“WE’RE IN GUANGZHOU THE CITY OF DREAMS!!”

It’s my catchphrase for Guangzhou and it’s a tad dramatic, but I love this city.

I first visited Guangzhou last year when I went to see my friend Sharon, a Chinese student who studied at Harding in the US at the same time as me. Guangzhou is the third biggest city in China – it’s a beautiful mixture of modern style and local Cantonese flavor.

For just a two hour ride on the high speed train from Hengyang, you can be transported to a place with Mexican food, Old Navy, and English book stores. For a foreigner living in a smaller city in China, Guangzhou is a dazzling city full of Western comforts and conveniences.

This year for our National Holiday break I traveled with the other Nan Hua American teachers to visit Sharon and explore Guangzhou. During our 5 day stay, we tried various Cantonese dishes, shopped at 3 different malls, went to a Chinese amusement park and visited the iconic Canton tower.

If you’re thinking about visiting Guangzhou, I’ll give you several reasons to convince you to say yes. Here are some of my favorite things to do:

1. Eat Cantonese Food

If you visit the Guangdong Province, you absolutely have to try the food. Every province in China has a different flavor, and while Hunan is know for it’s spicy food, the Guangdong Province is famous for its Cantonese food.

Cantonese food comes in many shapes and sizes, but a common denominator is the sweetness of the food. Morning tea (also called dim sum in English) is a common food eaten there. This includes many steamed dishes full of small bite-sized food like shrimp dumplings, rice noodle rolls, egg tarts, and sticky rice.

Our first night in Guangzhou we met with many other Chinese students who went to Harding University and they introduced many kinds of Cantonese foods to us.

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Another night we went to dinner with Sharon’s family and they brought out a giant platter of the most delicious seafood!

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2. Chimelong Paradise Amusement Park

I had never been to a Chinese amusement park before, and Sharon recommended we go here because it is famous in China and not too far outside the city of Guangzhou. We had a 25 minute taxi ride to the park (you can also take the metro and a shuttle bus here) and I was amazed at how big and exciting the park was!

The tickets were 250 RMB for a one day pass, and we decided to pay an extra 150 RMB for the express pass. It was a bit pricey, and I’ve never bought an express park at an amusement park before, but it was totally worth it. The express pass lets you jump to the front of the line for 10 of the park’s biggest attractions, so we were able to do all the rides we wanted to do without waiting forever in the long lines.

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Some of the best rides included a coaster with a 90 degree drop, another coaster with 10 inversions and a motorcycle type ride.

3. More than Meow

“There’s a restaurant here with cats and dogs that you can pet and play with. Do you want to go here?” Sharon asked us one night.

Is Guangzhou the city of dreams or what?

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This restaurant is called More than Meow, and once we walked inside we were greeted loudly with lots of barking and meowing. As we ventured further in and upstairs, we found big fluffy dogs, dogs with little bows and hair ties, fat cats, grumpy cats, talkative cats. We ordered coffee drinks and played with the roaming animals – you can even take the dogs and cats to your table and let them hang out with you while you eat and drink

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Look at that FACE!

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10/10 would recommend to any animal lovers who aren’t allowed to keep pets in their apartments in China (any animal lovers in general).

4. Tianhe Shopping District

There are so many shopping areas in Guangzhou to check out, and unfortunately we didn’t have time to see everything. We were able to see the Tianhe Shopping District, an area filled with shopping malls. Everything you could ever want is here – movie theaters, arcades, H&Ms, GAP, Old Navy, Apple, book stores, nail salons, restaurants, and Starbucks. (CITY OF DREAMS.) I spent way too much money here and have zero regrets.

5. Canton Tower

No trip to Guangzhou is complete without visiting (or just seeing) the Canton Tower.

Maybe it’s a little touristy,  but I love the Canton Tower. I think it’s gorgeous and an incredible addition to the Guangzhou skyline. You can see it’s bright colors illuminating the sky from all around the city. Seriously, well done, China, on an architectural masterpiece (like I’m a professional architecture evaluator or something.)

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We didn’t go to the top of the tower like last time, but it was still great to hangout near the tower. (Sorry the pics aren’t the highest quality)

If you’re still looking for things to do, you can always:

Check out Zapata’s for good Mexican food

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Sing at KTV (classic Chinese karaoke entertainment)

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Guangzhou remains one of my favorite cities in China, and I wouldn’t be opposed to living there one day.

Until next time, Guangzhou.