Guangzhou, often known as Canton, is the capital of southern China’s Guangdong Province. A major port city and commercial gateway to southern China, it has an extensive history of foreign contact, reaching back to Arab traders of the Tang period who came to buy silk or to sell spices and incense, through British merchants of the 19th century. Guangzhou was part of the “Maritime Silk Road” that linked southern China with Southeast Asia, India, the Middle East, and the east coast of Africa. Today, multinationals participate in the famous biannual Trade Fairs.
In turn, Guangzhou and surrounding regions sent the bulk of overseas emigrants in the 19th century to found the Chinatowns of major cities around the world.
Along with nearby Special Economic Zones like Shenzhen, Guangzhou took advantage of the financial might and international experience of nearby Hong Kong, along with an inexpensive, migrant labor force from the countryside, to become a leading industrial and manufacturing center for southern China.
Food is the centerpiece of life and Guangzhou has the country’s largest number of restaurants per capita, which is the birthplace of ‘Chinese food’ (Cantonese food) in the west.
- Canton Tower (广州塔) is the tallest structure in China. In additions to the observation deck, the tower features various restaurants, a 4-D theater and other entertainment venues. Admission is RMB 150.
- Dafo Temple, 21 Huixin Xijie, Huifu Donglu, Yuexiu. One of the five renowned Buddhist temples in Guangzhou. It was originally built by Liu Yan, King of the Southern Han Dynasty in the 8th century. Located for keen shoppers needing a break just off Beijing Lu. Free entry.
- Xiguan Residence (西关大屋) See the traditional Cantonese architectures from the late Qing Dynasty and early Republic Era. These houses can be found in Haizhu South Road (海珠南路), Duobao Road (多宝路), Baohua Road (宝华路), Longjin West Road (龙津西路) and Shangxiajiu Road (上下九路). One of the most famous ones is located at 18 Baoyuan North Street (宝源北街18号). They were occupied by the upper class in the old days.
- Chen Clan Academy (陈家祠). This is very well preserved architecture from the 19th century. It used to belong to a wealthy family by the name of Chen and now houses many articles including ivory sculptures and artistic statues. Admission RMB 10
- Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall (中山纪念堂) located on Dongfeng Middle Road, is dedicated to the founder of the Republic of China. It was constructed in 1931 and built on the original site of Sun Yat-sen’s presidential office on Yuexiu Hill. Open 8AM-6PM. Admission is free for the park and RMB 10 to go inside the hall.
- Shamian Island (沙面岛) The buildings and streets of the former British and French concession have been beautifully renovated, creating an oasis of tranquility in an otherwise bustling and hectic metropolis. One of the old structures is Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel, located at 14 Shamian Street. The architecture reflects the colonial era of 19th Century, and it has a unique atmosphere.
- Yuexiu Park – It is the biggest sightseeing park of Guangzhou City, containing the statue of the Five Goats, the city’s symbol. The verve of Yuexiu Park as one of the new Eight Attractions of Guangzhou is completely presented by verdant trees, thriving bamboos, and blooming flowers.
- Chen Family Ancestral Temple – It was built as a collective effort by members from the Chen Family who lived in 72 different counties in Guangdong Province, to honor and worship their ancestors. Now it has been transformed into Guangdong Folk Craftwork Museum.
- Temple of Six Banyan Trees – It is one of the four Buddhism temple complexes in Guangzhou. There are majestic towers, dense trees, plenty of antiques and valuable heritage from those famous people in the history.
- Pearl River Cruise – The cruise section from the White Goose Pool to Guangzhou Bridge is the highlight of the Pearl River cruise. Scenery along this part is so fascinating, with jade-coloured water and coloured lights on shore.
- White Clouds Mountain – The mountain range is full grandeur with majestic peaks and crisscrossed valleys. Travelers can appreciate the overall splendid landscape of Guangzhou and especially the beautiful jade-belt-liked Zhoujiang River at the top of the mountain.
Most trades and goods categories are concentrated in a specific area or along one main street.
Qingping Market (清平市场) Qingping Road (清平路),(Metro 1 Huangsha Exit D) It is located North from Shamian Island. Cantonese are known to eat just about any animal, and the market is world famous for its wild animal trades, although it has been tamer since the SARS outbreak. It is still a great place to go for exotic goods. The modern front of the market has quite a few stalls selling dried herbs used in Chinese Medicine. The real charm here lies just behind the modern exterior. The modern exterior is built onto a series of old historical narrow alleyways with shops selling herbs.
