- Download our Guangzhou Schools Guide
As the main political and commercial hub in the Pearl River Delta, Guangzhou’s urban and industrial growth has exploded. Commercial development and capitalist energy pervade the city, as it tries to contain its burgeoning population.
A city of shopping centres and skyscrapers which still upholds ancient traditions, Guangzhou is also a major cultural and historical centre, home to temples and relics that date back 2,000 years.
Guangzhou's expansion has, unfortunately, come at a cost. Population growth and traffic congestion are significant concerns, the air quality has deteriorated and the environment has suffered.
The city does, however, maintain its fair share of green spaces, with many scenic spots for afternoon picnics. Afterwards, residents can dine out at a Cantonese restaurant, go to a nightclub or attend a world-class performance at the Guangzhou Opera House.
Shopping in Guangzhou
Known for its growing industries, Guangzhou residents have ready access to countless products, including inexpensive clothing and electronics. The city has some of the best supermarkets in China and a vibrant wholesale clothing sector.
Two of the best known wholesale markets are located close to the Guangzhou Railway Station in the city’s Yuexiu District. Tianma International Fashion Wholesale Center and Baima Garment Market sell international and domestic clothing brands, some of which may be cheap counterfeits.
Jade sculptures, jewellery and accessories, and brightly-patterned Cantonese embroidery are common local items. Jade is particularly popular and is frequently used in home, office and personal decoration.
Two popular shopping areas are Beijing Road, a bustling pedestrian road of more than 300 stores, and the Global International Trade Center Buyun World, which offers an endless variety of shoes at much better prices than in the West.
The Fenghe Tianxiong Textile City is another well-known consumer attraction. The market features an abundance of knitting, chemical fibres, cotton weaving, linen, leather and silk, and has more than 700 vendors.
Nightlife in Guangzhou
Some of the city’s best-known party districts include the Binjiang Lu Bar Street on the banks of the Pearl River and Huanshi Lu Street in the city centre. Residents will also have access to live music, dance venues, international DJs, karaoke and French riverside pubs throughout the city.
Eating out in Guangzhou
Guangzhou is arguably the region’s culinary capital and boasts a variety of signature restaurants, some of which are internationally recognised. Patrons can indulge in a variety of Cantonese, Chinese and foreign cuisines.
Its finest food emphasises organic flavours and subtle seasonings and is characterised by rich tastes, strong fragrances and vibrant colours. Cantonese pastries and dim sum are especially popular, although expats should be sure about what they are eating, as they may come across many exotic ingredients they're not familiar with.
Teahouses in Guangzhou are a part of its social fabric. Locals drink tea to cope with the summer heat, and to soothe sore throats in winter. The city’s teahouses tend to fill up early and are a part of many people’s daily routines.
Restaurants in Guangzhou cater to many different tastes. This includes traditional Chinese cuisine, American diners, jazz cafes, Vietnamese restaurants, seafood specialists and steakhouses.
Sports and outdoor activities in Guangzhou
Expats in Guangzhou are able to take part in a range of outdoor activities within easy reach of the city. Rock climbing and hiking in places such as the Yingxi Fenglin are popular pastimes. This scenic area contains dense forests, iconic rock formations, caverns, grasslands and rivers. Paragliding at Lufeng in southeast Guangdong is another popular activity, and expats with older children can put on their battle fatigues and try their hand at paintball.
Sports enthusiasts will also have a variety of options in the city. There are a number of golf courses and country clubs that offer members and non-members access to their impressive facilities. The city is also home to the Guangzhou Sport University, which trains athletes and referees, and offers students a range of options in sports sciences, research and sports management.
Guangzhou is home to several large sports centres, including the Tianhe Stadium which provides facilities for football, basketball, badminton and table tennis. City residents often make use of the stadium's offerings, which allow them to exercise, play sports and take classes.
►What's On in Guangzhou covers the city's best events
►Check out all the things to see and do in Guangzhou
►For insights into a nearby city, read about the lifestyle in Foshan
"We have enjoyed many things in Guangzhou. However, our favourite is that everywhere you go, you feel as if you have entered into a completely new city. There is something interesting around every corner. It feels like every part of Guangzhou is its own city." See what else is enjoyable about living in Guangzhou in our interview with Paz.
"We were fortunate to have expat friends that already had an expat community established. We have helped out with English clubs at universities and that has helped us get to know locals too." Read more about making friends in Guangzhou in this interview with Seth K.
Are you an expat living in Guangzhou?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Guangzhou. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
With 86 million customer relationships in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.