Despite its comparatively large expat community, the majority of activities that Guangzhou offers which cater to us are still overpriced and, unfortunately, often of questionable quality. However, once you become settled in and develop a wide-enough social circle that you can stop hitting up the bars every night of the week, you may discover that Guangzhou actually offers quite a few activities that won't burn a hole through your wallet so quickly—and there are even a few that are absolutely free! Whether you're looking for a profound cultural experience or just need to take a break from the booze, there's plenty of frugal finds worth checking out across Guangzhou.
1) Baiyun Mountain
Most Guangzhou expats will immediately recognise White Cloud Mountain looming in the near distance while driving around the northern Tianhe and Yuexiu Districts, but not as many have ever actually visited it. Baiyun Mountain features a range of peaks, rivers, woodlands and the usual scattering of pagodas, some of which are nearly 1000 years old, making this area a great choice for frugal naturalists and history buffs alike. And even if you're not into the whole "climbing up a mountain for recreation" as so many Chinese are (or you're just really out of shape), Baiyun is still quite manageable. Although the area was given the lofty name of Baiyun Mountain, the highest peak in the range is actually only 382 metres high, so in reality, it's really just a medium-sized hill. Plus, Baiyun Mountain also has a few cable cars that go up to the best spots, so you can avoid the walk up entirely, if you really want to.
2) Architectural Hotspots
One of Guangzhou's finest aesthetic features is that its skyline is filled with a wide range of different styles, such as the still ubiquitous old-Canton architecture, the foreign architecture from the city's colonial period and the cutting-edge skyscrapers in the city's most modern districts. In particular, Zhujiang New Town, Guangzhou's newest financial district, boasts the tallest and strangest structures to be found in the Pearl River Delta. Ride the subway to the Zhujiang New Town Station and walk southeast to find the Guangzhou Opera House , Guangzhou New Library, the Canton Tower and many, many more landmarks worth checking out. Also be sure to head over to Shamian Island , which was a shared concession between the British and French, and is still is one of the hottest tourist attractions in the city.
3) Guangdong Museum
Little known to many locals, the Guangzhou Museum offers free entrance to both Chinese citizens and foreign nationals alike, as part of an effort to make Chinese culture more accessible (Chinese citizens must bring ID cards, and foreigners must bring passports). Apart from the eye-catching exterior of the building, there are also plenty of interesting exhibitions inside, showcasing art, pottery, and relics from all over China. The museum features frequent "special" exhibitions as well; however those are not free.
4) Guangzhou Parks
Although to the untrained eye, Guangzhou may seem like a concrete jungle of apartment buildings, skyscrapers and flyovers, there are actually many parks "hidden" throughout the city. Better yet, many are easily accessible from the areas of the city which are heavily expat-populated. For those living in the downtown of the city, Zhujiang Park (珠江公园) has plenty to offer, and is conveniently located next to the Huacheng Dadao (花城大道站) Subway Station. Located near to the Garden Hotel area, Yuexiu Park (越秀公园) has its own subway station as well. And don't forget to check out Guangzhou's most traditional park, Liwan Lake Park , which is a great place to take a relaxing evening stroll, especially after a meal at one of the traditional-style restaurants in the area. Alternatively, for a combination of art and a park, pay a visit to Baiyun District's Sculpture Park .
5) Ladies' Nights
If none of the above appeals to the party animal in you, then take advantage of the many free beverages that Guangzhou is willing to throw at you (or, for our male readers, the ladies in your group). Many of the most popular expat bars and clubs are more than happy to provide women patrons with drinks at a whopping discount—or even for free—for the sake of balancing out the venue's male-female ratio. On Wednesdays, check out the newly-opened Zapatas down at the party pier (珠江琶醍馆), with free frozen Margaritas and discounts on beers. On Thursdays, try DUO club in the Garden Hotel Area (16 Jiansheliu Malu| 建设六马路16号), where again, ladies drink are free. Tekila, another popular new Mexican restaurant (11 Jiansheliu Malu | 建设六马路11号), offers ladies their first drink for free on Fridays as well.
6) Couchsurfing Wanderlust Wednesdays
For anyone who has caught the travel bug, but cannot decide what their next destination should be, Couchsurfing hosts ‘Wanderlust Wednesdays', consisting of seasoned travellers (both local or passing through) giving presentations on cities, countries or experiences they have encountered. Get inspired to explore places near and far from Guangzhou, along with real, practical advice from people who have ‘been there and done that'. Couchsurfers are also one of Guangzhou's most thriving social groups, so it should be easy for you to make lots of new friends too. The meetings are held every Wednesday, at 19:00 in 6054 Travel Bar (for more information and directions, see: http://www.couchsurfing.org/meetings.html?mid=108876
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Keywords: Cheap activities in Guangzhou free activities in Guangzhou
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