The little brother to neighbouring Guangzhou, Foshan offers its visitors a diverse and welcoming expat community which is able to savour a plethora of different cuisines, entertainment and experiences.
Those relocating to Foshan can enjoy a lifestyle that balances an emphasis on the best of Chinese culture and food with an appreciation for arts, shopping, nightlife and sports events.
An up-and-coming cosmopolitan city with great transport links to not only Guangzhou but almost all of Guangdong province, Foshan is also situated perfectly for those who would like to see more of China.
Outdoor and cultural activities in Foshan
With all of the natural beauty that surrounds the city, residents have a number of choices when it comes to getting out of the house. Qiandenghu Lake in the Nanhai district of Foshan is a scenic spot to picnic, hire a pedal car or bicycle, fish or simply people-watch. Xiqiao Mountain National Forest Park features a 253 foot (77m) statue of Buddha at the summit of a 40-million-year-old dormant volcano.
For art lovers, Guangdong province is famous for its pottery, and Foshan is the ceramic capital. At the Nanfeng Ancient Kiln visitors can try their hand at throwing a pot and are free to wander around the well-preserved neighbourhood of temples, homes, shops and artisan studios. Don’t miss the toilet waterfall – beauty lies in the eye of the beholder!
There are also plenty of events to keep sports fans happy. Foshan Century Lotus stadium, originally built for the 2010 Asian Games, can seat 36,000 spectators and regularly holds regional and national football matches. Basketball fans will feel at home in China as the sport is revered amongst young Chinese males. The Nanhai Gymnasium holds national games between November to July every year, and basketball courts can be found in almost every residential community in Foshan.
Gym enthusiasts will be happy to learn that Foshan also boasts a large number of gymnasiums which vary in quality and price. From older, cheaper gyms to expensive, hyper-modern Westernised fitness centres, expats will struggle to find an excuse not to exercise.
Shopping in Foshan
Foshan has an abundance of shopping options. At the lower end of the spectrum, shoppers can bargain hunt on-street in the many markets and smaller individual bazaars which sell anything from counterfeit designer clothing to local Chinese labels.
Foshan has plenty of cheap shopping malls for mid-range shopping. These malls are labyrinthine, multi-floor mazes which are home to hundreds of tiny clothing, jewellery and perfume boutiques. These can be found in the Zumiao area, at Nanhai Plaza (which also features a Zara superstore, as well as a Levis and Wrangler shop amongst others) or at Dong Fang Guang Chang.
A covered mega mall, Dong Fang Guang Chang is a veritable smorgasbord of restaurants ranging from sushi to a Mexican grill in addition to hundreds of clothes shops. In the fantastic basement-level electronics department, shoppers will find anything from mobile phones, tablets, laptops and cameras to audio equipment and games consoles.
Poly Canal Plaza is also a great place to relax by the river, enjoy something to eat and watch the world go by. It also has Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Polo and Uniqlo outlets.
Food and drink in Foshan
A three hours bus ride from Hong Kong, Foshan is teeming with life. Whether it is enjoying Cantonese food at a local street market, devouring hot barbequed vegetables with locals or being able to choose from a vast number of Western eateries around the city, expats are spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out.
Recently redeveloped Lingnan Tiandi – a warren of cosy cafes, bars and restaurants – boasts a host of eateries in a sophisticated, laidback setting ranging from traditional Chinese, Vietnamese, and European cuisines to the ubiquitous Irish pub.
Around the Zumiao area, Indian and Middle Eastern restaurants can be found in the shadow of five-star hotels such as the Swissôtel and the Marco Polo, both of which offer sumptuous buffet and à la carte menus to a discerning foreign clientele.
For street food lovers, late night barbeque grills serve delicious meat and vegetable skewers to clubbers after dark. These midnight snacks, known as Xiao Ye in Chinese, can be found all over Foshan, and usually pitch up outside bars and clubs. Many restaurants and small diners remain open until the early hours to take advantage of hungry bar patrons. Fresh steamed dumplings and spicy noodles are a firm favourite amongst locals and expats alike in Foshan.
Nightlife in Foshan
Foshan’s nightlife has something to cater to all tastes, and going out in China is an experience in itself. Whether they are downing shots courtesy of their Chinese hosts, ordering a shopping basket full of beers at the local KTV karaoke bar, or savouring platters of fresh fruit and hot, salty snacks at a heaving electro club, expats can be sure a night out in Foshan will be a memorable one.
Tongji Lu, in the centre of the city, has a number of well-frequented expat bars as well as a number of Italian restaurants and coffee houses. It is here where most foreigners will meet up before venturing on to one of the many nightclubs in Foshan.
A word about nightclubs in China: they are almost always very large venues by Western standards and normally do not have a designated dancefloor. Instead, expats will find lots of smaller tables around which clusters of Chinese drinkers will offer expats a drink, play the pervasive ‘lying dice’ drinking game or try to practice their English. The music is loud, the cocktails are strong and the locals are always happy to meet a foreigner.