2024 Guangzhou Travel Guide: Plan Your Travel To Guangzhou
- 1. Plan Your Travel To Guangzhou
- 2. Guangzhou Transportation: Flights
- 3. Guangzhou Transportation: Train, Bus, Metro, Taxi
- 4. Best Time to Visit Guangzhou
- 5. Best Places to visit in Guangzhou
- 6. Guangzhou Food: Local Foods to Try in Guangzhou
- 7. Guangzhou Shopping: Where to Buy & What to Buy
- 8. Culture of Guangzhou
Guangzhou is nothing less than a glittering metropolis containing centuries-old temples and shimmering skyscrapers. Here you will discover a fusion of old as well as new China. The capital of Guangdong province, Guangzhou has a rich history, vibrant commence, and picturesque natural scenery, making it an unforgettable travel destination.
Formerly known as Canton, today’s Guangzhou is one of China's most impressive urban centers, with a population of over 15 million. But there’s an ancient and historical side to this city too. Founded on the eastern bank of the Pearl River in 215 BC, Guangzhou had been a historic center of learning and a cradle of political activity (e.g., the Chinese Revolution of 1911–12). To this day, numerous notable Republic-era buildings remain standing, and some Guangzhou neighborhoods still retain the narrow alleys and old-world charms.
Located in the south-central part of Guangdong province, the main part of Guangzhou is near Baiyun Mountain on the eastern bank of the Pearl River. There are 10 districts in total, with Yuexiu and Liwan districts considered as Old City; Tianhe is the business district, with many attractions (Guangdong Museum and Opera House) and shopping malls. Around the center districts, visitors can find Haizhu district on the southern bank of the Pearl River; Panyu district, popular with tourists as its home to Lianhua Mountain and various theme parks.
Due to its subtropical climate, Guangzhou is blessed with flowers all year round. This earned it the nickname of ""City of Flowers."" The striking blooms are celebrated annually during the famous Spring Festival Flower Fair, when every street and alleyway is awash with vibrant colors. Other places of scenic natural settings include cherry blossom viewing in Huang Keng Cun Village in Huadu District, be surrounded by nature in Huangshan Forest Park, or admire the Million Sunflower Garden in Nansha District.
Traveling to and around Guangzhou couldn’t be easier. If you are flying to Guanzhou, Baiyun International Airport serves the city and the region. There are multiple transfer options between the airport and city center, such as the metro (Metro Line 3’s Airport South Metro station is located at the lower level of the airport terminal), airport express and shuttle bus (over a dozen routes to key locations in Guangzhou), and by taxi.
If you are visiting Guangzhou for the first time, here are a few tips for you to consider. Firstly, Guangzhou is in China, hence almost all nationalities must obtain a Chinese visa before entering. However, since 2019, Guangdong Province rolled out the 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit scheme, whereby foreigners (from 53 countries) holding valid travel documents with connecting tickets can roam the city freely during that period.
Secondly, choose where to stay in a megacity like Guangzhou can be overwhelming. For first-time visitors, Yuexiu District is most suitable as it is an ancient city cultural tourism area, home to the Beijing Road Shopping Street and Guangzhou Railway Station. If you love the hustle and bustle of the city, Tianhe District’s Zhujiang New Town is Guangzhou’s CBD with international hotel chains and luxury shopping malls. If you are traveling with family, consider Liwan district for its ancient architecture, convenient transportation links, and relaxing environment.
Thirdly, the city’s biggest event is the Canton Fair, an annual international trade event that brings tens of thousands of sellers and buyers from all over china and the world. There are two sessions, one in Spring and another in Fall. It is worth checking the specific dates because most of the hotels are packed during these periods, and the price of everything jumps several notches.
Chinese cuisine has many regional styles, but one of the most world-renowned is Cantonese cuisine, which came out of Guangzhou. Beef and chicken stir-fries, dim sum, and Cantonese barbecues are particularly popular. Another thing tourists must do in Guangzhou is shopping. For specialty Guangzhou souvenirs, visitors can consider Cantonese embroidery, jade sculptures, Chinese tea, and herbal medicine, etc.
Being the third-largest city in China and an important trading hub, traveling to Guangzhou is easy and convenient. Arriving by plane, the primary airport serving Guangzhou and Southern China is Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN). This prominent airport is also the base for China Southern Airlines, a multitude of domestic and international airlines operate out of CAN, with flights reaching out to over 40 countries and all parts of China.
