5 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Guangzhou

Jul 22, 2021

First time in China? Here's your handy guide to help you plan your trip. While your first impression may be that Guangzhou is nothing more than a dusty and busy border town with little to offer the tourist, the city and its surrounding region are a feast for the senses. From the raucous nightlife, charming boutique shopping, fantastic cuisine, and bustling cultural sights and attractions to the quiet natural beauty of the nearby Yuexiandian Nature Reserve, it's easy to see why Guangzhou is one of China's most exciting destinations.

From lively alleys and historic architecture, to beautiful parks and a reputation for extravagant shopping, you'll find plenty to discover here, from the bars and cafes of the Lha Xang and Lychee Garden neighborhoods to the capital of Cantonese culture, Guangzhou.

In Guangzhou you can visit the impressive sultan's Mausoleum, wander along the remarkable Pearl River, or visit the city's century-old landmark Opera House. You can also go mountain climbing, watch classic Shaolin boxing in the Maoming Martial Arts Stadium, or shop for iconic souvenirs in Guangzhou's Sun Yat-sen Pagoda.

With this guide, you'll discover a side of the city that's more fun and exciting than you might have expected, and find out what makes Guangzhou so worth exploring.

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport

Photo of 1990 Guangzhou Baiyun airport collisions
1990 Guangzhou Baiyun airport collisions: en.wikipedia.org

Located in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China's third-largest city and major seaport, this airport handles international flights and domestic flights to nearly half of China's major cities. Guangzhou Airport has two international terminals - the Jingxi Terminal for business and the Baiyun Terminal for domestic flights. As it is a medium-size airport, however, the airport may take a little time to get used to. To get to any part of Guangzhou, most travellers will need to use a taxi. The taxi in Guangzhou is reasonably priced, but don't expect things to go as smoothly as you would at home. You will need to keep an eye on your luggage as there are thieves who sneak into the car park. The taxi trip from the airport to the Guangzhou city center should take approximately 30 minutes.

Guangzhou Railway Museum

Photo of Guangzhou
Guangzhou: en.wikipedia.org

Guangzhou Railway Museum has been one of the highlights of my trips to Guangzhou and Zhuhai for its fabulous collection of historical Chinese rolling stock. This fantastic museum, situated inside an old train depot in the center of the historic city of Guangzhou, was built in 1972. On display are some 30,000 artifacts, including a Guojiahaotou (French coach), Jungguzhou express, Guangzhou Diesel Locomotive, Wuzhuang narrow gauge bogie, a Daguanshen electric locomotive, and a General Motors Class C01 diesel locomotive. It is a must-see for train buffs as well as for tourists interested in the long history of the railroads.

Guangdong Museum of Art

Photo of Guangdong Museum
Guangdong Museum: en.wikipedia.org

One of the largest art museums in southern China, Guangdong Museum of Art was designed by renowned Chinese architect Ma Yansong and opened in 2013. Designed to host 40,000 pieces of art, and roughly the same number that would fit in a modern art museum, the gallery occupies a full city block and has a double-height entry. The museum has both permanent and temporary exhibitions and is on the same block as the Artemiss Building, Guangzhou's cultural center. Exhibits include items dating back to the 15th century but the real highlight is the collection of Mongolian treasure, housed in the top floor of the museum. Guangdong Museum of Art also hosts regular evening performances of traditional dances and musical shows.

Shaolin Temple

Photo of Shaolin Monastery
Shaolin Monastery: en.wikipedia.org

Shaolin Temple, popularly known as the Shaolin Temple, located in Guangzhou, is the largest Buddhist temple in southern China. It is also considered to be one of the four "great" Chinese Buddhist monasteries. Established in AD 573 during the Tang Dynasty, the temple is today dedicated to the Shaolin monk Bodhidharma. Built over a period of 400 years, it is one of the greatest living examples of medieval Chinese architecture. It contains some 1000 halls, temples, and museums. Shaolin Monastery is within the Guangdong Museum of Chinese Crafts, and visitors are free to view the exhibits, which include a number of carpentry, ceramics, and sculpture workshops, as well as a display of rare Buddhist artifacts.

Guangzhou Opera House

Photo of Guangzhou Opera House
Guangzhou Opera House: en.wikipedia.org

Located along the Pearl River, Guangzhou's Opera House is a glittering Chinese showpiece that dwarfs anything in Beijing. With its soaring interior, the Guangzhou opera house is both spectacular and magical at night, especially from the center of the audience area, the longest cantilever in the world, from where the acts are most impressive. Guangzhou's Opera House was completed in 2011 at a cost of about $257 million, one of the most expensive opera houses in the world.