Guangzhou, China - Stein Travel
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Guangzhou is China's third largest city, with an appealing mix of retail frenzy and capitalist energy tempered by ancient traditions and intact historical districts. Capital of the Guangdong Province in southern China, adjacent to Hong Kong and Macau (75 miles north-west of Hong Kong), the city of Guangzhou was formerly known in the West as Canton (the home of Cantonese cuisine) and has a rich heritage in tea production. Today the city skyline is dominated by massive skyscrapers which play host to vast business and trade enterprises.

Guangzhou also has numerous shopping malls, as well as cultural and historical attractions, for visitors to enjoy. Cantonese cuisine and opera are highlights of the Guangzhou social scene, and the city's history (dating back to 214 BC) can be discovered at sites such as the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Some of Guangzhou's best shopping areas include Shangxia Jiu Lu, Beijing Lu and Renmin Nan Lu, while Teem Plaza and China Plaza are the most popular department stores.

Travellers to Guangzhou will probably find the summer season a bit hot and rainy but the winters, from December to March, are mild and sunny - a wonderful time to explore this fascinating city. There are a number of buses and taxis to transport tourists in the city, and there are flights and trains from Guangzhou to other major Chinese destinations such as Beijing and Shanghai.

Information & Facts


Guangzhou is part of the Pearl River Delta and has a humid subtropical climate with hot, wet summers (June to September) and mild, sunny winters (December to March).

Eating Out

Eating out is popular in Guangzhou, with locals spending more at restaurants here than anywhere else in China. It is no wonder when you look at what's on offer: Cantonese cuisine is famous worldwide, and Guangzhou is its heart. The staples of Cantonese food are barbecue and dim sum, and you'll find adventurous fare involving reptiles, amphibians and even insects, or more palatable fare like seafood and pork. Cantonese food is known for its good vegetarian variety as well.

There are other restaurants in Guangzhou serving a range of French, Italian, American and Japanese cuisine, though international chain restaurants don't seem to find a foothold in the city. While tipping is not traditionally practiced in China, it is becoming more common in Guangzhou restaurants; if there is no 10% service charge on the bill, a tip to the same value is acceptable.

Getting Around

There is an efficient and expanding public transportation system that makes getting around in Guangzhou relatively simple. The Yang Cheng Tong card, available from convenience stores throughout the city, offers discounted travel using local buses, subways and even some taxis. The subway covers much of downtown, and the stations are clearly marked with the Guangzhou Metro logo. The bus system has more comprehensive service, but are slow if you travel long distances. Buses require exact change or a Yang Cheng Tong card.

Taxis are a popular form of transport in Guangzhou for visitors, as they are cheap and reliable. Many drivers will not speak English, however, so it is best to have your destination written in Chinese to show them. Renting a car is possible, but driving in the downtown area can be confusing and possibly dangerous for those unfamiliar with Chinese as the road signs are not in English.

China has a reputation for being bicycle-friendly, but Guangzhou has many fewer amenities like bicycle lanes. You can rent a bicycle on Shamian Island, but for longer stays it is preferable to buy one as rentals are often in bad repair. It is also possible to explore some areas of the city on foot, but the various districts are far apart.


The official language is Mandarin Chinese, but there are hundreds of local dialects.


The currency used in China is the Renminbi Yuan (CNY). The Yuan is divided into 10 chiao/jiao or 100 fen. Make sure you exchange your leftover Yuan before returning home because this currency can be exchanged only within China's borders. Travellers cheques, preferably in US Dollars, and foreign cash can be exchanged in cities at the Bank of China. Banks are closed weekends. The larger hotels and the special 'Friendship Stores' designed for foreigners will accept most western currencies for purchases. Major credit cards are accepted in the main cities at various establishments, but outside the major cities acceptance is limited. ATMs are scarce outside the main cities.

Night Life

Being such a big and bustling city, there is no shortage of nightlife options in Guangzhou, from karaoke bars and cosy pubs to cinemas, Cantonese opera venues and trendy nightclubs. Local cinemas make for a good start to the evening - try the China Plaza Theatre in Zhonghua Square or the Yonghan Cinema in Yuexiu. The Guangdong Yueju Opera Theater, on East Dongfeng Road, is a good place for visitors to experience some authentic Cantonese opera. Another classic choise is to take a dinner cruise along the Pearl River to see some of the city's landmark attractions in the night lights. There are many bars and pubs to be found on Bai'e Tan, Huanshi Lu and Binjiang Lu - the city's 'bar streets'. Popular venues include Amigo, a French bar on Bai'e Tan, and the Yuexiu Park golf club. Other trendy, late-night spots are the Velvet Club on Huanshi Dong Road and the Bio Fashion Club on Yanjiang Zhong Road.

You'll find arts and entertainment listings in the free English "That's PRD" guide that is produced every month.


There are plenty of temptations for visitors who are shopping in Guangzhou; the city's various outlets trade in everything from local jade sculptures to international designer labels. The most popular shopping area is the Liwan pedestrian street of Shangxia Jiu Lu. Canton jade sculptures make beautiful Guangzhou souvenirs. There are great fashion boutiques to be found along the Beijing Lu and Renmin Nan Lu pedestrian avenues, while the Teem Plaza and China Plaza department stores also stock high-street trends. For jade and jewellery, head for Hualin Street, while there are other great local artworks to be found on Wende Street. Be wary of solicitors who offer pirated dvds, and avoid going into small side alleys.

Onelink Plaza appears at first glance to be an ordinary mall, but inside you'll find wholesalers offering an enormous selection of goods for great bargains. Most shops will not let you bargain unless you buy in bulk, but the prices are still good even if you only buy one or two items. There are clothes markets to be found on Gaodi Street and Huanshi Xi Lu, while Shan Hai Cheng and Hai Zhong Bao are two of Guangzhou's best seafood markets. The Canton Fair, held in April each year, is a Guangzhou shopping spectacular not to be missed!


There are many wonderful things for visitors to see and do in Guangzhou, with some of its most appealing attractions being its historic religious structures, an array of interesting museums and some beautiful parks and gardens. The Chime-Long Group offers an exciting family entertainment set up for visitors to enjoy with circuses and waterparks, while the Guangdong Provincial Museum provides a good overview of the region and its history. The Guangzhou City Art Museum is one of the best in China, with impressive exhibits of traditional Chinese calligraphy and paintings, while the Guangdong Museum of Art houses more modern collections.

Guangzhou has a unique tourist attraction in Shamian Island, a former colonial outpost: the European architecture and manicured lawns are dotted with many shops and cafes. The Temple of the Six Banyan Trees is another popular Guangzhou attraction, and the South China Botanical Garden and Baiyun Mountain are also good to visit.


Local time is GMT +8.

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