Top Guangzhou Hotels
Although factories cover this region, Guangzhou is not a totally unattractive city. However tourist attractions tend to be few and far between. The Pearl River Cruise is almost obligatory when on a trip to the city. The best time to take it is at night when the tall buildings on both banks are brightly lit. The scenery has been optimistically compared to Hong Kongs Victoria Harbour. Shamian Dao, along the banks of the Pearl River, is probably the most charming spot in the city. The area is ideal for a leisurely stroll as the old colonial villas in the cobbled, tree-lined avenues conjure an image of Guangzhou as it must have been two centuries ago totally unlike the crowded, bustling city as it is now. The park, with locals playing chess or mah-jong, is just right for relaxing or people watching.
The Western Han Nan Yue King's Tomb Museum was built on the site of a 2,000 year old tomb excavated only in 1983. On display are the remains of the second emperor of the Southern Yue Kingdom (ca. 100 BC) wrapped in a silk and jade shroud, as well as around a thousand other burial relics. Highly recommended.
The Guangdong Folk Arts and Crafts Museum, the 100 year old Ancestral Temple of the Chen Family, is one of the best preserved examples of local architecture. The family temple is especially significant because of the decorations found inside which are representative of many local art forms (wood/stone/brick carving, brass/iron sculptures, paintings etc). Most of the Chen family have since moved abroad but still hold their assemblies here once a year. Not to be missed despite the fact that no English brochures are available.
Dating back to 537 AD, the Six Banyan Temple complex is a well-known Buddhist cultural site. The Flower Pagoda, which looks to have nine stories from the outside but has actually 17 stories inside, is located within the complex. The six banyan trees no longer exist, and the Flower Pagoda has been closed to tourists, but the site is still worth a quick look.
The impressive Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall is an interesting example of a modern structure employing detailed traditional Chinese architecture. It is one of Guangzhous most important buildings being the venue for important meetings and performances.
Guangzhous Bai Yun (White Cloud) Mountain has beautiful natural scenery and a smattering of ancient historical sites that make it a popular attraction. The park is crowded during holidays and recent developments have nearly turned it into a summer resort complete with a golf course and pools. New structures aside, the area is a peaceful escape from the busy city. A cable car takes tourists to the highest peak, but the alternative a two hour hike is just as enjoyable. From here, the mountain overlooks the city.
For more natural scenery, the South China Botanic Garden in Longdong is one of the largest in China with an astounding collection of tropical plants.
The symbol of the city of Guangzhou, the Statue of the Five Goats, stands on display in Yuexue Park. The park is quite plain but very big at 93 hectares. The Zhenhai Tower within its vicinity was built during the Ming dynasty and now houses the City Museum. A climb to the top story will give commanding views of the city.
Tourists who go to Guangzhou expecting something along the lines of Hong Kongs shopping scene will be disappointed. For a place known for trade, Guangzhou is not much of a shopping city. Still, the markets are definitely interesting, and, as in most cities, good buys await patient shoppers who make wise use of their haggling skills.
The biggest street market in Guangzhou is Qingping Market. For tourists however, this market is more of an attraction than a shopping destination. Those looking for the exotic will certainly find it here. The Chinese medicine section has a selection of all sorts of roots and herbs, and also dried animal parts that are traditionally believed to be medicinal. Walk further north along the market and you will encounter a menagerie. Live animals from the mundane (eg chickens and rabbits) to the not-so-usual (eg turtles, snakes and insects) are sold and sometimes slaughtered on the spot. This meat market will be morbidly fascinating to those who are used to getting their meat packed and frozen from the supermarket. It is not for those with weak stomachs and sensitive noses but it is a shopping experience one is not likely to get anywhere else. Unfortunately it is possible to come across some endangered animals in the market. We would urge you not to buy these as it only encourages this trade, which is all too common in China. Crowded Beijing Road is always packed with locals buying domestic goods, clothes, shoes, trinkets etc. On weekends, Shangjiu and Xiajiu Roads sell more of the same with a much livelier atmosphere. These roads are also known locally for their famous old restaurants which have earned a reputation for their food.
Antique shopping will be moderately satisfying in Antique Street. This street is not busy or crowded but has shops offering trinkets, China, jade, furniture etc. The selection, however, is not very extensive. There are also antique shops near Qingping Market. As expected, most of these stores cater to tourists so bargains will not be as easy to come by and knowledge of antiques will be very useful. Buyer beware!
High end brand name shopping, mostly clothing, are found in hotel arcades, particularly in the China Hotel by Marriott and the Garden Hotel. Again, the market is mainly tourists or business people.
Tea, jade and silk have been traded in Guangzhou for two thousand years and it remains an ideal place to buy these.
