It’s the third largest city in China, and this bustling metropolis has a fantastic feel to it that is unlike Shanghai or Beijing to the north. The southern locale and the more casual way of life here often feel very inviting to foreigners. Known as the City of Five Rams, Guangzhou and its tropical climate are the perfect place to come and play when you’re visiting mainland China.
1. Chimelong Tourist Resort
You can opt to see all of the Chimelong fun, or merely select parts of it. It’s here you’ll find the Chimelong Safari, one of the best zoos on the mainland. It is so well thought out that you’ll forget you’re even in China. The habitats are stunning and the grounds are well-maintained. Plus, during the week, it’s virtually unpopulated which is a pleasant surprise, especially considering the giant panda exhibit is phenomenal. Additionally, Chimelong has an amusement park, circus, bird park and water park. Just adjacent, you’ll find Ocean Kingdom, a massive aquarium. It’s a great place to go if you have children with you or if you love animals and fun too.
2. Huacheng Square
Take in the modern part of Guangzhou at Huacheng Square. In this area, you’ll find the new library, the International Finance Center, and the Guangdong Museum. The Canton Tower is also visible just across the river from here. It’s a nice place to wander around during daytime hours, however the nighttime view is absolutely spectacular with the colorful array of lights dazzling at every turn.
3. Canton Tower
You’ve likely seen the Canton Tower in photos before. It’s Guangzhou’s most renowned landmark. It lights up at night and once was able to claim being the tallest tower in the world. While it no longer can boast about that, it still has plenty to entertain you with. You can enjoy Guangzhou from above by visiting the observation decks. There are also cafés and restaurants here so you can spend some time really enjoying the tower. And if you’re big into adventure, the Canton Tower also has rides to give you big thrills!
This area once housed industrial factories. Now those days are long gone. Redtory now features a renaissance of artistic delights. You’ll discover art galleries and studios, fashionable shops, artsy cafés, and all kinds of hipster stuff here. If you want to see some exhibitions, you should come here. You can also find amazing Instagram-worthy shots in the surrounding areas for unforgettable photos.
5. Baomo Garden
So this one is just a wee bit outside of the center of the city, but it’s such a resplendent place to see because it is so robustly different from the rest of Guangzhou. Due to the southern location, Guangzhou is mostly a lushly landscaped place of greens, but Baomo Garden truly showcases both the impressiveness of Southern Chinese architecture and the supremely artistic gardening skills of the people here. The gardens were built back at the end of the Qing Dynasty. However in the 1950s, they were destroyed. Soon after, they went to work reconstructing it and today the gardens are as glorious as they once were back in the first days of their existence.
6. Yuyin Garden
This garden was built in 1864. Back then, it was considered private grounds. However because it was so stunning and peaceful, it became popular among the tourists then and still is today. It features a calming medley of rock hills, flowers, bridges and pools, ideal for taking a leisurely walk in a perfectly picturesque setting. Even though Guangzhou is a big city, it seems less bustling than other big cities in China, which is a pleasant surprise in regards to the overall vibe. Still, it’s nice to find a place like this garden to bring calming to the mind, body and spirit.
7. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall
History buffs will find this a must-visit landmark in Guangzhou, though even if you know nothing about it, you’ll find what you learn as impressive as the unique octagonal architecture. This was once the very location of the Presidential Palace but during an attack on Sun Yat-Sen, it was destroyed. Then in 1931, this Memorial Hall was constructed in commemoration. Ironically, that too was destroyed and consequently repaired a number of times before it was finally restored in 1998 and has remained intact ever since.
8. Baiyun Mountain
For an outdoor experience, Baiyun Mountain has 30 mountain peaks that offer the chance to get some fresh air. Stairs make it easy to climb up even for the novice though if you want a truly marvelous look at the city of Guangzhou, ride the cable car up to the peak. Other hiking trails can be found as well, but if you’re looking for a mild adventure, the trail with stairs will be your best bet.
