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Planning Your Trip

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Located by the Pearl River, Guangzhou is known for its avant-garde architecture and Cantonese culture. Here’s what to pack for your trip.

A woman practicing Tai Chi in a park
A woman practicing Tai Chi in a park
What to Pack

The weather here is unpredictable, especially during summer. A compact, folding umbrella and a light waterproof jacket are smart additions.

Business Travel

The dress code for business-related affairs in China is conservative. This is not the place to experiment with flashy trends and bright patterns.


  • Men should bring simple suits in neutral and dark colors, along with elegant ties and a good pair of leather dress shoes.

  • Women may also wear well-tailored pantsuits or opt for a sophisticated knee-length dress paired with a fitted blazer.

  • Leave your highest heels at home (unless you plan on going out at night) and pack simple, closed-toe shoes that are of reasonable height. Opt for simple jewelry.
Exploring the City

Whether you plan to take a stroll around Guangzhou’s many lush gardens, take a boat ride down the Pearl River, fill your suitcase with comfortable essentials.


  • You’ll spend a lot of time outdoors, exploring the various parts of the city. Be prepared with plenty of sunscreen, a pair of sunglasses and a hat or two.

  • While summers are hot and sticky, buildings will be strongly air-conditioned. Pack a sweater or shawl for chilly indoors (you’ll also need it to cover up in the temples).

  • Guangzhou has developed a buzzy nightlife scene in recent years, thanks to its growing population of younger people. Leave room for a nice cocktail dress, chic sandals, khakis and sharp button-down shirts.
Day Trips

You can spend a day hiking on the beautiful Baiyun Mountain or take your kids to the Xiangjiang Safari Park, home to white tigers, sea lions and polar bears.


  • Pack a selection of workout clothes and sneakers for nature outings.

  • A lightweight backpack or tote is great for carrying necessities (water bottle, sunscreen, extra layers). Opt for ones with a zipper to deter petty thieves.

  • Guangzhou and its surrounding areas can be incredibly scenic. Bring a good camera to capture the highlights.
Ritz Carlton Hotel image
Ritz Carlton Hotel image
What to Reserve

As the birthplace of Cantonese cuisine, Guangzhou boasts a rich history and is renowned for its authentic food. It’s also a major port city, attracting millions of visitors a year, which makes it a vibrant and thriving modern metropolis. Below are some suggestions to get a taste of Guangzhou’s old and new.

What Westerners consider Chinese food today has its origins in this city where the Cantonese take their gastronomy very seriously. To savor Cantonese cuisine in an upscale setting, reserve a table at Michelin one star restaurant Lai Heen at The Ritz-Carlton, Guangzhou, where Chef Aiden Huang reinterprets centuries-old recipes to craft innovative culinary creations to delight food connoisseurs. There are a few traditional garden-style restaurants still around like Panxi which was built in 1947 in a former Han Dynasty imperial garden, and continues to serve traditional dim sum selections in town.

You cannot claim to have truly been to Guangzhou without having visited Baiyun Mountain. Baiyun means “white cloud” in Mandarin and is so called because the peaks become shrouded in a cinematic mist after a rain. If you’re traveling with kids, there are five theme parks to keep them entertained. Along with the roller coaster-filled Chimelong Paradise and the water rides of the Water Park, there is a crocodile park, a circus and a safari with 10,000 species of animals, from white tigers to koalas.

Enjoy stunning panoramic views from the observation deck of Guangzhou’s anchoring landmark, Canton Tower, at 1,982 feet. For a little history, go to the Temple of Six Banyan Trees, an ancient Buddhist temple complex built in 510. Or marvel at the colorfully carved roofs of the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, built as an academic temple during the Qing Dynasty in 1894. Guangzhou has several wonderful parks worth exploring, like the popular Yuexiu. And don’t miss a trip to Shamian Island, a former British and French concession where the charming architecture will make you feel like you’ve been transported to Europe.

Guangdong Museum, with a comprehensive collection of over 160,000 artifacts, was upgraded in 2010 with an expanded assortment of historical treasures. Even if you are not able to procure tickets to a performance, it is certainly worth visiting the Guangzhou Opera House, a showcase of one of the city’s architectural feats designed by the late Zaha Hadid.

Ritz Carlton Hotel image
Ritz Carlton Hotel image

The past of the bustling port city sits side by side with dazzling new architecture. Traditional Cantonese cuisine and dim sum occupy a special place in Guangzhou, but you can also find the best of almost any international cuisine, thanks to its large expat community and place in international business. Whether you spend your time cruising on the Pearl River, visiting museums or eating local delicacies, prepare to have your horizons broadened in Guangzhou.


Morning Massage. Ease your way into the day with a treatment at The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Guangzhou. The Pearl River Stone Massage combines a relaxing aromatherapy massage with essential oils and warm river stones to ease tension. As your energy flow is released, you’ll feel a sense of calm to begin your day.

