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China > General information > Guangzhou travel guide

  Guangzhou

Guangzhou is definitely worth a quick stop for its blend of Cantonese cuisine, markets, colonial relics and thegritty taste of a real Chinese city.

 

With a population of seven million and long known in the West as Canton, modern Guangzhou provides many visitors with their first glimpse of a mainland Chinese city. Frenetically busy, polluted and steamily hot in summer, Guangzhou’s conventional sights are comparatively sparse, but the city is renowned worldwide for its cooking and is worth visiting on these grounds alone.

Colonial Buildings, Guangzhou




Before
Hong Kong rose to prominence, Guangzhou was one of China’s primary trading posts and as a result it has a wide ethnic diversity, including a large Hui (Muslim) population, and a smattering of colonial architecture, much of which is found on charming ShamianIsland.

 


Guangzhou
is at the heart of the south’s economic revolution.  Although it is still undoubtedly a polluted city, attention is being paid to the environment, albeit often only in the most aesthetic sense.

Every time I visit I notice new areas of greenery and the city is becoming more and more visitor-friendly. There is an ever-expanding subway network, a new airport and improved links with other Pearl River Delta destinations.

There are also a host of sights to visit within a two-hour transport radius of Guangzhou and the city makes a good base from which to explore smaller towns such as Huizhou and Zhaoqing.


Colonial buildings


Orientation


Guangzhou
is divided by the Pearl River, China’s third-most significant watercourse, and is bordered to the north by the Baiyun (White Cloud) hills, which offer a refreshing escape
from the seething streets.

The city’s historic heart lies in central Yuexiu and western
Liwan districts, although its modern business center is now found in eastern Tianhe and is gradually creeping east from there, the only direction in which there is free land to develop.

 

 

Tai chi by the Pearl River
                                                                                                 Tai chi by the Pearl River

 

South of the river and west, Honan, once home to brothels and opium dens, these days has a few parks and markets and a thriving underground art scene, but little else of interest for visitors.  As for accommodation, eating and day-to-day services, you can find almost everything you need on tiny Shamian Island, which lies in the west of the city just off the north bank of the Pearl River. 
 

The bulk of tourist sights are within a 20-minute taxi ride of Shamian, but for nightlife you might want to head along the river to Yanjiang Lu, or northeast to Huanshi Dong Lu. Larger Ersha Island, east of Shamian, holds the Guangdong Museum of Art, Xinghai Concert Hall and its peaceful environment has attracted a large expat community. 


 

Events & Festivals 

Guangzhou hosts all the usual annual events on the Chinese festival calendar. If you’re here in May, the 

dragon boat races along the Pearl River are worth watching, while the trade fairs in April and October are worth avoiding unless you’re attending them. Guangzhou Trade Fair is the biggest in China and attracted over 170,000 visitors in October 2005! The whole city is twice as busy and hotel rates rise markedly during these times. 

 

Getting the most out of Guangzhou 

Many people spend less than 24 hours passing through Guangzhou. If you have limited time but still want to get some Canton city flavor, the first thing to do is try some dim sum – Banxi, Guangzhou and Tao Tao Ju restaurants are all winners.
Once you’ve sated your culinary needs, head for the fascinating and sometimes alarming Qingping Market, which is wonderfully offset by the quaint colonial charm of
Shamian Island across the road. Other sights to seek out are the Tomb of the Nanyue King and the atmospheric Temple of Six Banyans. Finally a Pearl River cruise should round your trip off nicely. 
 

Getting to Guangzhou,  

Getting around Guangzhou  

Guangzhou attractions (part 1): Shamian Island, Temples and Churches 

Guangzhou attractions (part 2): Parks, Zoo, Museums and music 

Guangzhou pictures

maps of Shenzhen and Guangzhou 
 

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Links

Guangzhou attractions: Parks, Zoo, Museums and Music
Guangzhou attractions, Shamian Island, Tomb of the Nanyue King, Temples and Churches
maps of shenzhen, guangzhou and pearl river delta
guangzhou and shenzhen glossary
getting to guangzhou
getting around guangzhou
beijing travel guide
chengde travel guide
xi’an travel guide
shanghai travel guide
suzhou travel guide
guilin travel guide
yangshuo travel guide
shenzhen travel guide
chongqing travel guide

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China travel guide : Guangzhou travel guide, Guangzhou tourism, Canton travel guide, events and festivals in Guangzhou