I find it very difficult to prepare Guangzhou Itinerary as there are not many of them on the Internet.
In this article, I’m going to share with you everything I know about Guangzhou that can help you better in your preparation. My itinerary is spread across 5-days but please feel free to move it around!
Table of Contents
Before You Fly
Prepare More Cash
China is famous for using cashless payment via Alipay and WeChat Pay even at a streets hawker stall. Unless you hold a China bank account to verify your account, you will not be able to use Alipay or WeChat Pay in China. This is actually very inconvenient for the majority (if not all) of the stores in China accepts cashless payment.
I have the tendency to bring less cash and use credit cards when I’m overseas. Unfortunately, most stores in Guangzhou does not accept Visa or Mastercards. Instead, most of their stores only accept Western Unions. There is very limited number of stores accepting Apple pay but I have not seen any stores accepting other mobile payments.
My advice is to prepare additional cash just in case you don’t have enough to spend when you are in the country.
Purchase a Happy Roam Prepaid Card
Normally I am very neutral when it comes to data SIM card. There are many choices and one should not be limited by the choice.
But in Guangzhou, I will greatly recommend everyone to use Happy Roam Prepaid card. It’s not that you can’t find a data SIM card at the airport but Starhub Happy Roam Prepaid card has already bypassed the Great Firewall of China.
Hence, you will not need to purchase any VPN service to access your Facebook, Instagram or Whatsapp. The signal strength and download speed were all pretty good when I used my card in Guangzhou.
Download VPN App
Let’s say you prefer to use other data SIM card or you prefer to use WIFI when you are in the hotels, you might need to find an alternative way to bypass the firewall.
In these cases, you can download a VPN app.
I’m not too sure about Apple but for Android you can download a free app, Lantern, to use their free VPN service. As a cybersecurity professional, I wouldn’t recommend you to use a free app as all your traffic will be piped to Lantern (privacy eh). If you only need to use it for less intrusive tasks (e.g. check maps, search Google), it should be alright. Otherwise, you might want to consider a paid service.
We have been using VPN.asia even before we travel to China. Apart from bypassing the Great Wall of China, you can also use this VPN to watch US dramas in Netflix (learn how to get free Netflix subscription here). If you are interested, you can get a monthly subscription at a discounted price f you sign up with this link.
Download Their Local Apps
Even if you can bypass the Great Firewall of China, I will highly recommend downloading their localized apps so that it’s easier to use in Guangzhou. Let me share with you the two apps that I used every day in Guangzhou.
高德 (Gao De)
Gao De is a navigation app available for both Apple and Android. Similar to Google Maps, you can use it to navigate and search nearby. Even though you are able to use Google Maps to navigate, but certain features (e.g. subway information) is missing.
Apart from that, you can also use Gao De to estimate the price of a private car across different companies. If you have verified Alipay or WeChat Pay, you can also hire the private car directly in Gao De map.
What’s more intriguing is that you can also find the exact locations of the shared bikes around the proximity. It’s a pity that we can’t use shared bikes in Guangzhou since we are unable to activate Alipay or WeChat Pay.
Didi is a local ride-sharing app just like Grab and Uber. It used to be competing with Uber for a space in the market. Eventually, it won and kind of drive Uber out of China market.
For those who can’t read or understand Chinese, you will be happy to know that Didi offers an English version of the app. It is also the only China app that accepts international card (Visa, Mastercard) as far as I know.
Now, I was kind of scam by a taxi uncle at the airport. I’m pretty sure he charged me at least 1.5x more than the normal price. It is very common for tourists to be scammed by local taxi uncles and this can be entirely avoided by using Didi.
It’s my mistake not to use Didi when I leave the airport. So I’m advising you to download this app, add your credit card and verify your account. When you arrive at the airport, go ahead and use Didi to bring you to the hotel.
There are few types of cars in Didi, ranked from the cheapest to the most expensive:
- Shared Car
- Express Car
- Premium Car
You can opt to take a shared car (carpool) but I suggest to not go for the shared car for safety reasons. Express cars are cheaper but you will be getting very rundown cars.
We went for the Premium cars during our trips. Even though it’s 1.5x more expensive than the Express cars, it gives us higher assurance in safety and comfort level.
Public Transport in Guangzhou
In Guangzhou, most people take the subway to travel from one place to another place. In each station, there will be security station to check all the bags.
Also, it is advisable to keep all the small changes so that you can purchase a one-time ticket to take the train. Unless you have a verified Alipay or WeChat Pay account, all the coins and small notes will come in very handy for public transport.
If you are more keen to take a cab, my suggestion is to download Didi and call a Didi private car to bring you around. We paid around S$ 50 for the taxi at the airport. This could be 0.5x lower if you take Didi private car.
Holiday Inn Guangzhou Shifu
Holiday Inn Guangzhou Shifu is located in the heart of the shopping streets, Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street. It is so convenient that I will recommend this hotel to anyone who’s in Guangzhou for the first time.
We booked a King-bed Business Non-smoking room at the hotel for around S$ 230/night. You can opt for a cheaper room at around S$ 180/night. If you are looking for convenience, this is the hotel we find that it’s really worth its price.
(Review of the hotel is coming up soon!)
If you are staying in this hotel, you can walk to the nearest subway station in 15 minutes. Here’s a map:
If you are looking for a luxury hotel in Guangzhou, I will highly recommend staying a night or two at Conrad Guangzhou. Conrad Guangzhou is located in the Central Business District in the city. Around the hotel, you can also find other chain hotels such as Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons Hotel.
We booked a King Executive Suite River View room for around S$ 480/night. Besides the fact that the bedroom is facing the Canton tower, the room consists of a living room, a kitchen, and a small dining area. I’m really impressed by the service and comfort of the hotel.
We decided to go for Conrad Guangzhou because it’s one of the newest hotels in the proximity. The hotel is also directly connected to a shopping mall and subway station. You can easily find supermarket and convenience store around the hotel.
Pullman Hotel Baiyun Airport Guangzhou
Pullman Hotel Baiyun Airport Guangzhou is located directly opposite of the airport. It’s approximately a 5 minutes walk from the hotel to the departure terminal.
I booked the hotel for a night as our flight was at 1.30 AM. We wanted to have a place to put our luggage and shower before the flight back home in the midnight. I was looking around for an hourly rate hotel near the airport but I wasn’t able to find one that we can actually book online. Not wanting to take the risk, I decided to go for a night with Pullman Hotel.
We booked a King-sized bed deluxe room for approximately S$ 163/night. Besides Pullman Hotel Baiyun Airport Guangzhou, you can also book a budget room (about S$ 40/night) with Guangzhou Airport Voyage Service Apartment Baiyun Airport or Kaiserdom Hotel Guangzhou Airport Branch.
As we really wanted to be more careful in terms of safety, we decided to go to the chain hotel at a much higher price. Fortunately, the stay was pretty pleasant and we had a good time resting in the hotel.
HengBao Plaza > Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street
On Day 1, you can visit the most famous shopping district in Guangzhou. Take the subway and alight at Changshoulu subway station.
Shopping: HengBao Plaza
Hengbao Plaza is located just above the Changshoulu subway station. In the shopping mall, you can find cheap clothes, international chain stores (e.g. Uniqlo), international restaurants (e.g. Saizeriya) and fast food restaurants (e.g. KFC). You can also find stores like Watsons in case you needed to purchase some personal care items.
Eat: 喜茶 Heytea
While you are still in HengBao Plaza, you may want to order a cheesy drink from Heytea. You know those cheesy drinks by Liho? I think Heytea has them better. If you are not interested in the cheesy drinks, you can also purchase the fresh fruits tea that also as good.
The store is located in HengBao Plaza Level 1. No matter which outlet we go to, there is always a very long queue waiting for their drinks. We have to wait for at least 30 minutes for our drinks. If you are not in rush, why not order a drink and chill at their shop?
I have no idea how to translate this store to the English name. It’s an eatery that sells affordable Rice Noodle Roll (Chee Cheong Fun). The portion of the Chee Cheong Fun is pretty large so it’s good for sharing. Their signature Chee Cheong Fun was sold out when we were there but the Char Siew ones are also pretty good for us!
This store is located directly opposite of HengBao plaza. You can easily spot a store with the pink color uniform. The portion is pretty huge so you might want to order with care.
Shopping: Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street
If you exit from HengBao Plaza, you can make your way to the end of Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street as shown in the Google Maps below:
The street is pretty long – it can take about 1 hour to complete the streets if you are shopping and eating at the same time. Don’t expect to spend more than 1 hour if you are only doing windows shopping.
There are many famous restaurants, streets food, eatery and imitation goods along the streets. A word of cautious: always study the logo properly before you get into a look-alike-branded shop. Most of the “sports” goods are imitation goods. They are not exactly cheap but you will be fooled into thinking that they are cheap if you think that they are the real goods. Don’t be blinded by the price.
If you follow the streets, you will hit the head of Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street. Don’t end your shopping spree there as you can continue to find affordable items from the shops along the way.
Eat: 广州酒家 Guangzhou Restaurant
Guangzhou is famous for their dim sum just like Hong Kong. Most people will recommend 陶陶居 (Tao Tao Ju) or 莲香楼 (Lian Xiang Lou). I will also like to recommend Guangzhou Restaurant.
The prices of the dim sum are very reasonable for a restaurant. Not all dim sums are great but all of them are decent for the price.
Once you are in the restaurant, proceed to 2nd floor and request for a queue number. Your number will be called and the waitress will bring you to your table. Just like Hong Kong, there is a high possibility that you will be sharing a table with other patrons. Just be cool and smile at them!
If the queue is very long, you can request for a VIP room. Basically, you will be brought into a “private” room with a couple of tables. In this room, you will not be sharing the table with anyone. The only caveat is that you have to pay the service fee and the price of the tea will be higher.
Eat: 南信牛奶甜品专家 Nanxin Milk Desserts Expert
When they call themselves expert publicly, you better believe that they are experts. This milk desserts store is almost always fullhouse. If you stay in a hotel nearby, you can choose to take-away instead of waiting for a table.
Eat: Streets Food
If you still have some rooms for your stomach, you can also buy some streets food to munch along the way. When we were there, it seems very popular among the locals to purchase cut fruits from the store. Do choose the right stores (e.g. hygiene) to ensure that you are not munching more than what you supposed to!
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall > Beijing Lu Pedestrian Street > Sacred Heart Cathedral > Yide Road
On Day 2, we suggest visiting a few places in between of all the shopping sprees. You can start by taking the subway to Memorial Hall Station.
Attraction: Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall
I can’t quite remember the cost of an adult ticket but is generally cheap as an attraction. In the memorial hall, you will see the history of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen as well as the history of the memorial hall. The place is not really huge so you can possibly complete within 2 hours.
There are some photo spots outside of the memorial hall that you can take and post on your Instagram.
Do have a heavy breakfast as there is no eatery or restaurant in the proximity.
Beijing Lu Pedestrian Street
Once you are done with the memorial hall, you can head back to the subway and proceed to Gongyuanqian Station.
Beijing Lu Pedestrian Street feels like a copy of Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street. Almost all the things that you can find in Shangxiajiu can also be found here. Apart from those stores, you can also find more international brands in this area.
If you didn’t manage to shop finish at Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street, this is the best time for you to recover what you miss. From our observation, it seems like the items here are slightly more expensive than the shops in Shangxiajiu. Shop at your own risk!
Eat: 海底捞 Haidilao
If your tummy is ready for a steamboat session, I would recommend visiting Haidilao at Beijing Lu Pedestrian Street.
Just like Singapore, the service is top-notch. The price is about 20-30% cheaper than Singapore. You can order more expensive ingredients that you will never order in Singapore. What’s interesting is that if you are a VIP member, the staff will give you special attention.
Attraction: Sacred Heart Cathedral
Now, if you are interested in architecture or Christianity, you will be thrilled to visit the Sacred Heart Cathedral. When you are done with Beijing Lu, you should find yourself near Beijing Lu station. Don’t u-turn and you will reach the Sacred Heart Cathedral if you continue walking towards the Haizhu Square direction.
The area was very crowded when we visited in the weekend afternoon. Bear in mind to keep your valuable items close to you!
Shopping: Yide Road
You must be wondering what could be good along Yide Road. Actually, there are not many people talking about Yide Road if you google about it.
For e-commerce wannabe like me, Yide Road is a real gem. You can find many stores selling items like dry seafood, packaging items, toys and decorations in bulk.
