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For visitors to Guangzhou, the city and its surrounding districts offer an array of historic sites, tourist hotspots and little-known local gems.

The Canton Tower
Built to coincide with the 2010 Asian Games, the Canton Tower holds the title as the tallest structure in China. Dubbed 'Slim Waist' by the locals in reference to its architectural shape, the Tower dominates the city's skyline, especially at night when 7,000 LED lights glow with colour. Inside the 37-storey Tower, visitors can appreciate the Guangzhou landscape from the observatory deck, dine at one of the many restaurants or test their nerve on the 180m open-air staircase. The rooftop observatory features 16 transparent passenger cars that travel a track that follows the incline of the roof, offering panoramic views of the city.

Zhujiang New Town
Embodying the new Guangzhou, Zhujiang New Town connects the Tianhe, Yuexiu and Haizhu districts and is home to some of the city's most buzzed-about structures. Design devotees will want to visit the spectacular Guangzhou Opera House designed by architect Zaha Dadid, and the Guangdong Museum comprising over 130,000 exhibits. Other city landmarks include Huacheng Square, the Twin Towers and Haixinsha Island which hosted the opening the closing ceremonies of the 16th Asian Games.

Redtory
Previously a canning factory, Redtory is Guangzhou's answer to Beijing's 798 Space Art Zone, providing local artists with a platform to showcase their work. Against a rustic industrial background, the factory buildings now house exhibitions from contemporary Chinese artists. Featuring both renowned and emerging artists, Redtory includes several alfresco cafés in which to relax between exhibitions.

Chen Clan Academy
The ancestral hall of the Chen clan, this temple-like structure took four years to build, reaching completion in 1894. The 19 buildings are set around a tree-filled courtyard, and house a large collection of Lingnan heritage sculptures, murals, wood carvings and pottery, as well as the Guangdong Folk Art Museum.

Shamian Island
During the Qing dynasty, the previous sandbank island of Shamian, meaning 'sandy face', was presented to Britain and France. The historic European-style streets, buildings and parks reveal the impact of the colonial era. Dotted with over 150 historic buildings, the tranquil island is a popular setting for locals posing for wedding photos.

Party Pier
On the south bank of the Pearl River, the Party Pier is a vibrant mix of bars, clubs and galleries. The former freight pier is also home to the Zhujiang-InBev International Beer Museum where you can learn about the history of Chinese beer, discover the brewing process and sample a mug of the freshly made brew.

Pearl River Night Cruise
Spanning 2,400 km, the scenic Pearl River is China's third longest river. The two-hour journey takes in Guangzhou's many historical and iconic landmarks, including White Goose Pool and Shamian Island, and glides under the river's many spectacular bridges.

Chime Long Safari Park
Despite its close proximity to urban Guangzhou, the Chime Long Safari Park is the world's largest wildlife park. Home to 20,000 animals, the menagerie includes endangered animals such as pandas, Thai elephants and white tigers.

Baiyun Mountain
A popular attraction since the Tang Dynasty (618 – 897), Baiyun means 'white clouds', a reference to the cloud-shrouded mountain peaks. Measuring 382 m, the picturesque mountain forms part of the extensive Baiyunshan Resort area of parks and gardens.

Yuexiu Park
Downtown Guangzhou's tree-filled park serves as a tranquil escape from the urban hubbub. Take a morning stroll through this green oasis and witness locals practicing Tai Chi or performing a ballroom waltz. The seven hills and three manmade lakes incorporate cultural relics, including the famous Five-Ram statue. Built on top of Yuexiu mountain, the iconic statue recalls the legendary tale of five immortals who descended on the city with five rams, each one carrying ears of corn, a symbolic gesture to the people that they will never experience famine.