China’s fifth largest metropolis has as much to offer as its larger siblings Shanghai and Beijing. Not only is it bristling with contemporary architecture, historical sights and world-class retail emporiums, Guangzhou, formerly Canton, is the unofficial capital of China’s iconic Cantonese cuisine. Allow our 24-hour tour of Guangzhou to introduce the city’s most arresting sights and flavours.
The 427m-peak of Baiyun Mountain (aka White Cloud Mountain) in the north of the city is a scenic start to your 24 hours in Guangzhou. Request an early wake-up call to catch the sunrise, the dawn chorus a pleasant accompaniment—or return later for sunset. Lauded by many as the most beautiful mountain in China, there are plenty of scenic strolls on offer here, including, notably, the multitudinous blooms of Yuntai Garden.
Head back down into the leafy boulevards of Shamian Island on the Pearl River for lunch. A distinctly continental feel defines the architecture and ambiance of this affluent enclave—unsurprisingly considering the island’s history as a settlement for the French and British in the 19th century. There are plenty of charming cafés offering light lunches alongside the ubiquitous Starbucks, and a scattering of boutiques for some gentle retail therapy. For more heavy-duty shopping, the Tianhe District gleams with Guangzhou’s blockbuster malls and international big-name brands.
It would be remiss not to include a sample of the city’s rich culture in a 24-hour tour of Guangzhou. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall is a grand monument constructed in the 1920s to honour the Republic of China’s founding father. Its architecture is typical of post-revolution China. While the exhibits inside are modest, its imposing exterior crowned with a regal blue-tiled roof makes this a photo-worthy visit.
Only two trees survive of the six that gave their name to the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees, but otherwise this beautiful Buddhist temple is still very much intact. Founded in 537, its 57m-high Flower Pagoda is the star attraction, but don’t leave without paying a visit to the huge, beneficent Buddha statues.
Guangzhou’s skyline is impressively studded with contemporary architecture and iconic skyscrapers, but its signature piece is the 604m-tall Canton Tower. Admire the neon-lit spire from the serene tree-lined environs of Zhujiang Park in the evening, or cross the river to see it in detail or spiral up it in an elevator. Breath-taking views of Guangzhou’s glittering cityscapes aside, there are some giddy rides at the top: the Bubble Tram is a scenic jaunt around the tower’s exterior.
Above its diverse architecture, prime shopping and cultural treasures, it’s really Guangzhou’s sumptuous cuisine that makes it a must-visit. Sample authentic Cantonese fine dining in a seriously luxurious, traditionally Chinese setting at Lobby Lounge. On the seventh floor of the Jumeirah Living Guangzhou, it offers spectacular views over the city, to be enjoyed alongside immaculately presented local delicacies.
The city bursts with life as much after dark as it does during the day, with plenty of bars and nightclubs pumping out a variety of hedonistic beats into the early hours. No need to head far from the hotel: there is a dazzling portfolio of exclusive enclaves in the surrounding Zhujiang New Town. For a sophisticated digestif, Revolucion Cocktail is a good place to start. Continue on to the affectionately named Party Pier, which pulses with electronic beats into the early hours.
Jumeirah Living Guangzhou is centrally located in the Zhujian New Town, the ideal base for an action-packed 24 hours in Guangzhou.