Hydraulic fracturing is a key technology for the development of unconventional resources such as shale gas. Due to the existence of numerous bedding planes, shale reservoirs can be considered typical anisotropic materials. In anisotropic shale reservoirs, the complex hydraulic fracture network (HFN) formed by the interaction of hydraulic fracture (HF) and bedding plane (BP) is the key to fracturing treatment. In this paper, considering the anisotropic angle, stress state and injection rate, a series of hydraulic fracturing experiments were conducted to investigate the effect of anisotropic characteristics of shale reservoirs on HFN formation. The results showed that the breakdown pressure increased first and then decreased when the anisotropic angle changed at 0°-90°, while the circumferential displacement had the opposite trend with a small difference. When θ = 0°, fracturing efficiency of shale specimens was much higher than that under other operating conditions. When θ ≤ 15°, the bedding-plane mode is ubiquitous in all shale reservoirs. While q ranged from 30°-45°, a comprehensive propagation pattern of bedding-plane and crossing is presented. When θ ≥ 60°, the HFN pattern changes from comprehensive mode to crossing mode. The propagation pattern obtained from physical experiments were verified by theoretical analysis. The closure proportion of the circumferential displacement was the highest when the propagation pattern was the bedding-plane mode (θ ≤ 15°), following by crossing. The closure proportion was minimum only when the bedding-plane and crossing mode were simultaneously presented in the HFN. The results can provide some basic data for the design in hydraulic fracturing of tight oil/gas reservoirs.