As part of a huge city makeover ahead of the 2010 Asian Games, Guangzhou created a 1,060 kilometre (650-mile) system of walking trails and parks referred to as Greenways. These walkways connect the many tributaries of the Pearl River Delta with the city’s green spaces and hills. A walk along the riverside here is a great way to view the city’s various architectural styles, ranging from the twisted, sky-reaching Canton Tower to the parks of Ersha Island and the beautifully restored colonial buildings of Shamian Island. A treasure trove of 19th- and early 20th-century architecture, the streets of Shamian Island housed the former British and French concessions. A walk around this compact, peaceful district takes you past grand Neoclassical and Gothic mansions, banks, hotels and the exquisite Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel.
More than just a vast, undulating park with lakes and hills, Yuexiu is a great place to experience traditional Guangzhou culture. Taking a stroll through the leafy glades in late afternoon, you may encounter elderly gents walking their songbirds in birdcages, impromptu Chinese opera performances and tai chi practitioners perfecting their martial arts moves. Yuexiu Park is also home to the Guangzhou Museum, housed in a five-storey former temple, and the city’s pride and joy—Statue of the Five Rams. The stone statue depicts a legend that five immortals descended on Guangzhou during a famine riding on five goats that carried rice in their mouths. Locals believe this means that the city will never go hungry again.
Guangzhou is home to many parks and recreational areas for leisurely picnicking and active playing. Among the most popular spots is Chimelong Park, located in south Guangzhou. This vast park is home to the Chimelong Paradise Amusement Park, where roller coasters and themed rides will thrill both young and adult visitors, and the Chimelong International Circus. Animal enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the Chimelong Xiangjiang Safari Park, China’s largest safari park and its leading zoo. Here you’ll find more than 20,000 animals, including Chinese giant pandas, polar bears and koala bears.
Night on the Pearl
Guangzhou bestrides the mighty Pearl River, China’s third-longest. Visitors can board river cruise boats at various locations throughout the city both during the day and in the evening. A night-time cruise starts at 6:00 pm from Tianzi Wharf on the North Bank. It navigates the broad, darkened waters—avoiding the river islands en route—and showcases the city’s alluring blend of historic and modern architecture and its numerous neon-lit bridges.
Retreat from Guangzhou’s hectic city beat at the Hua Spa on the 69th floor at Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou. The extensive water-based treatment area includes a Vichy-style shower, Rhassoul chamber, crystal steam room and laconium in the women’s area, and an herbal steam bath, Finnish sauna, and ice fountain in the men’s area. The 120-minute Flowers of the Four Seasons ritual combines the exotic fragrances and calming properties of Chinese rose, lotus and mu mian. Enjoy an invigorating footbath and body scrub, followed by a sensuous face and body mask. The spa journey rounds out with a soothing massage designed to nourish and hydrate your skin using botanical oils.