The heartlands of China's Cantonese population, Guangdong is a scenic and cultural wonderland. Bypassed by those rushing to get to cosmopolitan Hong Kong, there is so much to explore in this beautiful province, from the fantastic cuisine (dim sum anyone?) to the unique and fascinating culture of the Hakka and Chiuchow people.
Guangzhou is China’s third largest city, with a population of just over 12 million people. Formerly Canton, Guangzhou was founded in 214BC and has long been one of China’s most important trading hubs, thanks to its location at the top of the Pearl River Delta. Along with trade came plenty of money and outside ideas, marking Guangzhou out as a liberal and wealthy city, which eventually led to it being the cradle of many reformist and revolutionary ideas, including the Chinese Revolution of 1911-1912. An ancient city, Guangzhou has much to explore. The Mausoleum of the Nanyue King is a must see, the remnants of a 2,000 year old kingdom now a brilliant museum. There are also some of China’s oldest temples here, including the 4th-century Bright Filial Piety Temple and the 6th-century Liurong Temple, as well as what was China’s tallest building, the Canton Tower at 600 metres. A British East India Company trading post in the 18th century, there are also some beautiful colonial villas here as well as the Shamian Island concession, a particularly picturesque are of colonial grandeur. Gunagzhou is also a fantastic place to go shopping, with plenty of huge markets to browse through for pretty much anything.
The Kaiping Towers, called ‘diaolou’, dot the countryside around the city of Kaiping and are one of China’s hidden treasures. There are about 1,800 of them in total, ranging from early Ming Dynasty defensive structures, built to repel raiders to early 20th century confections built for residential use. The more recent towers are a fascinating blend of Chinese and Western architecture, built by the wealthy traders who have travelled overseas and bought back aspects of gothic and renaissance styles. As a whole they are UNESCO-listed. Visit Ruishi Diaolou, the tallest of the towers; Li Garden, one of the most extravagant; and Chikanzhen Yinglong Lou, some of the oldest built during the Ming Dynasty.
Located in the Conghua district of Guangdong, famous for its blossom and hot springs, the Liuxihe National Forest Park is a beautiful natural sojourn from China’s urban bustle. The variety of vegetation here is astounding, and changes dramatically with the seasons, whilst the park’s mountainous backdrop is a haven for hikers, with plenty of trails to tramp. At the park’s heart is a lake, Liuxi He, a particularly picturesque spot where you can even go fishing!
Set in the foothills of Phoenix Mountains, the Imperial Springs is utmost luxury in a spectacular rural setting. This all suite property has a range of facilities that is second to none, with natural hot springs and a spa to pamper yourself in, a 27-hole golf course and even a museum. Suites and villas effortlessly blend modern and imperial, offering secluded decadence, dotted as they are amongst the hotel's extensive grounds. There is no more exclusive resort in the region.
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The world’s largest and most populous continent, Asia is a vibrant and rambunctious fusion of ethnicities, cultures and customs; an incomparably rich and turbulent history showcased by mindboggling feats of architecture and engineering; a geography that encompasses towering peaks, unfathomable gorges and paradisiacal beaches; and a biodiversity that is so abundant that you’ll be reaching for your wildlife guide.