Having attended the China Import and Export Commodities Fair in October (Beyond the Fair – 5 Spectacular Things to Do in Guangzhou, China), I was excited to return in April and to have an opportunity to explore even more of this exciting city.
I knew from my previous visit that I wanted to be based near Panfu Road and my favorite restaurant – Xin Tai Le. Panfu Road is a strategic location to explore by foot many of Guangzhou’s parks, museums, and delicious restaurants. It is also a very short walk to access the metro, a great benefit in April as the rainy monsoon season begins.
I chose to stay at the Sino Trade Centre Guangzhou (442 CNY / 64 USD per night) and could not have been happier with my choice. The following map highlights just of a few of the great sites that are within walking distance of the Sino Trade Center:
*Please note that while the locations marked on the Google Map are correct, the GPS coordinates are incorrect – China uses an obfuscation algorithm to randomly offset both the latitude and longitude by 50–500 meters. Paper maps are very handy in China!
The hotel has a free shuttle bus to the Pazhou Exhibition Hall; this makes attending the fair very easy. I took advantage of the morning bus to go to the fair. Since I was exploring Guangzhou after the fair, I did not use the return service and utilized the metro system for returning in the evening.
My top 5 activities / attractions on this trip to Guangzhou:
1. Yuexiu Park
Yuexiu Park, the largest park in Guangzhou, is worth a visit of at least a few hours. Highlights include the Five Rams Sculpture, the Guangzhou Museum, and the Ancient City Wall. Entrance to the park is free, but there is a fee to enter the Guangzhou Museum (10 CNY / 1.5 USD each).
The Five-Ram Sculpture is the emblem of Guangzhou. According to legend, more than 2,000 years ago the city was a barren land with people who, despite hard work, were suffering from famine. One day, five immortals rode in on five rams, playing their legendary music. The rams held sheaves of rice in their mouths. The immortals left the sheaves of rice for the local people, gave blessings to the city, and returned to the sky. The rams turned into stone and the city became a rich and populous place. This is how how Guangzhou came to be known as the City of Rams.
First built in 1380, the Zhenhai Tower is a five-floor tower built on top of Yuexiu Mountain. It now houses the fantastic Guangzhou Museum. The museum displays relics and documents showcasing the history of Guangzhou over 2,000 years.
The Ancient City Wall was built in 1300’s during the Ming Dynasty. This is the only remaining section of the city wall and was opened to the public in 2008 after renovation.
There are five entrances to the park – Main, East, West, North and South Gates. The Metro arrives at the Main Gate. Take Line 2 to Yuexiu Park Station, Exit B1. The park is open 6:00 – 22:00. Guangzhou Museum is open 9:00 – 17:30 (ticket booth closes at 17:00).
From Sino Trade Center, I walked to an alternate, closer entrance: Follow Panfu Road until it ends at Jiefang North Road (like you are heading to Yuexiu Park Station). Cross Jiefang North Road, turn left, and the West Gate entrance is immediately on your right – it is a little hidden, so just follow the people! If you miss it, you will pass the Main Gate which is very obvious.
2. Shamian Island
Shamian Island, also known as Shameen, is a small, man-made island that played a major role in Guangzhou’s history with the outside world. Following the Second Opium War, the British and French received a joint concession in 1859 to a sand flat along the north bank of the Pearl River. Over a two year period, Shamian Island was constructed by filling in a stone embankment around the edge of the sand flat. The island was the only place that foreigners were allowed to live, housed in large buildings known as factories, and they could only spend part of the year there to trade their wares.
The island’s name literally means “sandy surface” in Chinese.
More than 150 European-style buildings on the island create an open-air museum with informative plaques and descriptions. The interesting buildings include Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel, Christ Church Shameen, and former Consulates from the United Kingdom, the United States, the Soviet Union, France, Germany, Portugal, Czechoslovakia, Norway, and Japan.
Along the waterfront and in the parks of Shamian Island, you will find people relaxing, exercising, singing, playing music, fishing, dancing, exercising their dogs, and more!
Take Metro Line 1 or 6 to Huangsha Station, Exit F. After exiting, cross the pedestrian overpass to reach the bridge to the Island. There is no entrance fee to visit the island.
3. Liuhua Lake Park
Liuhua Lake Park is another very large and beautiful park to get some exercise while people-watching. I went early in the morning and was surprised by how many people were already there. You can easily spend 2 – 3 hours exploring the park. Entrance to the park is free.
Throughout the park there were people playing badminton and Jianzi (similar to hacky-sack, but with a large weighted shuttlecock), ballroom dancing, practicing Tai Chi, singing, playing musical instruments, boating, jogging, bird-watching, and much, much more! Some parts of the park are very high-energy and intense; others are serene and quiet.
The park even has its own amusement park with rides for children. The rides have a fee – pay per ride.
Take Line 2 to Yuexiu Park Station, Exit D2. Walk west on Liuhua Road until you come to the park (after crossing Renmin North Road). The park is open 6:00 – 22:00. Website: Liuhua Lake Park (Chinese).
From Sino Trade Center, I walked to an alternate, closer entrance: Sino Trade Center is on the corner of Panfu Road and Panfu Avenue. Walk down Panfu Avenue to Renmin Road – the park is just across the street!
