isiting Guangzhou (Canton): what are the best things to do and see in this southern Chinese city?
- 1. Shamian Island
- 2. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial
- 3. Temple of the Six Banians
- 4. Zhujiang New Town
- 5. Qingping Market
- 6. Yuexiu Park
- 7. Mount Baiyun
What to do in Guangzhou, otherwise known as Canton? Here is a question that occupies your research on the internet since your flight to China is booked! Since you don’t know what to visit in Guangzhou, we have compiled a selection of things to do in Guangzhou, a sprawling city in the south of the People’s Republic of China. With nearly 12.7 million inhabitants, Guangzhou is the third most populous conurbation in the country after Shanghai and Beijing. Extending on both sides of the Zhujiang River, Canton is an enormous urban core made up of multiple islands and islets making the size of the French department of Isère (7,434 km²). Suffice to say that with these enormous dimensions, you will not run out of things to do in Canton.
Together with Shenzen, Dongguan, Foshan, Jiangmen, Zhaoqing, Huizhou, Zhongshan and Zhuhai, Guangzhou forms the Pearl River Delta megalopolis and is an abysmal megalopolis of nearly 70 million people. Here are the must-sees to visit in Guangzhou!
1. Shamian Island
L’île de Shamian, anciennement dénommée Chamine, est située à l’ouest du centre-ville et fut une concession franco-britannique de 1860 jusqu’à la moitié du 20ème siècle. Important port de commerce sur la rivière des Perles, l’île fut aux 3/5èmes anglaise et aux 2/5èmes française. Il en résulte un décalage hors-pair, avec des bâtiments d’architecture européenne coloniale de style victorien. On y visitera d’ailleurs la chapelle Notre-Dame-des-Lourdes.
2. Le Mémorial de Sun Yat-Sen
Gigantic museum dedicated to Sun Zhongshan – Sun Yat-Sen (1866-1925) -, revolutionary and “father of modern China”, who helped to overthrow the Qing dynasty and was the first president of the Republic of China (in 1912). Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall is located at “Memorial Hall” subway station and is an iconic monument in Guangzhou. The Sun Yat-Sen Memorial allows you to enjoy a beautiful flower garden, a bronze statue representing the man concerned and the paintings of the monument. Inside, a large conference room with a capacity of 5,000 people as well as a gallery where to observe photos and letters sent by Sun Yat-Sen during his lifetime.
3. Temple des six Banians
Located in Yuexiu District, the Six Banyan Temple is one of Guangzhou’s most iconic landmarks. It lies to the west of People’s Park, and is a Buddhist temple dating from the 6th century (built in 537), destroyed and then rebuilt in the 11th century. This imposing pagoda is, 1,500 years after its construction, still in use. Inside, we visit the Tianwang room where a Laughing Buddha sits, the pagoda and its nine floors, its red and white walls and its red roofs, the main prayer room – the Daxiong Baodian -, where we can see copper statues of Sakyamuni Buddha and Amitabha Buddha.
4. Zhujiang New Town
What to do in Guangzhou? Go out in the city center at night of course! Zhujiang New Town is the beating heart of the new city, living in the time of a resolutely modern China. Located to the east of the historic district of the city – Liwan -, this area belongs to the Tianhe district and symbolizes a China open to capitalist free trade: a large business center with many skyscrapers and the railway station. ‘Is where trains leave for Shenzen. Not far from the boulevard Huaxai Road, find the Huacheng Square, from where you can admire beautiful night illuminations.
5. Qingping Market
Located in the alleys of Liwan, this market near Shamian Island immerses you in traditional China. On the stalls, you can smell the aromas of spices, medicinal plants, mushrooms – used in Chinese medicine – and dried insects. What to glean from typical and local products to taste Chinese cuisine. The market is reputed to be one of the best in China. The spices give off a strong smell and the cultural shock is then reinforced: change of scenery guaranteed. Here, it’s guaranteed popular atmosphere! Beware of sensitive Western souls, this market is not the best example of animal protection that we know…
6. Yuexiu Park
What to do in Guangzhou when we’ve done the museums, historical buildings and pagodas? To the west of the city, sits a hill overlooking a large park 72 meters high: Yuexiu Park. This is Guangzhou’s main urban park. It allows you to take beautiful walks to attack the seven peaks that make it up (Puits-de-Vietterre peak, Osmanthus peak, Coquille-en-Bois peak, Longue-Taille peak, Ascension peak, Dragon-des-Lacs peak, Pic Carpe) and its three artificial lakes. The statue of the 5 goats, emblematic of the city, is located there.
7. Mount Baiyun
Are there any hiking enthusiasts among those who come to visit Guangzhou? Mount Baiyun is made up of 30 peaks whose highest point, permanently cloudy, is 382 meters above sea level. A stroll through the majestic peaks and their valleys is a must for things to do and visit in Guangzhou. Lovers of greenery, end your program of visits with the South China Botanical Garden (Botanical Garden of southern China) and you will be delighted!
How to get to Guangzhou?
Getting to Guangzhou will be easy: Guangzhou is a communication nerve center in southern China and Guangzhou-Baiyun International Airport, 28 kilometers from the city center, is one of the largest in the world. To go downtown, take subway line 3 to Jiahe Wanggang, then line 2 to Yuexiu Park or Haizhu Square. You can also make your airport transfer by taxi, they are in abundance in Guangzhou.