Baiyun International Airport is about 28 kilometers (17 miles) from downtown, passengers can effortlessly travel to downtown by metro, rail, bus, or taxi. The fastest and most affordable way into the city is by Metro Line 3. The Airport South Metro station is located at the lower level of the airport terminal, making getting on and off very easy. The journey from the airport to the center of Guangzhou costs 7-9 RMB and takes about 30-35 minutes, depending on location. But note, single journey tickets are purchased at automatic ticket vending machines, and it only accepts coins and small bills. Alternatively, head to Metro Customer Service Center for tickets or Yang Cheng Tong Metro Card. For people with long layovers or on a 72-144 visa-free transit, the metro is a great way to see the city on a tight schedule.
Other ways to transfer between the city center and airport are by taxi - taxi stations are available outside Arrival Hall Section A Gate 5 and Arrival Hall Section B Gate 6; or by Guangzhou Airport Express and Shuttle Bus – over a dozen bus routes taking passengers to major stops in the city like Guangzhou Railway Station, North Railway Station, Crowne Plaza City Centre, Garden Hotel and more. Depending on distance, journeys take between 50-120 minutes and cost 6-57 RMB.
Guangzhou has an excellent public transportation system that includes subways, buses, and trains covering the whole city. For visitors who plan to use public transport a lot during their stay, it is worth it to purchase the Lingnan Pass, which can be used to pay fares on metro, bus, and ferry, as well as many convenience stores and vending machines.
As of 2019, there are 14 metro lines in Guangzhou, tourists can easily enjoy all the attractions and shopping places in this city using the metro system. The fares depend on the distance you travel. The basic fare on regular lines starts at 2 RMB. Besides single-ride tickets, Day Pass and 3-Day Pass are also sold. Tourists will find Lines 1, 2, 3, and 5 the most useful as they link famous attractions, retail centers, CBD, and main train stations in Guangzhou.
Guangzhou has an extensive network of bus routes (over 1,200 routes) with fares starting at 2 RMB. English signboards are present at bus stops, and the automated stop announcements on the buses are in Chinese, Cantonese, and English. In addition to regular bus lines, there are also five sightseeing bus lines in operation to take tourists around major city attractions.
Guangzhou is a central transport hub in southern China, so every day, tens of thousands of people travel to and from the city to other parts of China, including Hong Kong. There are four large train stations, Guangzhou Rail Station, South Railway Station, East Railway Station, and North Railway Station. Passengers have a choice of traveling by normal-speed trains, bullet trains, and high-speed trains from these stations. Other ways to travel around the country from Guangzhou include long-distance bus service and ferry service.
It is generally warm and humid all year round in Guangzhou, but this also means plenty of sunshine and no frost or snow. Summer (late May to early September) is long, with more than five months of temperatures often exceeding 36 °C (96 °F). In addition, the summer months receive abundant rainfall as well as occasional typhoons and thunderstorms. The coolest months are December to February, but even then, the temperature stays around 20°C (68°F) and 10°C (50°F) at night.
While the temperature in Spring is comparatively pleasant, late February to mid May in Guangzhou is the rainy season with many wet and cloudy days. Despite this, April and May are peak tourist periods for the city. This is mainly due to the May 1-3 Labor Day National Holiday when the entire nation is on the move, as well as the all-important annual China Import and Export Fair that is held in April and May.
That leaves Fall, considered the best season to visit Guangzhou. With dry, sunny days that are pleasantly cool, the short period between late-October to mid-December is also another peak tourist time. During this time, hotels are usually packed and can be difficult to reserve rooms.
From thrilling theme parks to one of the world’s tallest TV towers, from lush mountain hikes to spectacular night river cruises, Guangzhou is a metropolis that can keep visitors entertained no matter their taste.
For the most magnificent views of Guangzhou, head up to the Canton Tower. Standing at 600 meters tall (1968 feet) at the intersection of Guangzhou's new urban centers and the Pearl River scenery zone, the tower has an observation deck, various restaurants, a 4-D theater, and other entertainment venues.
