To the northeast of Shenzhen in the Pearl River Delta lies the city of Huizhou. Unlike many of the other developed areas on the mainland north of Hong Kong, Huizhou has an ancient history stretching back to the Neolithic Age. Today, much of the new growth in Huizhou is from its various "Development Zones" that generally incubate export processing businesses and high-tech industry.
The city's jurisdiction covers an urbanized section close to the border with Shenzhen as well as much of the surrounding countryside. Luofu Mountain and other attractions are largely responsible for Huizhou's reputation as an area of scenic beauty. Within the urban core, however, is Huizhou's South Lake and connected West Lake. Paddleboats can be rented to go out and explore the surface, which is crisscrossed by footbridges and roads. Around the lakes are paths lined with chairs and tables. From adjacent open-air bars and restaurants drink and food can be enjoyed while taking in the scenery. At night, green and yellow lights illuminate the lake's edge and bounce off its still surface. But if you visit this area after dark during the summer, don't forget to bring bug repellant. The mosquitoes around the water are fierce.
Unlike nearby Shenzhen and Hong Kong, Huizhou has a relaxed, almost country feel. Although it has an "Old Town" and remains of centuries old stone walls, its population and development have lagged behind its now-larger neighbors. It is on the edge of becoming a modern Chinese city, but for now exists somewhere between the old and the new -- a place where economic growth has not strangled the traditional feel. I hope that doesn't change, but I suspect it will. A bus from Shenzhen's main station to Huizhou takes about an hour. Get there before it's too late.