Must sees in Guangzhou in 72 hours
The provincial capital of Guangdong, Guangzhou, formerly known as Canton, is the largest city in southern China. Baiyun airport is a major hub for international travel and home of China Southern airline, who are well prepared for visitors and their 72 hour visa-free trip.
So what should you see?
Pearl River Cruise – 2 hours
The Pearl River is the third largest river in China and a great place to view Guangzhou from. During the day, the historical architecture is visible, whereas at night, you get the stunning reflections of the lights sparkling in the river. I believe taking a river cruise is a great way of taking in the sights of a large city like Guangzhou.
Shamian Island – 3 hours
Shamian Island is a small island on the outskirts of Guangzhou, separated from the mainland by the Pearl River on one side and a canal on the other. It is a former colonial area, which used to be separated into French and English areas in the 19th century and was protected during the Opium wars. There is a lot of colonial influence in the architecture because of this occupation, including churches and statues, which are popular backdrops for young Chinese couples and their wedding photos.
Another interesting piece of history is the fact that many American couples wanting to adopt Chinese children used to stay at the White Swan hotel on Shamian, because it was close to the former location of the United States Consulate. The Consulate has moved but the hotel remains.
Baiyunshan – White Cloud Mountain – half a day
Named after the white clouds that hide the peak when the sky clears after rain, Baiyun Mountain is 15km away from downtown Guangzhou and easily accessible by public transport. It’s a nice retreat into a lush, green area, with good views over to the bustle of a busy modern city. As is the norm with many of the mountains in China, there is a cable car to take you closer to the peak or you can walk up, depending on how fit you are feeling that day! It can get very busy, as climbing mountains are one of the favourite pastimes of the Chinese. You will also see many lovers locks on the mountain itself, reminiscent of many sights all over the world.
Temple of the Six Banyan Trees – 2 hours
With a stunning pagoda which has been rebuilt several times due to fire and many halls full of Buddhist statues and carvings, the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees is a fine specimen of temples presented in China. The pagoda is called the “Flower Pagoda” because many people see that the current design looks like many red petals with a central stamen. What do you think?
It is popular to burn incense sticks at temples in China, and it’s no different in the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees, however, during Chinese New Year it gets very busy as people want to burn their first incense sticks of the year for good luck in the temple.
Canton Tower – 1 hour
Built in time for the opening of the 2010 Asian Games, the Canton Tower is one of the tallest TV towers in the world. Its design is a very unusual ‘twist’ shape, which makes it very distinctive compared to many TV towers around the world. There is a fantastic 360 degree view from the 450m high indoor observation deck and the highest and largest outdoor observation deck in the world at 488m, where you can also ride ‘Ferris wheel gondolas’ around the edge of the tower.
Who fancies a 72 hour visa-free trip to Guangzhou now?
China, notoriously difficult in its visa processes, has recently made itself more accessible to foreign tourists for 45 countries by offering 72 hour visa-free access to several cities throughout China when arriving by air.
Having started with Shanghai, this policy is now in place in 4 other major cities, Beijing, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing; Dalian and Shenyang are 2 more cities who will soon be granted the policy early in 2014.
This series will give you ideas about what you can do in your 72 hours in each city and introduce China as a new stopover destination for anyone wishing to break up their long haul journey, as the flights are, for example, around 12 hours to London and 12 hours to New Zealand.
Are you interested in going to China? Plan your trip now with the China specialists.
The visa itself is still a transit visa, so those wishing to use it must have an onward ticket to a third country, declare their intentions to their airline and must not leave the particular city itself. For more information on the visa-free rules, check this page out.
Bennett from The Further Adventures of Bennett planned to spend 6 months teaching English in China and left 2 years later. She can currently be found residing in New Zealand, having swapped teaching children English for babysitting dogs and cats and you can follow her on Twitter.
To read more about Bennett’s Chinese experience, head over to Amazon “Add Your Brick to the Great Wall” which is a collection of experience and advice for anyone wanting to live, work or travel throughout China.