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.
The very picturesque Shamian Island is a sandbar attached to Guangzhou. It is quaint, and the perfect way to spend anywhere from a couple of hours to a day. What makes the island so picture-perfect are its collection of bronze statues, its luscious greenery, and its historical architecture, which is all quite beautifully maintained. Shamian Island is easy to access, and not far from the heart of Guangzhou’s city, making it the perfect mini-vacation.
To get to the top of the mountain you have two options: a cable car can carry you up, or, for the more active, you can choose to hike up the mountain. The advantage to taking the cable car is that the views are a bit nicer, but whichever way you choose to tackle the climb, you’ll see the same stunning view at the top. At the peak of Baiyun Mountain, the landscape opens up, and Guangzhou’s city skyline can be seen—the view is unlike any other, and is just beautiful. Behind the rolling mountains directly in view, clusters of skyscrapers can be seen, making the hike (if you choose to go that route) incredibly rewarding.
A historical temple located in the heart of the city, the Temple of Six Banyan Trees is a must-see gem. The temple grounds are quiet, even on the busiest days, and the gardens are well-kept—wandering around the area evokes a sense of tranquility. The Temple of Six Banyan Trees itself is truly breathtaking, and standing at the base of it and gazing upward is a humbling experience. For a look into Guangzhou’s past, a visit here is essential.
Temple of Six Banyan Trees, No.87 Liurong Road, Guangzhou, China, +86 20 8339 2843
For the nature lover, or for someone looking for a getaway from the bustling city, the Southern China Botanical Garden is a must-visit. Comprised of hundreds of species of plants, and interesting insect and animal life, spending a few hours sightseeing here is almost too easy. The Southern China Botanical Garden’s beauty is unreal, and the feeling of peacefulness while strolling through the greenery makes it even better.
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.
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.
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.
Boarding one of the many cruises available on Guangzhou’s Pearl River is a must when visiting the city. At night, the skyline lights up the waters, as does the ship itself; the city takes on a different look, and a feeling of relaxation is quick to set in. While aboard the ship, drinks and snacks are provided for the hour or so ride. A Pearl River night cruise is a great way to wrap up any trip.
Decorated with countless statues, buildings, and wildlife, all intertwined with the paths and waterways that run through it, Baomo Garden is a worthwhile visit while traveling through Guangzhou. Baomo Garden is a park conveniently located nearby Shawan’s Ancient Town of Panyu. The park boasts artifacts from Guangzhou’s past, giving tourists a look into the city’s history with a beautiful sightseeing opportunity. Due to Baomo Garden’s location, the park is quite peaceful on a normal day, and makes for the perfect escape from the bustling city that is Guangzhou.