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Things to Do in Guangzhou

As China’s third-largest city, Guangzhou is not for the faint-hearted. A sprawling metropolis framed by stainless steel skyscrapers and split by the Pearl River, Guangzhou offers history and modernity in equal measure. The city’s size means a sightseeing tour is the best way to travel between landmarks quickly and easily. Full-day tours typically cover Chen Clan Academy, the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees (Liurong Temple), and the Museum of the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King, and include a traditional Cantonese lunch. Yuexiu Park—home to the emblematic Five Ram Statue and Ming-era Zhenhai Tower—offers plenty to explore, as does Shamian Island, with its the colonial mansions and neo-Gothic churches. Embrace Guangzhou’s evening energy on a Pearl River night cruise or by pre-booking a ticket to the Chimelong International Circus—and don't forget to eat your fill of Cantonese cuisine, such as dim sum and roast duck, on a food tour. Day trips to Hong Kong by super-speed bullet train are a popular choice with travelers short on time, while traveling to Chengdu by air makes the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding doable in a day. Plus, don’t miss Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, a rainbow of imperial architecture; Chimelong Paradise, China’s largest amusement park; and Canton Tower, the country’s tallest structure.
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Canton Tower
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Guangzhou’s loftiest and most impressive skyscraper, the vertiginous Canton Tower is one of the tallest buildings on Earth and Guangzhou’s most notable structure. Unveiled in time for the 2010 Asian Games, the freestanding structure is known for its slim shape, its outdoor observation decks, and the rainbow lights it sports after dark.

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Pearl River (Zhujiang)
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The Pearl River (Zhujiang) stretches for 1,376 miles (2,214 kilometers) from Xi Jiang to the Pearl River Delta where it pours into the South China Sea. It’s the third longest river in China and the second largest by volume. According to local legend, the river got its name from a huge boulder in the middle of the river, smoothed by water erosion to resemble a round pearl in the middle of the river.

The most famous portion of the Pearl River flows through the heart of Guangzhou, and the waterfront is home to many of the city’s top attractions, White Goose Pool and the behemoth Canton Tower among them.

One of the most popular ways to enjoy the Pearl River in Guangzhou is by cruise. While boats ply the waters throughout the day, the best time to experience the sights of the river are at night, when the Guangzhou skyline is colorfully lit up. No matter when you cruise, you’ll likely pass beneath the 10 bridges that span the river within the city.

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Chen Clan Academy (Chen Jia Ci)
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One of Guangzhou’s most significant historical attractions, the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall (also known as the Chen Clan Academy) dates to the late 19th century. The large campus comprises 19 buildings, and was initially built as an academic temple complex. Today, the striking landmark is home to the Guangdong Folk Art Museum.

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Shamian Island
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Beyond Guangzhou’s soaring skyscrapers, discover another, older side of the city when you visit Shamian Island. A sandbank island in the heart of the city that once served as a busy port, Shamian Island was divided between British and French concessions in the 19th century. Today, it’s known for its heritage architecture and ample charm.

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Chimelong International Circus
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Opened in 2000, the Chimelong International Circus has become the largest professional circus venue in the world, where guests are taken on a multimedia journey of special effects, laser lights, acrobatics, horsemanship, clown antics, magic, dancing and a thrilling motorcycle Ball of Death, where nine riders perform at high speeds inside a suspended metal globe.

Before and after the 80-minute show, guests can shop for circus-themed souvenirs at the Circusky or Day & Night shops or grab something to eat at the Circustar Restaurant.

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Temple of the Six Banyan Trees (Liurong Si)
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Among Guangzhou’s most significant religious landmarks, the Buddhist Temple of the Six Banyan Trees dates back to AD 537 and is still active today, with a community of monks. Visitors marvel at the vibrantly painted exterior of the temple’s Flower Pagoda, which soars some 187 feet (57 meters) high.

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Chimelong Water Park
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Guangzhou is home to one of the world’s most popular water parks, welcoming more than 2 million visitors annually. Chimelong Water Park has more play structures than nearly any other park in the world; thrill-seekers can zip down the Master Blaster, swirl around the Tornado or race each other down high-speed slides.

Besides a huge range of water slides, the park also features a spa pool, massage pools, lazy river, aqua plaza play zone, splash fountains and an infinity pool. The world’s largest wave pool creates nine different types of waves, while the Rain Fortress holds the record of the world’s largest single themed water attraction.

Live performances are staged throughout the day, and guests have five dining options to choose from, ranging from fast casual to sit-down.

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Guangzhou Museum
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Learn about more than 5,000 years of local history and culture at the Guangzhou Museum, located inside Zhenhai Tower in Yuexiu Park. Built in 1380, the 5-story Zhenhai Tower is a historic landmark of old Guangzhou. Today, it houses nearly 1,000 exhibits illustrating the city’s development and offers spectacular views over the city.

