Guangzhou is truly one of China’s most exciting cities. With its roots as a trading port during the Silk Trade and currently being one of China’s largest metropolises, there’s always been a bustle and hustle to Guangzhou. The population and space of the city have mushroomed over the last few years bringing an intriguing contrast between the old and new parts of the city – both of which are alive and kicking. If it’s your first time visiting this southern city, here’s a guide of things to do in Guangzhou to get the most out of your experience.
1. Take in the view of new Guangzhou from the Canton Tower
Guangzhou’s old and new are dramatically juxtaposed against each other, bringing a certain romance and excitement to the city. Head to the heart of the new Guangzhou, an area populated with gravity-defying skyscrapers such as the Canton Tower. Head to the rooftop of the second tallest tower in the world, which sits 488 metres above the ground. There’s also a transparent ferris wheel that you can ride to take you around the tower, giving you a closer look at the city. If you’re looking to capture a perfect shot, come after nightfall when the tower is lit up by a multitude of colourful lights.
Address: Yuejiang W Rd, Haizhu Qu, Guangzhou Shi, Guangdong Sheng, China
Operating hours: Daily, 9AM-11PM
How to get there: Take a car, taxi, subway, or train to the Canton Tower.
2. Stroll through the old quarters of Shamian Island
To get a feel of what Guangzhou used to look like during the 19th century, head over to Shamian Island, a sandbank in the city’s Liwan District. The area was divided by the Qing government into French and United Kingdom concessions. The two European empires built chapels, cobblestone streets, boulevards, parks, and quaint houses in their own architecture styles. Plenty of shops, cafes, and bed and breakfasts are slowly creeping in to make the most out of the historical setting and steady tourist traffic.
Address: Shamian Island, Liwan Qu, Guangzhou Shi, Guangdong Sheng, China
Operating hours: Daily, 24 hours
How to get there: Take a car, taxi, subway, or train to Shamian Island.
3. Shop for a bargain near the Guangzhou Railway station
Near the Guangzhou Railway station is where you’ll find many wholesalers looking to sell their wares. From fashion and homeware to shoes and food, you’ll find affordable loots here. There are a mix of malls, stalls, and stand alone-shops in the neighbourhood, so if you’re planning to do some serious Guangzhou shopping, do plan to spend at least half a day here. Along the roadside, you’ll find some of the city’s cheapest and most delicious street food such as fresh fruits, barbecued squid, and chicken wings.
Address: 59 Huanshi Xilu, Yuexiu District, Guangzhou, Guangdong; China
Operating hours: Daily, 10AM-10PM
How to get there: Take a car, taxi, subway, or, of course, train to the Guangzhou Railway Station.
4. Savour amazing Guangzhou food at PanXi Restaurant
What’s a better way to know a city if not through its food? Dig into some local Guangzhou food. PanXi Restaurant is located in the older part of town that offers several places to dine such as on a boat on a man-made lake or in a lavish banquet hall. Especially worth ordering are the dim sum dishes as well as the stewed winter melon served with medicinal plants.
Address: 151 Long Jin Xi Lu, ZhongShan QiBa Lu, Liwan Qu, Guangzhou Shi, Guangdong Sheng, China
Operating hours: Daily, 7AM-10PM
How to get there: Take a car, taxi, subway, or train to PanXi Restaurant.
5. Sleep on top of the world at the Four Seasons Hotel
The Four Seasons Guangzhou is one of the most luxurious hotels in the city and it has become an icon in itself. Located on the upper floors of the 103-storey Guangzhou IFC, this hotel is one of the tallest in the world and offers an unrivalled view of the city, including the iconic Pearl River. All of the rooms and suites offer floor-to-ceiling views of the city, even from the comfort of your bathtub.
Address: Tianhe, Guangzhou, China
Operating hours: Always open
How to get there: Take a car, taxi, subway, or train to Four Seasons Hotel
6. Take a walk through the historic People’s Park
CC BY-ND 2.0 / Mathias Apitz
Located in the middle of the city, giving it the nickname ‘Central Park’, People’s Park is a public space that was built in 1921 by Yang Xizong. It was erected on the site of the Sui Dynasty, who reigned only from 581-618 AD but developed much of the city’s culture. The park features several sculptures of Chinese well-known historical figures such as Zhang Zhixin and Xian Xinghai.
Address: Fuqian Road, Yuexiu District, Guangzhou, China
Operating hours: 6AM-6PM Mon-Sun
How to get there: Take a car, taxi, subway, or train to People’s Park
7. Learn About China’s history at the Guangdong Museum
CC 2.0 / Artyukh Igor
Opened in 1959, the Guangdong Museum is classified as a ‘general museum’ but houses valuable relics from China and the rest of the world. History buffs will love exploring over 160,000 artefacts such as ceramics, paintings, calligraphy, Duan inkstones, and paleobiological fossils. Look out for their impressive seasonal exhibitions such as “Titanic: The Artefact Exhibition” and “Sailing the Seven Seas: Legend of Ming Maritime Trade During Wanli Era”.
Address: 2 Zhujiang E Rd, Tianhe Qu, Guangzhou Shi, Guangdong Sheng, China
Operating hours: 9AM-5PM Mon-Sun
How to get there: Take a car, taxi, subway, or train to the Guangdong Museum
With both the old and the new to discover, Guangzhou has all the makings for a unique travel experience. With decadent Cantonese dishes to savour, the most opulent places to stay, European architecture to discover, and a growing cosmopolitan city to explore, there’s something for everyone in Guangzhou.