In recent years, Guangzhou has developed into a greener, cleaner, and better city, becoming the go-to destination for both business and tourism in its province of Guangdong, as well as within China. Here’s what you need to know to explore and enjoy everything that this busy and populous city has to offer.
- Language: The official language is Mandarin but Cantonese is more widely spoken
- Currency: Renminbi (CNY 1 = PHP 7.70)
- Payment Options: Credit cards are commonly used in China. Digital payment platforms are also available like Alipay and WeChat Pay.
- Plug: China’s voltage is 220v, 50 Hz and is not acceptable for US purchased appliances. You will need a converter for this.
What to Know Before Visiting Guangzhou
- Majority of the locals speak Cantonese instead of Mandarin. So make sure to learn a few basic Cantonese words before you go to Guangzhou.
- You will need a visa for this trip. Unlike Hong Kong’s visa-free entrance, Guangzhou is within China which requires a Chinese visa.
- Travelers should use CNY and not HKD. The Hong Kong dollar is a rarely used currency in Guangzhou.
- Fakes are everywhere, especially in Guangzhou where most of these products are manufactured, such as clothes, bags, accessories, jewelry, electronic gadgets, and more. So if you’re planning to buy real designer goods, make sure you go to their actual stores at the mall.
- Don’t take unlicensed taxis because they demand a higher rate. These unlicensed taxis are everywhere in Guangzhou and target unknowing tourists.
- Avoid flying to Guangzhou during the Canton Fair, which is usually in April and May, because hotel, transportation, and flight fares are usually higher during these times.
To get into China, you’ll need:
- Passport valid for 6 months with at least 1 to 2 blank pages
- Filled out visa application form (Do not leave any field blank. Write N/A if the question does not apply to you.)
- Recent photo (Affix one 48mm x 33mm colored photo with white background on the application form. Glue the photo to the appropriate field and do not staple, tape, or clip it.)
- Travel itinerary
- Airline ticket reservation
- Hotel reservation
- Invitation letter from China, if applicable
Make sure to exchange currency at Chinese banks because they offer better rates than independent money changers due to the strict regulations of the Chinese government. Also, make sure you have your valid ID when exchanging currency because it’s required in banks and money exchange establishments.
Connectivity in Guangzhou
Aside from the many blocked websites in China, public access to the Internet is also controlled by the government. Despite having the most Internet users in the world, the average broadband speed in the country is only 2.4Mbps.
Getting Around Guangzhou
- Buses: The most affordable option for travelers is to catch the bus. Passengers can pay using a transit card or with the exact fare. The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system is often the fastest bus option for riders, especially for getting to inner city areas.
- Subway: Guangzhou’s subway system connects the city center to the suburbs. The most efficient way to take the subway is to purchase a Yang Cheng Tong card or individual tickets at a metro station.
- Taxis: Taxis are affordable in Guangzhou for short distance rides. Most drivers do not speak English, so it’s best to have the calling cards and brochures of your hotel and other destinations with you at all times.
Things to Do in Guangzhou
- Take a Hike at Baiyun Mountain: This tourist spot with 30 mountain peaks (the highest one is 1,253 ft. above sea level) is a great destination to escape the busy streets and bustling city life of Guangzhou. Being on top of Baiyun will allow you to breathe in fresh mountain air and take in the spectacular view of the city below you. Although it can become crowded during the holidays, you can still enjoy the quiet climb up the stairs on weekdays.
- Stop and Stare at the Canton Tower: The Canton Tower is considered the landmark of Guangzhou. It stands tall at 1,968 ft. and brightens up the dark sky with colorful lights in the evening. It’s the third tallest tower in the world where you’ll find coffee shops, restaurants, observation decks, and rides perfect for thrill seekers.
- Visit Animals at Chimelong Safari Park: This park is considered the best in China and the largest one in the world for having the most species of wild animals. It covers an area of more than 1,333,340 square meters that you can explore through a self-driven tour. You’ll get to see over 20,000 rare animals from more than 500 different species, such as giant pandas, white tigers, orangutans, koalas, and many other endangered animals.
Tourist Spots in Guangzhou
- Yuyin Garden: Yuyin Garden was once a private garden of Wu Bin (Qing Dynasty). This garden was built in 1864 and became a popular tourist attraction later on due to its breathtaking landscape, which showcases pavilions, bridges, pools, rocky hills, and different flower species.
- Temple of the Six Banyan Trees: One of the four best Buddhist temples in Guangzhou. Dating back to 1,400 years, this temple has accumulated a vast collection of cultural relics since year 537, including the Six Banyan Pagoda where Buddhist relics are placed. Burning joss sticks is a special event in this temple, especially during Chinese New Year and the Lantern Festival, because it is believed to bring you blessings from the gods in the coming year.
- Yuexiu Park: This famous park showcases cultural relics and ecological tourism, and is known for its main attractions such as the stone sculpture of the Five Rams, Zhenhai Tower, and the sites of the Ming Dynasty Wall and the Square Cannon. It’s also complete with an amusement park, swimming pool, gym, restaurants, stalls, museums, hills, and lakes for boating and fishing.
What to Eat In Guangzhou
- Dim Sum: Dim sum is the most famous Cantonese dish around the world. Comprised of steamed or fried dumplings, rolls, and buns in sweet or savory flavors, it’s usually served as a snack or main course in steamer baskets or on little plates.
- Shuang Pi Nai: A simple but addicting Cantonese dessert made of milk, egg whites, and sugar. It’s a velvety smooth custard similar to flan or panna cotta but with two skins. The first and second skins are formed during the cooling of the boiled milk and the cooked custard, respectively.
- Kao Ru Zhu: Kao Ru Zhu or roasted whole suckling pig has been a delicacy in Guangzhou for more than 1,400 years. It’s similar to “lechon” in that it can be cooked over a low fire to preserve the skin’s smoothness or roasted over a large fire until the skin melts off.
Where to Stay in Guangzhou
- Baiyun City Hotel: This highly rated hotel is conveniently located near the Guangzhou Railway Station, Pazhou Complex, and Jinhan Exhibition Center. It’s also surrounded by famous attractions such as the Guangzhou TV Tower, Yuexiu Park, and the Western Han Museum of the Nanyue King Mausoleum. Its rooms are clean, well-appointed, and has all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay–WiFi, dining, laundry service, and more.
- Hotel Landmark Canton: This famous 4-star hotel can be found in Hai Zhu Square, which is only two minutes away from the subway station Line 2 and 1.6 km. from the Beijing Road shopping area! This hotel also has shuttle buses running to and from Macau and Hong Kong so you can opt to visit any of the two places (or both) during your stay. Hotel Landmark Canton is known for its beautiful suites, spacious bathrooms, and spectacular view of the Pearl River.
- Louidon Mega Apartment Hotel of Kam Rueng Plaza/Sunshine: If you’re looking to stay in an opulent yet reasonably priced apartment hotel, this is the place for you. With its intricate fixtures and decadent furniture, you’ll feel like a royal during your stay. What’s more, this hotel is near popular spots like Beijing Road, Nanyue Kingdom Palace Museum, Museum and Tomb of the Southern Yue Kings, and People’s Park.