Guangzhou, China

A wishing tablet atop a tree, Baiyun Mountain
For this trip, I decided to follow the popular tourist route of Guangzhou - Hong Kong - Macau. For 9 days, this seemed like a plausible one.

The first leg of my trip brought me to Guangzhou, which also was my first venture into China.

Baiyun International Airport
The flight from Singapore took close to 4 hours and I landed at Baiyun International Airport. The airport's security was pretty tight and it took me quite awhile to clear immigration. I had previous experiences when I transited at Shanghai and Qingdao, and it was no different at Guangzhou.

From the airport, you can find signs that guide you to the MTR which you can take for cheap into town.

MTR map here

I stayed somewhere near to town, a short walk away from Peasant Movement Institute MTR station (funny names they have), so it was pretty convenient. Unlike a lot of places I have been to, Guangzhou has surprisingly pleasant public transport connectivity.

The Site of Nanyue Kingdom Palace

The Site of Nanyue Kingdom Palace
For the history buffs, this was the actual site of the former palace of the Nanyue Kingdom. After archaeologists discovered and digged up the place, they turned this into some sort of a museum, and opened it to public.

Admission was free. All you had to do was to go over to the ticket counter and they'll give you your tickets to enter.

Inside the Site of Nanyue Kingdom Palace
Inside you can find the remains of the palace, complete with drains and all from a few thousand years ago. There are 3 stories to this place and all you see on the first two are these. From the second floor, you can have a bird's eye view of the overall palace layout. Not entirely sure if the palace was indeed this small, but you'll have to trust them.

The museum was lacking in presentation overall, and it can get a little boring and stale inside. I wouldn't really recommend it if you don't have any slight interest in history, architecture or buildings.

Beijing Road Pedestrian Street

Beijing Road Pedestrian Street
Beijing Road Pedestrian Street is basically a pedestrian shopping street. Used to be for vehicles, the road was closed off for the ease of pedestrians to shop, with shops filling both sides of the street. You will able to find clothes, accessories, food etc. here and youngsters flock here during weekends and after school hours to do their shopping.

Maintaining the peace and security in Guangzhou
Dafo Temple

Hidden in one of the alleys on Beijing Road is this temple. With modern architecture, this temple seemingly lacks the rustic looks that I like from typical temples, and it isn't quite as majestic that some that I've seen before. Nevertheless, it's worth to pop in and look at the religious statues if you're in the vicinity. If not, I think it's far from what should be included in your must-see list.

Opening hours: 8AM to 6PM

Sacred Heart Cathedral

This charming cathedral is tucked in the midst of a local neighborhood and isn't the easiest to find to say the least. That said, this photo-worthy cathedral is worth giving a shot due to its exquisite architecture. The inside of the cathedral was closed when I went, but the exterior stood out among other buildings in the vicinity and the vast contrast was rather interesting to see.

Opening hours: 8AM - 5.30PM (Mon-Sat); 7AM-10AM (Sun)

Baiyun Mountain

Baiyun Mountain was easily the highlight of my Guangzhou trip. Without factoring my love for hiking, it offers spectacular view, mostly over the entire Guangzhou city. There are plenty of hiking involved here, but for the lazy-legs, they also have shuttle services between the attractions for a small fee (10RMB if I remember correctly).

You can take a cable car from the bottom of the mountain to takes you directly to the top, not exactly the top but the central plaza where you can then start you different hikes/rides to the attractions you want to visit. Do remember to check out the weather though as a thunderstorm decided to wreak havoc while I was on one of the peaks. Luckily for me, there was a shop house nearby where I took my shelter and the rain didn't last very long.

Opening hours: 6AM - 5PM
Admission Fees: 5RMB
Cable Car Tickets: 45RMB for a round-trip

Canton Tower

This webbed-rod structure is one of the famous landmarks in Guangzhou. The tower lights up a spectrum of colors at night time and many locals and tourists alike come here for their selfie sessions. There is also an observatory and several activities like ferris wheel and outdoor walk, which you can do atop the tower. That said, these observatories and sky high activities often come with out-of-the-world-pricey tickets. Same goes here.

I only chose the observatory option for 150RMB as outdoor walks and ferris wheels at the edge of the tower don't really appeal to me (thanks acrophobia!) and to be entirely honest, I don't feel it's really worth the money. Firstly, the view was just .. alright? Not spectacular but, alright. Second, the amount of people. I hate people (okay I don't, I hate crowds) and the amount of people in the observatory makes me wonder for a second whether the structure could withstand the weight. Also, think you want to take a photo with the night view? Good luck to you. People snatch at an opportunity of an empty slot at the edge of the observatory so any photos with you alone with the night scene is almost entirely impossible.

Come here for the colored lights beaming from the tower. Observatory, maybe not.

Nice view, yes. 150RMB, nope.
View worthy of 150RMB? Not really.

Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street

Very much alike Beijing Road, this is another pedestrian street where you can do some shopping. Literally translating to up-down-nine pedestrian street, what this street offers is similar to what Beijing Road has, except maybe a little more variety. If you're a fan of shopping, you'd be a fan of this place. This place offers vibes similar to Ximending in Taiwan if you've ever been there.

Shopping in Guangzhou
Shopping malls are abundant in Guangzhou, especially in their business district. It's not hard to find malls like this scattered all around the city. The upscale malls often feature lines and lines of international brands whilst the lower scale ones offer cheaper alternatives and locally made products (often rip-offs from the internationally branded ones). Not a fan of shopping but I did went to a few:

- Onelink International Plaza
This one sells a lot of toys and ornaments at reasonable price. It looks pretty shady from the outside (and inside too) but if you explore here and brags negotiation skills, you might be able to find some pretty good deals.

- Guangzhou Tee Mall Plaza
A normal shopping mall which carries a fair mix of international and local brands.

- Zhengjia Square
A newer shopping mall beside Tee Mall Plaza. This one carries higher end brands and lesser crowds (maybe due to the prices) except for the Apple Store, which is permanently crowded (and I am not exaggerating).

- Taikoo Hui
This is in walking distance from Zhengjia Square and it carries almost only branded goods, so unless you're really looking to buy branded stuffs here in Guangzhou, I don't really see much point in coming here.

Well, this pretty much sums up the Guangzhou leg of my trip. For those that follow, Hong Kong, up next!
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