Guangzhou Travel Guide

Discover Guangzhou Self Guided Book is written by Janvi Tours, formerly Guangzhou Private Tour Guide Janvi or Guangzhou Tour Guide Janvi

Written by J. C.
Published August 2018

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Home Travel Guide Introduction Of Guangzhou The Culture

The Culture

Even though the Chinese culture has become more and more influenced by Western culture, it is important to realize that it is still a unique culture of its own with thousands of year’s heritage.

Cantonese opera

Many well-known operas performed today, such as The Purple Hairpin and Rejuvenation of the Red Plum Flower, originated in the Yuan Dynasty, with the lyrics and scripts in Cantonese. Until the 20th century, all the female roles were performed by males.Cantonese opera is one of the major categories in Chinese opera, originating in southern China’s Cantonese culture. It is popular in Guangdong, Guangxi, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, and Malaysia. Like all versions of Chinese opera, it is a traditional Chinese art form, involving music, singing, martial arts, acrobatics, and acting. 粵劇 (Yuèjù) should not be confused with 越劇 (Yuèjù), the theatre of Zhejiang.

Beginning in the 1950s massive waves of immigrants fled Shanghai to destinations like North Point. Their arrival boosted the Cantonese opera fanbase significantly.

Till now, the theatre has staged over 400 plays and the classic programs include Searching the Academy, Guan Hanqing and Story of a Mountain Village, etc. Besides, the theatre often organizes activities of creation, research, artistic training, artistic exchange and performance to promote the development of Cantonese Opera.

There are two types of Cantonese Opera plays Mou (武, “martial arts”) and Man (文, “highly educated”, esp. in poetry and culture). Mou plays emphasize war, the characters usually being generals or warriors. These works contain action scenes and involve a lot of weaponry and armour. Man plays tend to be gentler and more elegant. Scholars are the main characters in these plays. Water sleeves (see Frequently Used Terms) are used extensively in man plays to produce movements reflecting the elegance and tenderness of the characters; all-female characters wear them. In man plays, characters put a lot of effort into creating distinctive facial expressions and gestures to express their underlying emotions.

Guangdong music

Guangdong music, also known as Cantonese music is a style of traditional Chinese instrumental music from Guangzhou and surrounding areas in Pearl River Delta of Guangdong Province on the southern coast of China. The name of the music is not an accurate description because Guangdong music is not the only music of the whole Guangdong area. Since the 1930s, the Guangdong music has become more commercialized by playing in teahouse and dance halls and thus more “upbeat”.

Most pieces of Guangdong music came from folk music. It was not until the 1920s that a batch of composers of Guangdong music created about 500 works, greatly enriching the treasury of Guangdong music. For instance, at the beginning of the 20th century, folk artist Lu Wencheng changed the usual silk strings of Erhu to steel ones, raising its register four or five octaves, and giving it a brighter tone. During performances, he would hold the soundbox between his legs in order to better control the pitch.

Guangdong music is good at depicting the minor facets of life, as well as being closely connected with revealing traditional emotions. To appreciate it, one should not be on the lookout for the great themes of social life, but for descriptions of natural scenery and objects, which bring a feeling of relaxation. Some of the finer pieces of music in this genre are as follows.

10 Famous Guangdong Musics:

Baihua Ting Nao Jiu (百花亭闹酒)

Bu Bu Gao (步步高, by Lü Wencheng)

È Mǎ Yáo Líng (饿马摇铃, possibly by He Liutang)

Han Tian Lei (旱天雷, by Yan Laolie)

Jiao Shi Ming Qin (蕉石鸣琴, by Lü Wencheng)

Píng Hú Qiū Yuè (平湖秋月, by Lü Wencheng)

Qīng Méi Zhú Mǎ (青梅竹马, by Lü Wencheng)

Sailong Duojin (赛龙夺锦, by He Liutang)

Xiao Tao Hong (小桃红)

Yu Da Ba Jiao (雨打芭蕉, possibly by He Liutang)

