24 Must-Visit Attractions in Guangzhou

| Loeng Lig / Unsplash
Sara Jaaksola

Guangzhou in southern China is a huge metropolis that combines old and new, offering sights and attractions for everyone, no matter if you are a history buff or looking for a family-friendly holiday destination. Here are the must-visit attractions in the City of Five Rams.

1. Canton Tower

Building

Canton Tower lit up in rainbow colours at night in Guangzhou, China
Oleg Illarionov / Unsplash
The landmark of Guangzhou, the Canton Tower rises up to almost 600 meters and illuminates the scenery with colorful lights in the evening. It was briefly the tallest tower in the world and includes coffee shops, restaurants, observation decks, and rides for the adrenaline junkie.

2. Shamian Island

Natural Feature

Quiet street in Shamian Park, Shamian Island, Guangzhou, China
Lan Lin / Unsplash
Separated from the mainland by a small canal, Shamian Island used to be an important port for foreign trade from the Song to Qing dynasties. Because of its history, it is like a small European town in the middle of China, perfect for a walk for an hour or two.

3. Baomo Garden

Park

Baomo Garden, Guangzhou, China
cindy hwang / Unsplash
Located in Panyu, about an hour away from the Guangzhou city center, Baomo Garden is a fine example of Southern Chinese architecture and art of gardening. Baomo Garden was originally built at the end of Qing dynasty, but unfortunately destroyed in the 1950s. A few years later, its reconstruction began and the garden is now back to its former glory.

4. Chen Clan Academy

Museum

Built in 1894, the Chen Clan Academy was originally built by then Chen family as a study hall for young men to prepare for imperial examinations. Today, it houses the Guangdong Folk Arts Museum. The ancestral hall consists of 19 buildings and different exhibitions, so plan a visit of at least one hour.

5. Pearl River

Natural Feature

The sunset city view of Pearl River in Guangzhou with Liede Bridge
Wally Yang / Unsplash
The Pearl River flows in the middle of Guangzhou and might not seem too special during the day, but when the sun sets and visitors hop on cruise ships, they can admire a beautiful nighttime scenery of the city. The beautiful landscape with lights paint the city sky in different colors, making the cruise a must-do activity in Guangzhou.

6. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall

Memorial, Park

Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall, Guangzhou, China
Jéan Béller / Unsplash
Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall is worth the visit both for its octagonal architecture and its historical importance. The location once held the Presidential Palace, but was destroyed during an attack against Sun Yat-Sen. In 1931, the Memorial Hall was to built to commemorate Sun Yat-Sen, but was destroyed and repaired several times before restoration in 1998.

7. Temple of the Six Banyan Trees

Buddhist Temple

The Buddhist temple was originally built by the orders of Emperor Wu in 537. Later in Northern Song Dynasty when it was rebuilt, it was renamed according to a poem by Su Shi. The main structure inside the temple is the nine-story Flower Pagoda with a colorful exterior worthy of its name.

8. Mausoleum of the Nanyue King

Museum

One of the most exciting attractions in Guangzhou is the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King, as you can walk into the tomb itself before admiring the collections of artifacts found in the tomb. The tomb is over 2,000 years old, but was only discovered in 1983, and the museum opened a few years later.

9. Baiyun Mountain

Park

View of Guangzhou city from Baiyun Mountain, China
Mandy L / Unsplash
The Baiyun Scenic Area with 30 mountain peaks, the highest of which is 382 meters (1,253 ft) above sea level, is a chance to escape the bustling city life and breathe in some fresh air. It becomes crowded on holidays, but on weekdays it’s possible to enjoy the quiet climb up the stairs. For a beautiful view of the city, a cable car can be taken up to the Peak Park.

10. South China Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden, Forest

South China Botanical Garden, Tianyuan Road, Tianhe District, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China
Cloris Chou / Unsplash
Originally built in 1929, the South China Botanical Garden is located North of Guangzhou and is both the oldest and biggest South Asian tropical botanical garden in the country. In the garden and its conservatory, visitors can admire the beautiful variety of plants, visit the Magic Forest and explore a remake of a Neolithic village.

11. Sacred Heart Cathedral

Cathedral

The facade of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Guangzhou
Loegunn Lai / Unsplash
Sacred Heart Cathedral is a Catholic cathedral and was finished in 1888 after 25 years of construction. It is one of the few cathedrals in the world to be built completely from granite. Masses are held in the mornings and on weekends in Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, and English. At other times, it is a popular tourist destination for anyone admiring beautiful architecture.

12. Huacheng Square

Library, Museum

Zhujiang Newtown in Guangzhou
Vincent Chan / Unsplash
For a modern view of Guangzhou, a must-see spot in the city is Huacheng Square. Several new landmarks surround the square, Guangdong Museum, new library, International Finance Center, and Canton Tower just across the river. For a fabulous nighttime view, it’s best to visit after sunset to be able to admire the colorful lights.

13. Chimelong Tourist Resort

Resort

For a full day or even a week of fun, Chimelong Tourist Resort has it all: amusement park, international circus, water park, safari park, and birds park. If that’s not enough, the neighborhood city Zhuhai has an Ocean Kingdom aquarium, too. During weekends and holidays it can get quite busy – try visiting on a weekday instead.

