History and modernity meet on the banks of the Pearl River
Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province and formerly known as Canton, is China’s busy metropolis by the water. Situated on the banks of the Pearl River, navigable to the South China Sea, Guangzhou is where high-rises and history, tradition and modernity, and trade and transport meet.
In its early history during the Zhou Dynasty (1045–256 BC), legend suggests that Guangzhou experienced a famine broken only by five immortals who descended from heaven on goat-back to bless the region with warmth and fertility. The city certainly experiences favourable weather with a short, mild winter and year-round sunshine. Nearby Shamian Island is home to European relics while more traditional architecture can be found at the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall – a shrine, Confucian school and the clan's chamber of commerce.
Things to do
Walk in the clouds
In the northern suburbs of Guangzhou is Baiyun or 'White Cloud' – a mountainous area with more than 30 peaks dotted with temples and monasteries. The area is perfect for hiking, and you can enjoy spectacular views from a ride on the cable car.
The 600-metre tall Canton Tower opens in new window is a landmark on the Guangzhou skyline. At night it’s bathed in an ethereal rainbow light with colours emanating across the Pearl River. Take a ride on the 455m-high bubble tram or visit 488 Look Out for a spectacular view over the city.
Pearl River gem
Designed by celebrated contemporary architect Zaha Hadid, Guangzhou Opera House opens in new window is one of China’s biggest and most unique performance venues. Its curved glass panels joined together have been likened to pebbles washed up from the nearby Pearl River. Join one of five daily tours or plan ahead and purchase tickets for an upcoming show.
Take a day trip to nearby Shamian Island for European architecture including the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes (built by the French in 1892) and Shamian Dajie, the island’s main road, lined with old houses, galleries and picturesque trees.
Step back in time
In the southwest district of Panyu lie the cobblestone streets, shrines, ancestral halls and Taoist temples of Shawan Ancient Town. Shawan was once the centre of Lingnan culture and its history is particularly evident in the town’s architecture.
Distance to city centre 40km
Taxi The taxi fare will cost around CNY 150.
Train Metro line 2 goes from the airport to Guangzhou East Station, taking around 40 minutes, and costing about CNY 8.
Bus A number of airport express buses opens in new window leave every 20-45 minutes to destinations around the city. Fares are around CNY 15-30 and the journey will take 50-90 minutes, depending on your destination.
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When to go
Guangzhou enjoys a humid subtropical climate, meaning summer (June–October) is long and humid while winter (December–February) is short and mild. The average yearly temperature is around 22°C. Autumn (October–December) is the best time to visit when temperatures are mild and it is generally sunny but cool.
Come February, Guangzhou is coloured by flowers with the Spring Flower Fair and again in June with the Guangzhou Lotus Flower Festival on Lotus Blossom Hill. Twice a year Guangzhou hosts the Canton Fair, from April to May and again from October to November.Back to top
The best way to travel around Guangzhou is using the city’s nine metro train lines. Trains operate from 6.30am to 11.30pm with fares costing CNY 2-14. One-day or three-day unlimited use transit passes are available, if you're planning to do lots of travel.Taxi prices begin at CNY10 for the first 2.5km and CNY2.6 for every additional kilometre plus a fuel surcharge (CNY1). Back to top