With a population of seven million people, Guangzhou is one of southern China’s biggest cities and the heart of the Cantonese region. While rich in history and attractions, it also makes a good hub from which to explore surrounding cities. Here are some of our favorite day-trip destinations from Guangzhou.
Foshan — 21 miles (34 kilometers) away
If you’re interested in the history of Chinese ceramics, consider a day trip to the city of Foshan, an important trade port famous throughout China for its handicrafts. Tour the Foshan Ancestral Temple to get a visual sampling of locally produced ceramics, visit a 16th-century ceramics furnace, watch a demonstration by a ceramics artisan, or walk in the footsteps of Bruce Lee in his humble childhood home.
Hong Kong — 74 miles (119 kilometers) away
By far the most popular day trip from Guangzhou is to neighboring Hong Kong. Thanks to a high-speed train, you can be in Hong Kong—which feels worlds away from the vast cities of mainland China—and through immigration in under two hours. On a typical Hong Kong day trip from Guangzhou, you’ll get to marvel at the iconic skylines of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, ride the funicular to the top of Victoria Peak, do some shopping in Stanley Market, and take a sampan ride through Aberdeen Harbour.
Kaiping — 76 miles (122 kilometers) away
The castle-like, UNESCO World Heritage–listed diaolou (watchtowers) of Kaiping, located near the village of Zili, were originally built as forts, residences, and flood refuges. Over 1,800 of the original 3,000 diaolou still remain, exhibiting a range of Eastern and Western architectural styles from medieval to modern times.
Shenzhen — 86 miles (139 kilometers) away
Shenzhen, Guangzhou’s neighboring city, is home to one of the Canton’s most popular attractions: the Splendid China Folk Village and neighboring Window of the World, with its scaled-down replicas of iconic world landmarks. This young city—merely a farming community until the 1980s—is quickly becoming a destination in its own right.
Day Trips by Air
If you’re pressed for time, you can visit some of China’s most iconic attractions on day trips by air from Guangzhou. Options include the Terracotta Warriors of Xian, the pandas of Chengdu, the modern skyline of Shanghai, or the highlights of Beijing—including the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, and the Temple of Heaven.