Guangzhou is a massive city with so much to explore! It not only has traditional Chinese culture and local Cantonese flavor, but also has a huge international community and many Western influences. Whether you’re just passing through on a layover or wanting to explore one of China’s biggest cities, there’s a lot to check out.

I lived in Guangzhou for a year and made a list of the best things to do if you visit! With plenty of shopping, eating, historical sites, and night-life to experience, you won’t be bored.

1. CANTON TOWER

The second tallest tower in the world, the Canton Tower is probably the #1 attraction in Guangzhou! It’s unique shape has given it the nickname “小蛮腰” in Chinese, which means “slim waist.” You can see the tower from Zhujiang New Town or the Canton Tower metro stop.

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2. BUBBLE TRAM

If you have time, you should go to the top of the Canton Tower and check out the view from the  Bubble Tram!

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3. SHANGXIAJIU PEDESTRIAN STREET

The best place to shop and get street food in Guangzhou.

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4. BAIYUN MOUNTAIN

You can hike or take the cable car up to the top of Guangzhou’s famous mountain (called Baiyun because it means “white clouds” in Chinese). You’ll get a nice view of the Guangzhou skyline and get to experience Guangzhou outside of the big city. If you’re feeling really adventurous you can also go bungee jumping here!

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5. BIKE AROUND THE CITY

Hop on a Mobike or an Oppo and bike around! The Pearl River is a popular place to bike nearby, but there are many great parks to bike around, too.

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6. PEARL RIVER CRUISE

This is one of the most popular things for visitors to do in Guangzhou, especially at night! The Pearl River runs straight through the heart of Guangzhou and you’ll get great views on both sides of the boat, not to mention the many colorfully lit bridges you’ll pass!

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7. CANTONESE FOOD

There is a well known saying in China:  “You live in Hangzhou because of its beautiful lakes, you wear clothes from Suzhou because it produces the finest silk, and you eat in Guangzhou because it has the best food.

My Cantonese friends introduced me to lots of great dimsum, as well as other great foods in Guangzhou!

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8. LOTUS HILL

A beautiful quarry and park that is a bit of a trek outside the city center of Guangzhou, but well worth a visit. See more photos here.

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9. CHINESE TEMPLES

Guangzhou has so many temples! The Dafo Temple near Beijing Road is especially popular, but there are many other temples to choose from. Check out some of my favorites here: 5 Awesome Temples To Visit in Guangzhou

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10. MORE THAN MEOW CAT CAFE

This cat cafe has almost 30 cats along with a few dogs hanging out inside! It’s fun place to relax for an afternoon and get some pet therapy.

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11. SACRED HEART CATHEDRAL

Located near Haizhu Square, this is a famous old Cathedral in Guangzhou that draws lots of local people and foreigners alike because of the European-style architecture.

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12. CHIMELONG PARADISE

The popular Chimelong brand has an amusement park, circus, and water park in Guangzhou that are fun to visit!

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13. LYCHEE BAY PARK IN LIWAN

If you want to stroll around a lake and see some Chinese architecture, this is the perfect place. See more about it: A Saturday at Guangzhou Lychee Bay

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14. SHAMIAN ISLAND

Shamian Island was originally a small island in Guangzhou where many foreigners lived in the 1900s. The buildings all reflect old European-styles and there’s a really fancy Starbucks here that is a popular destination to visit!

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15. HANG AT CENTRAL PERK FRIENDS THEMED CAFE

Guangzhou is no NYC, but there is a Central Perk here! It’s a cute cafe in Zhujiang New Town where you can order different Friend’s themed drinks and food.

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16. CLIMB A ROOFTOP

There’s no better way to see a city’s skyline than from up on a rooftop! It’s really cool to watch the sun go down in Guangzhou and see the Canton Tower light up.

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17. FEEL FANCY AT THE FOUR SEASONS

Insider Tip! You don’t have to be a guest to go to the 70th floor lounge of the Four Seasons Hotel in Guangzhou! Anyone can go in, order some coffee or food, and enjoy the view of the Canton Tower and feel super classy.

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18. PARTY AT PARTY PIER

Aptly named, Party Pier is the place to go if you want to check out some of Guangzhou’s best bars and clubs! If you want Mexican food and a live band check out Zapata’s, or if you want more club music and dancing go to Revolucion and Suns. I went out with friends here many times for holiday parties!

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19. DANCING AT W HOTEL

If you’re looking for other night life in Guangzhou, check out Zhujiang New Town and Liede, where many other bars are! The 2nd floor W hotel Fei Bar is especially cool and a great place for dancing.

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20. SHOPPING AT GONGYUANQIAN OR TIYU XILU

Guangzhou has hundreds of malls and places to shop. Two popular areas to go are Gongyuanqian and Tiyu Xilu.

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OTHER THINGS TO DO IN GUANGZHOU

Have you visited Guangzhou? What was your favorite thing you did there?

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