23 Jun 2019
The historic port city of Guangzhou sits amidst the dramatic delta of China’s beautiful Pearl River. One main channel flows elegantly down the city’s western section, before splitting into two smaller streams surrounding the serene district of Haizhu. The river, languorously meandering between the city’s busy streets, provides an idyllic view of Guangzhou’s charming cultural sites, and a river cruise, with its cooling breeze and unobstructed panoramas, might just be the best way to explore the city. Here we present to you our guide to the Guangzhou’s riverfront sights:
For those of you who want the feel of the river while staying on land, “Scenery Corridor” is Guangzhou’s equivalent of London’s Thames Embankment or Manhattan’s Riverside Park—but with much more pizazz. A dike, specifically built for appreciating the riverscape, the Corridor waltzes alongside the Pearl for 14 miles, offering shade from vine-laden trees during the day. But it really comes alive at night. At the atmospheric setting of the sun, the waning sunlight is suddenly replaced by huge, multi-storey displays of bright neon from bankside high-rises that are reflected in the dappled ripples of the Pearl river below.
Pride of place in the neon display is Guangzhou’s most stiking landmark: Canton Tower. At almost 2,000 feet tall, the Tower was once the world’s tallest. Its iconic shape can be seen from practically the entire city, while its observation deck (the world’s fourth tallest) provides what might be the best view of the Pearl river throughout its entire course. The Tower’s most iconic feature is its luminescent exterior, masterminded by the award-winning architect Rogier van der Heide. Shades of deep purple, fiery red, indigo, and even green, course up and down its huge structure, dazzling spectators for miles around. Right on the riverfront, its dazzling light shows are best viewed from the river, where it resembles a mythical new-age lighthouse.
Huangpu Military Academy
The Huangpu military academy is an integral piece of modern Chinese history. Located to the east of the Haizhu on Changzhou island, it was first built in 1924 by Sun Yat-Sen, the Republic of China’s founding father. Many of modern China’s biggest names were trained here, and although the site was rebuilt after being destroyed in the War of Resistance against Japan, it retains its immense cultural impact.
Xinghai Concert Hall
The stunning Xinghai concert hall is a cross between the Sydney Opera House and Bilbao’s Guggenheim museum—and yes, it too glows neon in the nighttime. First opened in 1998, the hall is named after the renowned local composer Xing Xinghai, and features what might just be the best architectural acoustics in the whole of China. Xinghai hall has hosted elite orchestras from across the globe, including the Munich Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra.
Shamian Historic District
Perhaps Guangzhou’s most beautiful district is Shamian island. The home of Guangzhou’s 19th and early 20th century colonial class, the island is a blend of European-style architecture and oriental influences. Walking down its broad-laned boulevards is not that dissimilar from a stroll down the Champs-Élysées—but it is equally as beautiful from the river, where the neat cornicing and columns of palatial European townhouses are framed by Guangzhou’s verdant Banyan trees.
Jumeirah Living Guangzhou is a ten-minute walk from the Pearl river, and a ten-minute drive from Canton Tower.