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Guangzhou (廣州) is a large industrial city on the banks of the Pearl river with a population of between 8 to 13 million depending on what areas you include. Many overseas Chinese trace their heritage to this city. The city was traditionally known to westerners as Canton during the period of foreign occupation and still has a strong expat community today. Originally settled in the 3rd century BC the city grew in importance over the millenniums. The city is the centre of southern Chinese culture and a major export centre. Even during the height of oppression during communist area this city still had trade shows and export fairs.
Now Guangzhou has grown to be the third largest city in China (behind Beijing and Shanghai) and is a modern city. It is also close to Hong Kong and Macau making it very convenient to or from travel there.
Every year from the second half of April to the first week of May and from the second half of October to the first week of November, the China Import and Export Fair is held in Guangzhou. Travel should be avoided at these periods as hotel rooms become scarce and more expensive. Transport prices also rise.
There is a free monthly english magazine called that's PRD covering the pearl river delta region. It writes about the latest events and things to do. The magazine can be picked up free from many expat locations including Starbucks. It is a valuable resource to get to know the city and places to go for visitors.
Although Guangzhou is 6,000 square miles, the metro system does a good job connecting the city and its districts.
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Parks in China are often a hive of activity. There are many opportunities in Guangzhou to go strolling through the parks and witness old people dancing or exercising. Though strangely (to western standards anyway) parks require a small entrance fee, usually RMB1-4.
Shopping is plentiful in Guangzhou. Ranging from modern malls selling designer brands to local markets selling export goods to markets selling animals. Haggling is expected in smaller shops and markets while the prices posted in department stores are final.
Guangzhou celebrates the same festivals that are common throughout the rest of China, including:
The China Import and Export Fair or Canton Fair occurs twice a year (April-May and October-November). Travel should be avoided at these periods as hotel rooms become scarce and more expensive.
Guangzhou is situated near the tropic of Cancer. The temperature rarely reaches 0 °C but during winter can drop to 10 °C. Winter can be deceptively cold given most buildings are not equipped with double glazing or central heating. However during the summer the temperatures can reach 40 °C and the humidity and pollution can be very high. The city experiences monsoon season from April to September.
Baiyun International Airport (广州白云国际机场) (IATA: CAN, ICAO: ZGGG) is located quite a distance outside of the city. It's one the biggest airports in China and also one of the fastest growing airports in the world. Flights arrive/depart from this modern airport to many destinations around the world and within China. A long bus or taxi ride (about 1 hour) is required to reach it from the city centre. However taxis and shuttle buses are readily available just outside of the terminal.
Two train stations are located within the city. The main train station is good for short national travel, while the east train station serves longer national travel and direct trains to Hong Kong (or the border).
12 daily trains to/from Hong Kong (Kowloon) are available on roughly a hourly schedule. The journey takes 2 hours and costs RMB210. Alternatively 16 daily trains to/from Shenzhen are available (1 hour, RMB75). From here the border can be crossed by foot into Lo Wu metro station in Hong Kong or vice versa. Note there is a seperate area to buy tickets to Shenzhen and Hong Kong (Kowloon). Trains are air-conditioned and it is not neccesary to book tickets beforehand.
Be careful to avoid the rush around Chinese New Year as the stations typically will be packed with millions of migrant workers returning home. As this is possibly, for many, their only extended vacation for the entire year this is not an exduration of the word "million". Riots occured here during the 2008 travel season when 500,000 passengers were stranded in Guangzhou.
Self driven car travel is not recommended in China. If you wish to use this mode of travel it is best to hire a local driver with local knowledge.
There are many long-distance bus stations around Guangzhou. Overnight (sleeper) buses may be available for longer journeys. Destinations include Guilin, Yangshuo and Nanning. Bus tickers tend to sell out faster than train tickets so it is recommended to buy tickets up to 3 days in advance.
Many daily shuttle buses operate between Hong Kong and Guangzhou (2.5 hours). Tickets may be purchased at Hong Kong International Airport (Terminal 2).
Several companies offer ferry service from Hong Kong to Guangzhou by going up the Pearl river. However, most travellers perfer the more convienent services of the bus and train companies. The Hong Kong International Airport offers ferry service from the airport SkyPier to Guangzhou.
Car rental prices and insurance are quite high in most of China. Most companies will rent cars to people with Chinese drivers licenses. International licenses are not accepted. Also navigation through the busy & chaotic streets can be extremely difficult.
Taxis are plentiful and inexpensive. However most drivers only speak Cantonese or Mandarin.
Guangzhou has a modern, efficient and expanding subway system. Ticket prices depend on the distance you wish to travel and can be purchased through multi-language vending machines in the stations.
The bus system can be somewhat difficult to navigate for travellers not able to read Chinese as there are many different companies that share the same stations. Therefore the signage, routes, times, cost, etc. vary quite significantly. However, they are a fast and inexpensive way to get around town.
