Guangzhou is an exciting city with a lot to offer in terms of sights, attractions, food, and fun. Whether you’re filling your plate with traditional Cantonese dim sum (something Guangzhou is famous for), taking a cruise along the mighty Pearl River, shopping the city’s many markets and malls, or doing some museum-hopping, you’ll be glad you put Guangzhou on your travel hit list. If you go, we’ve put together a guide that will easily take you from the airport to some of the best things to do in the city.
Getting to and from CAN
Taking public transit to and from Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport is a good option because you’ll avoid the city’s traffic. Take Metro Line 3 from Airport South Station, which is located below the terminal building. There will be signs for the metro in the airport arrivals hall. To get to the city centre, the best stop to get off at is Tiyu Xilu and to get there, you’ll need to change metro lines to Line 1 at Guangzhou East Railway Station. The trip should take you around 40 to 45 minutes and a one-way ticket will cost you RMB 7. The metro runs from 6:10am to 11:00pm.
If you prefer to take a taxi, the journey downtown should take between 45 minutes to an hour and cost about RMB 125.
Getting around Guangzhou
Your best bet for getting around Guangzhou is to use the extensive metro system. How much you pay per ride depends on how far you’ll be travelling; a single journey ticket (good for four hours) should cost you between RMB 2 and 8. A one-day pass is RMB 20 and a three-day pass costs RMB 50. The lines you’ll likely be using the most are 1, 2 and 3 because they run east-west and north-south across the city, connecting you to most of Guangzhou’s major sites and transportation hubs.
Depending on where you’re travelling, taxis are an option. The yellow and blue taxis are rated as the best taxi companies in Guangzhou, but all taxis are generally safe and convenient.
Things to do in Guangzhou
Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao Football Club is the best and most influential soccer team in China (and maybe Asia), so if you find yourself in the city and they’re playing, you’ll probably want to grab a ticket. Prices vary, but tickets can go for up to RMB 600 (about USD 90).
Another must-do while in Guangzhou is to check out a performance at the architecturally stunning Guangzhou Opera House. You can buy tickets online or at the box office and they range from RMB 50 to 200. If you don’t want to take in a performance, it’s still worth it to visit the opera house for the design, and guided tours are available.
Guangzhou’s Spring Festival Flower Fair is a big deal in the city and happens during the lead-up to the Chinese Lunar New Year. During the festival, streets and laneways all over the city are decorated with flowers in elaborate and colourful designs. The festival is spread out over several districts and in addition to flower displays and flower stalls for buying blooms, there will also be traditional Chinese performances, calligraphers, and other traditional activities. Local families always take this opportunity to find decorations for their homes. too.
If you’re looking for a good spot to be among a selection of shopping, eating, and attractions, set your sights on Huacheng Square. The landscaped square features a man-made lake and a large-scale fountain, so it’s ideal for just hanging out and relaxing away from the buzz of the city. But you’ll also find great shopping and dining options around the square, as well as several major Guangzhou attractions like the Guangzhou Library, and Guangdong Museum.
Guangzhou Day Tours
Looking for more things to do? Urban Adventures offers day tours in Guangzhou and beyond, all led by local experts that will give you a taste for local life:
The Great Guangzhou Food Tour
We hope you’re hungry! This tour of Guangzhou’s food scene will introduce you to the most authentic dishes in Cantonese cuisine, from the city’s best dim sum to its most beloved dessert spot. Between bites, learn about local life as you visit artisans’ shops, historic streets, and an ancient temple.
Hong Kong After Dark
Calling the adventurous and the romantics, the shopaholics and the serenity seekers! We’ve got all your urban loves covered with this night walking tour that shows off Hong Kong after dark. You’ll explore different pockets of the city, from ethnic minority communities to glamourous Tsim Sha Tsui, from peaceful parks to glittering skylines.
Around Kowloon in 8 Markets
Before online shopping, megamalls, supermarkets, and eBay, retail trade was solely done at markets. Join this Hong Kong tour to get the lowdown on all the market action, from fresh fruit at Yau Ma Tei fruit market to precious stones at the Jade Market, and fresh ferns at the Flower Market.
Streets of Shanghai
Take in 100+ years of Chinese culture in the streets of Shanghai! From the labyrinth-like nong tangs to the hustle and bustle of modern downtown life, you’ll learn the secrets of this fascinating city. Wander the Nanjing, lit up with lights like Times Square, fall in love with the art deco buildings and historic backstreets, and top it all off with a trip to the Bund at sunset.
Guangzhou on the big screen
Kay Kay: The Girl from Guangzhou is an excellent film to watch before a trip to the city. The documentary follows Kay Kay, a young woman living in Guangzhou, from her birth in 1992 to adulthood in 2012. The film provides intriguing insight into life in Guangzhou, as well as the city’s transformation over the years.
Guangzhou on record
Listen to some traditional Cantonese music to get in the mood for your trip to Guangzhou; we’ve got some examples for you here and here. Cantonese music started as a unique music style in the Qing dynasty, but today, artists mix traditional Cantonese opera with other popular musical elements.
Guangzhou in books
There aren’t many books set in Guangzhou specifically, but you might want pick up South China Morning Blues by Ray Hecht. Since it’s set in south China, there is mention of Guangzhou, plus you’ll get a feel for the area in general.
Get in touch with us
To find out more about Guangzhou or to book a Guangzhou Urban Adventures tour, email us at email@example.com, and be sure to follow us on Instagram for live updates from our guides on the ground.
Guangzhou (or Canton). The historic heart of Cathay, the hard-working harbour of the Pearl River, and China’s greatest centre for business and production! (Some call it the world’s factory.) This Chinese megacity is also home to intriguing neighbourhoods like Sino Africa and Islamic trader districts with flavours of Muslim-China – with so much culture to take in, Guangzhou is definitely worth exploring!