Guangzhou is home to one of the world’s best subway systems, and good thing because without it I’d be at a loss for how to wander this sprawling city with its seemingly endless population (somewhere between 12 and 16 million, give or take a million).
Fortunately, the well-planned underground tram is labeled in English and each line is colored and numbered for ease of remembering. My paper map is dotted with my favorite places at each stop, though I still have many more to explore before I’m through with China.
At the Chigang Pagoda stop, Downtown Guangzhou is home to high-rise buildings not unlike those in Los Angeles or Seattle. They even have their own version of the Space Needle, called the Guangzhou Tower, which is the world’s tallest T.V. tower at nearly 1,970 feet, according to this website.
On my subway map alone I count four parks, but there are surely many more. Chinese people love their parks, and they actually utilize them. A stroll through any one of the lusciously landscaped areas will lead you to families playing games, students studying, couples taking a romantic boat ride and many others having a picnic.
Unlike parks in The States, which are large grassy areas where one can go to find a peaceful place to read or relax, the parks in Guangzhou have paved pathways, hard benches and very little grass for sitting. I found myself intrigued by the amount of people in Yuexiu Park, but disappointed that I couldn’t find a comfortable, quiet spot to finish my book.
In between the massive parks and skyscrapers are long, narrow alleyways booming with locally owned fruit stands, cake shops, clothing stores, butcher shops and vegetables for sale on the sidewalk. I walked down several of the interconnected pathways for what felt like miles, allowing me to forget I was in the middle of one of China’s largest and most developed cities and feel as if I had returned to the villages of ago, where people simply go about their daily shopping without the crowds.
Eventually, I turned onto a lane that spit me back onto a loud, packed motorway and I felt like Alice, returning from Wonderland with a hard slap of reality to remind me I was still in the city.
Well, I thought, I might as well go to a mall. I got back on the subway and picked a random stop (Tiyu Xilu) where I found more adorable (and tiny) Asian shoes and clothes than I could have wished for, as well as brands I recognized from home.
A girl can find almost anything she wants in Guangzhou, whether it’s food, culture, fashion or entertainment, she just needs to know where to exit the metro. However, if a silent place to be alone is what you’re looking for, good luck. I’m still marking up my map, but if I ever succeed at finding one, I’ll be sure to let you know.
Is there anything I must see or do next time I’m in Guangzhou? Which subway stop is your favorite?
- Guangzhou Travel China (chinatravelguide.com)
- Lonely Planet Guangzhou (lonelyplanet.com
- 10 Must Sees in Guangzhou China (lonelyplanet.com)
Guangzhou City at a Glance