Eat: Orient Express (火车头法国西餐厅)
If you follow the trail along Yide Road, you will reach Culture Park station in about 20 minutes. Instead of continuing your shopping, you can choose to take a dinner break here at Orient Express.
You can go for their ala carte but we recommend to go for their set menu so you won’t burn too much money. Their cheapest set menu is RMB 98 (~ S$ 20) for a starter, main course, and dessert. You can opt for the more expensive set menu to get more expensive food.
Baiyun Mountain > Yuntai Garden > IGC Shopping Mall
On Day 3, you can take a break from the shopping and visit the scenic areas.
Attraction: Baiyun Mountain
There is no metra near the foot of Baiyun Mountain. Hence, it is recommended to take Didi to the destination. We took from Conrad Guangzhou to the foot of Baiyun Mountain for RM 35 (~ S$ 7).
You can opt to walk to the top of the mountain but I would not recommend doing so. If you are lazy as me, you can take a cable car instead.
The cable car ride is about 10 minutes. Once you reached the destination, you will be asked if you want to take a photo with the cable car. The small photo card is free. If you want a bigger photo or additional set, you will need to pay for it. I remember it’s not that expensive so it’s up to you whether you want to keep it as a memory.
One thing to note is that there are very little food stalls on the mountain. You can find McDonalds and Kungfu (their local fast food) if you are really hungry. I would suggest to eat a heavy breakfast and eat your lunch after you are done with the place.
Attraction: Yuntai Garden
The entrance to Yuntai Garden is direct beside the cable car exit gate. Once you exit from Baiyun cable car, you can go to the next door to look at some decoratives. The entry is free, hence, there’s no harm to take a quick walk.
Eat: Tsui Wah 翠華餐廳 at IGC Shopping Mall
Since there is no metro nearby, you will need to take a car to your next destination. Instead of loitering around again, we decided to head back to IGC shopping mall (near our hotel) to have lunch.
If you never hear of Tsui Wah before, it is a famous chain restaurant in Hong Kong. We really love the food so we decided to visit the restaurant when we realized there’s one in IGC Shopping Mall.
The taste is nowhere near the one we had in Hong Kong. However, it’s still a very good place to chill and eat Hong Kong noodles.
Shopping: IGC Shopping Mall
If you are looking for a shopping mall to shop, I suggest staying at IGC shopping mall. Here, you can find Watsons, supermarket, and Minisou to satisfy your shopping craving.
You can also find Heytea in this shopping mall if you missed out the one at HengBao Plaza.
Guangzhou Zoo > Anywhere you like
On Day 4, you can visit Guangzhou Zoo for 2-3 hours before heading over to the places that you want to spend the rest of your money.
Attraction: Guangzhou Zoo
You can reach Guangzhou Zoo by taking subway line to Zoo station. The zoo is opened from 8.00 AM to 4.30 PM in 1st April – 15 Oct. It will close at 4.00 PM on 16 Oct to April. The Ocean World in the zoo will close 30 minutes earlier than the Zoo’s closing hour.
Guangzhou Zoo is really cheap. It only cost 20 RMB for an adult. Well, at least you don’t have to pay an additional ticket in order to see Panda. Compare to Singapore Zoo, it is significantly smaller. You should be able to complete the visit in 2-3 hours.
If you can complete the zoo visit by the late afternoon, you may want to cater sometimes to go back to the hotel to rest fo ra while before you have your dinner somewhere nearby.
On Day 5, you might want to visit the clothing wholesales center. If you are looking for business opportunities, you can go Baima Clothing Marketing (白马服饰批发市场) and Hongmian Bubugao (红棉服装批发市场). Even if you are not selling clothes, you can go hunt for some cheap clothes for yourself.
These shops in the wholesales center are not your typical shops in any shopping mall. You will need to find clothes from several bags of clothes. But you can indeed find very cheap clothes in these two wholesales center.
I’m not too sure if they require a minimum purchase. Based on the price tag, it seems like you can purchase just one piece from the store.
I must say not everyone will like Guangzhou. In a way, it really feels like Bangkok. The food and items are generally a bit cheaper (but not super cheap) just like Bangkok. You can find clothes and wholesales items if you know where to find them.
If you are looking for a place for honeymoon, this is definitely not a place to go! On the other hand, if you are bored of Bangkok, you can attempt to go Guangzhou instead.
Hope this helps!