GUANGZHOU (formerly Canton) is the third-largest Chinese city, after Beijing and Shanghai, with a population of more than 12 million. Founded in 214 BC, this capital of the richest province is a dynamic mix of new and old. It not only boasts some of the oldest temples in China, a millenarian-old park, an imperial tomb of a southern kingdom and complete preservation of colonial villas and churches, but it also serves as a showcase of futuristic architecture, sprawling underground malls, and a top-notch metro system.
Hong Kong and Macau are only two hours away from Guangzhou by train or bus.
Cantonese is the first language for more than half of the residents. Mandarin is the official language in China and most residents speak a combination of Mandarin, Cantonese, and the language of their ancestral home or village.
The teacher's apartments are a ten minute walk from the Aipusen Office, conveniently located on Metro Line 5 in the heart of Guangzhou, in the "Wu Yang Cun" (五羊邨) neighborhood of the historic Yuexiu District. A small river runs next to the front street, and a five minutes walk brings you to the Pearl River, with an awesome view of the iconic Canton Tower. Wu Yang Cun offers the best of many worlds: it has local Cantonese as well as Chinese restaurants from many regions, western-style coffee shops, large grocery stores, gyms, parks, and swimming pools. It is tree-lined and feels "traditional" while having all of the modern amenities in the Chinese style. Cross a walking bridge or take a bus two stops and you are in Zhu Jiang New Town, the newest "ex-pat" area of Guangzhou with western style restaurants, bars, and nightlife. Visit the conveniently close Zhu Jiang New Town for the comforts of home, but have a truly Chinese cultural experience by living in Wu Yang Cun!
Baiyun International Airport opened in 2004 and is conveniently connected to the Guangzhou metro, on line 3. From the airport, you can take the metro, a direct bus, or a taxi to your destination.
The Guangzhou East Railway Station and South Railway Station are hubs for traveling by train or bus to almost any destination in the rest of the country. There are through-trains to Hong Kong (about 2 hours), which avoid the busiest border at Lo Wu and allow for a peaceful border "crossing" upon arrival in the center of the city.
The BRT or Bus Rapid Transit connects all of Guangzhou, and the bus fare is only 2 CNY (about 33 US cents). The closest bus stop to our teachers apartments, "Zhu Jiang Hotel" (珠江冰馆) is a less than one-minute walk from home.
The Guangzhou Metro (MTR) is modern and streamlined. Trains come every 2–4 minutes, so you never have to wait too long to board. The closest metro stop to our teachers apartments, "Wu Yang Cun" (五羊邨) on Line 5, is about a five-minute walk from door to door.
Taxis are also plentiful in the city, with a base fare of 10 CNY (under USD$2). There are also many emerging app-based rideshare services that are making the market more competitive.
The majority of public transport including the metro, railway stations and bus system have signs and announcements in Mandarin, Cantonese and English.
Food is the centerpiece of life in Guangzhou. It is the birthplace of what many know as "Chinese food" in the west, and has the country's largest number of restaurants per capita. Here you can taste the authentic local flavors of sweet and sour pork, wonton soup and dim sum dishes. Eating here is a favorite past time, not limited to local dishes—also popular are hot pot, pulled noodles, Korean barbecue, sushi, western-style burgers, kebab, Mexican, Thai and Vietnamese food. Adventurous eaters will like to try out the traditional Chinese snacks such as chicken feet, pickled eggs and stinky tofu.