14. Redtory

Art Gallery

Redtory Art + Design Factory, Guangzhou, China
kit sanchez / Unsplash
Once industrial factories, Redtory is now an area of art galleries, artist studios, art spaces, organizations, hip offices, fashion stores, and artsy coffee shops. Visitors come here for art exhibitions, but also for the creative and inspiring surroundings perfect for photography and other arts.

15. Guangdong Museum

Museum

Guangdong Museum, Zhujiang East Road, Tianhe District, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China
Chloé Lam / Unsplash
To learn more about the history and culture of Guangzhou, tourists can explore the new Guangdong Museum built next to the Huacheng Square. The main exhibitions are Guangdong History and Culture, and the Natural Resources of Guangdong; besides these, the museum hosts a variety of temporary exhibitions.

16. Yuyin Garden

Park

Yuyin Garden was once a private garden of a scholar and was built in 1864; later because of its beautiful landscape, it became a popular tourist attraction. Pavilions, bridges, pools, rock hills, and flowers create a dreamlike scenery perfect for a leisurely afternoon stroll.

17. Yuexiu Park

Museum, Park

Yuexiu Park, Yuexiu District, Guangzhou, China
sisi zzling / Unsplash
Yuexiu Park covers an area of 860,000 square meters (9,300,000 sq. ft.) and includes popular attractions like the Five Rams Sculpture, which is the symbol of Guangzhou. Guangzhou Museum is located inside the park in Zhenhai Tower, which has been destroyed and rebuilt several times since was built back in 1380.

18. Whampoa Military Academy

Memorial, Museum, School

The military academy on Changzhou Island was once a military school, opened in 1924 by Kuomintang, which was the ruling party in China at the time. In 1950, after the Communist victory on the mainland, Kuomintang and the military academy relocated to Taiwan. The old premises of the academy now serve as a museum.

19. Guangxiao Temple

Buddhist Temple

With a history of thousands of years, the grounds started as a king’s residence and were transformed into a temple during the Three Kingdoms era. Throughout the years until now, the temple has been restored many times; though its scale is now much smaller than in the past days, the temple is still one of the most important Buddhist temples of Guangzhou.

20. Qing Ping Chinese Medicine Market

Market

Qing Ping Market is an interesting destination for a visit not only for those who wish to buy the traditional herbs of Chinese medicine, but also for the exotic experience it offers. A local guide knowledgable about herbs makes the tour even more fascinating, and visitors can learn how to use herbs safely to promote health.

21. Hope & Sesame speakeasy

Bar, Cocktails

Hidden among the streets and people is an evergreen door embellished with a golden lionhead knocker—this is the secret entrance to one of the city’s swankiest bars. Finding Hope & Sesame can be difficult, but it is worth the struggle and will prove to be one of the best things to do see and do in Guangzhou. Once you’ve arrived and have taken in the sheer brilliance of the venue, ask the bartenders to make you a drink, either their favorite or most exotic—you will not regret it. The bartenders here are magnificent; their drinks are concocted with a science and presented as a work of art. Ask for the story behind the drink you’re served and enjoy the live jazz music while you’re there. Recommended by Julianna Tetreault.

22. Ancient Town of Panyu

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark

Panyu, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China
Libre Leung / Unsplash

One of Guangzhou’s most picturesque areas, the ancient town of Panyu, is truly a must-visit for any history buff or architectural admirer in the area. Snaking through the historic town are narrow alleyways and streets that twist between buildings and homes—walking through them evokes a sense of nostalgia for a time period you’ve never experienced. While Panyu as a whole is picture-perfect, some of the buildings are more so; crafted from oyster shells, the walls of a handful of residential buildings were built with an essence of the ocean, making for some stunning architecture. Shawan’s Ancient Town of Panyu also caters to tourists, selling hand-crafted souvenirs, and speciality foods. With something for every traveler, the city is a perfect way to spend a couple of hours. Recommended by Julianna Tetreault.

23. BingSheng Mansion

Restaurant, Authentic

Known to have some of the best Cantonese food in all of Guangzhou, Bing Sheng is a staple restaurant. With authentic dishes, and an extensive menu offering up loads of traditional dishes, the restaurant serves up a variety of food renowned for its quality. Customers who eat here can expect high-quality cuisine, in a well-maintained restaurant atmosphere, for a reasonable price. Recommended by Julianna Tetreault.

24. Guangzhou Library

Library

Guangzhou library, China
leo lei / Unsplash

The Guangzhou Library will arguably be one of the largest libraries you’ll ever step foot in. The architectural design of the building mirrors that of what a carelessly stacked pile of books looks like—it is stunning. Aside from being absolutely massive from the outside, the interior of the building is jaw-droppingly huge; with nine floors filled with books, any bibliophile will feel like they’re in a literary heaven. The Guangzhou Library serves not only as an amazing city landmark, but also as a place to relax; curling up with a book at the Guangzhou Library is a must. Recommended by Julianna Tetreault.

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