The city of Guangzhou is famous for foreign trade and business, and holds China's largest trade fair, the Canton Fair. Yet in between the seemingly endless skyscrapers, shopping malls and building sites there is a lot of culture and history. Guangzhou’s relatively isolated geography and comparatively early exposure to the outside world have created a unique culture, lifestyle, and cuisine that makes it a fascinating destination to visit.
The old foreign concession area of Shamian Island offers a glimpse into Guangzhou’s colonial past and is a tranquil oasis in the heart of the city. Once a major trading port, the island is now one of the best-preserved examples of European architecture anywhere in China.
Guangzhou also played a key role in China’s early 20th century history. Born in Guangdong Province, Sun Yat-sen is one of the most well known Chinese historical figures in the world. His ideological principles shaped the politics of both mainland China and Taiwan. Guangzhou has a memorial hall in his honor. A memorial hall has been on the site since 1931. The octagonal building houses many original photographs and letters that belonged to the man himself.
By far one of the biggest attractions of Guangzhou is the cuisine. Well-cooked Cantonese food should emphasize the freshness and flavor of the ingredients, avoiding the strong seasoning and saucing of northern Chinese cuisines. Roasted meats such as goose, duck and pork are a regional specialty, and are often served sliced on the bone with a plate of dipping sauce. However, if you only have time for one meal while in Guangzhou, make it dim sum. Served primarily at breakfast and lunch, a dim sum meals consists of dozens of small plates of buns, steamed dumplings, and noodle dishes, accompanied by copious amounts of tea.
Guangzhou’s Baiyun Airport has connections to most major cities in China as well as international flights to many destinations in Southeast Asia, Europe and North America. A high speed rail line connects Beijing and Guangzhou with a journey time of 8-10 hours, or there are slower overnight trains available for the budget traveler.