5 Things to Do in Guangzhou
From the Guangzhou Opera House to TaiKoo Hui market, step out and explore China’s third-largest city.
It might be only the third-largest city in China (after Beijing and Shanghai), with a population of 12 million and growing fast, but Guangzhou is bigger than any American or European city—and older, too, dating back to the Qin Dynasty of 214 BC. Its location between Hong Kong and Macau gives it a strategic position that’s popular with both business travellers and tourists. The new Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou opened on the top floors of the 103-storey International Finance Center tower, lending a fresh perspective on Guangzhou’s recent boomlet of cultural institutions and proving that this ever-evolving Cantonese city has something to say. Here are five things you shouldn’t miss on your next visit.
Stroll the starchitecture.
The starchitecture-studded Tihane District is the locale of the International Finance Center tower, and therefore of the new Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou. Put on your walking shoes and head to the Zaha Hadid–designed Guangzhou Opera House, which was completed in 2011 and, sadly, is showing signs of age already, but remains a glimmering Modernist palace devoted to performing arts. It hosts performances by the likes of diva Renée Fleming and the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra alongside Chinese classics like Nine Songs, a cycle of poems written by Qu Yuan 2,300 years ago and performed by Taiwan’s Cloud Gate Dance Theatre.
Catch up on your reading.
Just around the corner is the equally mod Guangzhou New Library, designed by Japanese architecture firm Nikken Sekkei and also completed in 2011. Its eight floors and 1.2 million books are open to the public and being touted as an “intelligent library,” with electronic retrieval devices and 24-hour self-service, while book returning and card issuing machines remain available in the stark main Leisure Hall.
Hit the art scene.
The inky Cubist Guangdong Museum of Art secures Guangzhou’s position on China’s contemporary art map, with 12 indoor exhibition halls covering an area of 8,000 square metres (9,600 square yards), an outdoor Sculpture Garden and coastal China-centric exhibits such as Luo Linzhu’s calligraphy, “You Don’t Belong: The Past and Future of Indian Cinema,” and paintings by Fan Bo.
Dine like a local.
Guangzhou is known throughout China for the diversity of its international cuisine, but Datong Restaurant at 63 Yanjiang Road plates up signature Guangdong dishes like crispy-skinned chicken, golden roasted suckling pig and a renowned custard tart.
Do some serious shopping.
The 138,000-square-metre (165,000-square-yard) upscale shopping market TaiKoo Hui, designed by Arquitectonica, draws an affluent crowd. Luxury shops include Armani, Chanel, Dior, Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Prada. The bookshop in L1, Fang Suo, sells a wide collection of English books as well.