Tuesday, 27 December 2011

5 Things You Should Know About Guangzhou

Went to Guangzhou earlier on this month, that's why I haven't been updating the blog. Didn't bring my camera over there so won't be doing a detailed post on the itinerary and stuff. Instead, I'll be writing about some stuff to note while you're there. :) Might also do a review of the museums because my dad is crazy about them and so we visited quite a few.

Disclaimer: the photos are taken off the net, I'm using it only to emphasize certain points so credits go to the respective photographers.

1. Transport systems

GZ has quite a comprehensive public transport system and it's generally quite safe. You can save quite a lot of money by taking public transport.

For example, they have this thing call BRT. It's like a bus system, but the good thing is, you pay RMB$2 and you can change bus as many times as you want without leaving the station. Very economical.

Then they also have the local MTR system. This one is like Singapore's MRT and they charge according to the distance.

Of course, you have buses and it's RMB$2 regardless of distance.

You can plan your journey beforehand using the website www.mapbar.com, it's like our version of gothere.sg. You can check routes from point to point, or just bus services, or even just destinations.

GZ has banned motorcycles, but you can still see motorized bicycles on the roads. You can take those for short trips at about RMB$3 per person.

One word of advice, DO NOT take public transport during peak hours. Inexperienced people like us will have a damn hard time getting on or off the bus or MRT. Try to stay in a place until peak hours are over. But I must admit it was quite amusing watching people pushing and all. Haha.

 And do beware of pickpockets too.

2. Weather

Guangzhou has dry winters and wet summers. Went there during July and it was pouring almost every single day. But in winters it almost doesn't rain, and even when it does, it's just slight drizzles for a while.

If you don't mind the cold I'll suggest going at the end of the year because you can probably do more stuff when it doesn't rain. I mean, you wouldn't want to be lugging your shopping around or strolling in the parks in the rain right.

But just because it's cold and windy doesn't mean you won't get sunburn okay. The local weather forecast is quite comprehensive so you can check the UV ratings before going out.

3. The Food

GZ has a lot of very good food. I stuffed myself silly almost every single day because everything was so nice.  You'll normally see streets lined with food.

My advice is to skip all the middle-range restaurants. You can go to big eatery places like 广州酒家 for the experience, but  small shops normally have really fantastic food too.

For example, I went to 表哥茶餐厅 to have their speciality, the prawn wanton mee, and it cost me like RMB$25, and it was nothing to rave about. Then I visited a wanton mee stall outside Beijing Lu, which cost me only RMB$8, and it was damn freaking fabulous.

The GZ wanton mee is different from the Singapore version. The dish only consists of noodle and wanton in a soup broth. So it doesn't take away the highlight (the wanton). The shop that I went to had a soup broth that is to-die-for, the wanton has a generous serving of prawn, fish roe, meat and water chestnut. It was enough to leave you wanting for more.

Some shops look really dubious and may not be clean. So a rule of thumb is to look for small clean shops with lots of people. You can also check out what most people order because that's bound to be the hot favourite of the shop. You can never go wrong like that.

4. Shopping

Other than shopping malls, you can find many streets selling very unique stuff. GZ has streets dedicated to different things. You can find leather streets, pottery streets, lights and shades streets, undergarments streets and so on.

Unless you're looking for branded stuff, I suggests visiting these streets. You can bargain and normally successfully get the item at about 40% - 50% of the quoted price. If it doesn't walk, try walking away because the shop owners will usually run after you. Before you ask for the price try to have a budget in your mind that you're willing to pay, and go about $10 cheaper than that price, giving you more room to bargain.

Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street is one of my favourite. The prices are ridiculously cheap and I manage to get dresses and tops and shorts at less than S$10 per piece. I even got fake converse for S$7. And they look really nice and very much like the real thing.

Beijing Pedestrain Street is a very touristy place so prices are more steep. But they have this really interesting glass display of roads from the past that they digged up. They have a lot of big shopping malls in this area, but there are also a few streets of small shops like those you can find at Bugis.

5. ID

You know how we tend to leave our ID cards and passports in hotels because we're afraid that they'll get stolen? Well, don't.

Some tourist attractions in GZ, like a lot of the museums, are free of charge for entry. But it's only that case when you produce some form of identification.

For the 1911 Revolution Museum, we didn't bring our ID cards out but luckily the ticket booth and entry point are located at different places so we managed to borrow ID cards.

But for the city museum, you queue up with the ID and then enter straight away so there's no way you can borrow someone else's card.

Plus, there are student discounts too so do bring your student pass!

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