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Shamian Island (literally translated as “Sandbar” Island), a 44-acre sandbank separated from Guangzhou by a canal, was given as a concession to the French and British governments after the First Opium War in 1841. The island quickly grew into a prosperous expat enclave where trading companies from Europe, the United States and Japan came to do business.

The stone mansions, churches, yacht club and sporting venues drew the envy of Guangzhou residents, who didn’t even have paved roads until the early 1900s. Local Chinese authorities restricted traders to the small area and forbade them from learning Chinese or bringing over their children and wives.

Today, many of the colonial mansions have been restored to their former glory, and the island, now partly pedestrianized, is home to a series of bars, cafes and boutique shops. The neo-gothic Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church has reopened for worshippers in recent years and is worth a visit; along with the riverfront area along the Pearl River in the center of the island where locals come to fish or practice tai chi.

Tours & Tickets

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Private Historical Tour: Guangzhou City Sightseeing Including Lunch

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 6 Reviews

Get to know the historical city of Guangzhou on this exciting sightseeing tour by comfortable vehicle and on foot. This private full-day tour with a friendly ...  Read more

Location: Guangzhou, China
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $64.99

Pearl River Night Cruise in Guangzhou with Private Transport

Let the magical beauty of the Pearl River enchant you on a night cruise in Guangzhou. You’ll be captivated by the romantic atmosphere as you admire the ...  Read more

Location: Guangzhou, China
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $48.99

Private Tour: Best of Guangzhou City Sightseeing

Experience the cultural and historical highlights of Guangzhou in one day on this private sightseeing tour of the fascinating city. Touring the city by private ...  Read more

Location: Guangzhou, China
Duration: 10 hours (approx.)

From USD $240.00

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