Guangzhou is known as China’s most industrialized city alongside its sister city of Shenzhen. However, Guangzhou, the capital of the southern Guangdong province has been one of the most historically dramatic places in China for being a significant population center as well as being a coastal city on the eastern trading routes. For centuries, maritime merchants from faraway nations like Arabia, Persia, India, and even Roman Europe used to sail as far as Guangzhou to sell their produces and goods.
As a result, Guangzhou used to be a multi-ethnic city with people from all over the civilized world such as Arab and Persian merchants, European/Mediterranean travelers and even Jews from the Occident and the Middle East making this great city their home.
Planning A Two-Week Trip to South China? Here Are Top 20 Best Places to Visit in Guangzhou with Kids & Family:
The economic miracle of China beginning in the late 1990s has helped restore the cultural and economic value of Guangzhou once again. Guangzhou is not only a significant city in China as a whole, but most importantly is a Southern Chinese cultural and economic center. Here, the main language is Cantonese and not Mandarin, although the latter is extensively used as an official language.
If you have been to Hong Kong before and feel that the city is very Anglicized-Chinese in its core character, you can start with Guangzhou as your stepping stone towards exploring China. So here we go.
20. South China Botanical Garden
Built in the year 1929, this botanical garden houses a variety of plants from South Asia, South-East Asia, and Southern China. Located in northern Guangzhou, it is also a popular nature retreat for many city dwellers. The southern Chinese tropical climate helps this botanical garden to sustain many of its plant species all year long.
19. Guangxiao Temple
This Buddhist Temple has seen many upheavals in the past. Built during the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history, this temple is one of the most significant Buddhist temples in China. Most of the temple premises has gone under restoration after destruction from the continuous civil wars and the infamous Cultural Revolution.
18. Six Banyan Tree Temple
Another Buddhist temple in Guangzhou, this one will leave you awestruck. Originally built on the orders of Emperor Wu in 537 A.D., it was later rebuilt during the Northern Song Dynasty. While the exterior of the temple is a Flower Pagoda, the interior houses three golden colored Buddhas, magnificent and awe-inspiring.
17. Yuexiu Park
This park covers an area of 860,000 square meters and houses a few but beautiful architectural sculptures. The Yuexiu Park is home to the Five Rams Park and the Guangzhou Museum. The museum is not a modern building but is rather located in the Zhenhai tower that was originally built in 1380 AD and has been destroyed and rebuilt several times.
16. Baiyun Mountains
This may seem impossible since Guangzhou is a busy, bustling city, but let us not forget that the city is also surrounded by breathtaking natural scenery, typical of Southern China. The area is comprised of three hundred mountain peaks, of which the highest peak stands at 382 meters. You have the option to take a cable car to reach the mountain top if you are too exhausted to climb the stairs. This area is popular as a weekend getaway for city dwellers.
15. The Chen Clan Academy
Built-in 1894 by the Chen family for young candidates to study for the Imperial Examinations, the building was turned into the Guangdong Folk Arts Museum, and its premises consists of nineteen buildings altogether.
14. Guangdong Museum
This museum is specially dedicated to the history of the Guangdong state. Located in the Huacheng Square of the city, the Guangdong Museum has exhibitions ranging from a range of historical aspects of the state, from all periods in its history, including its natural history.
13. Baomo Garden
Build during the rule of the Qing Dynasty, this garden is located only at a distance of half an hour drive from the city and is one of the finest examples of Southern Chinese architecture as well as gardening style. Although it was destroyed sometime during the 1950s, it was later rebuilt and restored.
12. Canton Tower
The Canton Tower signifies the Chinese economic miracle and is counted as one of the tallest buildings in the world. The tower stands a full 600 meters towards the sky and consists of office spaces, coffee shops, recreational centers, decks for observation and even a ride. The tower is illuminated during the night and shines majestically in all its glory.
11. Sacred Heart Cathedral
Finished in the year 1888, this Catholic Cathedral is an example of Christianity making inroads in Chinese public life in the nineteenth century. It is entirely made of granite and is built in the Western style of architecture. It carries out services in the two major Chinese languages of Mandarin and Cantonese, alongside with Korean and English.
10. Chimelong Tourist Resort
If you think Guangzhou would do better with a Disneyland or any other trademark theme park, you are wrong; because it already has its own. The Chimelong Tourist Resort is a theme park, full of exciting rides and roller coasters as well as a water park, a bird watch park and also a safari park.
9. Zhuhai Aquarium
Although technically not inside the city of Guangzhou, this water park is located in the neighboring town of Zhuhai, and its location of choice is deliberate. Since Guangzhou is already inundated with so much, the location of this major aquarium is to lower the burden from the main city. If you have enough time on your hands, we urge you to visit this aquarium.
8. Huacheng Square
This is the Times Square of Guangzhou. This is the place which is the most ‘happening’ place in the city, full of neon lights, bustle, shopping, tourists, restaurants and what not. If you truly want to live modern-day Guangzhou, the Huacheng Square entails it all. You can see the Canton Tower and also the National Finance Center from here.
This place is a perfect example of the cultural changes that came with the Chinese economic miracle. The Redtory used to be a manufacturing hub full of factories, now taken a 180-degree turn and transformed into a place full of art galleries, art studios, art museums, coffee shops, and other such hipster-ish type of establishments that you can expect to find in cities of Canada and California.
6. Shamian Island
This ‘island’ is separated from the main city by a small canal and was used as a trading post right from the Song to the Qing dynasties. During the days of Qing’s decline, this island used to house a European trading post or to say a town for then European expats in China.
5. Yuyin Garden
Built in the year 1864, this was a private garden of a scholar, later opened to the general public. Its beautiful landscape is dotted by rock hills, pools, pavilions, flowers and intelligently created plant arrangements. This garden is good for an afternoon to evening stroll on a leisurely weekend.
4. Sun-Yat-Sen Memorial Hall
This place originally housed the Presidential Palace but got destroyed when Sun Yat Sen, the Father of Modern China was attacked. A memorial hall has been built in the place to commemorate the great leader, but was destroyed several times later and finally restored and rebuilt in the year 1998.
3. Pearl River
The Pearl River runs through the beautiful city of Guangzhou as its arterial nerve and provides an opportunity for travelers to sit back and relax and gorge upon the visual beauty of the city. There are many ferry and cruise services available that will tour you on the Pearl River. We suggest you take a night cruise on the river which will show you Guangzhou transform into an uber-modern megapolis of the 21st century, dotted with neon lights, sky-high buildings, and towers at night.
2. Mausoleum of The Nanyue King
Although the tomb is more than 2000 years old, it was only in the year 1983 that it was discovered. The tomb also houses various artifacts from the period from the king’s court and home. The tomb gives us a glimpse of ancient Southern China when the non-Han ethnic groups were predominant in the area. As the name ‘Nan-Yue’ suggests, it is very likely that he was the king of the Yue people or so to say the modern ethnic day Vietnamese of that time whose territory spread as far north as the Guangdong Province.
1. Qing Ping Chinese Medicine Market
The Chinese medicine market is not just meant for those who are looking to buy or get a remedy for their ailment but also offers valuable information and deep knowledge into the workings of traditional Chinese medicine. You can certainly find a lot of information about medicinal herbs and fruits that go into making the traditional Chinese medicine. Also, how you forget about the medical practice of acupuncture?
For those who are traveling from Hong Kong and Macau for a one-week travel stint, Guangdong is enough to give you a dose of modern and cultural China.