1 Hour Activities


GUANGZHOU OPERA HOUSE
1 Zhujiang Xi Lu, Tianhe district
+86-020-3839-2888
gzdjy.org
广州大剧院: 天河区珠江西路一号

WATER DROP
1 Zhujiang Xi Lu (lower level, west entrance), Tianhe district
+86-020-8783-6505
滴水坊:天河区珠江西路一号 (大剧院首层西侧)

DISCOVER GROUNDBREAKING ARCHITECTURE

  • Marvel at one of China’s most acclaimed new landmarks
  • Visit Zaha Hadid’s opera house, renowned for bold design and impeccable acoustics
  • Taste Buddhist vegetarian cuisine and artisanal teas

If you’ve visited Guangzhou before—say, 10 or 15 years ago—you’ll now hardly recognize its fast-evolving skyline, which has been utterly transformed in the last decade. Among the many new additions to the cityscape, the most dramatic is just a quick walk from the Conrad: the Guangzhou Opera House, designed by the late, great Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid and constructed between 2005 and 2010. In the heart of the CBD, Hadid’s monumental granite-and-glass edifice draws inspiration from the nearby Pearl River, with organic contours resembling giant rocks worn smooth by the current. Inside is a 1,804-seat auditorium with a boldly aerodynamic design and sensational acoustics. Ticket holders can explore the building before and during performances; otherwise, the opera house is open to the public only on weekends, via hourly group tours. You’ll find numerous art and sculpture installations scattered throughout, as well as a collection of boutiques on the lower level, and a charming wooden sculpture of a laughing Buddha. For a delicious respite, stop into Water Drop, a vegetarian restaurant and teahouse with an impressive social mission: the servers here are mostly deaf and mute. The kitchen specializes in Buddhist temple cuisine, with vegetarian renditions of classic dishes (roast mock duck; crisp-edged, juice-filled mushroom buns) as well as exquisite Chinese teas, served in delicate, traditional gongfu cups.

The opera house is only a short walk from Conrad Guangzhou. Exit the hotel and cross Xiancun Road 冼村路, then turn right onto the pathway, passing the Guangzhou Library and Huacheng Square. You’ll see the opera house’s dramatic façade up ahead.

GUANGZHOU OPERA HOUSE
1 Zhujiang Xi Lu, Tianhe district
+86-020-3839-2888
gzdjy.org
广州大剧院: 天河区珠江西路一号

WATER DROP
1 Zhujiang Xi Lu (lower level, west entrance), Tianhe district
+86-020-8783-6505
滴水坊:天河区珠江西路一号 (大剧院首层西侧)

HUACHENG SQUARE
Tianhe district
天河区

GUANGZHOU LIBRARY
4 Zhujiangdong Road, Tianhe district
+86-020-8383-6666
广东图书馆:天河区珠江东路4号

BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY

  • Thrill to the nighttime glow and glitz of Huacheng Square
  • Visit the world’s largest municipal library, an architectural wonder in itself

Huacheng Square—aka Flower City Square, the city’s largest public gathering space—is impressive at any time of day, but it truly comes alive after dark, when hundreds of thousands of sparkling lights and LEDs set the square and its surrounding towers aglow in vibrant, pulsing rainbow hues, making it look like a landing strip for arriving spaceships. The graceful feng shui alignment of the square also offers the most dramatic vantage of the iconic Canton Tower (see the 3-hour itinerary “Get Way Up, Then Get Down”), rising directly across the Pearl River and perfectly framed by Huacheng’s allée of skyscrapers. Below the square is a vast underground shopping mall; at street level, there’s a surprising amount of greenery in the park like square itself, including peaceful ponds and lush gardens. But to our mind, one of the highlights of Huacheng is the Guangzhou Library, which happens to be the largest municipal library in the world. Located near the southern end of the square, the library is open until 9 p.m. six nights a week (closed Wednesdays), so make time for a walk-through before or after you revel in the glitz and glitter outside. The building’s glass-walled center “seam” is cleverly designed to resemble the curving pages of an open book. A state-of-the-art storage-and-retrieval system—including sterilizing cabinets for books—provides super-efficient access to nearly 4 million titles. (The collection is open to foreigners as well as to Chinese.) With 4,000 seats and just as many wired Internet nodes (as well as fast Wi-Fi throughout the building), it’s become a popular all-ages gathering spot for Guangzhou residents and visitors alike, and is affectionately known as the city’s living room.

