Guangzhou or Canton is the capital of Guangdong province, southern part of China. Guandong province itself is famous as manufacturing center for China. No wonder, every year, there is Canton fair to promote the trade, where people from around the world come to Guangzhou to meet their potential partners for trading. Guangzhou itself is the third biggest city in China after Beijing and Shanghai. Even it’s famous for manufacturing, it does mean it will be boring travelling to Guangzhou. Let check it out below.
How To Get There ?
Guangzhou has international airport, Guangzhou Bai Yun International airport located in Bai Yun area which can be reached Metro line 3. This line will end at Panyu square where the famous Canton fair held. For you who mainly visit Guangzhou for Canton fair, try to stay in the area nearby this metro line 3. You can visit Guangzhou via Hong Kong itself, just take the train in Hung Hom station. It take approximately 2 hours and will stop first in Dongguan after 1,5 hour and will finally ended at Guangzhou East station. There are many train frequencies between Hung Hom and Guangzhou with a lot of people travelling from both cities as well. The train ticket from Hong Kong to Guangzhou is around 190 – 230 RMB. The ticket from Hong Kong to Guangzhou is more expensive compared with from Guangzhou to Hong Kong. If you are looking for cheaper price ticket, you can take the train from Shenzhen to Guangzhou.
Even Hong Kong has become part of China since several years ago, but since the status of Hong Kong as special administration area under one country two systems, like Macau, hence it has its own immigration, hence so you will experience two immigration same travelling to other countries, one in Hung Hom for Hong Kong immigration and the other China immigration at Guangzhou East station. There is foreigner line specific in Guangzhou East, so check it out before you Queue. The interesting part about Guangzhou transportation as recently end of last December 2012, China just launched super speed train from Beijing to Guangzhou which will stop in several cities like Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Changsa. It cuts the travel time tremendously from previously 24 hours become 8 hours and this train will be continue later to Shenzhen and eventually also to Hong Kong West Kowloon station which is scheduled to be opened in 2015.
Initially I plan to travel to Guangzhou via Bai Yun International airport, however since I had my business trip in Hong Kong as well, then had to change a bit the plan to visit by Hong Kong and take the train. My hotel itself located nearby Metro line 3, between Meihuayuan and Yantang station which need to be continue via local bus just go straight only for 2 RMB only for air conditioned bus. The location itself is not that far from Guangzhou East station. When you arrive from Guangzhou East station, you might be approached by several people trying to offer you taxi for taking you to your hotel. Don’t bother to stop or even look into it, just go straight and pass those people and also the counter to the ground floor and walk out where you can find official taxi line which will take you to your hotel in affordable cost and safe as well.
I enjoy my stay in Master Hotel, a 4 star hotel yet very affordable with helpful staff guide me and also give me map of Gungzhou metro which is very useful for my entire trip. The room itself is so spacious which make my stay there so comfortable. The price when I stay is cheap as it does not fall on Canton fair, but in between of the fair which will continue to exhibit other stuffs in next few days ahead. Normally the hotel price during the Canton fair will increase a lot, so if you plan to visit during Canton fair, you have to book your hotel ahead to get the good price.
105 North Shahe road, Guangzhou Da Dao
As I arrive there night, I plan just to stay in hotel preparing for my trip on the next day. The hotel itself have nice restaurant. I order only one dish with rice as I travel alone hence can not try other dishes. It’s a steamed small fishes with prawn in garlic and chili. The portion is quite big, hence I need to have sometimes to finish it up. The price itself even it’s in 4 star hotel is affordable, I remember I pay less than 50 RMB (less than 10 SGD) for this delicious seafood. The only annoying thing is when I about to pay, they make mistake in the bill with additional item I do not order, not sure whether it’s intended or not. So whenever you dine, just check carefully your bill, even if you can not read Chinese characters, you can just ask the staff to explain to you the items. After that, I went back to my room, plan the trip for tomorrow then rest.
The next morning, I had my breakfast in the same restaurant in the hotel which included in my hotel booking. Unfortunately the breakfast is not that nice, it serve normal breakfast served in hotels in China which normally contain porridge with some condiments of fermented vegetables, fried noodle which not nice and cold, Chinese type of bread, fried dough (You Tiao) with choice of drink of orange syrup, Chineese tea and water. No english black tea or coffee. As it’s not my first time to China, I had prepared in my room, some instant coffee to light up my day. Thanks for good planning ahead.
