Guangzhou is relatively isolated from the rest of China culturally. This is due, in a large part, to the geographical position of the city, with Guangzhou surrounded by mountain ranges to the north and only having limited access to the sea. Chinese people think of it as a place that is lacking in culture, because it is separated from the rest of the country, but Guangzhou has maintained the traditional Chinese temples, and has benefited from the great international influence that the province of Guandong has experienced. The cuisine is particularly varied and spectacular, and combines traditional Chinese food with other cuisines in South East Asia. Inside the city center are many famous and interesting sights, like the Dafo Temple, Shaiman Island and Canton Tower, along with many other religious temples and parks. Head outside of the city center of Guangzhou and you will find mountains and luscious hills, with pedestrian trails and spectacular views of the city of Guangzhou on a clear day. China’s current football champions and Asian Champions League winners in 2013, Guangzhou Evergrande, are based in the city.
Guangzhou’s rapid development has created the necessity for good transportation links, and this has been achieved, particularly through the comprehensive Metro system running through the city. Efficient all year round, and very popular, particularly at the busy rush hour, it is the easiest way of getting into the city. As with every Chinese city, the roads are busy, and drivers are unpredictable. Despite this, bikes are very popular, even amongst foreigners living in Guangzhou. The buses are the cheapest way of getting around, but should be avoided for long journeys at the busiest times of day, as the buses are crammed with people and are very hot in the summer. A city-wide travel card can be used on all forms of public transportation in the city, and can be topped up at local banks, supermarkets and newsagents. Taxis are not as cheap as in other cities in China, but are still relatively inexpensive in comparison to Europe and North American countries, so are a good choice when the traffic is quieter in the evenings.
As one of China’s most modern and developed cities, expatriates in Guangzhou are less unexpected and rare than in other cities but they can still be a target for opportunists. Be careful wearing shoulder bags with long straps, particularly in crowded areas like when stopped at traffic lights or bus stops. It is also a good idea to keep your hand in your pockets if you are keeping money or a phone in there. Most tourists or foreigners living in Guangzhou have an incident-free experience. China’s city centers are no less safe than those in Europe and North America, and are often safer.
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