Huacheng Square and the Guangzhou Library are an easy walk from the Conrad: exit the hotel and cross Xiancun Road 冼村路, then turn right onto the pathway leading past several high-rise towers. A short distance ahead you’ll reach Huacheng Square, with the library’s distinctive facade unmistakable on the eastern edge of the square.

HUACHENG SQUARE
Tianhe district
天河区

GUANGZHOU LIBRARY
4 Zhujiangdong Road, Tianhe district
+86-020-8383-6666
广东图书馆:天河区珠江东路4号

GUANGDONG MUSEUM
2 Zhujiang Donglu, Tianhe district
+86-020-3804-6886
gdmuseum.com
广东博物馆;天河区珠江东路2号

SOAK UP LOCAL CULTURE

  • See one of the city’s most provocative new buildings—a true masterwork of design
  • Learn the fascinating story of Guangdong province at a state-of-the-art museum
  • Dive deep into exhibits on Chinese calligraphy, pottery, porcelain, and herbal medicine

Bordering the southeastern edge of Huacheng Square, Zhujiang New Town—home to the Conrad Guangzhou, among other landmarks on the rise—is the burgeoning financial hub of Guangzhou, and the location of some of the city’s most forward-looking architectural design. Chief among these is the provocative Guangdong Museum, conceived by Rocco Yim and his Hong Kong–based firm Rocco Design Architects. Completed in 2010, the museum’s charcoal-gray-and-cherry-red facade—with its interlocking layers of intricate geometric panels and slot like windows—calls to mind a hand-painted lacquer box. At night the whole building glows eerily from within, while seeming to float above the lawns and sloped walkways leading up to it. It’s a somber giant, alternately menacing and mesmerizing, and one of the undisputed masterworks of the new Guangzhou. It’s also just a 10-minute walk from the Conrad, so you can easily spend a quick hour or more exploring the museum, which is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Mondays (admission is free). The extensive collection takes a deep dive into the long and illustrious history of Guangdong province, from well-preserved fossils of the Paleolithic era to an eye-opening survey of Chinese herbal medicine. Other highlights include displays of Chinese calligraphy, woodcuts, and ceramics. Time to spare afterward? The Guangzhou Library is right next door, as is the Technicolor playground of Huacheng Square (see the 1-hour itinerary “Bright Lights, Big City”).

The Guangdong Museum is located just south of the Guangzhou Library, off Huacheng Square, a short walk from the Conrad. Note that queues for entry run long on weekends and holidays. Be sure to bring your passport or Chinese national ID for free entry.

GUANGDONG MUSEUM
2 Zhujiang Donglu, Tianhe district
+86-020-3804-6886
gdmuseum.com
广东博物馆;天河区珠江东路2号

DIAN DOU DE
Multiple locations, Floor 4th , Building 2nd , Gaodehui, 16 Huangcheng Ave., Tianhe distritct
+86-020-3726-6163
点都德:天河区花城大道16号高德汇2座4楼

DIM SUM AND THEN SOME

  • Discover one of Guangzhou’s most cherished dim sum parlors
  • Savor classic dumplings, silky noodles, and authentic Cantonese delicacies

Among the many inflections and iterations of Chinese cuisine, Cantonese reigns as one of the most sophisticated—renowned for its natural flavors, simple cooking techniques (like steaming and poaching), and reliance on exquisite ocean delicacies as well as the produce grown year-round in this fertile southern region. If you were already in love with the staples of Cantonese cooking—plump dumplings, chewy buns, silky noodles—then a visit to Guangzhou, the cuisine’s undisputed capital, will wake you up to whole new levels of nuance, texture, and complexity. The dim sum here is especially legendary, and for that, the bustling teahouse Dian Dou De is a local institution. There are no rolling carts to point-and-order from, but an English menu is available to make things easier for those who don’t read Chinese. Before delving into the feast, regulars go for steaming cups of pu’erh tea from Yunnan province, which aids digestion. The handmade shrimp dumplings and pork buns are standouts, along with house specialties like red-rice rolls with shrimp, but you seriously can’t go wrong with any dish. And don’t miss the classic, jiggly egg-custard tarts for a sweet final treat.

Note: There are several locations of Dian Dou De scattered around Guangzhou, all largely interchangeable, although the location closest to the Conrad—in Zhujiang New Town, near the intersection of Xingguo Lu and Huacheng Avenue—is one of the few that are open late, usually until 10 p.m.

DIAN DOU DE
Multiple locations, Floor 4th , Building 2nd , Gaodehui, 16 Huangcheng Ave., Tianhe distritct
+86-020-3726-6163
点都德:天河区花城大道16号高德汇2座4楼