A traveler’s guide to Guangzhou

Guangzhou, photo by palindrome6996 on Flickr

Beijing and Shanghai are the largest and most famous Chinese metropolises, but they are not the only one. Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province, probably gets less mentions in tourist brochures than its other two counterparts, but to those who know a bit of history, the name of Canton might sound more familiar. Guangzhou, or Canton as it was called in the past, has a distinct language and cuisine – Cantonese. Colorful Guangzhou with its neon-lit skyscrapers, large markets, shopping malls and historical buildings is a destination that travelers often neglect, but which has a lot to offer to¬† the tourists who give it a chance. Discover one of the underrated gems of China through this traveler’s guide to Guangzhou.

About Guangzhou

One of the reasons why people tend to either stay away from Guangzhou altogether or leave as soon as possible is that the city seems extraordinarily cluttered, to the point that it looks like it’s about to explode. Guangzhou’s city center is so full of high rise buildings that it doesn’t seem to be space for more, yet building operations never seem to stop. Although this urban jungle can be overwhelming, those who stick around will see that Guangzhou is not as scary as it seems at first. Stray away from the city center and you’ll find old neighborhoods that are quiet and relaxed, just like in any other Chinese city.


photo by xiquinhosilva on Flickr

One thing that will strike you as soon as you arrive in Guangzhou is the fact that despite the heavy traffic, there is no honking to be hearsd at all – that’s because honking is illegal in Guangzhou. The city’s public transport system is fast and efficient: you can take the subway to go almost anywhere in the city center, while the bus network covers all of the city and it is by far the cheapest way to get around Guangzhou. Taxis are quite cheap, and many foreigners use them, but you need to be able to tell the address to the driver because most of them don’t speak any English.


Those who enjoy their time in concrete jungles will have a great time in Guangzhou, especially in the modern parts of the city which look increasingly like something out of a cyberpunk novel. Canton Tower is the tallest building in China and the seventh tallest in the world, and it is surrounded by other landmark buildings like the Twin Towers, Guangzhou Opera House, Guangzhou New Library, the new Guangdong Museum, the second Children’s Palace, forming a stunning scenery at night. If you are interested in more traditional architecture, visit the Xiguan Residence which dates back to the Qing Dynasty, or the Flowering Pagoda, one of the most popular sights in Guangzhou.

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