Make the most out of a weekend in Guangzhou, China
If you have the chance Guangzhou is definitely worth a trip. Modern and old colonial mix together in this beautiful river city. A huge city, that is surprisingly easy to travel around by bus, metro, and taxi. If you already have one of the shared bike apps you can unlock an easy way around this charming city.
Day one: Modern and Old-World China
Stops: Guangzhou Tower, Dim Sum, Xiaozhou Village, and Pearl River cruise.
Whether you arrive by train or plane, you can get a taxi and head into town. We stayed in the Baiyun district, which is in walking distance of the Beijing Market. You can catch a tourist bus around the river towards the Guangzhou Tower for your first stop. It is a symbol of Guangzhou, one of the tallest buildings in the world. Its logo is a stretched out, 广, the first character of the city and province.
The cheaper option gets you to the observation deck and for an additional fee you can go up further, but that also means waiting in another line. If you change your mind you can buy a ticket for that at the top. If you can delay when boarding, try and get onto the elevator last and you can watch through the glass as the city drops below at an amazing speed. From the observation deck, if you get a clear day, you will be able to see the far stretches of the city disappearing into the distance.
After your tower visit, you could stop downstairs at the Shang Dian restaurant for lunch and sample some Cantonese dim sum. The restaurant is a typical busy Chinese-style place, if you would like a quieter lunch you can get one of the larger private rooms and shut the doors. They offer a lot of tasty dishes to share, usually three or four pieces. Select items from the bilingual menu for a first, second, (third and fourth) service. Their bite sized dim sum was larger than most other Cantonese Dim Sum places I have sampled in other parts of the world.
A great after and early evening adventure would be to take a bus (252 or 45) or taxi out to Xiaozhou Village. As the city disappears and you travel down smaller and smaller roads you eventually get to a small village square. Go past the former town hall and explore the tiny streets that follow the canals. As no cars can fit, you will have to watch out for bikes and motorcycles. The beautiful little streets hide wonderful old-China gems, small bars and coffeeshops, houses built with oyster shells, residences, and small hotels. You get to see how the old villages were and some still are. After your visit, you can take the 252 or 45 bus back into downtown.
When you get back into downtown, head to Xidi or Tianzi Wharf. The night Pearl River cruise is one of the most popular things to do, as the entire riverfront is lit up with LED lighting and the Guangzhou tower is quite pretty with its changing colors. You can get a dinner buffet, or just a coffee and fruit platter, and enjoy the changing lights and animation as your boat races around other boats and under the colorful bridges.
Day 2: A History of trade
Stops : Shamian Island, Guangzhou Cathedral and Beijing Road
If you want to start your day off with brunch and excellent hipster coffee, head to the financial area or TianHe district. Wantok, APF Kafe, Nido Coffee are a few cool ones to name a few.
If you want a more Chinese start to your late morning head to the TaoTao house 陶陶居饼家. Across the street there is some wonderful freshly made Yogurt at NanXin Milk Desserts (南信牛奶甜品专家). These are both located between Beijing road and Shamian Island.
After brunch, head to Shamian Island and stroll around the colonial buildings for the afternoon. There are numerous tourist shops, cafés, and beautiful buildings serving as backdrops for wedding photos. Afterwards walk a bit and take the metro one stop (YiDe Rd 一德路) or bike the short distance to the Guangzhou Cathedral.
From here all the way to the Beijing Market street are non-stop market streets. It’s a wonderful place to walk around if you do not mind the crowds and do not have anywhere to be. Since Guangzhou is one of the most important shipping hubs from water, sea, or air you can find almost anything here. It is as if Taobao, Amazon, and Ebay set up shops all in one area. In fact, most of your online purchases probably originate from here.
There will be non-stop crowds throughout the markets so you may want to avoid the surrounding streets and go directly to Beijing Road Pedestrian street. The two closest metro stations areGongYuan QuanStation, 公园前 (head east to the pedestrian street) and Beijing Rd Station 北京路 (go north from the station to the pedestrian road). I prefer the first station, as Zhongshan 5 Rd has a good selection of the more touristy stalls and you can easily find the pedestrian section.
At Beijing road, again there are shops, tea stalls, food, malls, and lots of people. There are ancient ruins covered with glass at the centre. This original road dates back to the age of horse carts and silk robed emperors from the Ming and Qing dynasties (roughly from 1300-1600). These are the ruins of Nanyue Palace. Go to the Guangzhou Nanyue King museum 广州南越王宫博物馆, which is across the street from the pedestrian road, if you want to know more about this area.
Hungry? If you are looking for something different we went to a delicious Xinjiang restaurant called Shache Xinjiang Hallal ( 越秀区莎车清真美食) across from the Huaisheng Mosque (坏圣寺). They have an excellent rating on all the local food apps and their meat pie and lamb BBQ is mouthwateringly delicious.
If you have the time in the afternoon, rent a bike and ride or walk along either side of the Pearl River. The entire length has a well-kept and wide riverside promenade and offers nice views. There are more than enough restaurants, coffee shops, parks, and historical buildings to explore.
In the evening head to Flower City Square across the river from the Guangzhou tower. This square covers the Women & Children’s Hospital, HuaCheng metro stops, and has every kind of food that you could crave. You can sit outside and watch the Guangzhou Tower change colours or stroll through the park with a milk tea.
There are numerous malls and hotels as well as the Grand Theatre and it is a great place to finish your trip with some beautiful views of the impressive tower.
Enjoy Guangzhou ladies!
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