Guangzhou - the Southern Gate of China

Chengde.jpg - 20754 Bytes Guangzhou is the capital of Guangdong (Canton) Province, one of the fastest developing regions in the world. Located 165km to the northwest of Hong Kong, Guangzhou serves as the economic center of South China. Speaking a dialect completely different from Mandarin, people in Guangzhou have the reputation of being business savvy. Cantonese cuisine is delicious, thanks to the availability of fresh seafood, fruits and vegetables. Noisy and crowded, Guangzhou is not exactly a tourist spot.
Guangzhou City Ratings
 
           ** The following ratings are based on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best.
History(6) Art(6) Local Culture/UniqueTour(6)
Nature/Scenic(4) Food/Shopping(10) Night Life(9)
Religion(4) Adventure/Sports(5) Reasonable Cost(3)
Recommended Days of Stay: 1 Guangzhou City Map

Quick Facts
Area - 92 square km
Population - 3.4 million
When to go
Coldest Moths: January and February, with temperature as low as 0C;
Hottest Months: July and August, with temperature as high as 38C and humid;
Annual Precipitation : 1680 millimeters
Getting Around
By Metro (Subway)- A 18 km-long metro line goes from the Guangzhou Steel Plant to the East Railway Station with 16 stations;
By Taxi - Taxis are the most common means of transportation for foreigners. All Guangzhou taxis have a meter. Expect traffic jams.
Getting In and Out
By air - Guangzhou is a little over 3 hours by air from Beijing. There are also flights connecting Guangzhou with other major Asian cities;,
By Train - Guangzhou is a non-stop one-hour train ride from Hong Kong; Guangzhou is a 24-hour train ride from Beijing;
By Bus - Guangzhou can be reached in 3 hours by bus from Hong Kong.

History


Guangzhou's nickname as the 'Goat City' is based on a fairy tale. About 3000 years ago, five fairies came to Guangzhou riding goats. The rice seeds are said to have been drawn from the mouths of the goats. 1500 years ago, Guangzhou was both a source of exotica and a place of exile. During the Tang and Song Dynasty Guangzhou developed into a major trading city in South China attracting overseas merchants. As early as the seventh century, Arab traders made their way up the Pearl River to Guangzhou and absorbed Chinese inventions and ideas, which ultimately had a profound impact on the Western civilization.

Guangzhou also holds a significant place in Chinese history. The Opium War and the Second Opium War both took place in Guangzhou. In 1839 Chinese officials destroyed 20,000 chests of opium near Guangzhou, provoking the breakout of the Opium War, which resulted in the opening of Chinese ports to trade through the Treaty of Nanjing. In 1923, the 'Father of Republic' Dr. Sun Yat-sen founded the Kuong Ming Tang in Guangzhou. The prestigious Huangpu (Whampoa) Military Academy was founded in the suburbs in 1924. The Japanese occupied Guangzhou from 1938 to 1945.

In 1949 Guangzhou was taken over by the Communist Party. Like every other Chinese city, Guangzhou experienced major disruption during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). Thanks to the economic reform of the last decade, Guangzhou has seen unprecedented prosperity. For over 20 years, Guangzhou has been the host of the Annual Canton Trade Fair (China Export Commodities Fair).

Since the establishment of the 'Special Economic Zone' in the early 1980s in Shenzhen, which lies between Guangzhou and Hong Kong, there has been a tremendous increase in Hong Kong influence in Guangzhou in terms of business, culture and fashion.


Mausoleum of the Seventy-two Martyrs at Yellow Flower Hill (Huanghuagang) * *
The Mausoluem is a memorial to the young revolutionaries who died in the Battle of Canton, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen's unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Qing Dynasty in 1911. The 26,000 sq meter park was built with donations from Chinese patriots all over the world. The architecture is a blend of eastern and western styles, with a miniature Statue of Liberty, an Egyptian-style obelisk and two Chinese guardian lions.

Shamian Island * *
Shamian Island is an 80-acre sandbar on the Pearl River. The land was given to Europeans by the Chinese authorities in the 19th century as their residential base, where Europeans were immune to Chinese laws. At one time the island had large mansions, churches, a yacht club and tennis courts. Today many old buildings have been destroyed on the island. With its old charm almost gone, Shamian is still an interesting place for a leisurely walk.

Nanyue Museum and Royal Mausoleum * * * *
Nanyue Museum and Royal Mausoleum was the tomb of Nanyue King who ruled in Guangzhou in 200 BC. The relics of over 1,000 burial objects are on display. The most valuable piece is the oldest jade burial suit found in China so far. Also found were human sacrifices, concubines and servants buried alongside the king. English titles and videos are available.

Guangzhou Museum * * *
Housed in a Ming Dynasty watchtower built in 1380, Guangzhou Museum is located at the highest point of Guangzhou. In addition to a grand view of the city, the Museum offers a fine collection of historical relics.

Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall *
Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the father of the Republic, was born in a city near Guangzhou. The Memorial Hall is a theatre built in 1931 and remodeled in 1975. Its architectural style is unique with popular Chinese styles and modern techniques.

Art
Chen Family Ancestral Temple * * *
Chen (Chan in Catanese) is the most popular last name in Guangdong Province. The ancestral temple was built in the 1890s with funds collected from members of the Chen clan from 72 counties. The temple served as a holy setting for ancestor worship and Confucian studies. It is a splendid example of the lavishly decorated southern architectural style.

Guangdong Folk Arts and Crafts Museum * * *
Chen Family Ancestral Temple now also serves as Guangdong Folk Arts and Crafts Museum. Elaborate carving is the most striking feature of the Museum. It is a good place to shop for linens.

Local culture/Unique Tour
Foshan * * *
Located 28 km (17 miles) southwest of Guangzhou, Foshan is well known for its ceramic production. Foshan, meaning 'Hill of Buddha' in Chinese, got this name from the Buddhist statues excavated here. Being one of the four Ancient Towns of China, Foshan is over 1,300 years old. The Ancestral Temple, now the Foshan Municipal Museum, contains sculptures, ancient relics and has elaborate carvings and decoration. Shiwan Artistic Ceramic Factory is one of the most famous ceramic factories in China. Visits can be arranged to the factory.

Canton Trade Fair (China Export Commodities Fair) * * *
China Export Commodities Fair is held in Guangzhou annually from April 15-30 and October 15-30. Established in 1957 to provide business exchange opportunities between China and foreign countries, the fair is attended every year by some 30,000 businessmen from all over the world. Hotel booking can be hellish during this time.

Nature/Scenic
Pearl River * *
Dinner boat tours are available on the Pearl River.

South China Botanical Garden * * * *
Covering an area of 300 hectares (750 acres), the South China Botanical Garden is the finest of its kind in China. A visit to the garden is a relaxing escape from the hectic city.

Food/Shopping
Famous Local Food
Dim Sum - is the most popular food in Guangzhou. It means 'Snacks' in Cantonese. Dim Sum is usually eaten as breakfast or brunch. It contains all kinds of little dishes ranging from seafood to animal intestines, made in countless different ways. Cantonese people like to drink tea and have dim sum while talking over business at Dim Sum. As a means of socialization Dim Sum could last hours. Dim Sum restaurants can be found all over Guangzhou.

Famous Local Restaurants
Star East Night Restaurant - If you are a Jacky Chan fan, you might want to visit his Star East Night Restaurant. Serving both Asian and western food, the restaurant is the Chinese version of Planet Hollywood.
Panxi Restaurant - This historic place is the only garden restaurants left with good food and location. A great variety of Dim Sum.
Guangzhou Restaurant - With five branches, Guangzhou Restaurant is one of the best Cantonese restaurant chains in town. Dim Sum and new dishes.


Shopping for Unique Local Products
Qing Ping Free Market - Antiques, fakes and reproductions can be found here.

Night Life
Bars
Lotus Bar - Located in the Garden Hotel, Lotus Bar has a colorfully lighted floor.
Cave - Tex-Mex food, live music; located at the basement of Zhujiang Building

Religion
Buddhism
Temple of the Six Banyan Trees (Liu Rong Si) * * * *
Temple of the Six Banyan Trees was founded in the fifth century. It was named by the famous poet Su Dong Po from the Song Dynasty, who was impressed by the six luxuriant Banyan trees found at the temple. Its nine-story pagoda, the Hua Pagoda, stands 57 meters high. It can be climbed for a nice view and a good exercise. The temple is the home of a Song Dynasty bronze statue and several Qing Dynasty brass Buddhas. The chanting by the monks can be heard on Tuesday and Friday mornings.

Guangxiao Temple * *
Founded in 297 A.D., Guangxiao Temple is the largest temple in south China. Guangxiao Temple is of great historical significance for people interested in Zen Buddhism.


Catholic
Cathedral of the Sacred Heart (Shishi) *
The cathedral was constructed in 1863-88. It is today open to worshippers after serving as a warehouse during the Cultural Revolution.


Muslim
Huaisheng Mosque *
Built in 627 A.D. by Arab traders, the Huaisheng Mosque is considered to be the oldest mosque in China.

Adventure/Sports
Orchid Garden *
The orchid garden is located at the foot of Yuexiu Hill.

Xi Yuan * *
Xiyuan if famous for miniature trees and landscapes.

Guangzhou Zoo and Ocean Park * *
Located in the northeastern suburbs, the zoo houses 200 species including pandas.

Golf
Nansha Golf Club - An hour away in Panyu; best golf nearby
Nanhu Golf Course - closer to city
 
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