(as published in Philippine Airlines' Mabuhay magazine)
It is interesting to note that the Portuguese first set foot in the city of Guangzhou, prior to colonizing Macau two decades later. Since then, this capital and largest city of Guangdong province has had a rich history of trade with Europeans in the early 16th century, although trade with Persians and Arabs date as far back as the 8th century. Today, much of Guangzhou’s commercial past has been carried over to its present as made evident by the biannual Canton Fair, China’s biggest import and export fair.
While mostly business travelers and tourists from major international cities can take advantage of direct flights to Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, China’s second busiest (after Beijing Capital), they can also reach Hong Kong and Macau by land in just a few short hours, making Guangzhou a very strategic location in maximizing a trip to China’s southern coast. Rest assured you can extensively explore the entire city thanks to the highly efficient metro system, the sixth busiest in the world.
|One of my favorite places to go bargain shopping!|
Begin your shopping frenzy by marveling at the grandeur of the prosperous Tianhe Central Business District. Here you can find upscale malls such as Tee Mall, Grandview Mall (one of the world’s biggest), and the swanky Taikoo Hui, where Guangzhou’s first Mandarin Oriental Hotel recently opened last January 2013. These modern shopping, dining and entertainment complexes are an attestation of how China exceeds today’s international standards.
A number of major Chinese cities seem to have that one popular yet geographically confusing pedestrian shopping district, and Guangzhou is no exception. Contrary to what our instincts dictate, Beijing Road is actually located here (just as Nanjing Road can be found in Shanghai, not Nanjing). Regarded as the central shopping area by the locals selling all items imaginable, Beijing Road offers a bonanza of visual stimuli: Brightly-lit signages embellish the façade of shops. Festive red lanterns adorn trees. Preserved historical roads from the Song and Ming dynasties beneath thick glass panels can be observed; simply look to the sky to rest your eyes.
|The impressive Chimelong Zoo|
If you’re looking to overhaul your wardrobe, head on to Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street and the nearby Zhuangyuan Fang, where the fashionable youth huddle. The apparel sold at Shangxiajiu is unfathomably cheap as the way going there is chaotic: narrow sidewalks meant bustling about with throngs of shoppers on the road while vehicles honk their horns for you to give way. It’s not necessarily stressful as it is exciting. To show how much bang you get for your buck: good quality leather shoes and sneakers are sold for as low as 50 RMB; 20 RMB can buy you a trendy T-shirt; while 10 RMB gives you four pairs of colorful ankle socks.
|The very European Shamian Island|
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