Guangzhou Travel Guide and Itinerary

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Also known as Canton, the capital of the Guandgong province is a centuries-old trading center with plenty of historical hotspots alongside ultramodern developments filled with malls and skyscrapers.

About Guangzhou 

Mention Guangzhou to someone who has never been there, and they might imagine all the trappings of a populous, prosperous global city. The capital of Guangdong province is the third-largest city in China (after Beijing and Shanghai), home to nearly 15 million residents, a thriving expat scene and a hub for international trade, logistics, manufacture and plenty else. Its shiny Zhujiang New Town area boasts avenues of malls and skyscrapers, including the glittering Canton Tower, and modern new cultural venues such as the Guangdong Museum. The city is also home to the semi-annual Canton Fair, a massive trade event that’s been going strong since 1957.  

But there’s much more to the city than glitz, glamor and money. There’s also thousands of years of multicultural history: The millennia-old port city was part of the maritime Silk Road, with cultural influences from Africa, the Middle East and Europe. That means you don’t have to look very hard to discover China’s oldest mosque the Huaisheng Mosque, built in the 7th century or the massive Gothic structure that is the Sacred Heart Cathedral. Amid all that, there are pedestrian streets, tea markets, and nearby islands and nature getaways. 


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Then there’s the unique Cantonese cultural identity of which Guangzhou is an epicenter, along with Hong Kong and Macau, both of which are just 140km away. This is best enjoyed via the amazing Cantonese food, from roast goose and dim sum spreads to claypot rice and ample seafood preparations.  

Come after the summertime monsoons, between October and December, and you can explore to your heart’s desire (or for as long as your energies allow) on foot and via the metro. 

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Highlights for the Traveler 

To really get a sense of Guangzhou’s age, start with a trip to the striking and sprawling Museum of Western Han Dynasty, which houses ancient Han Dynasty tombs among other relics.  

Architecture fans and Instagrammers would be well advised to visit the city’s biggest landmarks. An interest in Cantonese opera is a plus though certainly not a requirement for a photo-op at the Zaha Hadid-designed Guangzhou Opera House, where regular performances of the classical art form take place. Those with nerves of steel should say cheese on the 107th floor glass skywalk of Canton Tour, before heading up four more floors for a ride on the so-called bubble trams. Both are located in the snazzy Zhujiang New Town area 

For older architectural examples, visit the Huaisheng Mosque, said to be one of the oldest in the world. Its 37m-tall minaret historically served as a lighthouse, and the space still hosts daily prayers. Afterwards, you can grab a bite at one of the halal restaurants in the area. There’s also the 6th-century Temple of the Six Banyan Trees, one of several notable Buddhist temples in the city. Far more recent, though equally impressive, is the all-granite 130-year-old Sacred Heart Cathedral, designed by French architects.  

In fact, if European architecture is your thing, a visit to Shamian Island should be in the cards. An important international port since the 10th century, it was a British and French concession in the 1800s, a history that’s evident in the homes, churches and urban planning of the neighborhood. The kilometer-long area is technically part of the old-timey Liwan district, split into two by the Pearl River, and good for exploring on foot. Here, you’ll find remnants of old Guangzhou, historic buildings and the famous and bustling Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street, a great spot to try delicious and affordable local food, from dim sum to local wanton noodles. 

For a break from the urban bustle, Guangzhou offers many options in its northern mountainous periphery. Check out the Southern China Botanical Gardens, the largest of its kind in the country, or plan a half-day trip to Baiyun Shan — or White Cloud Mountain — in the northern Baiyun district, which is easily accessible by bus or metro.  




Recommendations list to be updated.

Recommendations list to be updated.

Recommendations list to be updated.

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