The 33 best sights of Guangzhou – description and photos

Guangzhou Attractions

Pearl River Guangzhou Zhujiang TV Tower Guangzhou Baiyun Airport Guangzhou Lotus Mountains Huaisheng Mosque Sun Yatsen University Six Banyan Tree Temple

This site contains Guangzhou attractions – photos, descriptions and travel tips. The list is based on popular guidebooks and is presented by type, name and rating. Here you’ll find answers to what to see in Guangzhou, where to go and where the popular and interesting places in Guangzhou are located.

Pearl River

Pearl River (photo)

The Pearl River is also known as the Zhujiang River. It is the third longest and second fullest river in China.

The river’s name is often attributed to the rock that stands in the center of the river near Guangzhou. Over the centuries, it has been rolled by the waves until it shines like a pearl. According to another version, the river was given its name by pearl shells found in it in the Guangzhou area. There is another legend about the origin of the name. It is about the Persian merchants who lost here the treasure of the nation – a precious pearl, which became a huge stone.

The Pearl River plays an enormous role in the life of China. Running through Guangzhou, it is one of the city’s picturesque sites. Its banks are adorned by tall hotel and office buildings, reflected in the evenings by lights in its rushing waters. Boat trips on the river are popular.

Coordinates: 22.99126700,113.53523300

Guangzhou TV Tower

Guangzhou TV Tower (photo)

Guangzhou TV Tower is the second tallest TV tower in the world. It was built in 2010 by ARUP for the Asian Games. The tower is 610 meters high and in addition to the TV and radio broadcasting studio, there is an observation deck at its top, which is visited by more than ten thousand tourists every month. The architecture of the TV Tower differs from all modern skyscrapers in Guangzhou.

Architect Mark Hamel won an international competition with his unusual project. He proposed not the standard layout of a rectangular skyscraper, but a graceful structure of steel pipes that resembles a graceful female silhouette. The lower 450 meters of the tower is a hyperboloid mesh shell around a central core-base, and the remaining height is made up by a graceful spire.

Coordinates : 23.10895000,113.31921000

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Zhujiang (photo)

The Zhujiang, or Pearl River, is the third longest river in China after the Yangtze and the Huang He, and is about 2,200 kilometers long. It is second only to the Yangtze in terms of water content. At its confluence with the South China Sea it forms a wide estuary south of Guangzhou, which turns into an estuary on the banks of which Macau and Hong Kong are located. At the entrance to the estuary is the mountainous Wanshan Archipelago.

Guangdong province has a 3,618-meter suspension bridge spanning the river. One of China’s largest cities, Guangzhou, stands on the Zhujiang River, partly on islands in its delta. Other major cities on the islands in the Zhujiang delta are Foshan and Zhongshan. Major cities on the river estuary, except for Macao and Hong Kong, are Shenzhen and Zhuhai.

Villa Farnesina, a Raphael-era palace

The Zhujiang River has a strong pearl industry, which gave the river its name – originally it referred only to the navigable arm of the Xijiang River Delta, on which Guangzhou is located, but then the name “Pearl River” was used for the entire Xijiang River basin.

The Zhujiang is formed at the confluence of the Xijiang “western river,” the Dongjiang “eastern river,” and the Beijiang “northern river. The Pearl River is one of the most polluted waterways in the world.

Coordinates : 22.08945700,113.77029400

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Guangzhou Baiyun Airport

Guangzhou Baiyun Airport (photo)

Guangzhou Baiyun Airport is one of the largest international airports in the People’s Republic of China, serving more than thirty million passengers annually. The airport is located 28 kilometers from Guangzhou city.

“Baiyun” means “white clouds” in Russian. So poetic name the airport got from the mountain of the same name, which is located nearby. It is also popularly called the “New Baiyun”. Despite its international status, Guangzhou Baiyun airport mainly specializes in domestic flights and cargo transportation within China.

