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The Top 10 Guangzhou Facts for Travellers

Pearl RiverThe Canton Tower on the Pearl River is iconic.

Guangzhou, previously known as Canton or Panyu, is the largest city in south China and capital of the most populous province in China, Guangdong Province.

You might know it is one of China's top business and commercial centers, but did you know it has one of China's favorite amusement parks? Here are 10 interesting and useful facts for if you're already planning your trip to Guangzhou, or if you're just starting to think about it.

  • Chinese: 广州 Guǎngzhōu /gwung-joh/ 'Wide Province'

1. Guangzhou is the world's largest municipality.

Guangzhou is China's third largest city with about 13 million people in 2018, but statisticians regard Guangzhou as the world largest municipality with 44 million people including Shenzhen, Foshan, and Dongguan. The new metro and bullet train lines make these cities feel like one big city.

However, the main inner city districts such as Tianhe don't feel congested. The broad streets, landscaping, trees, parks and good transportation system make this newer city feel less congested than the inner cities of New York, Hong Kong, or Shanghai.

  • Area: 3,800 km2 (1,500 sq mi)
  • Population density: 3,000/km2 (1,200 per sq mi)

2. Guangzhou has some of China's tallest buildings.

Canton Tower Canton Tower

The CTF Finance Center is China's 3rd tallest building and the world's 7th tallest building as of 2018. With an observation deck, upscale mall, and fine restaurants, it is a tourist attraction along with the neighboring IFC Tower that is the world's 22nd tallest building.

Across the river, only a kilometer away, is the popular Canton Tower that is one of Guangzhou's top 5 tourist attractions. The bright, colorful tower draws tourists like moths to the Pearl River riverfront. 

3. Guangzhou is great for Cantonese cuisine.

White-cut chicken (baiqie ji), prepared simply by boiling, is an example of a light but delicious Cantonese main course.

You really shouldn't be leaving Guangzhou without trying the popular local Cantonese cuisine dishes. 

Dim sum is popular for midday snacks and meals, while nutritious, light Cantonese dinners are served in upscale Cantonese restaurants. For breakfast, congee, a common breakfast food is recommended if you want to taste what the locals eat for breakfast.

If you want to know more about local food, check out Guangzhou Food.

4. Guangzhou is excellent for bargains on manufactured products.

There is plenty of souvenir shopping to be done in Guangzhou. If you want to shop on bargains on everything from electronics to clothes, you can to to the major markets and search along with the small traders from around the world. For more on wholesale markets, tourist shopping streets, and the popular malls.

5. Guangzhou is a historic provincial capital and foreign trade city.

Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall

The city has been a provincial capital city since the Han Empire era 2,200 years ago.

It was a major trading and export port during several epochs, such as the Han, Tang, and the early Qing Empire from 1700 when the Qing allowed it to be the only port open to foreign traders. From 1861 onwards, the British established Shamian Island as a foreign trade enclave.

  • 206 BC The area became the capital of the Nanyue Kingdom.
  • 111 BC Panyu became a provincial capital of the Han Dynasty.
  • 1700s Under the Qing Dynasty, Canton became the biggest international trading port in the country.
  • 1841 The British Empire captured Canton.
  • 1938 The Empire of Japan conquered the city.
  • 1949 The Communists conquered the city.

6. Guangzhou's theme park resort gets 6 million visitors a year.

Chimelong CircusChimelong Circus

The Chimelong Changlong Holiday Resort is by far the most popular place in Guangzhou for tourists. It has a grand circus, a safari park, an amusement park with popular thrill rides, and a water park, and all these are rated with a Certificate of Excellence on TripAdvisor. There are also hotel/resort, art/theater, gaming, and golfing facilities.

  • Chimelong Circus is the Top Thing to Do in Guangzhou on TripAdvisor. Tourists rate the acrobatic/animal acts among the best in Asia.
  • Safari Park/zoo is the third highest rated Thing to Do on TripAdvisor. There are tens of thousands of animals to look at, pet, and feed. The favorites are the big African animals and the Giant Pandas. There are more Giant Pandas than anywhere else outside of Sichuan.
  • Chimelong Paradise gets about 4 million visitors. The Guinness World Record Book listed it for the world's top 10 loop roller coaster rides. About 4 million people visit each year.
  • Chimelong Water Park draws about 2 million visitors a year.
  • Guangzhou Crocodile Park is where 100,000 crocodiles are housed and on display. It is the biggest crocodile farm in the world.

7. The best time to visit Guangzhou is autumn.

Guangzhou can get hot and rainy in the summer, but it's climate is mild and usually sunny in the fall and early winter, after the rains and monsoon weather of April to early September. 

April/May isn't a high travel/tourism period, which makes spring easier for hosting the Canton Fair, but October/November is high season AND has a Canton Fair. September through December is the best time of the year to go, but avoid national holiday periods as tourist sights are very crowded on these days.

8. Guangzhou's air quality is quite good for such a large Chinese city.

If you've only ever heard about Beijing's pollution on the news, you might be concerned about the air quality in Guangzhou. For a megacity this size, the air quality is good. Guangzhou used to have smokey factories spewing out fumes, but these have either been moved and controlled.

You'll actually probably see blue skies even in the central Tianhe/Zhujiang region. The air is usually fine or tolerable. In 2017, the city ranked at 55 on the list China's most polluted cities. Pollution is much less than in Beijing that ranked 13th. 

9. It is one of China's richest cities.

The Canton FairThe Panyu Convention Center hosts the Canton Fair.

Guangzhou is known as the world's marketplace, where, at any one time, hundreds of thousands of foreign buyers are there from all over the world to source products, such as electronics, clothes, and toys. 

One of the world's biggest trade fairs called the Canton Fair (广交会), in the spring and autumn, each year draws about 200,000 people per session.

Of large mainland cities with an urban population greater than a million, Guangzhou is presently ranked fifth for per capita GDP after Wuxi, Suzhou, Baotou, and Shenzhen. Nearby Hong Kong has about twice that of Guangzhou’s 2017 GDP per capita. However, Guangzhou's per capita GDP is growing about 7% per year, so, at this rate, GDP will double in about 10 years.

  • 2017 GDP: 2.2 trillion yuan (330 billion USD)
  • Per capita per month: 14,600 yuan (2,200 USD)

10. Guangzhou has excellent transportation and visa-free access.

Guangzhou airportGuangzhou Airport

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport is third busiest in China. It als has great city and onward high-speed and overnight rail links. 

  • 8 subway lines cover a total length of 236 km (147 mi)
  • 4 major train stations: Guangzhou, North, East, and South all allow bullet train travel.

Now, the Guangdong 144-hour visa-free travel policy makes it easy for travelers to enjoy the whole big province and shop for 6 days.

Planning Your Guangzhou Tour

Discover the new Guangzhou your way.

See our , or contact us to design your own.

Due to Guangzhou's sheer size, if you've got time constraints, planning your trip well ahead of time is vital. We can tailor your tour to what you wish to see while you're in Guangzhou.

Here are some popular Guangzhou tour ideas for your inspiration: