China | Food, Retail Therapy and Haggling in Guangzhou

Guangzhou - Lonely Planet - China

Guangzhou, is the capital and largest city of the Guangdong province in Southern China. Located on the Pearl river, its apparently the first city most travellers to China visit. It certainly was in my case as I visited while on a break from the hectic explorations of Hong Kong‘s bustling metropolis. This city is a key national transportation hub and trading port made obvious by the haze of smog that hovers over the  city.  It was originally known as Canton and is the home of Cantonese cuisine. So expect great food but a word of warning to the wise, for those in search authentic Cantonese food bring a fork! Most food spots serve food with chopsticks, which I can’t hold to save my life! So I ended up eating with those little ceramic Chinese spoons, which was a cause for a few comedic moments and laughter at my expense in the little restaurants around town. Lessons for my next visit of course, but I came back with lots of chopsticks so I can put in some practice at home.

The city has had major development and seen many changes to modernise and with that many skyscrappers, malls with restoration of historical attractions some dating back to 214 BC, such as the beautiful Temple of Bayan Trees. My visit was fairly short in the city and was just as hectic as the chaotic city itself but I managed to visit the many markets in Guangzhou. I have never seen anything like it. There is plenty of temptation for visitors coming to Guangzhou. There are huge and I mean HUGE markets for everything. There are outlets for everything from ridiculously large Jade Sculptures to designer goods. Large markets for just watches only, real fur spread outside, clothes, weird toys and gadgets. A whole building dedicated to just handbags and accessories, many of them designer copies, and jewellery markets with semi precious stones enticingly twinkling at you as you walk by. Of course the price you see is the price you will pay if you fail to haggle. This is the same place where a lot of Chinese folk would call out “Sista”, an attempt to get me into their shops. They are were a funny and crazy bunch.They will also follow you around the streets too. Check out the pictures below of my guide and translator being following around with a hand massager. I wish I had more time in the city but no doubt I will be heading back to visit Guangzhou soon.

This is not just a city for business owners from all over the world who come for  trade, so don’t skip out on the city as it offers more for the travellers too! There are many interesting attractions to peek at. Guangzhou also has an impressive exhibit collection of  Chinese calligraphy, paintings.  It also boasts one of the best art museum in the whole of China, the Guangzhou City Art Musuem. If you were in London a few weeks ago you may have  seen GuangZhou’s Xu Hongfei’s sculpture tour titled Chubby Charms. You may also have seen me instagram some pictures of the Chubby Charms here and here on Facebook. Luckily on this occassion, one of my sister’s friends was on hand to do a bit of translation when I needed it as English is not widely spoken by most in Guangzhou. As most prices in the markets are in US dollars you will get by with hand gestures to signal whether the price is too high.

Travelling to the city from Hong Kong is fairly easy as the train is about 2-3 hours long. Just remember that you will need a visa to visit this part of China, even if you travelled to Hong Kong without one. I had my visa processed while I was in Hong Kong which only took a couple of hours.

So have you heard much or been to this part of China?

This poster was in my hotel room near the headboard. Couldn’t help but Chuckle.


  1. July 30, 2014 / 11:43 pm

    Love these photos. Am I the only one who has noticed how clean the streets are? Their investments into infrastructure are just stunning.

    • July 31, 2014 / 6:48 pm

      It was clean but hot! They have definitely put in a lot of investment there. Guangzhou is definitely a commercial via. It is busy and congested but buzzing at the same time too.

  2. July 31, 2014 / 7:07 am

    Interesting how they call you 'sista', love the bronze sculpture … and I've also never been able to use chopsticks 🙂

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    • July 31, 2014 / 6:50 pm

      It was really funny, probably because they have a lot of black people in Guangzhou. This is because there are a lot of them from African countries coming to do business there or buy things. A lot of them now speak the language too.

  3. July 31, 2014 / 8:08 am

    Ah, haggling. I can't even remember what it's like to hop into a metered taxi or buy something with a price tag on it outside of a supermarket. This part of China looks very cool and different from anything I've experienced. Hope I get there soon and thanks for the fun photo tour.

    • July 31, 2014 / 6:51 pm

      Yeah, unfortunately not a lot of haggling in London but thats what makes travelling a little more exciting.

  4. July 31, 2014 / 10:54 am

    That sounds fun! Love the idea of all the markets 🙂 Good tip about the fork- I am the WORST with chop sticks, I seriously need to practice before I ever visit or I will be the laughing stock of the country

    • July 31, 2014 / 6:52 pm

      Markets are usually at the top of my list when I travel. Yep, next time I am there I will bring some forks 😀

  5. July 31, 2014 / 1:15 pm

    I am in love with local markets, I always feel like you get the best inside glimpse into a new place through the markets!

    • July 31, 2014 / 6:53 pm

      You certainly do, I love markets for that very reason. They are always on my list whatever city I visit.

  6. July 31, 2014 / 2:45 pm

    I'm a big fan of exploring the markets in different places I visit – though despite having visited a lot I am still a terrible haggler!

    • July 31, 2014 / 6:54 pm

      Haha, it take practice. Also always practice that "walking away from the deal" walk…you can maximum the discount with it 😀

  7. July 31, 2014 / 7:37 pm

    Wow, that hand massager is pretty insistent! What a fun place to visit.

  8. August 1, 2014 / 1:35 pm

    Looks like a interesting place to visit. I find it funny that she is using the hand massager while they are walking. Thanks for linking up to #WeekendWanderlust.

  9. August 2, 2014 / 7:14 pm

    Thank you so much for linking up with #WeekendWanderlust! It looks like such an exciting and bustling place to visit. That is really funny about the lady with the hand massager, makes for a great story though 🙂

  10. August 3, 2014 / 5:28 pm

    I'm a terrible haggler and don't do it much when I travel. I just look around and take pictures instead! 🙂

  11. August 7, 2014 / 3:21 pm

    My brother's been based in Guagzhou for several years now. So long that he experiences some re-entry issues when he returns home. 🙂

    • August 12, 2014 / 1:21 pm

      haha you should definitely go an visit if you havent been yet. I am thinking about going for another bargain hunting session next year.

  12. August 11, 2014 / 9:20 pm

    Thanks so much for linking up with us for #WeekendWanderlust! Please be sure to include our Weekend Wanderlust badge whenever you post links in the future if you don't mind to really help spread the word of traveling!

    Isn't it crazy how many great stories you can come across when you are traveling, especially when you least expect it! I am sure that traveling solo is even more unique but kudos to you for being able to do that.

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