1. Oriental Resort
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The Oriental Resort is nestled in the hillside on the fringes of Guangzhou city in Baiyun District. It is accessible by the metro using Line 2 and getting off at the Baiyun Culture Square which is at the Baiyun International Convention Centre. You can walk a short distance across to resort entrance which the entrance road winds it way through some hills and alongside a well-kept lake and grounds. The resort accommodation is off limits to pedestrians, whoever you are free to wander the pathways around the lake.
2. Zhongshan Ba Lu
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This is the main road in Liwan District, in fact, it is the 8th and final section of a very long road called Zhongshan road. In Chinese, Ba equals 8 and Lu means Road. So as you travel down Zhongshan Road, there are sections like Zhongshan Qi Lu (7th Road), Zhongshan Liu Lu (6th Road) and so on. Why is Zhongshan Ba Lu so special? It’s a very typical Chinese district. It’s lined with stores selling all of the standard arrays of homewares, hardware and other basic necessities of everyday life for the locals. What really stands out for me in Zhongshan Ba Lu is the diversity; there are homeless people, street food vendors selling standard dumplings and foods and even stinky tofu. Xinjiang Muslims selling handmade fresh bread on the side streets and more. In contrast, in the same area, there is the local Walmart, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, and KFC. Everything is available in this quarter of Liwan district. Liwan District and specifically Zhongshan Ba Lu is known for the children’s clothing markets. Towards the very end of Zhongshan Ba Lu, there are side streets and buildings dedicated to children’s clothing.
3. Xiaobei District
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The Xiaobei Markets are a little unknown gem to the average traveler. Xiaobei is a district in Guangzhou. It’s a district where cultures unite and cuisines from around the world gather. You can find people from all corners of the globe here, shopping, eating, trading, and sightseeing. African people, Middle Eastern, American, Aussie, French, British. However, Xiaobei District is known for its high concentration of African and Middle Eastern cultures. Halal food options abound here. Stores run by or at least staffed by African people is common. Wander through the maze of open air shops in the night markets (night time is when the markets come alive) and explore the narrow and long and winding corridors of many buildings hosting shops selling gadgets, clothing, shoes, toys, you name it. The food options are simply amazing. Find a restaurant and enjoy authentic food from corners of the globe you have never tried before.
4. Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street
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Shopping malls galore at Shangxiajiu Street. This closed off street, only accessible via foot traffic is massive. It’s several of kilometers of streets crisscrossing. Much the same as Beijing Road on the other side of Guangzhou. Shangxiajiu is bright, vibrant and eye opening. You can buy just about anything here. Again, food is the mainstay of these night markets. If shopping is your thing, buyer beware, knockoffs abound, in fact, these are the places you go to buy fake products. Fake watches, fake bags you name it. Conmen line the sides of the mall to jump at the chance and try their luck in convincing you to go with them to look at fake handbags or watches. Be alert but also relax and take in the sights and sounds. Food tips, wander into some of the shopping centers and find a BBQ restaurant, if you enjoy all you can eat BBQ meats and condiments, you won’t be disappointed.
Ok, lets clear something up. SeaWorld at Shekou Shenzhen is not like the known SeaWorld theme parks in the US and Australia. SeaWorld in Shekou Shenzhen is the name of the subway station and the general area. With that cleared up, SeaWorld at Shekou is the diamond in this report. It is an amazingly vibrant modern and western area in Shenzhen. It’s absolutely full of western restaurants. Aussie, Irish, German, Mexican, American, Indian, French, the list goes on and on. A standout attraction here is the old MingHua cruise liner that’s landlocked and converted into a hotel. It is situated in smack in the center of the SeaWorld precinct. Other standout venues here are the bars, McCawleys Irish bar is the main attraction. Always filled with expats and foreigners and Chinese alike. If you like your Guinness, then you are well advised to pay a visit to McCawleys. Note, the Bierhaus, German bar is right next door should you wish to mix things up with your international flavors. Or you can take a pit stop at the Bombay Indian restaurant or further around the corner at the Tequila Coyote’s Mexican restaurant.
6. Dongmen Markets
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Ok Ok, there are lot of markets and food stalls in China right? Yes. Dongmen Markets are much like the Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Markets or Beijing Road Markets in Guangzhou. Food is a big seller but the shopping is always impressive. Small stalls hocking knock-off products through to luxury stores selling designer brands. You can find everything here at Dongmen Markets. It’s in the report because it’s such a big and diverse market in Shenzhen. It’s a must visit.
7. Chaozhou City
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Chaozhou is the city famous for its seafood. It’s also the city famous for its fried rice. 潮州炒饭 or Chaozhou Chaofan, which just means Chaozhou Fried Rice! Trust me, its famous and if you can say in Mandarin “Wo yao Chaozhou Chaofan Xie Xie” (I want Chaozhou fried rice thank you), you will be served a seafood rich fried rice dish. Chaozhou for those that don’t know, it’s a city built on its ceramics industry. There are hundreds if not thousands of factories in this city that all specialise in various types of ceramics manufacturing. Chaozhou sits very close to Shantou, the more famous port city in this north-eastern part of Guangdong province.
8. Cave Bar
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Let the fun times begin. The Cave Bar is a real dive. It’s a bar that is full of women being ogled by men from all corners of the globe. Be warned, the moment you step foot in this bar you will have women wishing to sit with you and asking you to buy them drinks. Ahem… they will often ask if they can return with you to your hotel. That said, it’s a fun place. It’s a bar, it sells alcohol and has been known to serve food at some stage, but don’t count on that. It’s in a basement, you walk down a flight of stairs into the bar. The bar is in the center of the room. Booths line the walls of the room. Music is almost always too loud. Bar staff will play dice games with you while you ogle the women and drink your beer. If you enjoy bars and on occasion seedy bars, this is a must visit. Enjoy the diversity and sights and sounds and drinks. It’s a fun night out.
9. Canton Tower
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The Canton Tower is a 600m tall tower, reputed to be the second tallest ‘tower’ in the world. It’s not a residential or commercial building. It’s predominately a tower. There are observation decks at various levels, but the tower does not serve any other purpose. This is a must visit. Try and spend the fee to buy the ticket to the very top and ride the Bubble car tram ride. The view over the city is astounding. It’s a little nerve racking being so high in a little bubble car on a small tram track, but it seems to be ok! Haha. If you leave your visit to Canton Tower until the late afternoon, when you depart in the evening, you can get a view of the tower in its night time glory when it comes alive in a wave of colors and lightshow. It’s a real marvel of engineering.
10. Lucky Coin Building or Guangzhou Circle
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An amazing and peculiar structure. As you pass by this on the freeway, it stands out from kilometers away because the surrounding buildings are low but this building dominates with its unique design. At 138 meters tall, and 33 floors, it’s not a big building. This is on my checklist to visit next time I am in Guangzhou city. I have missed the chance previously. Who wouldn’t want to be able to say they have visited a giant coin building? Situated on the banks of the Zhujiang River, it can be seen from a long way away.