Guangzhou also was known as Canton as part of Pearl River Delta served as a major terminus of the maritime Silk Road, major port and transportation hub into the mainland China. It is the third largest Chinese city in China, behind Beijing and Shanghai with an estimated population of 13 million people in 2014 and become one of the most populous metropolitan city.
Arriving at Hong Kong airport, the fastest and convenient way to get there is taking a coach bus. Coach services are available at Coach Station of Terminal 2 and the buses or MPVs will take me through Shenzhen Bay for custom checking before boarding the mainland bus into Guangzhou. Tickets can be purchased at the airport terminal and the journey takes approximately 2 hours, depending on traffic condition.
Once reaching my Airbnb apartment in the evening, I had been given a warm welcome by my host, Tanya Lu. We had a short chat that night to discuss on my travel itinerary to prepare myself on my next 3 days tour (See post on Airbnb).
The first visit of the day was the iconic Canton Tower (广州塔), known as Guangzhou Tower. The tower is located in Haizhu District at the south bank of the Pearl River. It is the tallest TV tower in China and the fifth tallest freestanding structure in the world. From the top, visitors can enjoy a birds-eye view of Guangzhou.
The tower is divided into different zones that include The Sky Drop 100-foot freefall, Bubble Tram, the Engineering Marvel Tour Hall, Star Observation Deck and Cloud Observation Deck, “Spider Walk” and a large futuristic Jinyi 4D cinema. There are restaurants serving traditional Chinese and Western-style food and several lookout platforms for photo-shootings.
Getting There: Take the subway Line 3, get off at Canton Tower Station, Exit A.
Next to the tower is Zhujiang New Town (珠江新城) which was planned as the city’s purpose-built CBD for the 21st century. Standing both sides is two super tall twin towers named International Financial Centre and Chow Tai Fook Centre, a combined of the mall, office building, hotel, conference centre and observatory deck (see featured picture above).
At the south side lies four cultural venues named Guangzhou Opera House, the Second Children’s Palace, the Guangzhou Library and Guang Museum. There is an underground shopping mall, vehicular tunnels and automated people mover (APM) within the New Town.
Getting There: Take the subway Line 3 or Line 5 to Zhujiang New Town station
Taking the subway Line 2 to visit Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Auditorium. It was constructed to honor the great forerunner of the Chinese revolution, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen. It was designed by Chinese architect Mr. Lu Yen-Chih (1894-1929) and was sponsored and built by Guangzhou locals and ex-pats. It stands on the former site of the Presidential Palace and the construction began from 1928 until 1931.
The auditorium combined with Chinese and Western architectural design and characteristics, with an octagonal-shaped main structure comprises steel frame enclosed with reinforced concrete, covering 12,000 m² of the complex’s total 62,000 m² area. The roof is upturned-eaved on four sides and tiled in a sapphire blue glaze. What makes this structure so special is that it was built without the need of a single central pillar with the span of 71 meters at its widest point and the height of 52 meters.
The auditorium now serves as a national cultural relic, providing a leading location for conventions, performances and tourism. It has been awarded a National AAAA Tourist Attraction rating.
Getting There: Take the subway Line 2 to Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall station, Exit D2.
After taking a long walk in the city, get to Yuexiu Park (越秀公园), the largest park in the downtown of the city and explore the surrounding with three artificial lakes and seven hills of Yuexiu Mountains. With the area of 860,000 square meters, there are many attractions including the famous stone sculpture of Five Goats Rams, Zhenhai Tower (see below), Square Cannon Site, site of the Ming Dynasty City Wall and amusement park.
The statue is located in the park’s Wuyang Hill. According to local myth, it is said that once upon a time there are five fairies riding on five goats. They flew to Guangzhou and brought five bunches of corns to the villagers bless them with everlasting fertility. They soon vanished into the sky, leaving the five heavenly goats and later turn into stone. That is why Guangzhou is also called “Goat City” or “Corn City”.