Yu Le Sheng Ping (娱乐升平, by Qiu Hechou)

Herbal tea

Herbal Tea, also known as herbal tea, is a kind of tea drink made from purely Chinese medicinal herbs by people from Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macao, in accordance with local weather and environmental conditions. Guided by Chinese medical healthcare theory, Chinese Medicinal Tea has been developed in the long course of disease prevention and healthcare studies and has antipyretic and antitoxic effects, while quenching thirst and dissipating heat and humidity in the body through consumption. Herbal tea can eliminate summer heat from the human body and cure the sore throats caused by winter dryness. Wang Lao ji Herbal Tea is the most famous tea in Guangzhou. Drinking herbal tea is a long-cherished tradition in Lingnan, which covers Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian and Taiwan provinces, with Guangdong as its core area. The tradition has been a major component of Lingnan culture. Others include Cantonese opera, Cantonese cuisine, and Cantonese dialect. The popularity of herbal tea might largely be attributed to the warm and humid climate of the Lingnan area, which is thought to be the cause of the body's internal heat according to traditional Chinese medical thought.. Local people learn which kind of tea to drink for which condition from childhood.

In the past, stores selling herbal tea were quite common in Guangdong. The stores usually took up two or three square meters and did not have tables or chairs. Several big bronze jars were placed beside the counter, holding different kinds of herbal tea. In typical teahouse bowls or glasses were laid on the counter. People came in, drank a bowl of herbal tea, and left the money to pay for it.


Xiguan, which boasts a history of two thousand years, is endowed with a rich cultural heritage. Cultural heritage dating back to the Tang Dynasty is on full display in the area from the Liwan Lake and Litchi Bay to the arcade buildings and Xiguan Grand House on Enning Road. On Enning and Longjin Roads, history has skipped a more than 1,100-year segment to preserve the Xiguan Grand House with towering gatehouses, elaborate decoration and brick-and-pebble doorsteps in the Fengyuan Community, and to place shopping arcades from the Republic of China period on Enning and West Longjin Roads. "Lingnan culture is concentrated in Liwan and Xiguan customs are the richest in Guangzhou". The Litchi Bay Cultural and Leisure Zone covers an area of approximately 580,000 square meters, bounded by Bantang Road and West Longjin Road on the east, Huangsha Avenue on the west, Zhongshan Ba Road on the north, and Duobao Road on the south. People passing by the Litchi Bay Creek (Lizhiwan Creek) would reminisce about "litchi trees with reds fruits lining the emerald creek". The ancient alleys and the reflection of the hills on the surface of the creek give people the feeling of backward time travel. The areas around the Litchi Bay are typical of Lingnan watery towns, enriched by the cream of culture that spans thousands of years. Places of historical interest around the Litchi Bay include the Litchi Bay Creek, Litchi Lake, Renwei Temple, Culture Tower, Liwan Museum, the former residence of Chiang Kuang Nai, the ornate boathouse, Haishan Club, the former residence of Chen Lianbo, Liang's Ancestral Hall, and Xiguan Grand House. The Litchi Bay is also the origin of Xiguan Grand House, Lady Xiguan, the "five treasures" of Xiguan, Xiguan gourmet's food, Canton Opera and variety show, and many other enduring Guangzhou cultural icons. Dubbed the "Xiguan Cultural Expo Garden", the Litchi Bay is the most culturally endowed place in Guangzhou, exuding elegance and classiness.

Markets are not for the queasy stomachs

If your stomach gets queasy from watching animals get butchered before your very eyes do not visit the Qing Ping market! Animals of all variations are on display and being butchered fresh to be taken home for a good home-cooked meal! Also, watch where you step as there are open drains for the blood to be washed away!

Guangzhou Fashion Scene

Guangzhou girls can be very, very funky and fashionable dressers, oftentimes appropriating the latest in Hong Kong fashions to a distinctive mainland sensibility and cost structure. Part of their uniqueness stems from the multitude of Chinese independent clothing designers that live and work in Guangdong Province.