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Museum of the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King
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The Museum of the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King houses the contents of the royal tombs of the Nanyue ruler Zhao Mo. The skeletons of Zhao Mo, along with 15 of his courtiers, who were buried alive to serve him in death, and several thousand objects from the empire are on display.

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Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall (Sun Zhongshan Ji Nian Tang)
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Perched on the southern slope of Guangzhou’s Yuexiu Hill, Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall (Sun Zhongshan Ji Nian Tang) is a monument built in 1931 in honor of the Chinese revolutionary. A bronze statue of Sun Yat-sen was erected in front of the hall in 1956, and the octagonal structure houses a collection of photos and letters from his life.

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More Things to Do in Guangzhou

White Cloud Mountain (Baiyun Shan)

White Cloud Mountain (Baiyun Shan)

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White Cloud Mountain (Baiyun Shan, Baiyun Mountain, or Mt. Baiyun), located just north of Guangzhou City, gets its name from the wreath of wispy clouds that circle the mountaintop after a heavy rain. A visit to the mountain and the surrounding 17-square-mile (44-square-kilometer) park area is a popular way to stretch your legs, take in some fresh air, and escape the busy city.

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Chimelong Safari Park

Chimelong Safari Park

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China's Chimelong Safari Park is the largest wild animal theme park in the world. Located in the biggest city in south China, Guangzhou, the park is home to some 20,000 animals and is presently the only zoo in the country to be awarded the 5A class tourist attraction level, the highest level obtainable.

Of its 20,000 animals, Chimelong features more than 500 species, including the giant panda, pygmy hippopotamus, black rhinoceros and white tiger. Visitors can self­-drive through nine themed safari zones housing animals from every corner of the world, from native Australian kangaroos and koalas to cheetahs and lions from South Africa.

A huge attraction at the park is the set of panda triplets born here in 2014. Panda triplets are incredibly rare, and in fact, these are the only live set in the world today. In addition to safari tours, there are a whole host of other attractions and shows within the park, as well as plenty of shopping and dining opportunities.

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Huaisheng Mosque

Huaisheng Mosque

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Originally built during the Tang Dynasty, Huaisheng Mosque is believed to be the oldest surviving mosque in China. According to an ancient manuscript, it was built by a Muslim missionary, Abu Wangus, who was thought to be an uncle of the prophet Mohammed. The structure's 108-foot (32.9-meter) freestanding minaret is a local landmark.

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Bright Filial Piety Temple (Guangxiao Si)

Bright Filial Piety Temple (Guangxiao Si)

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The Bright Filial Piety Temple (Guangxiao Si), the city’s oldest Buddhist temple, was originally constructed in the fourth century and rebuilt numerous times due to fire damage.The main hall of the temple features a 33-foot (10-meter) statue of the Buddha and another large statue of Guanyin, the goddess of compassion.

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Chimelong Paradise

Chimelong Paradise

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Boasting an impressive 70 rides and attractions, Chimelong Paradise is China’s largest amusement park and holds numerous world records for its attractions, many of which are imported from abroad and made with the latest amusement park technologies.

The park is divided into seven themed zones, each with its own set of attractions. Circus-like Magic Town is home to a drop tower, ice rink, fun house and twisty car ride, while guests get dizzy on Whirlwind Island’s half pipe, spinning tea cups, chair swing and bumper cars. The aptly named Screaming Zone is home to the world record-holding Ten Inversion Roller Coaster, and Happy Kingdom delivers pint-sized fun for little ones.

Park guests can cool off at Water World on bumper boats, a flume or a family raft ride, or watch a 4D or 360-degree film inside the Phantom Zone. Rainbow Bay has a bit of everything, including a pair of roller coasters, a giant frisbee and a vintage car ride. Live stunt shows round out the entertainment offerings.

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Guangdong Museum of Art (GDMoA)

Guangdong Museum of Art (GDMoA)

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Located on Ersha Island in Guangzhou, the Guangdong Museum of Art (GDMoA) is a major cultural institution. In addition to a permanent collection that showcases modern and contemporary fine art, primarily in the form of paintings, sculptures, and ceramics, the museum also hosts over 60 special exhibitions and shows a year.

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Temple of the Five Immortals (Wuxian Guan)

Temple of the Five Immortals (Wuxian Guan)

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Located in the Yuexiu District of Guangzhou, the Temple of the Five Immortals (Wuxian Guan) is a historically important Taoist temple. It was built in the Ming dynasty to commemorate the five immortals of legend who prevented famine by bringing rice cultivation to the people. Today it offers a peaceful escape from the bustle of Guangzhou.

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Yuexiu Park (Yuexiu Gongyuan)

Yuexiu Park (Yuexiu Gongyuan)

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Walking paths wind past lakes, playgrounds, landscaped gardens, and recreational areas within 247-acre (100-hectare) Yuexiu Park (Yuexiu Gongyuan) at the heart of Guangzhou. The park’s most recognizable landmark, the Five Ram Statue, depicts the five immortals who legend says came on the back of rams to deliver grain and prosperity to the starving people.

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