I spent one whole day in China!
As to get to Europe from New Zealand was a bit tricky, I had some hours between flights in Guangzhou, I though If life takes me there anyways, then I could have a bit more time and spend some time in the city, instead of spending some useless hours at the airport. So, I’ve booked the second flight to the next day.
How is the visa for China?
As a Hungarian, I need to apply for a visa beforehand at the Embassy of China, but there is another way. At some airports in China, you can get a visa-free 72 hours if you have a transit there. Which means: you need to possess a ticket to travel to a 3rd country and leave China before 72 hours. As I’m not a visa expert and these rules can change rapidly, please always check with the local government websites/embassy to make sure you don’t make any mistake, for example, us: Grant wanted to join me in Guangzhou but had a transit in Shanghai. They made him leave to Hong Kong because he cannot have two transits in China. It sucks but looks like we didn’t really research that rule.
Tip: In Shanghai, you can spend 168 hours which means one week visa-free. In Shanghai, you can spend 168 hours which means one week visa-free.
What about Guangzhou?
Situated 145 km from Hong Kong, it’s part of the big commerce giants, and you feel the closeness to the big business city. Modern public transport takes you around, and you have plenty of exciting choices to spend even just a day there. Let’s see what I did during my stay!
The story of one day
I arrived by night at the airport, I took a taxi to get to my hotel. I left my big luggage at the luggage storage at the airport, for a day it costs me like 10 USD. Totally worth the money, I only needed to take my backpack with me. Their taxi system is really easy, just follow the Taxi sign, step into the line, and make sure the driver switches the taxi meter after you showed him the address. The ride to the city was about 20$, and it took 20-25 minutes.
I’m always more cautious whenever I travel alone, that means I don’t really walk alone in the dark, etc. I stayed in the Garden Hotel, which is in a busy area, so I took a short walk just to have a feel of the new place I arrived, but then I returned to my room.
Next day I was super excited, I knew my flight departs around midnight, so I had time until 8-9 pm, to check out as many areas I can. When I arrived at the hotel, they didn’t find my reservation. Again a typical story about, don’t get stressed if something like this happens, as you should reminder, everything happens for a reason. It was quite funny, I took my backpack on, went down to check out and also find my reservation. I planned to walk around the city after, yep, with my backpack in the hot, and steamy Guangzhou. Tell me about it! A nice german guy helped me to find out what happened with my booking. As there was still no sign of that in the system, he offered me to use the room that day as long as I want for free, so I’ll have the chance to take a shower before my flight and cool down a bit. After all he even explainer to me the subway system and what are the worthy places to go. That was so much help, I was the happiest girl. I went up, put my backpack down, immediately I got a call, they found my booking. Yes! It all works out in the end! With a huge smile on my face, I went to discover alone that Chinese city.
How to start?
Thanks to the metro system I could see lot of things in a short time. Don’t be afraid, it’s super easy to use it, modern and even cheap. Instead of tickets, they use this plastic token. Get a metro map and you can easily change to another line.
Yue Xiu Park
First I started here. Beautiful plants, buildings, you can find here the Zhenhai Tower, where there is an additional entry fee. They have a noise meter in the park. As it started to rain heavily, it went over 50dB.
I would’ve spent more time here, it was really relaxing, but I was excited to see more and more, so I bought an umbrella and went to the closest metro station to go further.
A Little treasure box of Guangzhou. I immediately felt a European vibe here. Of course, if you research this island, you can find out that Europeans occupied this area after the Second Opium Wars, in 1860. They definitely left some remarks, just take a look at the buildings.
All these combined with the Asian hot weather, and high humidity, you kinda feel tricked, but know for sure that you don’t walk around in Saint-Tropez. If you can spend some hour to discover the island. There are cute tea shops, you can see the river and the other side of the city.
One of the highlights of my day. I love the towers and the view from them. Although every time I reach the top, my legs are shaking, but every single time I overcome that fear and enjoy this adventure.
There is a special thing about Canton Tower, it has a nice height, 500 m, but on the very top, the lookout is fully open. If you’re brave enough you can float in those bubbles in the edge. Gorgeous and astonishing view, I wish I could’ve stayed more there, but I needed to get back to my room to refresh a bit before the long flight.
Tip: I spent a long time to wait in the line for tickets, and elevator. Always count some extra time for places like these, as you don’t want to miss your connecting flight!
I felt totally safe alone as a woman for the whole day, although there are a lot of people find the westerners interesting, and wanted to take pictures with me, that was definitely an interesting experience. Everyone was nice and happy to help, even though sometimes their English was not the best, no problem, we found a way to communicate.
Use the opportunity when you have a layover. Sometimes you can easily push the connecting flight a bit further and you can discover a totally new place.
Extra Tip: I’m sure you heard that China blocks Facebook, Google, which means no Gmail and some other websites. I use Betternet app on my phone and their Google Chrome extension. It’s totally free and super easy to use. Connect to the internet, turn on Betternet and it works instantly. It is a VPN (Virtual Private Network). It means that they use a private, secure connection which is awesome, especially when you use open wifis at the airport, cafe. But not just that, in case you connect to an American server, it seems like you are browsing your emails from the USA. Great tool when you travel!
Where did you have the chance to spend some nice layover time?