9. Pearl River
This river flows through the heart of Guangzhou. During the day, it doesn’t seem very impressive though it is a lovely place to wander along. However, the night time is when it (and the rest of Guangzhou) really comes alive. A cruise on the river is the ideal way to enjoy being here with all the mesmerizing lights surrounding you. It’s something you must not miss while visiting this iconic mainland city!
10. Yuexiu Park
This massive park features the one and only Five Rams Sculpture for which the city is nicknamed. In the Zhenhai Tower here, you’ll find the Guangzhou Museum. The tower itself was, like many ancient Chinese structures, destroyed and rebuilt multiple times. It’s been a landmark here since 1380 and is impressive in every single bit of its glory. The museum within it offers an opportunity to learn more about it as well as the city itself.
11. Mausoleum of the Nanyue King
This mausoleum is another attraction in Guangzhou that you shouldn’t pass up the chance to visit. You can actually walk into the tomb and then check out the incredible collection of artifacts housed within. It’s over 2,000 years old, which isn’t surprising until you realize that it was discovered not very long ago back in 1983. It’s amazing that no one noticed it until then. A few years later, the museum here opened up where you can pop in to learn much more about the Nanyue King.
12. Temple of the Six Banyan Trees
Originally built from the commanding orders of the Emperor Wu in 537, this Buddhist Temple is quite humbling. During the Northern Song Dynasty, it was rebuilt and hence renamed based on a poem written by Su Shi. Perhaps the most impressive feature of this temple is the Flower Pagoda. It stands nine stories tall and has a vividly-colored exterior that matches its name. Peaceful and beautiful, it is the ideal landmark to snap photos in front of.
13. Guangxiao Temple
The history of the Guangxiao Temple spans over thousands of years. It started existence as the residence of a king. Eventually over time, it was transformed into a temple at the time of the Three Kingdoms era. As you may have guessed, it’s been restored a number of time since then. Today, it is scaled down from the glory it once knew. Despite this though, this temple still remains as one of the most important of all the Buddhist temples you’ll find in Guangzhou and is still impressive nonetheless.
14. Qing Ping Chinese Medicine Market
Chinese medicine is revered around the world. Qing Ping Market is the ideal place to visit in order to buy the traditional herbs that are used for making Chinese medicines. However, even if you have no desire to try out Chinese medicines yourself, you’ll surely appreciate the interesting experience you’ll get from visiting here. There are local tour guides who can give you all the details in English and tell you all about the herbs used. It’s fascinating to learn how these herbs can help promote a healthier lifestyle and you might just find you’ll want to take a try with some preventative Chinese herbs to help you live a longer and more healthful life.
15. South China Botanical Garden
Interestingly, the South China Botanical Garden can be found north of Guangzhou. Semantics aside, it’s the largest and oldest enduring tropical botanical garden in China. It was built in 1929 and continues to delight with a spectacular collection of plants of different varieties. The climate here is ideal for them to thrive. There’s Long Dong Magic Forest here too, which was selected as one of the Eight Top Scenic Spots in Guangzhou in 1986. It features two peninsulas and a lake. The Palm Garden on one of the peninsulas stays green the entire year and the Relic Garden is what is truly magical as it changes with the 4 seasons. Guangzhou’s Oldest Village here was rebuilt on the Neolithic ruins. It offers a great deal to see and experience, so much so that an entire day could be devoted to this Guangzhou destination.
There is a great deal more to Guangzhou that you can find if you have the time. However, these 15 things are among the most popular to do and allow you to get a true taste of this city’s unique vibe. The culture here also revolves around tea so be sure you sit down at a tea restaurant and sample it yourself.
Guangzhou food and tea culture are interesting to take in all on their own. If you’ve had the pleasure of visiting other Chinese cities, you’ll notice a marked difference in the way the Guangzhou people go about life. They have a more laid-back style and often wile away the hours of the evening enjoying the city in all of its entire splendor. Maybe it’s the warmer climate that makes them so lively or maybe it’s the river. Whatever it is, Guangzhou will surely give you the kind of experience you’ll never forget when you visit mainland China.