Guangdong Museum. Discover Guangzhou by visiting the Guangdong Museum, which celebrates the history of the region with a collection of over 160,000 pieces. Be sure to see their ceramics exhibits along with the Duan inkstones, which are native to the area.


Guangzhou Opera House. Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, the Guangzhou Opera House is a stunning addition to the city’s skyline, opening in 2010. The building features state-of-the-art acoustics and seating for 1,800 in the main auditorium, but outside of the performances, the draw is the modernist architecture.

Cantonese Lunch. A local favorite, Bingsheng Pinwei is known for the quality of its traditional Cantonese menu. Be sure to get their famed char siu (barbecued pork) along with their homemade tofu and pineapple buns. The family-style portions are perfect for sharing if you’re with a group.


Shamian Island. The small island is actually an elliptical sandbar in the Liwan District. What originally started as a defense point for the city turned into a prosperous enclave (with many foreign inhabitants). Stroll the mansion-lined, leafy boulevards for a beautiful mini-escape from the bustle of the city.

Orient Express. Stop for a drink and some fresh oysters on ice at Orient Express on Shamian Island. The fine-dining restaurant has a beautiful patio, where you can select from their menu of artfully plated French favorites.


Dinner at Nan Yuan. Enjoy dinner in a lush garden setting of two pavilions, serving traditional Cantonese dim sum and cuisine featuring distinctive Lingnan flavor. Try dishes like Bean Paste Chicken, Buddha Jumping Over Wall or Stewed Wild Goose.

Pearl River Nighttime Cruise. See Guangzhou from a totally unique vantage point — from the waters of the Pearl River. The skyline of the city is lit up at night, and there’s no better way to see all the new towers along with the bridges crisscrossing the waterways than from the river, which continues to define the city after 2,000 years.


Tao Tao Ju Restaurant (Di Shi Fu). Welcome to enjoy the traditional morning tea experience in Guangzhou. Opening in 1880 during the Qing Dynasty and decorated to exude traditional Cantonese cultural elements, the restaurant serves authentic Cantonese food to delight your taste buds while you indulge in your tea.

Pearl River. Walk off your breakfast by strolling along the Pearl River on the walking path (or try it by bike, if you’re feeling more active). Take in the skyline of the city along with glimpses of the typical daily work being done at the port.


Dim Sum at Panxi. Enjoy traditional dim sum in a beautiful setting of gardens, pavilions and waterfalls. Choose from an extensive list of dumplings and other dim sum specialties at the popular restaurant.

Lychee Bay. Walk through the scenic and restored Lychee Bay, where you can stroll along a series of lakes and creeks that flow into the Pearl River. The main attractions are the historical buildings like Renwei Temple and Saikwan Mansion. You can also take a tour boat out, if you prefer that to walking.


Snack at Nanxin Milk Desserts. This café is famous for its traditional desserts, including the steamed egg white with milk and other milk pudding desserts. Expect a crowd — always a good sign that a place is truly popular with the locals.

Liurong Temple. The Temple of the Six Banyan Trees and the Flower Pagoda is considered to be one of the city’s best Buddhist temples, having originally been constructed in 537. Settle into the serene atmosphere, inhale the incense and find yourself transported to another time and place.


Dinner at Tiger Prawn. The cosmopolitan nature of Guangzhou means you can take delicious breaks from the traditional local food, and Tiger Prawn offers up an authentic taste of Vietnam. Look for the seafood and vegetarian specialties on the menu and expect to queue up if you arrive at peak hours or dinner time.


Traditional Dim Sum. Guangzhou Restaurant follows the traditional dim sum model, which you can order alongside a large selection of teas. Tables are set around a beautiful interior garden in the atrium, but go early to ensure dining with a view.  


Get Social. Social & Co. exemplifies the rise of expat culture in Guangzhou, with its airy design bearing a close resemblance to downtown New York and a menu filled with cross-cultural selections from the U.K., Australia, France and more. Enjoy the cosmopolitan crowd along with its fusion menu — just leave room for its much-loved banoffee pie.


Library Stop. The Guangzhou Library was rebuilt to become a cultural and educational institution, with over 7 million books and a seating capacity of 4,000. The design of the building is a standout, with the cascade of book-like forms on the exterior meant to represent the overlap of history and culture. Visitors will also be awestruck by its impressive technology, complete with RFID codes and an automatic sorting system.


Dinner at LIMONI. Honored with the Michelin Plate, LIMONI at The Ritz-Carlton, Guangzhou offers a relaxed environment where guests can relax and enjoy authentic Italian cuisine. Indulge in a gastronomical feast with wine pairing from restaurant’s extensive wine selection. The culinary experience is a celebration of the senses that infuses every meal at LIMONI.