Backpacking In China: 5 Things to do in Guangzhou

Things to see and do in Guangzhou China

What to do in Guangzhou, China

Guangzhou is the capital city of the Chinese Province of Guangdong. It is an incredibly busy and fast moving city. In fact this city alone houses more people than the entire island of Ireland plus Wales and the Isle of Man – it’s estimated that almost 13 million people are crammed into its madness!! On a backpacking trip round the city I picked out my top 5 things to do in Guangzhou.

Jonny Blair in Guangzhou China

Chilling out in Guangzhou – that’s difficult enough given 12 million people live here!!

China rarely stands still and travel wise it has you gasping for breath, admiring in awe and wondering to yourself, if you could ever possibly see the whole country (you couldn’t). So for this lifetime, I settled for a day in Guangzhou. Sight seeing, relaxing and eating was the plan. Though travelling rarely has a complete hat trick, and it really is hard to relax in this city. I’ll name 5 main things we did as a means to give you ideas on things to do in Guangzhou (of course there are many more!!):

1. View of the city’s skyline.

Jonny Blair in Guangzhou

Relaxing by the river in Guangzhou admiring the city’s skyline

From the riverside you get a decent view of Guangzhou, it’s a free activity as well which is always a bonus. There are a few places to get a decent view, one is near the Haizhu Bridge but the most popular place is in the New Town. You can get a decent view of Guangzhou’s ever changing skyline and marvel at the epic 600 metre high Canton Tower (once the highest tower in the world would you believe!!).

Skyline view in Guangzhou China

The Guangzhou Skyline inclusing the Canton Tower

2. Shamian Island

I honestly thought this was a wind up as Guangzhou is so far inland, I thought seeing an island was out of the question. Even more remarkable is that Shamian Island is actually bang in the city centre of Guangzhou rather than the hovering suburbs. And it’s worth a visit!

Jonny Blair in Shamian Island, Guangzhou, CHINA

Shocked by the colonial buildings on Shamian Island in Guangzhou, CHINA

What you are greeted with are cobbled streets with European colonial style buildings. I found that remarkably odd that they are here – bang in the middle of a busy industrial Chinese city! It’s free to walk around and good for relaxing away from the madness of Guangzhou.

Shamian Island map in Guangzhou

You can spot Shamian Island on this map of Guangzhou


How to get there? – Get off the metro at Huangsha station and walk across the bridge

3. Mausoleum and Museum of the Nanyue King

This museum is good if you’re into ancient Chinese History. I merely went there as it was handy to get to (get out of the metro at Yuexiu Park and you’re there!). The cost of entry is 12 RMB and to be honest, that’s not a lot, so worth paying to go inside and take an hour or so to check the museum out.

Guangzhou's museum of the mausoleum of the Nanyue King

Visiting the Museum of the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King in Guangzhou, CHINA

The highlight is the hidden mausoleum which was discovered in June 1983 under the ground. There is also randomly a ceramic pillow section of the museum and a children’s play area. Some decent off the beaten track Chinese information and discoveries can be found here.

Jonny Blair in Guangzhou

Visiting the museum of the mausoleum of the Nanyue King in Guangzhou, CHINA

The museum is open all year round except February 28th and August 31st. Opening hours are 9 am to 5.30 pm (no entry after 4.45 pm)

How to get there? – Get off the metro at Yuexiu Park station – I think it was exit C.

4. Food Street

Food market in Guangzhou

Head to Huifu Street for Food Street – this photo is the market NEAR Food Street

No visit to this sprawling metropolis would be complete without sampling some food, and the place to do it is “Food Street” (OK, so that’s not the real name for it, but that’s what I’m calling it). This can prove difficult to find, as obviously it’s all written in Chinese and it’s not obvious. A pedestrian street full  of international restaurants. We went for Vietnamese for dinner and Chinese for pudding.

Jonny Blair in Guangzhou Food Street

Getting a good feed at a Vietnamese restaurant in Food Street, Guangzhou

How to get there – we walked our way round the city most of the time. Food Street is near Haizhu Square metro station, and close to the Water Gate. The exact street name is Huifu Donghu (I believe) and if you get to the Huifu Food Market (2 pictures above), you’re on the right street – just keep walking.

What to do in Guangzhou China

Food Street in Guangzhou is recommended

5. Yue Xiu Park

Yue Xiu Park is a massive park in Guangzhou. Guangzhou actually has lots of parks, but this one contains a Memorial Hall to Sun Yat Sen, so again history wise it’s worth checking out.

what to do in Guangzhou China - sun yat sen tower

The Sun Yat Sen Memorial Tower in YueXie Park in Guangzhou, CHINA.

There is also a five rams statue there, being an Aries (star sign) this was another photo opportunity. Entrance of course is free and it’s a decent place to relax.

Jonny Blair does Guangzhou

The 5 rams statue in YueXiu Park in Guangzhou, CHINA.

Other tips

Here’s a few final pointers ahead of your trip to Guangzhou…

Jonny Blair loving the backpacking lifestyle in Guangzhou China

Backpacking in Guangzhou, China

Guangzhou has a lot to offer and I’ve only given you a top 5 of things to do in Guangzhou, I also visited a street called Xia Jiulu which is a very busy and packed shopping street with pretty buildings.

busy shopping street in Guangzhou

The busy shopping street we visited in Guangzhou.

There is also a Sacred Heart Cathedral, an Art Gallery and a Martyrs Memorial. I found solace in the excellent Paddy Field Irish Pub – this place was the first time I ever visited an Irish Pub in China (I don’t count Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan) and I was served a pint of the black stuff.

Jonny Blair drinking Guinness in Guangzhou, CHINA.

Relaxing in Guangzhou – finding time for a pint of Guinness at Paddy Field Irish Pub!

Backpacking in these parts of China is fun. I’m heading back to China in 6 days!!

How to get to Guangzhou – Guangzhou has a busy international airport and daily fast trains to Hung Hom in Hong Kong.

Nationalities Met in Guangzhou – Chinese, Irish.

If you’re loving my backpacking stuff on Guangzhou, you might want to check out my trip to Xiamen or Shangri La.

Things to do in Guangzhou: Food Street:

Things to do in Guangzhou: Museum of the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King:

Things to do in Guangzhou: Yue Xiu Park:

Things to do in Guangzhou: Check out the view of the city’s skyline (at sunset):

Things to do in Guangzhou: Head to Shamian Island:

Things to do in Guangzhou: Have a pint in the Irish pub 😉 !:

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