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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.