Global International Shoes Trade Centre (国际鞋城步云天地) Address: 26 Zhan Xi Road 广州市站西路26号步云天地
Xiguan Antique Street (西关古玩城) near Liwan Park (荔湾湖公园).
Flower Street (花卉水族街) Baohua Road (宝华路).
Jade Street (玉器工艺街/玉器街) Changshou Road (长寿路) and Wenchang Road (文昌路), near Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street. (Metro 1 Changshou Lu)
Ivory and Sea products (象牙雕刻海味街) Daxin Road (大新路).
Toy Street (玩具街) and Dried goods and snacks Street (干果海味食品专业街) Yide Road (一德路).
Bridal Street (婚纱专卖街) Jiangnan North Road (江南大道北).
Flowers, Aquatic and Lightings Street Danan Road (大南街) near Beijing Road (北京路).
Household Merchandise Street (日用百货街) Gaodi Street(高第街). The street has become a shopping center selling everyday goods.
Cultural Street (古玩字画街 / 文化商业街) Wende Road (文德路). This is a good place to look for antiques and traditional Chinese artistic goods.
Haiyin Shopping District (海印专业购物区) is located at the northwest side of the Haiyin Bridge (海印大桥), selling appliances, sporting goods, cloth, fabrics, camera accessories and electronics.
Beijing Lu Pedestrian Street (北京路步行街) This is the main shopping thoroughfare, a pedestrian street where most stores are open from 9AM-10PM. Avoid individuals who solicit pirated DVDs and imitation goods. Don’t follow anyone into the small dark alleys in between buildings to see their goods.
Mayflower Plaza (五月花广场) 68 Zhongshan 5th Road (中山五路68号), at the northern end of the Pedestrian Street. This is a place where young people hang out and shop.
Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street (上下九商业步行街) This shopping area is also a showcase of traditional Cantonese architecture Qilou(骑楼). It is particularly pretty at night when lights are lit up. Prices here are generally lower than Beijing Road’s, but prepare to bargain. Remember to visit Liwan Plaza (荔湾广场 lì-wān-guǎng-chǎng), located at 9 Dexing Road (德星路9号), the east end of the street. You will find a good selection of crystal there.
Taikoo Hui (太古汇) A fancy shopping mall that targets affluent customers. L3 has several western cafes and bistros which are popular among expats and local bourgeoisies. The bookshop in L1, Fangshuo, is one of the fanciest bookshop of its kind in China, which has a fair collection of English books as well.
China Plaza (中华广场). 33 Zhongshan 3rd Road, (中山三路33号). The mall is extremely popular among young locals and displays what they think “fashionable”. Located on top of a metro station, it also has a huge food court which serves anything from Sichuanese spicy food to Japanese Sushi.
Grandview Mall (Zhengjia Plaza) 228 Tianhe Road, (天河路228号). This is the largest mall in Guangzhou, located in the heart of Tianhe District. It includes famous fashion stores and several department stores, and some cheesy music fountains.
Tee Mall (天河城) 208 Tianhe Road (天河路208号). Located right above the metro Tiyu Xilu station, this is one of the most popular shopping mall.
Yum Cha / Dim Sum (饮茶) “A pot of tea with two pieces (一盅两件)” is Guangzhou’s dim sum culture. Many locals stay for hours chatting and reading newspaper with just a small order of food. The varieties of dim sum dishes in many restaurants are easily over a hundred. The bite-size quantity of each dish allows one to venture out and try new things that will satisfy one’s taste bud.
Siu Mei / Shao Wei (烧味) Cantonese barbecue is famous around the world where many have seen the image of roasted ducks and chicken hanging in front of a store. Siu mei is a staple item in Cantonese restaurants. Some Varieties include barbecued pork (叉烧), roast goose (烧鹅) and roast pig (烧肉).
Seafood (海鲜) From picking live fish or lobsters in front of your eyes to eating the sea creatures with their heads attached, this is a adventure for visitors.
Dessert (甜品,糖水) A Cantonese meal is not complete without Cantonese desserts. Soupy or custard desserts are common. Two distinct Guangzhou favorites are double layered milk(双皮奶) and ginger milk curd (姜撞奶). Other popular choices include tofu pudding (豆腐花), red bean paste (紅豆沙), green bean paste (綠豆沙), guilinggao (龟苓膏), black sesame paste(芝麻糊) and sago (西米露).
The culture of tea drinking, also known as Yum Cha (饮茶), runs deep in Guangzhou. After all, the city was at the center of the massive tea trade that existed between China and Europe during the 19th century.