Guangzhou Overview

Known historically to the west as Canton, the city of Guangzhou (Guǎngzhōu, 广州; Gwóngjàu in Cantonese) was long the gateway into China for Western merchants looking to trade in highly sought after goods like silk, tea and porcelain.

At the apex of the prosperous Pearl River Delta, Guangzhou is close to other major Chinese trade cities including Dongguan, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Together, the cities also form one of the largest continuous urban sprawls in the world. Since the opening of China, the region has boomed as the factory floor of the world. The city hosts the annual Canton Fair, a massive trade show comprised of a who's who in global manufacturing and trade.

While the city has suffered pollution, congestion and other growing pains, the city streets are wide and lined with trees. Little escapes from the urban hustle aren't far away, now that the city's massive subway system makes the trek to places like Yuexiu Park and the mountain Baiyun Shan all the more convenient.

The old port city retains its cultural and historic soul as well. The museum built around the ancient Mausoleum of the Nanyue King introduces travelers to the ancient kingdom that held court over Guangzhou 2,000 years ago and is considered the first of Vietnam's imperial dynasties. Fast forward several centuries to the founding of the 5th century Buddhist Temple of the Six Banyan Trees, and one begins to feel the breadth of Guangzhou's history.

The coming of modern China, with the decline and fall of the Qing Dynasty, foreign invasions and the establishment of the Republic of China was a tough one for the whole province of Guangdong, part of the reason why much of the world's Chinatowns are populated by Cantonese speakers who trace their ancestry back to the province. The homes of many of the local merchants who managed to succeed, the Xiguan residences can still be found throughout Guangzhou's Liwan district, while the foreign settlement at nearby Shamian Island is still dotted with the homes, businesses and churches of their foreign counterparts, who hoped to strike it rich in famous Canton.

For those looking for the still living, breathing Cantonese culture of Guangzhou, it's not difficult to find; from bustling dim sum eateries, bustling markets like the Qingping Market and all the things that make up daily life in the city of Guangzhou.

Guangzhou stay

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Guangzhou shop

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