A great place to spend your day with family and friends is Chimelong Paradise. Well-known in China as the largest amusement park in the country, visitors can have an adventure-filled day in the park’s over 60 attractions and rides like Screaming Zone and Whirlwind Island. The park also hosts performances, magic tricks, acrobatics, and fancy car parades. Other fun, family-friendly destinations in Guangzhou, also part of the Guangzhou Chimelong Tourist Resort, are Chimelong Water Park, Safari Park, and Birds Park. The Chimelong Safari Park, for example, is the home to over 20,000 animals, including giant pandas, koalas, and white tigers.
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For art lovers, there’s no shortage of museums and galleries in this megacity. The ultra-modern Guangdong Museum showcases Cantonese art, nature, culture, and history in Guangzhou. It is located in the new financial hub in Pearl River New Town. The Chen Clan Ancestral Hall houses the Guangdong Folk Art Museum. The exquisite traditional architectural style of the building dates back to the end of the 19th century. Guangzhou’s contemporary art scene is vibrant and alive. Best examples can be seen in Vitamin Creative Space, Guangdong Times Museum, and Guangdong Museum of Art.
Guangzhou is the home and center of Cantonese / Yue Cuisine, one of the eight culinary cuisines of China. Yue dishes involve a lot of fresh seafood, use all edible parts of an animal (like chicken feet or duck’s tongue), main cooking techniques are stir-frying and steaming, and spices and herbs are rarely used.
Dim sums or delicate pastry dishes, which can be sweet or savory, are a must-try in Guangzhou. Guangzhou has a vibrant dim sum culture, with many locals regularly meet up and stay for hours chatting over a small order of food. Local favorite dishes include shrimp dumplings, BBQ pork bun, rice noodle roll, and fried turnip cake. Top restaurants serving dim sum are Guangzhou Restaurant (one of the oldest and most famous), Dim Dou Dak (serves dim sum all day), and White Swan Hotel Dim Sum (expensive but delicious).
White Cut Chicken is perhaps one of the most popular Cantonese dishes around. Simple yet deeply satisfying, this dish is featured in most Cantonese restaurants, including Bingsheng Restaurant and Guangzhou Restaurant.
If you like BBQ, then give Cantonese barbecue / Siu Mei a try. From roasted ducks to barbecued pork and goose, Siu mei is a staple item in Guangzhou Cantonese restaurants.
Are you looking for a perfect shopping destination while visiting Guangzhou? Then head to the Beijing road shopping area, a famous pedestrian shopping street filled with shops selling clothes, souvenirs, and jewelry with high-end to mid-range international brands. This area is a tourist favorite as the road is also lined with snacks and refreshments options.
Another exciting destination is Shangxiajiu Street. It is similar to Beijing road as it also has hundreds of shops for visitors to browse through. But after dark, this place transforms into an excellent night shopping spot, with most shops staying open to about 11:30 pm. Lights, music, and crowds, the whole area covers approximately 10 adjacent streets.
If your idea of a healthy dose of retail therapy means spending the day in a luxury shopping center, then Guangzhou has numerous options to satisfy you. There are several upscale malls in the Zhujiang area of the city. It is also home to top tourist attractions like the Canton Tower and Guangdong Museum. Other high-end retail destinations include CTF Finance Center Tower / Mall, Mall of the World, and The IFC Tower.
China, or officially the People's Republic of China, is the world’s third-largest country by size, covering an area of around 9.6 million square kilometers (3.7 million square miles). It is also the world's most populous country, with more than 1.41 billion inhabitants. There are 23 provinces, five autonomous regions, and four direct-controlled municipalities, including Beijing.
There are 55 ethnic minority groups, with the Han Chinese being the main ethnic group. The Chinese language is one of the oldest written languages in the world, and today, the official language and dialect of China is Standard Chinese (Putonghua) or Mandarin. There are several other main dialects spoken in different regions of China. For example, Cantonese is spoken in Hong Kong and most of Guangdong, such as in Guangzhou.
For the size of China, it spans five geographical time zones, but officially China only has one time zone, China Standard Time (CST). CST is also known as Beijing Time in China, always 8 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). There are no Daylight-Saving Time clock changes.
For a city as large and diverse as Guangzhou, it is considered a relatively safe place for tourists and residents. But visitors are advised to stay vigilant as petty crimes like theft are common, especially on public transportations, in shopping areas, and at tourist sites. For emergencies, dial 110 for police, 119 for firefighters, and 120 for ambulance services.
The official currency used in China is Renminbi (RMB) which is also known as Yuan. Tipping is not required in China, but giving a gratuity to hotel staff, tour guides, and drivers is welcome.
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