How to Spend One Night in Guangzhou

For whatever reason, you’re stuck in Guangzhou for the night with nothing to do.

Whether you’re there for a layover or visiting from Hong Kong, Guangzhou is a fascinating, yet massive city. From the beautiful temples to the wholesale markets, there’s something for just about everyone.

Where to stay

If you’re a budget traveler, I recommend staying in one of the few hostels in Guangzhou. I stayed at Lazy Gaga Hostel for my night in the city, and although the amenities were numerous (pool table, kitchen, gaming room), it didn’t have the “hostel vibe” I had become used to throughout Asia.

Regardless, the location was quite interesting. Situated a short walk from Ximenkou Station, the surrounding area is quite industrial and busy, but that could be used as a description for basically anywhere in the city.

If you’re looking for a more business-oriented experience, 4 and 5-star hotels average around $75–100 per night, so you can enjoy a luxurious experience without breaking the bank.

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View from the hostel’s roof
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The Temple of the Six Banyan Trees

What to see

The Temple of the Six Banyan Trees (left) is also a quick walk from Lazy Gaga, and that was my favorite sight while there. I highly recommend taking some time alone, walking through the temple courtyard. The sheer beauty of the architecture and contrasting colors between Banyan trees and temples makes for a serene experience. Tickets are required and are for sale at a ticket window.

I visited multiple temples in Guangzhou, but this was by far my favorite and without doubt the most pristine. Additionally, the surrounding area is filled with some fascinating religiously-oriented shops.

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Guangzhou’s Markets

While in Guangzhou, I decided to explore aimlessly and see what came to fruition. From this, I discovered the city’s extensive jade markets (during which my phone decided to stop saving photos), as well as the massive wholesale clothing markets. Both are quite easy to find with a simple search, and I recommend both to everybody. Whether you’re looking for a new jade bracelet or a graphic tee like the one below, do not miss Guangzhou’s markets!

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When there’s nothing left to do

Guangzhou, despite being one of the world’s largest cities, is actually quite boring for foreigners. There are a few bars and clubs, such as Suns or True Color, but it’s just not quite the same as the rest of Southeast Asia. Guangzhou is a business city, and quite frankly, I do not recommend it for tourists. However, when I found myself there with nothing left to do (or at least no remaining will to do anything), I bought a cigar and a few beers and started people watching on the hostel’s patio. After a chaotic trip around Asia, I actually found this experience quite therapeutic. It was the first time I had given myself a break and took a step back to just live in the moment, embracing the fact I had nothing to do. I took comfort in the fact that this giant city was at my finger tips, yet the simple pleasure of imagining the stories behind each passerby enthralled me. The intimidating, densely populated city was now accessible to me, through the people who lived in it; the people who made the city what it was. So, if you find yourself in Guangzhou with nothing to do, or any other city in that manner, maybe it’s a good thing you have nothing to do. Embrace it.

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I splurged first on an import, then quickly resorted to the $0.50 Harbins ;)

Written by

Journalist, entrepreneur and student - Boston College, University of Otago. Buddhist. Expert adventurer and consultant for conducting business in Asia.

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