The thing I love most about Guangzhou, China is that almost all year, it’s comfortable to be outside (with the exception of the occasional typhoon or insanely hot and humid day). I encourage you, if you’re visiting, to take advantage of the sun and fresh, relatively unpolluted air, and visit one of the great parks around the city.
Baiyun Mountain (???)
Baiyun Mountain is the tallest point in Guangzhou. It overlooks the city and has dozens of paved walking paths and unpaved hiking trails that connect to a larger greenway system. If you enjoy hiking, have fun wandering through paved and unpaved trails to find secret hidden niches (including a random concrete tunnel in the side of the mountain that my husband really wanted to explore, but common sense prevailed). If you’re more like me and prefer not to get as sweaty, take the cable car most of the way up (RMB 25 / person to go up; RMB 20 / person to come down) before exploring.
Ride the cable car up Baiyun Mountain for RMB 25/person
Baiyun has many scenic areas that are nice to check out, including Moxing Peak and Mingzhou Tower, which you can find by following one of the many very helpful signs. If you get tired of walking, there are buses you can take for RMB 10/person Baiyun Mountain has several entrances, and it can be easy to get lost. I’d recommend downloading the Baidu Maps app if you have a SIM card. Even though the App is in Chinese, it’s still helpful to get an idea of the trails. There are plenty of kiosks to buy drinks and food like hot dogs, tea eggs, and instant noodles in case you get hungry or thirsty while visiting the park. Visiting Baiyun Mountain costs RMB 5/person (which is included in the cable car fare). To get to the cable car on the southwestern side of the park, you can take a number of buses, including 120, 245, 257 depending on where you are coming from. The closest train stop is Shahe Station on line 6. There is a Baiyun Mountain stop on line 2 as well, which drops off near the park’s eastern entrance.
Yuexiu Park (????)
Yuexiu Park hosts one of the symbols of Guangzhou – the five-ram sculpture you see at every bus stop and train station. Legend has it that during an ancient drought, five immortals rode into the city to teach the people living in Guangzhou how to grow rice, which ended famine. This story gives Guangzhou the nickname “Ram City.” After taking an obligatory selfie in front of the sculpture, go explore! The park is massive and holds something for everyone. You can walk along the ancient city wall, visit the Zhen hai Tower, home to the Guangzhou Museum, or rent a paddle boat on one of the park’s lakes. There are also some old Soviet-era airplanes tucked away in a corner, as well as an amusement park (which is more geared towards children, but still fun).
Yuexiu Park has many interesting places to visit
Yuexiu Park is home to two large swimming pools that are open in the summer, but because visiting is cheap (around RMB 30/person for two hours), they fill up fast. If you decide to go swimming, bring 1 RMB coins (or single notes to exchange for coins) to pay for a locker. You’ll also need to buy or bring a swim cap to cover your hair. Yuexiu Park itself is free and is a popular gathering place for locals. My first time there, I came across a choir, singing in perfect harmony. However, my favorite visit was this past winter, during the Chinese Lantern Festival (which did have a small fee of RMB 5/person but was well worth it). Pro tip: get there a bit before sunset in order to beat the crowds – you’ll be partially through the show before sunset when everyone starts to arrive. You’ll be able to see the structures at night, which are absolutely stunning. Like Baiyun Mountain, there are several stalls throughout the park selling cold drinks, hot dogs, and tea eggs. Yuexiu Park is also on line 2, at the Yuexiu Park Station. Exit at B1, then do a U-turn to the right to get to the main gate.
Guangzhou Sculpture Garden has a mix of old and new art
Guangzhou Sculpture Park (??????)
Wild horses run across the lawn at the Guangzhou Sculpture Garden
Technically part of Baiyun Mountain, Guangzhou Sculpture Park is a horse of a different color. Where Baiyun Mountain and Yuexiu Park are, for the most part, tree-lined walking trails, Guangzhou Sculpture Park has more of a grassy lawn feel (with a herd of carved wild horses galloping across it). Most of the sculptures are modern and are often thought-provoking. This park is free, and while there is a restaurant, there aren’t kiosks to buy food or drinks, so make sure to bring some water. The closest train stop is Xiaobei on Line 5, or you can take the 245 bus, which takes you a little closer to the entrance. The park is also home to the Guangdong Museum of Art (also free, but bring your ID), a modern art museum with rotating exhibits.
Shunfeng Shan Park (?????
Shunfeng Shan Park is often compared to the Summer Palace in Beijing
If you need to get out of Guangzhou for a day, take a trip to Shunfeng Shan Park, is in the neighboring city of Foshan, also in Guangdong Province, China. Shunfeng Shan Park is compared with the Summer Palace in Beijing, and with good reason. It has everything a park should have – lakes, trees, and temples (but bring your own water). The park is free. Unlike parks in Guangzhou, you can bring your dockless bike (Mobike or Ofo) into the park for a pleasant afternoon ride. Shunfeng Shan Park isn’t close to any train stop, but lines 3, 4, and the lime green Guangzhou-Foshan line will get you the closest, and from there you can take a bus or a taxi. I’d recommend copying the Chinese characters above into Baidu Maps and following its’ suggested public transportation route.