Entertainment and Eating Out
Guangzhou might lack shopping and touring opportunities but its cuisine is legendary. There are more restaurants in Guangzhou than you can eat in for a year, and a number of them have been operating for over a century. Cantonese cuisine, known for its delicate flavours, is one of the major cuisines in China and is probably the most recognised outside the country, albeit the style is not universally loved. Cantonese cuisine is very extensive so visitors must be prepared for long menus, which are usually written in Chinese and at times, reach up to a thousand entries! Almost all kinds of meat are served eels, snakes, snails, and sometimes dogs so restaurants are sure to please both the very adventurous gourmets, as well as the extremely conventional palates.
Canton is particularly known for dim sum, bite-sized snack food usually eaten for tea. Visitors can find this everywhere around the city. Southwest of Guangzhou, along Shangjiu, Renmin and Xujiu Roads are some famous old family restaurants that serve these and other Cantonese specialties.
Going out in Guangzhou usually involves eating out with friends and family a favourite pastime in the city. Several traditional Cantonese restaurants here are almost city institutions: they are very famous and have won prestigious national prizes. Among these are Guangzhou Restaurant along Weng Chang Street, famous for its Weng Chang Chicken; Ban Xi Restaurant, an exceptionally elegant lakeside restaurant set in an old imperial garden; Da Tong Restaurant in Changdi Road, famous for its 1,000 dish menu; and the traditional garden-style Bei Yuan and Nan Yuan Restaurants in Qianjin and Xiao Bei Roads respectively.
Specialty restaurants include Snake Restaurant, located in Jianglan Road. Serving all sorts of snake dishes, it is the biggest of its kind in China. Caigenxiang Vegetarian Restaurant in Zhongshan Street offers a choice of several hundred non-meat dishes.
Restaurants in Shamian district, the citys main tourist area, are mostly frequented by hotel guests and local young professionals. Lucys is a popular affordable eatery that serves anything from tacos to dim sum. The budget conscious tourist will enjoy Food Street, its food-court style setting offers various Chinese food from different regions.
The city also offers a host of international cuisine. Thai, Malaysian, Japanese, Portuguese food, etc is not hard to find. The Silk Road Grill Room in the White Swan Hotel serves continental dishes, and expensive fine dining can be had at the Connoisseur, the classy French restaurant at the Garden Hotel. There is a Hard Rock Caf at the China Hotel by Marriott.
Nightlife does not come close to that in Chinas other cities but bars can be found at the major commercial districts of Huanshi and Tianhe and along the riverbank. The newly developed Fancun district offers very good ambience and alfresco dining.
Getting from A to B
Taxis are common and are the best way of getting around for non-Chinese speaking tourists as destinations can be written down for the driver. Around RMB 30 should get you where you want to go. Taxis are safe and generally honest. Tourists not looking for adventure should avoid attempting to ride the buses as destinations are not written in English and the driver will not be able to help. Those who speak Cantonese, however, will find this much cheaper than cabs.
There are underground trains but as yet they do not cover the whole city. Stations are sometimes in inconvenient spots so it is best to plan your trip in advance. It will cost around RMB 2 to travel 4 stations.
Hotel shuttles are available, usually going to the East Railway or to the airport. Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport can take tourists to most cities in China and to 19 countries around the world. Trains at the Central Railway Station, located near the China Hotel by Marriott, travel to and from Beijing, Shanghai and other outlying provinces. Those at the East Railway Station, near the Clarion Star Hotel, travel to and from Hong Kong. Take care with all public transport, as pick pocketing is common. Another problem is unlicensed taxis which lurk around the stations particularly during peak seasons.
The biggest event in Guangzhou is the Canton Trade Fair which has been held in April and October every year since 1957. The fair draws around 200,000 local and foreign business travellers seeking business opportunities. It is held in the Chinese Export Commodities Fair Complex but the Trade Fair Centre in Pa Zhou set to be completed before 2004 will be the new venue. Hotel rates tend to skyrocket and it is best for leisure travellers to avoid the city during the fair months. The city buzzes with activity during Chinese New Year, which usually falls on the last week of January or the first week of February as families get together to celebrate. National Day on October 1 and Labour Day in May are other popular public holidays when many locals travel, making hotels difficult to book.
Internet cafes are all the rage and widespread but mostly being designated in Chinese they arent obvious to foreign visitors. Some places with better connections and service would include Worldwide Network located on Jiang Su Road for approx 12RMB an hour, the aptly named budget option Intercafe on Fuzhou Road, and the smart but pricier Sparkice within Central Plaza Huai Hai Zhong Road, popular with expats.
Guangzhou and its surrounding areas are mostly marked by manufacturing centres. However, there are some areas of natural scenic beauty that will be worth the trip. Nearby Panyu boasts of two sites. The Xianjiang Wildlife World houses many uncommon animals from around the globe and the Litai Waterfalls, surrounded by dense wildlife, is a popular site.