Don’t miss out Zhenhai Tower (五层楼) which is located inside Yuexiu Park, meaning the ‘Sea Guard Tower’. This 28 meters high, 31 meters wide and 16 meters depth tower was first built in 1380, at the beginning of Ming dynasty but destroyed and restored five times. It changed from a wooden structure into reinforced concrete in 1928. The reddish-brown bricks and grey tiles made the building primitive simple and unique.
The museum exhibits nearly thousands of pictures, collections display the culture, custom and city development, historic relics from different dynasties and modern Chinese cultural relics since the Opium War. There is also special showroom at the east side of the tower and cannons display on the barbette and 23 ancient stone tablets on the west side. There is also an art gallery in the museum.
Getting There: Take the subway Line 2 to Yuexiu Park station Exit B1 and walk along Yuexiu North Rd to get to the park and memorial hall.
After having my breakfast, I take the subway to Ximenkou station to visit Guangxiao Temple, hidden without this metropolitan city. This temple is one of the most influential temples in China with a history dating back more than 1,700 years. The temple was built during the Western Han Dynasty (207 BC- 24 AD) as a private house and was used as a lecture hall. It was later dedicated completely to the function of a Zen Buddhist Temple during the Southern Song Dynasty. Many monks had lived there and greatly spread their culture.
Getting There: Take subway Line 1 to Ximenkou station Exit C, walk along Guangxiao Road for several minutes to reach there.
Within a short walking distance is Temple of Six Banyan Tree (Liu Rong Temple, 六榕寺), built in AD 537 during the Song Dynasty. It firstly constructed by the monk Tanyu under the order of Emperor Wu and used to keep the relics of Cambodian Buddhist saints. It has a 1,000-year pagoda, green ancient banyan trees, the sound of brooks and the songs of birds.
Daxiong Baodian Hall located west of the temple has one of the three biggest ancient copper Buddhist statues in Guangdong. Each of them stands for the present, past and future. The temple also kept some of the artistic treasures such as the tablets by Wang Bo and the bronze statue of Hui Neng.
Getting There: Take the subway Line 1 or Line 2 to Gongyuanqian station Exit B. Walk along Liurong Road to reach there.
After completing a day trip in Foshan [i], I was craving for food and head down to Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street ( 上下九步行街). It is located in Liwan district, the first business street that opened in 1995 and architecture characteristics combined both Chinese and European styles. It stretches from Shangjiu Lu (上九路) in the east to Dishifu Lu (第十甫路) in the west.
The street is about 1.2 km long with over 300 shops. Boahua Road is filled with restaurants offering traditional Chinese dishes to international cuisines as well as fast food chains. This is where I had my dinner before going the main pedestrian street to shop for some souvenirs. This place mainly sells clothes, sportswear, garments and electronic accessories.
Getting There: Take subway Line 1 to Changshou station to get to Baohua Road or subway Line 6 to Culture Park station and head north about 200 meters to Shangxiajiu Square.
The last thing to do was getting on an-hour cruise ride along Pearl River and enjoy the spectacular night view of the city. I saw some cruises that come with buffet dinner onboard too. The ride passed through Haiyin Bridge to Huacheng Square and Canton Tower, where the buildings’ lights are led up.
Other than traveling by bus, Guangzhou has an international airport called Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN), located in the northern part of the city. Upon arrival, passengers can take Guangzhou Metro, Line 3 into the city center.
The city provides an efficient transport network system, allowing passengers to travel fast. The city offers many modes of transportation, from subways (MTR), taxis, buses and trams.
Guangzhou Metro and Zhujiang APM are one of the easiest and affordable ways to travel within the city and Foshan, its neighboring city through Guangfo line. Passengers can purchase their tickets using the ticket machines.
Upon exiting the station, there are signboards showing which exit to take and most tourist spots are just within short walking distances. Ticket machines and signboards are available in English and Mandarin, making it very easy to search for places.