Guangzhou is a city with beautiful parks, gardens, temples, and several great places which you don’t want to miss when you visit China. There are a lot of things to do in Guangzhou with or without kids, which means you’ll for sure have a great time!
Aiden and I recently spent a week in Guangzhou, and although we spent a lot of time sleeping (jet lag), we did get out to see a bit of the city. This is actually our second trip to China. On our first trip to China, we had a long layover in Beijing and got out to see the Great Wall of China which was just amazing.
Aiden is homeschooled, and we travel anytime we want to, however I still like to refer to this as our Spring Break trip.
Things To Know About Guangzhou
- Location: Guangzhou, which was formerly known as Canton or Panyu is located in southern China, in Guangdong province along the Pearl River.
- Language: There are two languages spoken in China; Mandarin and Cantonese. However Cantonese is widely spoken in Guangzhou. Most people also speak Mandarin. Make sure to download Baidu translate, it is the best app I’ve come across so far.
- Currency: The currency in Guangzhou, China is Chinese Yuan, also known as CNY or RMB. 1 US Dollar is equivalent to 6.72 Chinese Yuan as of April 2019.
- VPN: Social media sites such as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook & Google aren’t allowed in China. So make sure you download a VPN prior to your trip so that you can bypass the firewalls. I highly recommend Express VPN. It’s not free, but it’s worth every penny.
- Visa: US Citizens are required to have a visa prior to visiting China. You can read more here.
Check out this list of 16 Best Travel Apps That You Can Use Without The Internet for those times when you don’t have data.
How To Get To Guangzhou
We flew Hainan Airlines from Los Angeles to Xi’an (12.5hrs) and from Xi’an to Guangzhou (2.5hrs). I purchased our tickets on Skyscanner for $320 each which was a super good deal – (LAX – Los Angeles International Airport to CAN – Baiyun International Airport). For on finding travel deals, see below:
- Best Websites To Find Cheap Flights & Error Fares
- Proven Ways To Save Money On Flights
- Tips On How To Make Travel Affordable For Families
Aiden does so well on flights, which makes it super easy for me. Make sure to read my post on How To Keep Your Kids Entertained on Flights for a few tricks on how we handle long flights.
PS: I know you’re wondering why Guangzhou, and are there things to do in Guangzhou. Well I chose Guangzhou because the airfare was cheap. We generally travel wherever is cheap, and when I saw these fares for $320 I just had to take advantage of it. I didn’t have any idea what we would do in China, and I purchased the tickets before I even checked for things to do in Guangzhou. If you know us well, then you know we are always up for an adventure, and “If people live there, then there will be something for us to do there.”
PS: If you’re traveling solo with a kid, like I did with Aiden, make sure you have this form completed, signed and notorized –
This form is needed from the parent not traveling giving you permision to travel alone with your kids. Even if they signed off on the kids passport, it is still necessary to have one. Not every immigration officer will ask, but it is better to be safe than sorry and sent back for not having one. This is done to avoid one parent kidnapping the child without the other parents consent.
How To Get Around Guangzhou
Getting around Guangzhou is pretty easy by bus, metro rail and by taxi as well. Make sure to download the Baidu translate app prior to your trip. This is the best translator app I’ve ever come across. If you get lost, or need help finding directions, you’ll be able to communicate with someone easily. PS: We noticed that most people spoke no English whatsoever, so having a translator app is very important.
Getting Out Of The Airport: When we arrived Guangzhou, I walked right out of the airport and found the taxi line, and we took a taxi from the airport to our hotel. I made sure that I had a screenshot of the hotel on my phone in Chinese with directions in Chinese as well so that the taxi driver would know where to take us. The airport taxis are metered, so you don’t have to worry about them changing the price on you.
Public Transportation: Public transportation in Guangzhou is really easy to take. I was able to navigate the bus and rail system even without a phone. The day before we left Guangzhou, I didn’t have a phone as it was stolen the week prior while we were in Vietnam, however I was able to navigate the metro system with absolutely no issues. I checked my stops and bus lines and wrote them down before I left the hotel. All you need to know is where you are going and what stop you need to get off on. The rail system is color coded and pretty easy to understand making it hard to get lost.
You can use the self service machine to purchase a day pass (it comes in the form of a token), an all day card which allows you to ride the public transportation system all day or a card that you can use for as long as you need to by loading money on it as needed.
Didi: Didi is the Chinese version of Uber or Lyft. Make sure to download the app before you head to China. It’ll make your life so much easier when you need to get around.
