This bustling port city in Southern China (which is also frequently referred to as Canton) has a number of different places for great shopping. The Onelink International Plaza is six floors of good shopping with hundreds of little shops. The Plaza is no good for clothes but brilliant for all types of small gifts ranging from bags, purses, key rings, watches, mobile accessories, and toys. The Plaza is geared to the wholesale market so to get the best prices you need to buy several of each item – but don’t be afraid to bargain either!
Pantang Souvenir Street is a fun shopping street that specializes in local products and handicrafts. Beijing Road is very hectic with persistent street traders but certainly has plenty of interesting shops! Many prefer Shangxiajiu which is quieter and less crowded. Shangxiajiu has some good clothes shops and there is a chance to combine it with a stroll around Shamian Island or a meal. so, here are the top 10 souvenirs to buy in Guangzhou.
1. Choose a beautiful piece of copperware
In the past, everyone used to have copperware in their homes and Guangzhou was famous for its copper but today as copper has been replaced by cheaper materials there are only a handful of craftsmen left in the city. Guangzhou copper comes in two kinds; ‘purple copper’ which is purer and softer and ‘yellow copper’ which is copper mixed with other metals that make it more resilient. There is a good range of copper items to buy, they are not cheap, but are definitely something to treasure. There are stylish vases and even a copper abacus, but also delightful wind chimes, bowls, and pretty engraved dishes.
2. Enjoy some Cantonese snacks
There are some delicious foods to try whilst you are in the city and of course, ‘foodie’ souvenirs are always popular! Would you believe it that in Guangzhou, shopkeepers have ingeniously designed some snazzy red gift boxes that are ready-packed with a selection of local foods including teas, cakes, pastries, and Lachang sausage!
3. Buy a landmark bottle of liquor
The drink producer Luzhou Laojiao has been making liquors since 1573. Its best known one – Luzhou Laojiao – is made from fermented Songhuim and considered a luxury. The liquor is fermented in old cellars. Recently, the liquor has become available in a limited -edition bottle that is in the same distinctive hourglass shape as Guangzhou’s tallest skyscraper! The liquor has a strong peachy aroma and at 58º proof is certainly strong itself!
4. Select a packet or two of herbal tea
Cantonese Wanglaoji is a very popular local tea that is sold in a distinctive pale green box. According to local doctors, the tea has a cooling effect on the body and because of this, it is popular during the hot humid months. Wanglaoji is also now available in granules for even speedier preparation.
5. Taste some delicious local Prosciutto
Everyone enjoys Italian Prosciutto, but the local Cantonese Prosciutto is really tasty too! In the days before fridges, local housewives would preserve pieces of belly pork in soy sauce and Shaoxing cooking wine. After the meat had been marinaded for a number of days, it would be carefully air dried. The resulting Prosciutto tastes really delicious when thinly sliced and served with a variety of rice dishes.
6. Stock up on some Chinese medicine
Chinese herbal medicines are renowned all over the world and can certainly ease many minor ailments. Stepping inside a Chinese pharmacy is like stepping back in time as the walls are lined by countless drawers containing all types of herbal remedies. One of these is red ginseng which is regarded as a ‘superfood’. In Guangzhou, it is regularly made into a soup that is given to elderly people as a tonic.
7. Treasure an olive stone carving
Can you imagine anything more exquisite than an intricate carving on something so small as an olive stone? The artisans that make these unbelievably beautiful carvings take weeks to complete each piece. Before beginning work, they choose perfect olive stones which they then carefully dry for a minimum of five years to ensure that they will not crack or split.
8. Buy a beautiful piece of enamelware
With intricate patterns and designs in vibrant colors, a piece of local enamelware makes a very special souvenir of your time in Guangzhou. This traditional craft was first made in the Ming dynasty when three colors were used, but in the last hundred years, five colors have been successfully used for this complex technique. Talented artists sketch the intricate design onto a piece of white porcelain and the different areas are then in-filled with the different colors before the piece is put in a furnace to be fired. The result is a truly stunning piece of enamelware.
9. Choose some exquisite embroidery
The city stands close to the Pearl River Delta which gives its name to the local style of embroidery – one of the four most famous embroideries in China. First made during the Song dynasty (960-1280), Pearl River Delta embroidery combines texture and color with the most intricate stitch work. If you search hard, you might just find an extra special piece – one that is double-sided! The design on both sides is exactly the same, which is truly unbelievable! Designs usually portray birds, flowers, trees, and rivers.
10. Treat yourself to a traditional lantern
Delicately carved in rosewood with decorated glass or paper panels, these traditional lanterns are very popular souvenirs from the city. The lanterns are very complex to make and the artisans must follow ten lengthy steps. The finished lantern is said to ward off evil spirits.
Updated: March 14, 2019