For centuries, Guangzhou has attracted foreign visitors, from traders to tourists. The city is an economic and commercial powerhouse, thanks to trade, finance and tourism. Since becoming one of the world’s greatest trading ports in the 18th century thanks to its location on the Pearl River, Guangzhou has been at the centre of China’s political and economic history. Traders might not be hauling bales of opium off barges as they did in the past, but Guangzhou is still a massive centre for trade.
In the 1970s, China started its economic reforms of moving from an economically communist state to a capitalist free-for-all in Guangzhou, and the city became an economic role model for the rest of the country.
Modern-day Guangzhou is modern and spacious, with gleaming skyscrapers that reflect its status as China’s third-largest city. One of the most obvious signs of Guangzhou's brash attitude is the Canton Tower, the tallest TV tower in the world. Visitors who want to get the lay of the land should make a bee-line for the tower as soon as they arrive. Depending on the smog levels and weather, you should be able to enjoy wonderful views of the city, and thrill-seekers will love the world's highest Ferris wheel perched on top.
Despite all the modernity, the city has plenty of remnants of its past, too. Find some of them in The Western Han Museum of the Nanyue King Mausoleum. This museum contains the tomb of an ancient king under a glass pyramid as well as many of the relics that were buried along with him 2000 years ago. Another must-see is the Chen Family Temple, which was once an ancestral shrine but is now an arts and crafts folk museum.
There's plenty of more worldly activities to do, too - if you need a bit of retail therapy, it’s worth checking out Beijing Road Pedestrian Street for its massive range of toys, bags and clothes. Kids will love a day out at Chimelong Paradise, a family-friendly theme park. For peace and quiet and beautiful scenery, head for the hills, lakes and lawns of Yuexiu Park (Yuexiu Gongyuan).
A great way to get around town is by subway as the city has one of the best systems in the world. Taxis are good too – as long as you have the address written down in Chinese characters if you're not a Cantonese speaker.
Shopping, Skyscrapers and Festivals
Take a breather at Guangzhou's largest urban park and see the Chinese at play.
See the fascinating tomb of an ancient king at this modern and well-organised museum.
Learn all about China's folklore as this historic temple-cum-museum.
There's guaranteed fun for all the family at this excellent amusement park which has more than 70 thrilling rides.
Make sure you bargain hard at Guangzhou's main shopping destination.
Rise above the clouds and enjoy the views from the world's tallest communications tower.
Explore Hong Kong's neighboring cities of Shenzhen, Shekou, and Guangzhou on this full-day tour. Encounter China's giant panda up close, discover the ancient Qin dynasty's terracotta warriors, and visit popular temples, memorials, and landmarks in Guangzhou.
Explore the Pearl River city Guangzhou on this guided morning Tour. Discover the exquisite craftsmanship in Ancestral Temple of the Chen Family. Wander around the beautiful Shamian Island with European style buildings. See the restored canal of Lizhiwan Brook.
Spend full day to explore the Pearl River city Guangzhou with a local insider, discover the exquisite craftsmanship in Ancestral Temple of the Chen Family, admire the city landmark of the Five-Ram Sculpture and historical relic of Zhenhai Tower, and visit the 1500 years old Temple of the Six Banyan Trees.
Spend half day to explore the Pearl River city Guangzhou on this guided afternoon trip, admire the city landmark of the Five-Ram Sculpture and historical relic of Zhenhai Tower in Yuexiu Park, visit the 1500 years old Temple of the Six Banyan Trees.
Your guide meets you at your hotel in Guangzhou, and brings you to the Canton Tower. Once the tallest TV tower in the world, replacing the 34-year record held by the CN Tower in Canada, it was eventually surpassed by the Tokyo Sky Tree.
Being one of the first batch of cities benefited from the Reform and Opening Up policy since 1978, Guangzhou is a prosperous Chinese metropolis full of vigor.