Expat & Travel Blog

Expat & Travel Blog

China, Chapter 2: When I lived in Guangzhou.

China, Chapter 2: When I lived in Guangzhou.

Happy Monday friends!

I think the last time I wrote about my Chinese adventure and all the memories I have from this stay abroad was back in November. Then I wrote I would write about China about once a month. Obviously, that did not work out, but today I am back to tell you all about China, Chapter 2!

As I mentioned in Chapter 1, I lived for 6 months in Guangzhou, Guangdong, which is located in Southern China. This is clearly not the biggest or touristic city in China, but I think it is still worth a visit. Today I want to walk you through some of my favourite areas and things to do there.

Guangzhou is a city of about 15 millions inhabitants, and you may also know it as Canton. It was one of the first entry door for the first Europeans, coming for trades in Asia, and many places in the city have a strong colonial heritage. Now, going back to my former blog, reading my articles and going through all the pictures, clearly, I was lucky to live there.

Why Guangzhou? Why China?

My background

The reasons why I decided to live there might be completely different from the ones you’ll have, but I guess there will be some common points on the overall pictures. This experience happened as my home university offered exchange semesters, which I applied to. So, why China you’ll ask?! Well, I wanted to go far away, in a country where everything is different from what I knew. I wanted to go to a place where I did not speak the language and where I’d have to deal with things on my own.

Overall, I needed a challenge and I needed to prove myself a bunch of things. I got the opportunity to go to China, and it could not be more perfect. Guangzhou is not the biggest nor most famous city in China. But it was the only one offered by my university. I am not including Hong Kong here due to the different status and regulations between these areas. So, this is basically why I went to Guangzhou and studied in Sun Yat-Sen University for 6 months! If you’re interested in knowing how it is like to study in a Chinese university, let me know and I’ll write a future article.

Why you should go

If I would have to sell this idea to you, here is what I would say: Guangdong Province has the best food in China (that’s what the Chinese say and I can only agree with them). If you love food as much as I do, you should not need more to go! Otherwise, the strong colonial heritage is really interesting and so there is an incredible history in Guangzhou. My final thoughts are, I think, towards the mix of extreme modernity and traditions. Partly due to the history of the city but also because it is not a place packed with tourist or expats.

Guangzhou, has a great connectivity. You can literally go anywhere from there! The airport is quite big, with a large selection of both national and international flights, but you can also take the train, to Hong Kong and Macau which are just 2 small hours away. As you need a visa to go to Guangzhou, as anywhere else in China, you should definitely stop by this city while travelling in China.

Things to see & do

There are actually so many things I want to tell you about in this article that it might be taking forever, so here below are my favourite or most incredible experiences.

Shamian Island

This little island close by the city centre and easily accessible with public transport is the area in Guangzhou which has the most colonial heritage. Another thing that I enjoyed while walking around the island, it that it is rather small and you can walk everywhere. In addition, it is not just a “museum-island” but a place where people live, kids go to school etc..

I believe the pictures will speak for themselves!

How to get to Shamian Island: 广东省广州市荔湾区 邮政编码: 510000, metro Huangcha.

The Tea Market

Next on the list, and probably one of my favourite thing in Guangzhou, is the tea market! I love tea, and I literally drink it all day long and year around. This place is just heaven!

Though not easy to find with public transport, mainly locals go there. The place looks like a big market hall but with hundreds of alleys, and little shops everywhere. You can find tea (obviously) but also all accessories around it and all you’ll need to serve the tea properly.

The tea market was I think from far my favourite experience, but don’t expect anyone to speak English there. I’d recommend a few things before you go there. First, learn a few words around what you would like to get, then, have a good translator and always negotiate prices!

How to get to the tea market: 广东省广州市荔湾区芳村芳村大道中508号, metro FangCun.

The Pet Market

Though I am not really a pet-friendly person, I heard about the pet market and thought it would be interesting to go and see what it looks like. Clearly, I was not looking into getting a pet, but this is an experience like no other. Also something that you will never really find in Europe, and so I wanted to see it from my own eyes. I believe it is super important to experience things before making any judgement on them. So use these chances! And as you can see, this was the perfect example. This is not something I am used to, nor a place I would go back to. But now, when people talk about a Chinese pet market, I know what it means.

So, if you want to, or have the time for it, I think you should go. This place is one of these unique and genuine experience you’ll have when in China, and overall, you’ll keep only good memories of it (especially if you like animals!).

How to get to the pet market: 广州市荔湾区芳村, metro HuaDiWan.

Baiyun Shan

This is the best place to visit if you need some green and fresh air. You will clearly not be alone, but it is a great place to get out of the skyscrapers. As you can guess, Guangzhou is a massive modern city, and after a while, you will need some green areas, and just get out of the city.

The Baiyun Mountain overlook the city, and is a very popular spot during the weekend. But if you are lucky, and you can go there when not packed yet, and hopefully on a not too foggy day. The fog happens either due to the weather as we know it in Europe, or due to the pollution. In both way you won’t have the best overview of the city.

How to get to Baiyun Shan: 广东省广州市白云区, metro Baiyun Park.

Zhujian New Town & Pearl River

As stated in the name, this area is one of the newest place in the city. It is full of skyscrapers and other massive buildings, great architecture, but also it is the heart of the business centre. However, there is not just a business centre there, you’ll find, museums, the opera house, a park and a massive square. This is also the area where all the luxury hotels are located, as well as many Western restaurants and so on.

If you go in the evening, you’ll find a light show on the buildings and many other attractions. I doubt this place is every empty, but I liked it, just by the river, you can easily have a peaceful walk by the water.

The Pearl Rive crosses the city and split it into two. Many buses and the metro allow you to cross as much as you want. However, one of my favourite things to do, is walking along the river! There are always many locals there, dancing training or just walking.

How to get to Zhujiang New Town: 广州市天河区 邮政编码: 510620, metro Zhujiang New Town/HuaCheng Avenue.


Of course there are a lot more things to do, as well as more touristic places. I’ll probably write more about these in the future and provide you with a city guide. Let me know if you’d be interested!

⇒ So here we are, some of my favourite memories from Guangzhou, China. I really enjoyed my stay there and I hope you’ll have the chance to go there too. So let me know, have you ever been to China? What did you think?

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