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CANTON CHINA: HAVE YOU EVER BEEN?

Old Mar 21st, 2004, 09:18 PM
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CANTON CHINA: HAVE YOU EVER BEEN?

MY HUSBAND IS ATTENDING A TRADE SHOW IN CANTON? I AM WONDERING HOW TO MAKE USE OF THIS AS MY BASE FOR DAY TRIPS.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2004, 04:51 AM
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(Upper and lower case, please. It looks like you are shouting.)

First, look for 'Guangzhou', the modern spelling of 'Canton' in your guide book, and there you should find everything you need to know.

It's a rather unlovely city, and one of China's most crowded and noisy, so some on their first visits to China find it intimidating especially around the rail and bus stations. For relative peace and quiet in the city itself, head to Shamian Island.

It's not the ideal base for day trips, as much of the countryside round about is heavily polluted and filled with shoddily constructed manufacturing facilities--not pleasant to the eye. If you have a multiple entry visa, and won't be stopping en route, you could consider a (lengthy) day trip to Hong Kong. Express rail and turbocat services make this possible.

For a quieter and more attractive countryside environment consider a day trip to Kaiping, to the southwest, to see the watchtowers there. But you'll need to be a little self-reliant to do this. It can be done by cab from Guangzhou at some considerable expense, or by public bus to Kaiping, and then by taxi.

Peter N-H
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Old Mar 22nd, 2004, 05:26 AM
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I agree with Peter. Guangzhou is unlovely. I can't think of a "must see" site that's especially historical or beautiful within the city. A local guide may have some ideas about secret gems though.

And neither is there much outside the city. Many of the nearby tourist sites had been overbuilt. However, my parents went to some sort of a theme park called "Bo Muk Yuen" in Cantonese (or probably "Bumoyuan" in Mandarin, though not sure about spelling) in Punyu, about an hour south of Guangzhou by car. It's a newly built garden/museum/art exhibit park that is very well kept, with some really precious antiques brought back from London by a collector, etc. It may be worth a day trip down there.

Guangzhou does have good and inexpensive food. That's indeed one major reason why people go there - for dining.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2004, 06:51 AM
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I think there are a couple of sights in the city well worth seeing if you are there, although I wouldn't cross China to see them.

The snappily-named Museum of the Western Han Dynasty Mausoleum of the Nan Yue King (Xi Han Nan Yue Wang Mu Bowuguan) is good enough that were I to find myself back in Guangzhou I'd go again. It's one of China's better small museums, with a well-presented display of very good quality items, including a remarkable jade burial suit of 2291 pieces of jade; the earliest yet discovered.

The Chen Jia Ci (Chen Clan Academy) will also impress any first time visitor to China--a multi-courtyard ancestral hall with a riot of carving on its beams and murals, now doubling as a museum of folk art.

And Shamian Island, as previously mentioned, makes for a pleasant stroll.

But the chances of finding a guide with some kind of insider or specialist knowledge anywhere in mainland China are as near zero as makes no difference.

Peter N-H
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Old Mar 22nd, 2004, 07:08 AM
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This info is from memory, and I was there 9 years ago, so...

I loved the Han Dynasty Tomb museum, which was conveniently located just a block or so from the hotel where I stayed (Asia Hotel). There is a gift shop in the museum which had good buys on calligraphy pens, teapots (not of the quality as those at the orchid garden, but charming), etc. There was a lake nearby, and I walked around it, found it a lovely stroll. There is also an orchid garden, with a small lake and a tea house in the middle that was walking distance for me. That tea house had an extensive array of the famous Yixching tea pots.

I found the food in town to be disappointing and the shopping disappointing as well (hopefully, things are better now). When I was there, I was the only caucasian on the streets. I was the object of some curiosity. There was a man who followed me and tried to talk to me, but given that my language skills were confined to hello, thank you and such, I wasn't able to converse with him (this following was in no way threatening, just curious). There was a trade center nearby, with displays of things for sale. There were a few nice silk clothes available. I purchased a gorgeous, hand-knitted bulky cashmere sweater for an amazingly low price. Most of the stuff in the trade center was of little interest (poor quality cloisonne at rather high prices, etc).
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Old Mar 23rd, 2004, 10:15 PM
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Thank you for all your help!!!
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Old Mar 23rd, 2004, 10:24 PM
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Can anyone recommend a very good hotel(Lets say*****)in Canton
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Old Mar 24th, 2004, 05:33 AM
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When I was there, the Asia Hotel was the best hotel in Guangzhou. There may now be some newer hotels. (And don't say Canton, it hasn't been Canton for many years.)
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Old Mar 24th, 2004, 07:32 AM
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Nine years ago in China is like 40 years ago elsewhere.