Some parts of Guangzhou is pedestrian friendly. Normally streets are over-crowded, dirty, hot and the air is polluted. However it takes a brave soul to cross some streets. Therefore, many busy streets have overpass pedestrian cross over bridges.
Due to the sheer number of bikes in China, there are dedicated bicycle lanes. However cycling may still be daunting due to the number bikes and cars.
Guangzhou is the home of Cantonese cooking; a style that has widely been exported throughout the world. Most westerners will find many dishes familiar to them as "Chinese food". However, be forewarned that many food items that westerners find distasteful (such as dog, snake, etc.) will be on clear display in open air markets. You can also find many western franchises such as McDonald's, Pizza Hut and KFC.
Be sure to pick up the free that's PRD magazine to find the best places to go out.
|Chundu Hotel||No.212, West Huang Pu Avenue, Tian He District Guangzhou||Hotel||-|
|Daysun Park Hotel||No.277 Zhongshan Road Tianhe District||Hotel||-|
|GDH Inn (Gang Ding)||F/7-10 Tianhe Business Bldg, No.8 Zhongshan Rd.(W) Tianhe District, Guangzhou||Hotel||-|
|GuangDong Bostan Hotel||NO.76 Tianhe North Road||Hotel||-|
|Guangdong Victory Hotel||No. 53 Shamian North Street Guangzhou||Hotel||-|
|Guangzhou Euro Asia Hotel||186-188 Xian Lie Dong Rd||Hotel||-|
|Haitao Hotel Guangzhou||Huang Pu Road Tianhe District||Hotel||-|
|Henry Business Hotel||No.26 Baohua Road Huadu District||Hotel||-|
|Lilac International Suite||No. 1 Taisheng Rd., Tianhe District||Hotel||64|
|Ocean Hotel Guangzhou||No. 412, Huanshidong Road Guangzhou||Hotel||-|
|RiverSide YHA (Jiangpan)||No. 15, Changdi Street, Luju Road Fangcun Liwan District||Hostel||74|
|Silver-River Hotel||:268 Shatai Road||Hotel||-|
|Guangzhou Lis Hotel||Commercial building C, No8, Kexin Road Tianhe District||HOTEL||-|
|Pazhou Hotel||37 Xingang Road East||Hotel||-|
|Hubin Hotel||No.451 East Yanjiang Road||HOTEL||-|
|Dongyue Fashion Hotel||No.10 Tang Dong East Road TianHe District Guangzhou||Hotel||-|
|Miya Hotel||No83,TaoYuanXi Road,HuangPu Da Dao Dong Tianhe District||Hotel||-|
|PaZhou Bay Hotel||No 8, Four Cross Road.YuanCun.TianHe GuangZhou||Hotel||-|
|Journey House||27F Building 1, No.445 North TianHe Road TianHe Distric, Guangzhou||HOSTEL||75|
|She&he Hotel Apartment-Huifeng||No.126, 1/F Central Park No.10 Xinguo Road Zhujiang New Town, Tianhe||Apartment||-|
|Waking Town Hotel||No.368,Zhong shan Middle Road,Tianhe,Guangzhou||Hotel||-|
|Hi Inn Xihua Road||Xihua Road No.134 Liwan District||Hostel||72|
|Sunflower's Home Hostel||Room 704, Baogong Building, 363 Longkou Donglu TianHe District||HOSTEL||-|
|Geographers' Hostel||Lane 9, Yile Road Haizhu District||HOSTEL||-|
|Vegetarian's House||Taojin Keng No.68 Yuexiu Qu||Guesthouse||-|
|Old Canton Youth Hostel||NO.22 Xuguyuan Road Yuexiu District||HOSTEL||-|
|Meihao Family||5 th Floor, Room A, huijing Ge||Apartment||-|
|Backpacker&Home City Center||Qiaofuyuan Taojin Keng No.66||Hostel||-|
|Guangzhou Mei Hao Family Hostel||F5,Huijing Ge,No67 Haizhu Bandao Binjiang Dong Road||HOSTEL||-|
|Guangzhou DIY Tour Hostel||Room 303,No.211-1,Xinhe Plaza, Changgang zhong Roa HaiZhu District||HOSTEL||-|
|Kingdom International Hotel||NO.3 Jianghai Road, Haizhu District||Hotel||-|
|Jin An Hostel Guangzhou||5 floor No.16 jinhao street Jinanyuan Yijing Road||HOSTEL||-|
|Plum Flowers Guest House||Room 701,Bulding E3,YiXin Garden BaiYun District||HOSTEL||69|
|Gold City Home||4 floor D4 Building Fuli Square Zhongshan 8th Road||HOSTEL||-|
|Lucky House||Room 2201, Building A2 Lv Qiao Garden 166 Chang Gang Road||Guesthouse||-|
|Sunshine Home||Hui Yang Yuan Apt Hui Yang Ge Bld 1501 Huangsha Avenue 201 Liwan District||HOSTEL||79|
|The University Town International Hotel||Dong ER Road Higher Education Mega center||HOTEL||-|
|Aishe Youth Hostel||Tian Shou Lu 6 Floor Ten A/B||Hostel||-|
|Guangzhou Milestaste Youth Hostel||Room C 27th floor 367B Guangzhou Middle Avenue Yuexiu District||Hostel||-|
|Dongshan Catalpa Garden Youth Hostel||No. 12-5 Gonghe Road Yuexiu District||HOSTEL||-|
|Guangzhou Backpacker Hostel||16E, 16th Fl, Rui Da Building, No. 39 West Huangpu Street, Tianhe District||HOSTEL||-|
|Cici's House Guangzhou||Room B, 10th Floor, Hua Hui Ge Building Tianhe District||HOSTEL||-|
|Guangzhou Lucky House||Xingang East Rd||Guesthouse||-|
|Guangzhou Badou Hostel||Rm 801, Block C, No.4 Jiangli Road Zhuhai District||HOSTEL||-|
|Langri Guesthouse||Apt.2603,26F,Hengcheng Dasha Building B 53rd Huangpu Daoda Xi,Tianhe District||HOSTEL||-|
