|Skylines and views||Canton Tower and it's views|
|Zhujiang New Town, Pearl River, Tianhe district||Haizhu district|
|Zhujiang New Town|
|Guangz.Int'l Finance Centre
Chow Tai Fook Centre
Mall of the World
|Pearl River Tower
|Tianhe District West
||Tianhe District East
Tianhe Sports Centre
|People's Park, Zhongshan Road, Dr Sun Yat-sen's memorial hall, Martyr's Park||Yutong Hotel
|Temple of the Chen Family||Yuexiu Park||Metro|
|GUANGZHOU BY NIGHT:|
|Guangzhou by night|
Population: 14 000 000 (metro 25 millions)
Guangzhou, formerly called Canton, is counted as China's 3rd largest city (with competition of Nanjing and Tianjin) and the largest city and capital of the Guangdong Province, with about 14 million inhabitants in the city. It is historically one of the most important cities in China, and was for many years the old city that could be visited by foreigners, as an international trade city along the Pearl River. Guangzhou is situated only 120km northwest of Hong Kong (about 2 hours), bordering Dongguang that is in turn bordering Shenzhen. It is one of 5 National Central Cities, and an important industrial, trading, cultural and port city.
Guangzhou is really a city of contrasts; it contians some of the oldest temples, parks and pagodas in China, but also some of the most futuristic skyscrapers, towers, and other buildings. So Canton, as it was called by westerners until the 1990s and the name is still in use, could compete by both futuristic Shanghai and historic Beijing. In central Guangzhou you find ultramodern buidiings, fancy stores and roads and expensive luxury cars, but in the outskirts there are many rundown, depressing apartment buildings and grey industrial areas where people hardly can afford a bike.
Today it is hard to believe that Guangzhou has its roots 206 B.C. as the city of Panyu, now a large district in Guangzhou. The name Guangzhou appeared in the year 226 A.D. In 2015 you find skyscrapers scattered all over the city, especially
Tianhe district is a very large district where you find many modern buildings, skyscrapers, parks, roads and shopping malls. In Yuexiu district, to the West of Tianhe and the small, bordering Liwan district, you will find the old part with attractions like Chen Clan Academy (that we visited inside), Sacred Heart Cathedral and Six Banyan Trees (that we didn't manage to find), Shangxiajiu pedestrian street (we didn't find that either), the large, hilly and beautiful Yuexiu Park and more.
Our hotel, the 4-star Yutong, was in the East part of Tianhe. In this part there are many malls, hotels and fast food restaurants.
On the Northern bank of Pearl River, in the south part Liwan district, you find Shamian Island. Shamian is small but very beautiful island filled with nice trees and beautiful colonial buildings in European style. Shamian used to be the place where impressive foreign trade mansions were built during the colonial period.
Zhujiang New Town is a very clean district, where most buildings are just a few years old! It is situated just to the North of Pearl River, in the West part of Tianhe district and containts some of China's tallest buildings. Guangzhou Internatinonal Finance Centre from 2010 and the soon to be completed Chow Tai Fook Center, that will be 530m tall.
Opposite Zhujiang New Town, you find the Haizhou district. The prominent Canton Tower, Guangzhou's tallest structure. It was built as late as in 2010, is 600m tall, twice as tall as the Eiffel Tower and has several observation decks, restaurants, roof gardens and many other attractions. It is significant for changing colours after dark.
The native people of Guangzhou speak Cantonese, but half of the population -"immigrants" from other parts of China-, speaks Mandarin. Surprisingly, Guangzhou also has a sizeable African population.
In the Northern outskirts of the city, you find the beautiful White Cloud (Baiyun) Mountain and it's surrounding recreation area and national park. We originally planned to spend a day there, but we had to cut down on that because of lack of time and the bad weather. There are many temples and ancient towns in the outer districts of the city. In 2010 the Asian Games were held in Guangzhou.
We had a 3 day visit in Guangzhou, after Hong Kong, Macau and Shenzhen, before returning to Hong Kong again. The city was very huge and very impressive, but the constant haze and cloudy weather was a bit bad. Still it was warm (about 28 degrees in March) and humid. The climate is tropical, you can find palms and exotic flowers in the city.
Guangzhou is really not a tourist city, but that makes it even more interesting. It is really cool that you can find some of the most futuristic skyscrapers in the same city as ancient Chinese temples, and the central parts Guangzhou are partly really beautiful. Shamian Island is a nice place to flee from chaotic and over crowded metropolis.
As a tourist, Guangzhou is not the most easy city to tour. It is very hard to find attractions in this chaotic city. There are no special signs, the roads are chaotic (both patterns and traffic), buses and metros overcrowded. The exception is the recently built CBD, Zhujiang New Town, that is very well planed. Many people has moved to Guangzhou from other parts of China, and don't know even the most famous attractions. It is very blurry in Google Maps and people hardly speak any English. The best advice is to ask young students and to use the metro as much as possible, as most stations has ames in English. And the city is really huge! It can take hours to get from one part to another, even within the city center! As a result we missed many famous attractions.
It is also hard to find banks with ATM:s that except foreign cards, and despite the hotel's wi-fi you couldn't reach many internet sites (for example Dropbox that I needed to make a backup of my photos), causing stress and trouble for foreign visitors. It is also annoying with all these staring looks from people who have never seen westerners in their whole life.
There are many nice restaurants in Guangzhou, just keep in mind the Chinese restaurants are nothing like in the Western world. You can eat a simple but good diner for as little as 20 RMB (about 2 euro, 2015), including a drink, or an exclusive 3 course meal for 100 RMB. There are also many western restaurants and there are McDonald's, Subways, Starbucks and KFC at every subway station.
The toilets are an absolute nightmare in China! They only have a hole in the floor, and you have to bring your own toilet paper and soap, because Chinese people never use it! Even at expensive restaurants and McDonald's!
Like most other Chinese cities, the pollution is very bad, the skies are constantly grey because of haze, making the impressive skyline and modern much less impressive.
The metro is very modern with glass walls with automatic doors at all stations. In contrary to Shenzhen, you don't have to scan your bag any time you enter the train area in Guangzhou. It can be complicated to buy a day card if you don't speak Cantonese, but once you have it after a lot of misunderstandings, it is very easy and extremely cheap to travel anywhere in the city. The staff at our hotel was very nice and helped us with that. Buses are also modern and there are many lines, but generally overcrowded. The bus stations in Guangzhou are very special, since they are very long with a stop from each line, and there are gates with a ticket counter that has to be passed to reach the waiting area.