Shenyang Travel Guide
Shenyang doesn’t rate highly in the minds of westerners when they think of China, but it was here where this nation was ruled during the Qing Dynasty (aka the last one before the nation did away with the monarchy).
As such, there are plenty of museums, palaces, and parks to explore here – if you are searching for a place to begin your explorations of Northeastern China, this is the perfect place to start.
Begin your visit to Shenyang by spending lots of time exploring everything Beiling Park has to offer. While it is a valued spot for locals and visitors to engage in recreation amidst its many lakes, pine trees, and flower gardens, it is also home to a number of buildings of historical significance.
This includes the Zhaoling Mausoleum, home to the final resting place of Hong Taiji, the second emperor of the Qing Dynasty, and his empress Bo’erjijite. Within, a number of Chinese martyrs are also buried, and you’ll also find artifacts from Man and Han Chinese ethnic groups.
As for the park, the many sizable lakes offer an opportunity for visitors to go paddle boating, while in winter, many choose to skate on its smooth, frozen surfaces.
Make Marshal Zhang’s Mansion your next stop on your tour of Shenyang. The palatial home of a family who moved to fill the power vacuum in Northeast China by assuming control of the region after the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in the early 20th century, it is a museum which aims to show off how one of the area’s leading political heavyweights lived when they weren’t busy fending off enemies from within China and from Japan.
Unlike buildings elsewhere in Shenyang, this massive home was styled after European manors, with extensive gardens filled with sculptures outside, and 74 rooms within filled with some of the best antique furniture available in that era.
See how the emperors who ruled China from the Shenyang area lived by paying a visit to Mukden Palace. Finished in 1625 for emperor Huang Taiji, it boasts over 300 rooms and has over 20 courtyards – despite its impressive size, though, it is still just a twelfth of the size of the Forbidden City in Beijing.
Within, you’ll find plenty of artwork which includes pottery, paintings, calligraphy, and sculptures, as well as the two swords of the first two emperors of the Qing Dynasty. Allow at least an hour and a half to take in the core aspects of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Learn about the time when the Imperial Japanese ruled Shenyang and the rest of Manchuria by exploring the exhibits of the 9.18 Historical Museum. Named for the day when the Japanese initiated a false flag attack to justify attacking and occupying Manchuria (September 18th), this institution chronicles the brutal years of occupation suffered by the three northeastern provinces of China from 1931 to 1945.
Here, you’ll find weapons, instruments of torture (the rolling cage was particularly cruel), photos and dramatic exhibits which drive home how awful this era truly was on the local residents of Shenyang.
History buffs looking to dive deeper into the history of the Shenyang area will want to spend some serious time exploring the halls of the Liaoning Provincial Museum. Within, you’ll find ancient artifacts from the earlier kingdoms of China and from the Paleolithic era – the variety of items displayed here is quite extensive, as you’ll find everything from coins and ceramics to paintings and old maps. If you are into museums, plan to spend as long as six hours if you wish to see every exhibit in every gallery.
When the urban grind in Shenyang becomes too much for you to bear, head out of town to Qipanshan Scenic Area. A national forest park set amidst dramatic mountains, active travellers will find plenty to do here. Hiking is a popular pursuit in the summer, the colours are amazing during the fall, and the winter months offer skiing on a modest but fun slope.
Take a break from the hustle and bustle without leaving the city by ducking into the Shenyang International Horticultural Expo Garden. The host site for the International Horticultural Expo in 2006, it lives on as a stand out park in Shenyang to this day.
Divided into 50 separate gardens, you’ll find 650 different species of flower (including over 6 million tulips) over 246 hectares. When you are finished checking out the beauty of its many flower beds, chill out at one of several restaurants, cafes, and bars spread throughout the complex.
Unwind from several days worth of sightseeing by shopping, dining, or drinking along the Taiyuan Pedestrian Street. From luxury shops selling the latest shoes to a small hole in the wall joint serving hot dumplings, there is no end to the variety of experiences you can have here. Note there is an underground mall underneath the above-ground pedestrian street – this is where all the action is during the cold winter months.