|The Boa Garden||Xin Gang Road East Hai Zhu District Guangdong Province||Guesthouse||-|
|Guangzhou Urban Jungle Hostel||10th & 11th Floor, No.85 Guangzhou Avenue North, Yuexiu District||HOSTEL||-|
|Guangzhou Trade Fair Hostel||F4, Building C, Big Family Garden Hui Zhan Nan Si Road, Pazhou, Haizhu District||HOSTEL||-|
|Gui Zheng Hotel||No. 801 North Jiefang Road Yuexiu District||HOTEL||-|
Most jobs require Mandarin or Guangdonghua (Cantonese). However like many places around China, it is relatively easy to get a job as an English teacher in a school, university or firm. No prior knowledge of Chinese is required. The employer will usually apply for your work permit.
It is also possible to be a teacher of another foreign language but opportunities are somewhat rarer. French is probably the second most common required teacher.
Wangba (联网) means internet bar in Chinese. Almost every town will have an internet bar or gaming center. The best way to spot an internet bar is to look for the 网(ba) character, which means net, and large digitized images of computer game characters. Often, there will be a sign saying Green Power in English at the entrance. Most gaming centers cost about RMB3 an hour. You prepay at the main desk and are then given a plastic card or a piece of paper. Once you are done you return the card or piece of paper and get reimbursed for the money you didn't spend. Be prepared for a place that might be dingy, basic and messy. Internet bars in China tend to get crowded starting in the late afternoon to the late evenings.
Some hotels provide access from the rooms that may or may not be free; others may provide a wireless service or a few desktops in the lounge area.
Also, quite a few cafes provide free wireless Internet service. Some cafes, even provide a machine for customer use.
See also: International Telephone Calls
The country calling code to China is 86. To make an international call from China, the code is 00.
When making international phone calls it is best to buy an IP card. They typically have a value of ¥100 but sometimes can be had for as little as ¥25. The cards have printed Chinese instructions, but after dialing the number listed on the card English-spoken instructions are available. As a general indication of price, a call from China to Europe lasts around 22 minutes with a ¥100 card. Calls to the U.S. and Canada are advertised to be another 20% cheaper. There is no warning before the card runs out of minutes.
If you already have a GSM 900/1800 cellphone, you can roam onto Chinese networks, but calls will be very expensive (¥12-35/minute is typical). If you're staying for more than a few days, it will usually be cheaper to buy a prepaid Chinese SIM card; this gives you a Chinese phone number with a certain amount of money preloaded. Chinese tend to avoid phone numbers with the bad-luck digit '4', and vendors will often be happy to offload these "unsellable" SIM-cards to foreigners at a discount. If you need a phone as well, prices start around ¥100/200 used/new. Chinese phones, unlike those sold in many Western countries, are never "locked" and will work with any SIM card you put in them. China's two big operators are China Mobile and China Unicom. Most SIMs sold by the two work nationwide, with Unicom allowing Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan usage as well. There is usually a surcharge of about ¥1/min when roaming outside the province you bought the SIM, and there are some cards that work only in a single province, so check when buying.
China Post (中国邮政) is the official postal service of the People's Republic of China, operated by the State Postal Bureau of the People's Republic of China (website in Chinese only), and has more details about price to send letters, postcards and parcels, both domestically as well as internationally. The Chinese postal service is very good. Remember that in more remote places usually only one post office in a city can handle sending international boxes or letters. Also many times it might be worth having the name of the country you are trying to send to in Chinese characters, because small town people might not know what Estonia is in English. Post offices have a striking green logo and can easily be found everywhere in the cities. They are mostly open every day (including weekends!) from 8:00am to 6:00pm, though small offices might have shorter opening times, while the bigger ones in central and touristic areas are sometimes open during evenings as well.
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