I don't think any of the hotels in Guangzhou are particularly impressive today, and the more up-market ones are in a style which has largely died out elsewhere in China--vast multi-restaurant complexes with many hundreds of rooms. They are ridiculously overpriced during the trade fair periods.

The larger hotels, with the exception of the White Swan, are in the busiest sections of a busy city, and even if you're used to staying at five-star and four-star accommodation, you should consider smaller, quieter hotels on Shamian Island, which is largely pedestrianized, and where a little peace and quiet can be found. Some of those are conversions of old colonial buildings, of considerably more character than the average hotel, and on a smaller and more human scale.

The China Hotel is a vast, U-shaped, building which has been managed by Marriott since 1999. The rooms are adequate if unimaginative, rather better on the executive floor, and the cavernous building contains so many different facilities it's unnecessary to leave it (which include, for the desperate, a branch of the Hard Rock Cafe). The location on the (new) metro line close to Yuexiu Park is convenient.

The Garden Hotel is a 30-storey Y-shaped colossus with every imaginable facility, and easily the grandest lobby in Guangzhou (reputedly the largest in Asia). Its level of service is amongst Guangzhou's best, and its rooms are slightly more imaginative than the China Hotel's. An interior waterfall and garden mimics that of the White Swan Hotel.

The Hong Kong-managed Rosedale Hotel and Suites was formerly the Plaza Canton (built 1988), and still appears on some maps and in the minds of taxi drivers as that. The exterior of the tower looks its age, but the lobby has had a sumptuous refit, as have several floors, now in the smart modern style of the sister property in Hong Kong. The as yet unrefurbished floors are as battered as the refurbished ones are elegant (bathrooms with glass bowls for basins), and generally receive overseas tour groups--pay a little more for a big jump in comfort. On the new metro line, and so giving swift access to the centre, this hotel will be also be ideally situated for business visitors once a vast new convention center is completed a little to the south.

The White Swan Hotel was one of China's first luxury hotels (1982), a labyrithine monster whose location on Shamian Island and views over the Pearl River make it perennially popular. The more you pay, the higher your room. Refurbishment is a continuous process, and the hotel is unusual amongst long-standing hotels in keeping up standards, and adding facilities. The slightly tacky lobby features a waterfall and fish-stocked pools, crossed by bridges. Former guests include Queen Elizabeth II, and the first US President Bush. Many agencies organizing adoptions use the White Swan, every floor is fully kitted with diaper service, parents get a free toy, and the hotel goes quiet at nap time.

Of all the above I'd choose the Rosedale. But better still would be to go just a notch down:

The Customs Conference and Reception Centre on Shamian Island in the heart of the European treaty-port era buildings is a solid four-story building of unclear antiquity with a roughly neo-classical exterior, whose interior has had a four-star refit. Through the gleaming marble lobby is a five-storey atrium, at the base of which, one storey down, is a small garden with a stream. Rooms are fresh and bright with wooden floors, and bathrooms have proper shower cubicles as well as baths. Suites are very affordable, and come with 1 1/2 baths.

Peter N-H
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Old Mar 24th, 2004, 11:31 AM
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Thank you!!!
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Old Mar 25th, 2004, 06:12 PM
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I'm going to attend Canton Fair also. Any suggestion how to travel to Hong Kong and Shenzhen in the fair interval between phase 1 and phase 2? Do I need any visa to go to HongKong ? Is there any travel agent in Guangzhou who has Hong Kong-Shenzhen trip ?

Thanks in advance,
Isna
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Old Mar 25th, 2004, 06:35 PM
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Visitors from US, Canada, and most developed countries do not need a visa to visit Hong Kong. However, returning to China, you'll need another visa. So, make sure you have a multiple visit visa for China, or you can't get back in.

There are 3 main ways to go from Guangzhou to Hong Kong - by air, by car/bus, or by train. The best way, in my opinion, is to take the "Through-train", which cost a bit more, but is most hassle-free. You go through Chinese immigration in Guangzhou, and HK immigration in HK. No need to get off train at border.

Road crossing is kind of messy, especially if you're taking a coach. You'll need to get off the bus with your belongings, and look for your specific bus afterwards. Not for a casual traveller, in my opinion. Same thing if you take a bus/coach to Shenzhen and cross-over to the Lo Wu station in Hong Kong.

There are also many ferry routes from other parts of the Guangdon Province to Hong Kong, but not from Guangzhou itself anymore, I don't think.

So, take the "through-train". Or have a private car/van drive you cross-border straight to Hong Kong.
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Old Mar 26th, 2004, 04:38 AM
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Thanks for your information.

Isna
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Old Mar 26th, 2004, 05:10 AM
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Actually two companies run ferry services from HK (Kowloon) to Guangzhou and vice versa, of which the most convenient are those of TurboJET, twice daily. See:

http://www.turbojet.com.hk/turbojet_sailing_rev.htm

for schedule and prices.

Peter N-H
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