Today Guangzhou Baiyun is one of the most congested airports in China. It was built in 2004 to replace the old airport, which had the same name. However, despite the huge terminal and two runways, Guangzhou Baiyun almost immediately faced a huge influx of passengers. Further expansion of the airport and construction of an additional runway is envisaged.

Coordinates : 23.39250000,113.29888800

Guangzhou Lotus Mountains

Guangzhou Lotus Mountains (photo)

The Guangzhou Lotus Mountains are one of the most picturesque places often visited by tourists who come to Guangzhou. They are located 20 kilometers from the city center.

A few centuries ago, the mountains had the name “Stone Lion’s Head”. Walking in the mountains you can see the symbol of the province, the lotus pagoda built by Emperor Wanli in 1612, and the ruins of an entire lotus city built by order of Emperor Kangxi in 1664.

There is also the world’s tallest statue of the Guanyin Buddha, built in 1994. Made of bronze and lined with 180 lan of gold, the statue reaches more than 40 meters in height and weighs as much as 120 tons.

Coordinates: 22.96784700,113.50678200

Huaisheng Mosque

Huaisheng Mosque (photo)

Huaisheng Mosque is one of the few mosques in Guangzhou and throughout southern China that many people know by its appearance. This mosque is also known as the Lighthouse Tower. It is one of the oldest mosques in the world, built about 1,300 years ago according to the most approximate dates. The mosque has a main minaret that is 36 meters high. It is called “Guanta,” which can literally be translated as “tower of light.” The name has two symbolic meanings.

Firstly, it means that the minaret was a beacon for orienting ships heading for the city on the Pearl River. The second meaning has a deeper meaning. According to ancient manuscripts, the mosque was built by Saad ibn Abu Waqqas, the uncle of the Prophet Muhammad, during his first Muslim mission to China in 630. Therefore, the Tower of Light may allegorically mean “light of Islamic religion”.

Coordinates: 23.12283000,113.25900600

Sun Yat-sen University

Sun Yat-sen University (photo)

Sun Yat-sen University was founded in 1924. It is named in honor of its founder and first director, Sun Yat-sen, who was a famous scientist and politician and one of the founders of the People’s Republic of China. Today, Sun Yat-sen University is a multidisciplinary institution of higher education, comprising twenty-three schools and colleges. In addition, the university includes a highly specialized School of Medicine, a School of Law, and a Business School. In all, the university has about twenty educational programs, 40 undergraduate programs, 37 graduate programs, and 27 doctoral programs.

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The university is divided into four campuses: South Campus, North Campus, East Campus and Zhuhai Campus. The first three are located in Guangzhou and the Zhuhai Campus is in Zhuhai City. Together they cover an area of about six square kilometers. The University has operated a special School for Overseas Educational Exchange program since 2004 to provide instruction in the Chinese language for international exchange students.

Coordinates : 23.09404300,113.29121800

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Six Banyan Tree Temple

The Six Banyan Trees Temple (photo)

One of Guangzhou’s most famous landmarks is the ancient Six Banyan Tree Buddhist temple complex. It was built in 537 during the reign of Emperor Datong of the Liang dynasty. The original name of the temple was different – it was called Baozhuangyan, or “Temple of the Precious Sanctuary.” The name was changed after the temple was rebuilt in 989, when it suffered a major fire.

In 1100, during a visit to Guangzhou, a poet named Su Shi, aka Su Dongpo, visited the temple and later dedicated a short poem titled “Six Banyan Trees. The banyan trees really grew on the temple grounds, and the local scenery made a great impression on the poet. Since then, the poet’s winged phrase was firmly attached to the name of the temple, and it began to be called the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees.

The major reconstruction of the temple was carried out in 1875, and in 1931 most of the wooden buildings were replaced with stone ones. On the territory of the temple complex you can see the pavilions with gilded statues of Buddha, gazebo and grotto. Grow here and a few banyan trees. However, these are not the same trees that remember the founding of the temple, but also very old.

The main attraction of the temple complex is one of the highest pagodas in China – 57 meters high Flower Pagoda, which has 17 floors.