Where To Stay In Guangzhou
There are plenty of hotels in Guangzhou, especially in the city center and out. The metro and bus system are easy to navigate, as well taxis are easy to find using Didi (the Uber/Lyft of China).
We stayed at Vienna International Hotel which is a chain hotel in a double room for $29/night including free breakfast for 2. That was a pretty good deal to me. The only thing I didn’t like about this hotel was the amount of smoking in the lobby area. Good thing we didn’t spend much time there.
Other great hotels in Guangzhou are:
- Dongfan Hotel
- Langham Place Guangzhou
- Mandarin Oriental Guangzhou
- Four Points By Sheraton Guangzhou
- Double Tree by Hilton Guangzhou
Best Things to Do in Guangzhou
Chen Clan Academy is one of the most popular tourist attraction in Guangzhou. The decorated compound of this hall contains 6 courtyards, 19 buildings which are connected with each other through corridors, an ancestral shrine, and nine halls. This ancestral shrine was once the school of the Clan students. In 1959 it was converted into an art museum which now has a huge collection of contemporary and historical art from all around China. The amazing display can let your jaws slack with wonder with ease.
Canton Tower is 604 meters tall which is known as one of the highest free-standing towers all around the world, actually the 3rd tallets building in the world. If you want to see an amazing 360-degree view of the Guangzhou then just get a lift and reach the 109th floor of the Canton Tower. If you or your kids want to enjoy a bubble tram ride then make sure to go to the 110th floor of Canton Tower. The bubble ride is fun, plus it has amazing views.
Lychee Bay Park is one of the best things to do in Guangzhou for tourists who want to experience local and authentics customs, and especially Lingnan culture. A notable chancellor named Lu Jiu ordered his people to plant Lychee trees and dig up a lotus pond, hence the name. You can take an amazing stroll anytime in the day and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds Lychee Bay Park.
Yuexiu Park is located in downtown Guanhgzhou and it is the city’s largest park. You can spend a whole day at this park and not get bored. There are seven hills of Yuexiu Mountain and three artifical lakes. The five rams stone sculpture can also be found at Yuexiu Park, as well as the Square Cannon Site and the Ming Dynasty City Wall. The fact that this park is loaded with lots to see is the reason why it is one of the best things to do in Guangzhou.
If you love shopping, then you’ll absolutely love visiting Guangzhou. You can buy anything from electronics, to African fabric prints, to hair extensions, to toys etc; basicall anything you can think of. There are lots of markets and malls, and you’ll be guarantee to find what you’re looking for in Guangzhou. There are also options for purchasing whole sale if that’s what you want to do. Make sure to take note of when the Canton Trade Fair is happening so that you can attend also for insight on products, some of which haven’t even hit the market yet.
If you want to experience one of the best and most entertaining parks of Guangzhou, then you must plan to visit the Chimelong . There are so many things to do there, including a safari park, amusement park, circus, zoo, water park, resort, and crocodile park. The zoo is the most unique zoo in Asia and the most interesting part is that Chimelong circus is ranked among the best circus entertainment around the world.
Most people love to see the entire city on a cruise. If you are one of them then, then you must take a cruise on the Pear River. You can enjoy dinner and sightseeing while cruising. The Pearl River is the third longest river in China and you will be able tee the most scenic spots of the Guangzhou through this journey with ease.
Find A Play Area
If you’re traveling with kids, they’ll absolutely love playing and meeting other friends. We walked to a mall close to our hotel and found this fun play area that Aiden enjoyed playing in. Aiden had a blast here playing with friends. PS: “Play has no language.”
Eating In Guangzhou
Let me start by saying this, Chinese food in the USA is NOT anything remotely close to Chinese food in China. So, make sure to keep that in mind when heading out to eat. If you are looking for Cantonese food and enjoy it, then Guangzhou is the place to go. Aiden and I are foodies and love trying new things so we had no issues eating in Guangzhou. Do keep in mind that Cantonese, and Chinese food in general can be spicy, so keep that in mind when ordering food.
I got Aiden a pair of chopsticks from Amazon last year when we visited Japan, and he absolutely loved using it on this trip. I kept in my bag so that he would be able to use it during meal time.
As you can see we tried a variety of foods in Guangzhou China. If you are a foodie, then eating Cantonese food should be on your list of things to do in Guanzhou.
Guangzhou is a very interesting city with lots of history, and great food and I think you’ll have a great time as there are lots of things to do in Guangzhou. PS. Three to Four days is definitely enough time, five if you need an extra day to sleep in from the jet lag.