The first destination of that day is Yuexiu park (越秀公园) which can be reached by Metro line 2. Most of tourist destinations in Guangzhou are located in Metro line 1 and line 2. Travelling via metro is Guangzhou is nice and also easy as it has station named in English as well with train announcement in three languages, Cantonese (common language used in Guangzhou and Shenzhen same in Hong Kong), Mandarin and also English. The fare is also affordable, you can buy the ticket in ticket machine, just plan your departure and arrive station which show you the price from 2 RMB to 12 RMB only. Guangzhou itself including the public toilet in Metro is clean, perhaps influenced by neighbour city, Hong Kong. It’s quite surprised for me, as normally it’s a bit problem, smelly and dirty especially when you want to go to public toilets in other cities in China.
Not that far from Metro exit, I already find the Yuexiu park entrance. It’s free to enter Yuexiu park and a lot of people doing sports in the morning here, or just meeting and chatting with friends, playing chess, or just simple walk while listen to radio which they bring along with them. It’s interesting to see this, so whenever you visit Guangzhou, don’t forget to visit the park in early in the morning. I can see the beauty of the park itself from the entrance which I find huge lampion decorated with flowers.
The size of the park is huge, and have several entrances and exit as well, hence allocate some times to explore the park. In Yuexiu park, you can also find Guangzhou museum (广州博物馆), one of the oldest museum with its Zhenhai Tower, first tower of South China which provide bird eye view of Guangzhou city. You have to pay RMB 10 to enter this museum with opening hour from 09.00-11.30 and 13.00-17.00.
In this museum, you can also find the original Guangzhou city symbol, stone statue of the five rams. The size of this statue is much smaller compared to the replicates which available in the middle of Yuexiu park. The background of the statue really matched, which show the pictures of goddess ride on the rams.
For going up, you have to take stairs, no elevator or lift available. Don’t forget to go to the top area where you can have the bird eye view of Yuexiu park and Guangzhou as well. Very nice view of the city from top of the hill.
Actually, there are still many areas in Yuexiu park that I want to explore but considering time and places to visit, then I have to move to the next destination. The next destination is Guangzhou Orchid garden which is located opposite the main entrance of Yuexiu park. You have to cross via underpass to there.
Guangzhou Orchid garden is also called as Lan Po in Cantonese which is more familiar by people in Guangzhou is a very nice garden and more quiet and less people compared to Yuexiu park. The admission to this garden cost you 8 RMB with opening hour from 8 AM – 5 PM.
They also serve Chinese tea in this with affordable price 20 RMB. You can buy the ticket from entrance or inside as well. I think the nicest place will be the location the one nearby the pond. It’s very relaxing area and worth to visit in Guangzhou. They have several entrance and exit as well. Would suggest you to enter and exit from the one opposite Yuexiu park.
Don’t forget to purchase the freshly made bread from street vendor in front of garden, opposite the Yuexiu park. You would like the bread, I am still thinking of the bread while writing this article. From there, I walk to the underpass to take metro. Just before it, I am tempted as well to try other street food, a Chinese type of crepes made of egg, with lettuce and the sauce as well which cost me around 5-10 RMB (not sure).
From Yuexiu Metro station, I went Chen Clan academy ((陈家祠) located in Metro line 1 exit D. The admission to this 19th century well preserved Qing style building previously used by wealthy Chen family is 10 RMB.
Inside Chen Clan academy, you can also find the Guangdong Folk Arts museum. No extra charged need to be paid to view the museum. In this museum, you can look into various collection of lacquer ware, embroidery, Chaozhou wood carving and others. There are nine exhibition halls inside the chen clan academy used for exhibiting the collection of Guangdong Folk Arts museum.
After exploring the Chen clan academy, now it’s time to explore Guangzhou food. Me myself, like Guangzhou style food compared to various food in many places I had been in China. Guangzhou food is a cantonese style of food, similar to Hong Kong style. When you visit Guangzhou, don’t forget to try its dimsum. The taste is nice, with much cheaper price compared to the price you need to pay in Hong Kong.