Coordinates : 23.12826400,113.26051600

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The TV Tower is the tallest landmark in Guangzhou.

The city of Guangzhou is well known to tourists around the world, primarily for its airport, which is an intermediate stop for international flights. Sometimes travelers have to wait six to thirty-six hours for a connection. And of course, few tourists can afford to sit through all this time at the airport, when there is an opportunity to get to know another city. In search of information about what you can see in Guangzhou in one day, you read different opinions. Up to the fact that there is not much to see. This point of view looks strange at least, because Guangzhou is China and China without sights is as possible as soccer without ball.

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Baiyun International Airport

Guangzhou Airport.

The airport was opened in 2004 because the old Guangzhou airport could not cope with the increasing passenger traffic. Since the possibilities of expanding the airport located in the city center were exhausted, the authorities decided to build a new air hub 28 km away from the city. Therefore, when calculating your travel itinerary around Guangzhou, be sure to take into account the travel time from the airport and back.

Monuments of history and architecture

Shawan City, an ancient landmark of Guangzhou.

Shawan Ancient Town of Panyu. This ancient town attracts not only history buffs. Everyone, who in the late 80’s – early 90’s was fond of movies about kung fu and Shaolin monks, will be pleased to plunge into the atmosphere of ancient China. The city itself was built 800 years ago, but many of the buildings date back to the 18th century. In particular the school, where there are pictures, which can be used to understand how the educational process was organized in those times. Tourists look with interest and take pictures of frescoes and carvings, which the inhabitants of the city decorated their houses and sculptures, which in Shawan is also in abundance. And if you are lucky enough to get to one of the festivals, which are periodically held in the ancient city, the Chinese traditional culture will appear before you in all its variety. However, it is necessary to say at once that if you are thinking what to see in Guangzhou, for example, in 5 hours, and you have made your choice in Shawan, then from the airport and back you will have to take a cab. It will take you about two and a half hours to get there, while the subway and bus will take you only one way.

Important! Most Chinese cab drivers don’t speak English. Therefore to easily explain your route to the driver you’d better have some cards with Chinese names of places of interest or show the destination on the electronic map on your smartphone.

For history and architecture lovers who have a short layover in Guangzhou, there is still much to see:

  • Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Memorial Hall. A memorial temple to Sun Yat-sen, called “the father of the nation” by the Chinese. Nearby is the picturesque Yuexiu Park (50 minutes by subway);
  • Liu Rong Temple. Buddhist Temple of six banyan trees. A scenic Buddhist temple (40 minutes by subway);
  • Guangzhou Opera House. A beautiful and modern piece of architecture which is especially beautiful in the evening when the lights are turned on. Nearby park and promenade (1 hour 15 minutes by subway).

Landscape parks.

The Lotus Park in Guangzhou has a lot to see.

The South Chinese canton of Guangzhou has a lot of natural attractions. The city has many parks with an abundance of flowers and tropical greenery. Lotus Mountain . About 20 kilometers from Guangzhou there is a beautiful Lotus Park, which gets its name from the resemblance of one of the mountains to this flower. Although there are a lot of lotuses themselves, as well as other flowers, which are at every step here. Walking around the park, you begin to understand the true meaning of the word “harmony”: the Chinese have turned the former quarry into a paradise, so you will not regret the 50 yuan you pay for the entrance. To appreciate all the beauty of the park, climb up to Swallow Rock, where the observation deck is located. But an even more breathtaking view of the park and the Pearl River can be seen from the top, where the world’s tallest 80-meter statue of the Guanyin Buddha stands. It was erected relatively recently – in 1994, and the statue was lined with 9 kg of gold! And be sure to visit one of the most beautiful Buddhist temples in China to take a panoramic photo of the park. If after thinking about what to see in Guangzhou from the sights in 6 hours, you choose the Lotus Mountains, it is better to take a cab from the airport. Because it takes 3 hours to get there by subway only one way, while a cab will take you there in an hour. If you have more time, and you appreciate the level of Chinese park art, we recommend you to visit such parks:

  • Zhujiang park . A quiet and comfortable park in the center of the megapolis with a lake, bridges, jogging paths and restaurants (half an hour by cab or 1 hour and 20 minutes by subway);
  • Southern China Botanical Garden . Beautiful park with lots of flowers and secluded corners for quiet rest and meditation (1 hour 15 minutes by subway);
  • Shamian Island . A beautiful park with lots of tropical greenery, sculptures, and architecture. You can sit in cozy cafes in the shade of sprawling trees (1 hour by subway and half an hour by cab from the airport).
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Amusement parks

Chimelong International Circus, this is what you can see in Guangzhou during a long layover of 5-8 hours.

If you are visiting with the whole family and are wondering where to go in Guangzhou with children, be sure to visit Chimelong Paradise. This is a huge amusement park where everyone can find something to do, from schoolchildren to the elderly. There is a section where you go through the water, and it looks like you’ll come out of the ride wet from head to toe. But this is not the case, and you can get wet voluntarily – on one of the water rides (if, of course, you visit the park in the warm season). In the same park is Chimelong International Circus – the famous Chinese circus, which completely revolutionizes the idea of circus art. It is impossible to express in words all the excitement of these bright and spectacular performances, so go for sure. From the amusement park bus leaves every 10 minutes to Chimelong Safari Park, where children will especially enjoy. You can go around the park on the train, to feed the giraffes, ponies and other animals, and of course look at the pandas. If the adult bears are usually asleep or lazily go around their possessions, the young pandas will cause children to indescribably delighted with their funny games. In short, if you have made a plan beforehand what to see in Guangzhou in one day, then most likely you will spend all your time in this park complex. So you are unlikely to have time to go to the Guangzhou Zoo, a visit to which you should definitely allocate a day during your next visit to Guangzhou. The huge territory of the park allows you to show wild animals in conditions as close to their natural habitat as possible. You can be sure that your children will not see miserable caged animals and dirty shagged birds. The animals are well-groomed and very friendly (especially the giraffes).

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From the airport to the zoo can be reached by bus in 1 hour and 20 minutes, by subway in about an hour, or by cab in 20 minutes.

Where to experience Guangzhou and what to see in 8 hours To feel the spirit of this modern metropolis, you need to walk around it after sunset, when the illumination is on. Guangzhou is one of those cities where the main attractions are concentrated in the city center, and their location is quite compact. For example, near the already mentioned Guangzhou Opera House there is Guangzhou Canton Tower, where every tourist should go. There are three viewing platforms in this building. The first one is located at an altitude of 428 meters, but few people dare to climb it, because the walls and the floor are glass. But the view is stunning. On the second level (433 meters) the observation deck is open, but the main thing is that you can take a ride in the external glass funicular booth, literally feel the whole city under your feet. And on the third observation deck (488 meters) you can climb to the spire in a special chair. But this is for extreme people, because you completely lose sight of the tower itself – there is only Guangzhou underfoot from a height of 600 meters! Then you can walk around Hua Cheng Square and look at the modern architecture of the city in the night illumination. You will take pictures that your friends will watch with genuine interest. And nightlife lovers in Guangzhou gather at Zhujiang Party Pier . This is an entertainment street with galleries of modern and traditional art, lots of nightclubs, bars and restaurants with mesmerizing views of the river and the night city. Nighttime Guangzhou is a stunning attraction in itself, so if you want colorful photos of the metropolis at night, go for an evening stroll along the Pearl River.

Video overview of Guangzhou’s main sights

We have prepared a short video for you to show you the spectacular views of Guangzhou.

Guangzhou, the pearl of China, is a stunning city where traditional culture and modernity merged into a harmonious whole. Therefore, you will always have something to see during a long layover in Guangzhou. And every time you will regret having to leave the city and fly on. Until you dedicate your vacation to a visit to Guangzhou.

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