Guangzhou is the capital city of Guangdong province and the third largest city in China (after Beijing and Shanghai). It is located on the Pearl River, about 120km northwest of Hong Kong, and has a population of around 13 million.
A unique blend of old and new, Guangzhou has some of China’s oldest temples, period landmarks along with modern architecture and advanced metro system and technology. The city serves as a major hub for transportation and and trading.
Guangzhou is well-known for its food and shopping and authentic Cantonese food. There are numerous markets where you can buy all sorts of locally-made products at bargain prices.
Guangzhou has ten districts. Most notable ones are the central districts of Yuexiu, Liwan and Tienhe. Yuexiu is the commercial and cultural district and home to the city’s nightlife and entertainment. Tianhe is the ‘new business center’ with many 5-star hotels, huge shopping malls and skyscrapers.
Whilst the gay scene in Guangzhou cannot be compared with Shanghai or Beijing, there is potential growth for the gay market in a city of this size. In recent years, Guangzhou has seen an increasing number of Gay Bars, Clubs and LGBT-owned establishments. Gay dance parties now attract a larger, more international crowd.
Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN) is a major airport in Southern China, serving numerous flights, both domestic and international.
The easiest way to get to the city from the airport is by the metro (Line 3). Trains leave every seven minutes, from 6am to 11pm. Journey time is about 50 minutes. You can also take a taxi which take about the same time as the metro.
Visitors from Hong Kong can take a train (182 km) departing from Hung Hom railway station in Kowloon and arriving at the East station in Guangzhou.
Guangzhou has a very good public transportation system. The metro covers much of the city centre and offers signs and announcements, both in Chinese and English.
Buses are the cheapest way but certainly not the most efficient. The BRT (Bus Rapid Transit system), which started in 2010, offers a separate bus lane along the Tianhe Road and Zhongshan Avenue – a good alternative during rush hours.
Taxi is most popular with foreigners, and it is cheap. Most taxi drivers speak limited English, so have the name and address of your destination written in Chinese to show the driver. Save your receipt because it contains the taxi’s ID number (in case you forget your valuables).
If you enjoy bicycling, there are over 100 rental outlets along BRT lines and subway stations. One popular bike route is along the Pearl River on the Haizhu District side.
Finally, you can walk. The Liwan and Yuexiu districts is great to explore on foot. Make sure you study your map to get a sense of direction.
Mausoleum of the Nanyue King 西汉南越王博物馆 – discovered 1983, this mausoleum is possibly the most significant historic discovery in South China
Canton Tower 广州塔 – China’s tallest structure; this observation deck features restaurants, a 4-D theater and other entertainment venues.
Temple of the Six Banyan Trees 六榕寺 – an ancient Buddhist temple, originally built in 537 in the Liang Dynasty.
Xiguan Residence 西关大屋 – famous houses once occupied by wealthy businessmen in the old days.
Pearl River Night Cruise 珠江夜游 – a one to two-hour cruise in the evening and a great way to see the Guangzhou skyline along the Pearl River.
Sacred Heart Cathedral (Stone House) 耶穌聖心主教座堂 – a Roman Catholic cathedral located on the north bank of the Pearl River and at the heart of the old town.
Beijing Lu Pedestrian Street 北京路步行街 – the main shopping for pedestrians where most stores are open from 9am – 10pm.
Yuexiu Park 越秀公园 – the largest urban park in China that includes several hills and lakes.
Chime-Long Paradise 长隆欢乐世界 – opened in 2006, this amusement park is largest in China.
Chen Clan Academy 陈家祠 – a symmetric complex of 19 buildings with 9 halls and 6 courtyards; contains a large collection of southern China art pieces.
Taikoo Hui 太古汇 – a modern, luxury shopping mall.
Shamian Island 沙面岛 – beautiful area with buildings of the former British and French concession.
Guangzhou has a humid subtropical climate. Summers are hot and humid, while winters are relatively dry and mild.
The best months to visit are from October through January when the temperature is moderate and cool. There is high percentage of rain during the long monsoon season from April through September.
Guangzhou has a great choice of hotels that are well-located for sightseeing, shoopping and nightlife. For our list of recommended hotels in Guangzhou, visit the Gay Guangzhou Hotels page.