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Welcome to Guangzhou

As China’s third-largest city, Guangzhou is not for the faint-hearted. A sprawling metropolis framed by stainless steel skyscrapers and split by the Pearl River, Guangzhou offers history and modernity in equal measure. The city’s size means a sightseeing tour is the best way to travel between landmarks quickly and easily. Full-day tours typically cover Chen Clan Academy, the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees (Liurong Temple), and the Museum of the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King, and include a traditional Cantonese lunch. Yuexiu Park—home to the emblematic Five Ram Statue and Ming-era Zhenhai Tower—offers plenty to explore, as does Shamian Island, with its the colonial mansions and neo-Gothic churches. Embrace Guangzhou’s evening energy on a Pearl River night cruise or by pre-booking a ticket to the Chimelong International Circus—and don't forget to eat your fill of Cantonese cuisine, such as dim sum and roast duck, on a food tour. Day trips to Hong Kong by super-speed bullet train are a popular choice with travelers short on time, while traveling to Chengdu by air makes the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding doable in a day. Plus, don’t miss Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, a rainbow of imperial architecture; Chimelong Paradise, China’s largest amusement park; and Canton Tower, the country’s tallest structure.

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Top 10 attractions in Guangzhou

Chen Clan Academy (Chen Jia Ci)
#1

Chen Clan Academy (Chen Jia Ci)

The Chen Clan Academy, also called the Ancestral Temple of the Chen Family, is to Guangzhou what the Forbidden City is to Beijing. The complex consists of 19 traditional southern Chinese buildings that were erected by the Chen Family in the late 1800s as a place for the members of all 72 Chen clans in the province to stay as they studied for their provincial exams. In 1905, the traditional examination system was dissolved and the area became an industry college for the clan. In 1957, the complex was designated as a Guangzhou City preserve, and in 1959 the local government began using the Academy to house local folk arts. Serving as the Guangzhou Museum of Folk Art, the Chen Clan Academy is the largest and best-preserved clan complex in Guangdong Province and houses an exquisite collection of Cantonese folk art. The structures themselves are works of art, with carvings on nearly every column, ceiling beam and wall....
Canton Tower
#2

Canton Tower

As the tallest structure in China and the fourth tallest freestanding structure in the world, the Canton Tower dominates Guangzhou’s modern skyline. The twisted, tapering tower rising just over 2,000 feet (609.6 meters) is home to the world’s highest and largest outdoor observatory at 1,601 feet (488 meters) above the ground. Sixteen transparent cabins carry passengers around the slanting, elliptical rooftop, offering views that extend as far as Hong Kong and Macau. Thrill seekers can plummet from a height of 1,600 feet (488 meters) down the side of the tower with the Mega Drop. For a milder thrill, take on the Spider Walk, the world’s longest sky stairs with 1,028 steps, some of which have transparent glass flooring with views of the ground far below. For the tame of heart, the Canton Tower houses a rotating restaurant on the 106th floor as well as a 4D cinema, wine bar and science exhibition center highlighting the engineering technology behind the tower....
Shamian Island
#3

Shamian Island

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....
Pearl River (Zhujiang)
#4

Pearl River (Zhujiang)

The Pearl River (Zhujiang) stretches for 1,376 miles (2,214 kilometers) from Xi Jiang to the Pearl River Delta where it pours into the South China Sea. It’s the third longest river in China and the second largest by volume. According to local legend, the river got its name from a huge boulder in the middle of the river, smoothed by water erosion to resemble a round pearl in the middle of the river....
Museum of the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King
#5

Museum of the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King

Considered one of the best museums anywhere in China, the Museum of the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King (sometimes called the Museum of the Southern Yue Royal Mausoleum) houses the contents of the royal tombs of the Nanyue-ruler Zhao Mo.The tomb was discovered in 1983 when a bulldozing crew digging up a basement for a hotel uncovered the ancient mausoleum. Zhao Mo ruled the southern Chinese kingdom of Nanyue from 137 BC to 122 BC after being sent south by the emperor to establish a new sovereign state. The skeletons of Zhao Mo, along with 15 of his courtiers who were buried alive to serve him in death and several thousand objects from the empire are on display, and the compact tomb sitting behind the museum is open to visitors as well. An audio tour available in English will walk you through the history of the Han Dynasty by way of the relics and artifacts once housed in the tomb....
Temple of the Six Banyan Trees (Liurong Si)
#6

Temple of the Six Banyan Trees (Liurong Si)

Among Guangzhou’s most significant religious landmarks, the Buddhist Temple of the Six Banyan Trees dates back to AD 537 and is still active today, with a community of monks. Visitors marvel at the vibrantly painted exterior of the temple’s Flower Pagoda, which soars some 187 feet (57 meters) high....
White Cloud Mountain (Baiyun Shan)
#7

White Cloud Mountain (Baiyun Shan)

White Cloud Mountain (Baiyun Shan, Baiyun Mountain, or Mt. Baiyun), located just north of Guangzhou City, gets its name from the wreath of wispy clouds that circle the mountaintop after a heavy rain. A visit to the mountain and the surrounding 17-square-mile (44-square-kilometer) park area is a popular way to stretch your legs, take in some fresh air, and escape the busy city....
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall (Sun Zhongshan Ji Nian Tang)
#8

Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall (Sun Zhongshan Ji Nian Tang)

Perched on the southern slope of Guangzhou’s Yuexiu Hill, Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall (Sun Zhongshan Ji Nian Tang) is a monument built in 1931 in honor of the Chinese revolutionary. A bronze statue of Sun Yat-sen was erected in front of the hall in 1956, and the octagonal structure houses a collection of photos and letters from his life....
Chimelong International Circus
#9

Chimelong International Circus

Opened in 2000, the Chimelong International Circus has become the largest professional circus venue in the world, where guests are taken on a multimedia journey of special effects, laser lights, acrobatics, horsemanship, clown antics, magic, dancing and a thrilling motorcycle Ball of Death, where nine riders perform at high speeds inside a suspended metal globe....
Guangzhou Museum
#10

Guangzhou Museum

Travelers to Guangzhou looking to gain a deeper understanding of the culture, traditions and people of this southern China city will find what they are looking for at the Guangzhou Museum. This popular landmark is jam-packed with ceramics, bronze work, woodcarvings and precious stones that showcase the best of the Chinese province. Touring the museum's well-kept halls is an ideal way to spend a rainy afternoon or an unbearably hot day. Audio guides are available for those who want to learn even more about ancient cultures and traditions, and two souvenir shops sell authentic trinkets. The museum's proximity to the main library, parks and IFC make it a convenient stop on any city tour....

Trip ideas

Top Historical Sights in Guangzhou

Top Historical Sights in Guangzhou

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How to Spend 1 Day in Guangzhou

How to Spend 3 Days in Guangzhou

How to Spend 3 Days in Guangzhou

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