The most populous and prosperous province in all of China (2007 GDP 3.06 trillion Yuan - US$422 billion), Guangdong has long been a bastion of trade with the outside world, remaining so even as the rest of China was closed to foreign nations. Now, it is one of China's main economic engines, and one of the main corporate gateways into China.
Bisected by the tropic of cancer and endowed with thousands of kilometers of shoreline on the South China Sea, Guangdong stays hot almost all year long, but its dearth of beaches or tourist attractions make it an unlikely destination for travelers, except, of course, Hong Kong shoppers looking for big discounts in Shenzhen ’smalls and markets.
Guangdong is distinct from the rest of China because of its predominant language of Cantonese, and was long considered one of the empire's backwaters. Mostly seeing Guangdong as a repository for disgraced officials, the majority Han Chinese long viewed their "Cantonese" brethren with suspicion for their longstanding habit of trading with "foreign barbarians."
Indeed, the Cantonese spearheaded Chinese emigration to the USA, Canada, South Africa and Australia in the mid-19th century, lured by the promise of the then occurring gold-rushes in those countries. Thus it is that most "Chinatowns" worldwide represent Cantonese culture, rather than Han Chinese culture. Today, those 20 million foreign Chinese target their former home province for investment.
Today, a large proportion of Guangdong's population is made up from migrant workers. With the main focus being business and little to bind people together culturally, it's often the case that visitors feel that major cities like Shenzhen and Guangzhou are devoid of spirit. Nonetheless, there are still a few points of interest worth visiting if you find yourself traveling in the area.
Those looking to take in some of Guangdong's history will definitely want to check out the Opium War Museum as well as the Humen Naval Battle Museum both of which are located in or around the city of Dongguan. Also of historical interest is the Dr Sun Yatsen Residence Memorial Museum in Cuiheng. The Shenzhen Museum combines history with art and features over 20,000 jade, bronze and porcelain artifacts. The Guangdong Museum of Art is housed in a strikingly modern building and puts on special exhibitions periodically.
If you're into nature, you won't want to miss Liang's Garden, one of the most beautiful in Guangdong. The city of Zhaoqing has Seven Star Crags Park, an island bounded by lakes where you can explore grottoes and caves. Dinghu Shan provides excellent walks which will take you by a butterfly reserve, waterfalls and the enormous Qingyun Temple.
Splendid China (Jǐnxiù Zhōnghuá, 锦绣中华) is part of the theme park complex outside Shenzhen that includes the China Folk Culture Villages. All of China's natural and..
The Fairy Lake Botanical Gardens (Xianhú Zhíwùyuán, 仙湖植物园) are located at the base of Mt. Wutong (Wútóng Shān, 梧桐山), the highest point..
Window of the World (Shìjiè Zhī Chuāng, 世界之窗) is a theme park directed at Chinese tourists new to world travel. In fact, rather than encourage the inquisitive..
Guangzhou's largest public park, Yuexiu Park (Yuèxiù Gōngyuán, 越秀公园), features the usual green space but also houses a small city museum, remnants of the..