In here, People normally have dimsum in the morning especially over the weekend as well tea break in the afternoon. Same like in Hong Kong for dimsum shop, for one table, you might be grouped with other people sharing the table with their own food and tea. For my late lunch, I went to one of famous dimsum restaurant in Guangzhou, Tao Tao Ju at Dishifu road. After arriving at Huangsha metro line 1 station, it’s a bit hard for me to find out the location of the restaurant. Finally, after asking several people, there was friendly couple guide me to the place same direction they will pass by. In China, it might be difficult for you to roam around or asking people the direction should you can not speak a bit of mandarin/ cantonese in some places.
When I arrive at Tao Tao Ju, I just realize that actually Tao Tao Ju itself nearby Shangxiajiu pedestrian street which is a big shopping area. When you enter Tao Tao Ju, the staff first will ask you number of persons join, in which they later give a piece of paper to note it. This paper you need to keep when you do the payment. They direct me to the 2nd floor of the restaurant, where when I arrive, most of the tables are occupied.
There are staffs who roaming around with dimsum carts offering the dimsum as well section where you can order your food or choose from the table for the food you want.
For ordering the food, you will need the a piece of card in which each time you order, they will stamp/ remark the card. The cashier will calculate the amount of money you need to pay based on this card. Even after having so many items of food here, the price is considered cheap. They also serve ala carte food where they have alive seafood you can choose below, hence you can come here for having your dinner as well.
Tao Tao Ju Restaurant
Address : 20 Dishifu Road, Liwan district, Guangzhou, China
It’s so convenient and nice as after I finished my lunch, I can go around Shangxiajiu pedestrian shopping street. You can also reach this pedestrian street also via Changshou lu exit D1 and D2. The price here is much cheaper compared to other places, include Beijing road. For shopaholic, allocate much time for you to shop around here. Me, personally prefer shop in Guangzhou in this area compared to Shenzhen which I will visit later on after Guangzhou.
Next destination for that afternoon is Shamian island (沙面岛) via Huangsha metro line 1 Exit D. In here, you can find beautiful buildings and street, former british and french concession which had been renovated. Due to its beauty, this area is frequently used by people to have their prewedding pictures taken here, which I also observed when I visited here. From metro exit, just go straight, then take the bridge to cross the road then walk a bit you can already find Shamian island.
It’s quite surprised for me when I had arrived in Shamian island which initially I thought the area must be full of people especially at the afternoon going to night considering the area which I think of suitable for fine dining. In fact, there is not much people visiting there at that afternoon.
You can also find starbucks in this area as well with its free wifi however for having the pass code, you will need local china mobile number. Other option is subway which has free wifi as well.
After relaxing for while in Starbucks, I was heading to Haizu square metro line 2 to go to Tianzi pier (天字码头) to take pearl river night cruise. There are so many cruises along the pearl river from the normal up to the luxury cruise with buffet dinner with price ranging 50 – 200 RMB. On my way to Tianzi Pier, there sales ladies offering ticket for the cruise with much cheaper price which I paid at that time around 39/41 Yuan only include the one way transport to the pier which they divert it to Dashatou pier (大沙头码头). There is also another pier, Xidi pier (西堤码头) you can use for the pearl river cruise. My option before to go to Tianzi pier is considering the location which is more closer to metro line.
The ticket that I purchased was for lower deck with water and some small snacks. Based on the information of the lady when I purchase the ticket that even having the lower deck ticket, I can go up later to upper deck, the staff not strictly restrict people for going into upper deck, however should the seat you taken belongs to someone with official ticket, then you have to move. For official ticket holder for the upper deck have better snack with beer as the price is also more expensive as well.
I think cruising the pearl river at night is the most memorable experience for me for my trip in Guangzhou. You can see beautiful Guangzhou’s building along the river bank along with sparkling lights.
During your cruise, you will pass by several bridges with normal journey of the cruise about 1 hour, but during my cruise it become 1.5 hour as after half hour cruise, it’s back to the pier to combine with passenger of next trip.
The highlight of the journey is the Canton tower (广州塔) which can also be reached through metro line 3, APM Chigang pagoda. You can see different colour of lights covered this tower.
Cruising the pearl river at night also become my last activity of mine during my stay in Guangzhou. Yet there are many places/ activities I did not manage to join, ie Chimelong circus, sacred heart church and others in this city due to time constraint as on the next day, I will stay in Shenzhen before heading to Hong kong back.