4. Guangzhou Orchid Garden
Guangzhou Orchid Garden is a peaceful, green oasis located near Yuexia Park. The beautifully landscaped garden is filled with ponds, waterfalls, sculptures, pagodas, bamboo, rare flowers, and lots of greenery. Exploring the garden’s winding paths is a nice way to spend a leisurely hour or two. The garden also has a teahouse to relax and enjoy the beautiful views over tea. The entrance fee (8 CNY / 1.2 USD) includes a pot of tea.
In the eastern part of the garden, you will find the orchid greenhouses. The three greenhouses contain over 200 varieties of precious, rare, and expensive orchids.
Take Line 2 to Yuexiu Park Station, Exit B2. Walk 5 minutes north to the Guangzhou Orchid Garden. Open 8:00 – 18:00.
From Sino Trade Center, I followed Panfu Road until it ends at Jiefang North Road, turned left on Jiefang North Road (like you are heading to Yuexiu Park Station), and simply walked north until I saw the entrance on my left.
5. Return to Baiyun Mountain
I loved Baiyun Mountain on my first visit to Guangzhou, so I returned to do some more hiking and to explore areas of the mountain that I did not have time to see on my first visit. The highlight of the day was visiting the Extreme Sports Center, where I immediately headed to the “Slideway” (30 CNY / 4.5 USD).
On our visit to Beijing in 2014 (Beijing and Xi’an, China), we had taken the same style of toboggan ride down after visiting the Great Wall. Unfortunately, there were so many people that we had to ride the brakes the whole way down. That was not the case here – it was full speed ahead!
After my exciting ride, I headed over to the bungee jumping platform. Never having bungee jumped before, I was extremely tempted to give it a try. The price was very reasonable at 240 CNY / 36 USD. The issue was that I was carrying my passport, wallet, phone, and camera… I was by myself and afraid that even if I left the easily replaceable items on the platform (phone and camera), I risked losing my wallet and passport on the jump, even with secured pockets… The area far below the jump is a small lake/pool and forest – no hope of retrieval. I watched for 20-30 minutes and tried to come up with a solution, to no avail. Alas, I still have not bungee jumped!
Tip: Bring a friend to hold your stuff.
Take Line 2 to Yuexiu Park Station, Exit B1. Take Bus 24 to Baiyun Mountain South Gate Bus Stop. Return by taking Bus 24 to Yuexiu Park Station. The entrance fee is 5 CNY / .75 USD.
From Sino Trade Center, follow Panfu Road until it ends at Jiefang North Road (like you are heading to Yuexiu Park Station). Cross Jiefang North Road, turn left, walk north past the Yuexiu Park Main Gate and you will see the bus stop – just hop on the first Bus 24 that passes by!
Honorable Mention – Eat!
One of the best things about Sino Trade Center is that Xin Tai Le Restaurant is adjacent to it! While I did enjoy several meals there, I’d like to mention two other nearby restaurants that I visited on this trip – Roast Goose Chain and Li Yuan.
Directly across from the Museum of the Western Han Dynasty Mausoleum of the Nanyue King is a goose restaurant that was a great spot to grab a quick meal. Even without the official Chinese name it is easy to spot the “Roast Goose Chain” on the sign!
The meat was very tender, delicious, and served quickly. This is a very busy restaurant and you may have to share a table.
Just a few doors down from Xin Tai Le is Li Yuan. I had lunch at Li Yuan once and dinner twice. The prices are less than Xin Tai Le, but the food is just as good! UPDATE April 2018: Li Yuan is closed.
For lunch I had dim sum and tea. For my dinners, I had white chicken once and duck once. The food was fantastic each and every time.
I hope that you have a terrific time in Guangzhou! For more great things to do during your visit, check out my blog from my first trip: Beyond the Fair – 5 Spectacular Things to Do in Guangzhou, China.
GPS Coordinates (for Google Earth viewing*):
Click to expand
China Import and Export Commodities Fair (中国进出口商品交易会) @ 23.103261,113.357602
Sino Trade Centre Guangzhou (广州华茂中心) @ 23.138263,113.254636
Yuexiu Park (越秀公园) @ 23.140462,113.260267
Shamian Island (沙面) @ 23.109749,113.239666
Liuhua Lake Park (流花湖公园) @ 23.138173,113.244590
Orchid Garden (广州兰圃公园) @ 23.144850,113.255890
Baiyun Mountain West Gate (白云山风景名胜区(西门)) @ 23.199133,113.281413
Baiyun Mountain South Gate Bus Stop (白云山索道) @ 23.158709,113.290392
Xin Tai Le Restaurant (新泰乐(盘福店)) @ 23.138056,113.254739
Roast Goose Chain @ 23.140127,113.256660
Li Yuan @ 23.138299,113.254864 (Closed)
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*Note: Carry a paper map and double check where you are heading! Navigating by GPS is a challenge in China – China uses an obfuscation algorithm to randomly offset both the latitude and longitude by 50–500 meters. With some experimentation, you can use the Chinese language site Tencent QQ Map for street view verification (Google Earth does not have street view in China). I have included the Chinese script in parentheses that I used to search locations in Tencent QQ Map. Just copy and paste it into the search field. Go to street view by double clicking on the spot marker and then double clicking on the image.
*Disclaimer- ALWAYS verify locations, transportation routes, GPS coordinates, etc. Errors are made, routes changed, sometimes we are just plain wrong. No one knows what you like more than you. If the trip is worth doing, it is worth doing right! Do your homework.