Guangzhou is the third largest city in China after Beijing and Shanghai. It's historic name is Canton, recognizable for it's world-famous food, one of the eight culinary traditions of Chinese cuisine. It's also a busy important transportation hub and commercial center hosting the biannual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.
For many, like myself, it is a major transit stop for traveling to and from Asia. I have traveled through Guangzhou before, never stopping for more than a couple of hours.
On my latest trip through the massive city my itinerary included a 20 hour layover. In my mind not quite enough to get a really meaningful experience but also way too much time to linger around an airport hotel and terminal. Also for many passport holders an opportunity to be a guest for 24 hours in a country that normally requires a visa in advance of arrival.
So I decided to put the effort in and check out a couple of things in the city so I would at least have some memories and things to talk about other than a great hotel restaurant and Chinese television.
The effort was really in the getting back and forth from the hotel I was staying at that was an approximate 15 minute drive from the airport to the city. Almost an hour long MRT(subway) ride after a 15 cab ride from the hotel to the closet MRT stop.
Figuring out what to do with only a few hours combined over one evening and a portion of the early morning was another challenge. Not really enough time to devote to a significant museum or historic neighborhood tour I finally deciding on walks in a couple of spots.
Since I arrived in the late afternoon I would go to busy Beijing Road where there's shopping, restaurants a couple of sites I could take a peak at and lots of people watching opportunity. The next morning I would get up early, around 6:30, grab some breakfast and head back down to the city in the crush of rush hour and walk along the Pearl River, China's third largest river.
With traveling time back and forth into the heart of Guangzhou roughly between 4.5-5 hours over my layover this was a tiring schedule. A hotel closer in the heart of the city might have saved me another hour or two in transit time with a little more pressure to get back to the airport before my departure flight.
Regardless I have to say I'm glad I spent some time in Gaungzhou even with the lengthy train rides. I've got some wonderful little memories now of this megacity and inspiration/motivation to visit again.
Join me now for a quick peak of Guanghzhou, China on Far East Adventure Travel.