
  • Cons:A bit of an inferiority complex
  • In a nutshell:Better than the guidebooks suggest
  • Last visit to Shenyang: Jul 2005
  • Intro Updated Jul 30, 2005
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Reviews (24)

Comments (8)

  • Nov 9, 2010 at 1:32 AM

    Shamrock Irish Pub, 134/11 Changjiang Street, Appreciate Europe. Genuine Irish Pub serving probaly the best Guinness in Shenyang.

  • mickeywitte's Profile Photo
    Apr 6, 2009 at 2:54 PM

    My wife and I were there in April 2005. Did you notice in the statue of fighting forms beneath the statue of Mao, the old gentleman smoking the pipe? I always thought there was thought behind that, everyone in action except perhaps, the wise old man.

  • lmkluque's Profile Photo
    Nov 19, 2006 at 10:21 AM

    Well written Mark! I especially liked your cultural-historical perspective!!

  • May 9, 2006 at 12:01 PM

    Sorry, but Mulligans has closed.

  • May 2, 2006 at 3:31 AM

    just excited to backpack to shenyang...any tips and info to share..new to this place thanks

  • gubbi1's Profile Photo
    Aug 3, 2005 at 11:52 AM

    Hi, in case you find a solution for the kml-files inside VT, please let me know! It is too great not to try it! Keep on travelling, Christian.

  • yangshu's Profile Photo
    Jul 7, 2005 at 7:40 PM

    good comment on shenyang

  • ahoerner's Profile Photo
    Jul 6, 2005 at 8:21 AM

    Very informative tips, but I will come back for the pictures... hehe... greets from Changchun!


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