Tourist Information Offices
The Guangzhou Tourist Office has 3 locations around the city in 180 Huanshi Xilu (West Road), Guangzhou East Railway Station and Dashatou Pier. However, English speaking travellers will find obtaining tourist information easiest in the hotels.
Featured Guangzhou Hotels
Guangzhou Travellers Tales
Guangzhou is another place in the PRC which grants you landing Visa. I took a Coach direct from the Hong Kong Airport to Guangzhou which will take approx 3.5 Hrs to reach Guangzhou. The bus stops midway and we are asked to alight and complete immigration, an agent from CTS or the Coach operater will assit you in getting forms filled and the Visa processing (this was true for me as an Indian for other nationals please check about this facility!!). After the Visa processing/Immigration you board another coach and you will be in Guangzhou in an hour and half or so. Nothing great about the Guangzhou markets no bigger deals like Shenzen, if wishing to shop try Shenzen, a better option. Getting in and out of Guangzhou is smooth from Hong Kong. Try the KCR for returning to Hong Kong the train. Journey is great ! It drops you straight at Hunghom station. Taxis are cheap and of course some off them ricketty! Avoid taking taxis outside Exhibition grounds (Panyu etc.) as these guys will rip you off! Instead go down and take the Metro nearest to your Hotel and board another taxi. The Metro is great with okay coverage.
The highlight of our visit to GZ was our visit to the Museum of the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King dated back to more than 2000 years ago and discovered in 1983. It was very impressive to see the relics excavated and the layout of the tomb. From there, we walked over to the Yue-Xiu Park closed by. We sat near a pond to have our lunch bought at 7-11 and then we spent the rest of the afternoon checking out the Five Ram statue and the Chung San Memorial hall, etc. This is a worthwhile place to visit if you are in GZ.
The location is not convenient but accessible if you can spare the time. There is a Netbar across the street 2 Yuan/hour after midnight, otherwise 6 Yuan. One can catch Bus No. 2 (fare 2 Yuan) from a bus station after a 10 minute walk north which will take you to Beijing Lu, a big hub for shoppers. Return bus is No 194 (fare 1 Yuan). Bank of China is a 5 minute walk away (east) for currency exchange. The hotel location is out of the tourist tracks so one must feel his/her way thru in order to feel relaxed and confident as English is spoken next to none.
Didn''t spend much time in Guangzhou, but I have to say that the new airport there is a stunning, sprawling example of architecture. The design although immense is laid out well, and the service was very good. Like most huge airport facilities you don''t want to be walking challenged. While in China this time I had great memorable experiences. Spent much of my time in Guangxi Province, in and around Nanjing, Guilin, Yanqian, Yangmei, and other spots. These places are interesting, the people are fantastic, and the variety of activities were fulfilling.
This was the last stay of a two week trip into China. Visited Shanghai, Mt. Huangshan, Guilin, HangZhou, Kunming, and finally Guangzhou. Needless to say the shopping and food were the greatest in Guangzhou. Lots of shopping on Peking Road- easily accessible by taxi.
Taxis are excellent in Guangzhou. You very rarely get a driver who cannot read your business card. Definitely eat at the Banana Leaf in the World Trade Centre, a very short walk from the hotel. Food and entertainment are both excellent. The Western Clothing Market near Guangzhou Railway Station is a great place to pick up western fashion labels at a steal. Look for the building called the Gold Elephant.
For the Executive travellers looking for good night spots, check out the street along Holiday Inn Hotel in the city centre, there''s about 5 upmarket disco/pubs, worth the travel there.
There will be a new international airport soon. The hotel has a shuttle that runs every half hour, but not during early morning or late evening hours...it''s 1/3 cheaper to take a cab than a hired car. This hotel is located in an island enclave, a pleasant 3-4 block isolated community. If you prefer proximity to pedestrial shopping streets and more restaurants, one may prefer a more centrally located hotel.<br> <br> There is a China Charity Gift store nearby, entrance inside office building, that may help fill your for-who shopping lists and benefit a good cause as well. For print film developing and photo finishing, the photo shop a block away is fast and cheaper than that at the hotel. This may be true for laundry as well; last time I was here, hotel laundry appeared more costly than the States.
I recommend for the shopper to visit the area Computer City and other shopping Centers like TEEM Plaza. If you are looking for an MP3 player the selection is like Heaven and the merchants are willing to bargain. Electronics are less expensive in China but found I was limited to Battery Models because of the different current in the USA. In China the Electric is 220V the USA it is 110V. Keep in Mind, Buses and Taxis are plentiful but not so much during rush hour and when it is raining. They will be busy. I took for shopping Buses # 54 and 89. Enjoy your Trip.
I can recommend the "Tang Lee Food Art" - restaurant, which is located in the Liwan Park at HuangSha Road.