Guangzhou, formerly known as Canton, is South China’s commercial hub. Once the capital of the ancient Nanyue Kingdom, the 2,000-year-old city has long been a centre of trading with the West, and nowadays enchants visitors with a mélange of the historic and contemporary alike.
Home to dozens of Michelin-starred restaurants, this southern Chinese metropolis offers – of course – the crème de la crème of Cantonese cuisine, but it’s also not short on other fare. And visiting Guangzhou is easy, with fast trains travelling to and from Hong Kong in about 50 minutes and direct transfers from the airport.
If you only have time for one thing in Guangzhou, make it Cantonese food. Bing Sheng dishes up some of the city’s best – its char siu is a standout.
Then take a stroll through the historic Xiguan area, the heart of the hustle and bustle when the 13 foreign trading factories hosted the nations which journeyed up the Pearl River to do business.
Also worth a visit is Xiaobei, a one-of-a-kind neighbourhood home to a large immigrant community of Africans, Indians, and those from the Middle East.
The 600-meter Canton Tower offers up commanding views of this ever-expanding city, including Zhujiang New Town just to the north, where pubs, craft beer bars and office blocks intermingle with green space and cultural venues such as the Zaha Hadid-designed Guangzhou Opera House .
Credit: Jonathan Leijonhufvud
Subtle luxury is the name of the game at the Park Hyatt Guangzhou , which sits at the top of the R&F Yingkai Square tower in the heart of Zhujiang New Town. An infinity pool on the 60th floor and a rooftop bar on the 70th mark offer commanding views without having to scale the Canton Tower.
Hero image: Jonathan Leijonhufvud