IT was just thirty years ago that China’s Pearl River Delta was an unknown rural place with agricultural villages dotting its marshes.
Today, it has grown leaps and bounds to become the heart of China’s economic landscape, surpassing Tokyo as the world’s largest urban destination in terms of size and population.
A bustling megacity devoted to massive trade and manufacturing industries, Pearl River Delta comprises eight prefectures including the top four tourist-friendly cities – Macau, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Kaiping.
Easily accessible from Hong Kong, these four rapidly developing urban hubs provide a plethora of cultural sights and modern attractions that would definitely add to the vibrant and dynamic charm of Hong Kong and China’s tourism scene.
While Macau is known as the world’s top gambling city, there are actually numerous attractions outside its huge casinos.
Drop by the Historic Center of Macau to experience cultural gems like the A-Ma Temple, the oldest temple in Macau, the Ruins of St.Paul’s Cathedral a popular landmark which dates back to the 16th century as well as the 400-year old Monte Fort which gives you panoramic sunset views from the hilltop.
You can conveniently get to Macau via a one-hour ferry ride from Hong Kong or a four-hour flight from Beijing. Macau also offers visa-free entry to citizens from 66 countries including the US, Canada, Australia, and most of the countries in Europe.
In Shenzhen, theme parks definitely take spotlight. Top favorites are the Splendid China – Folk Culture Villages which introduces China’s history and culture through replicas of minority villages and the Window of the World where visitors can “travel” around a miniature world in one day.
For families, don’t miss the Shenzhen Safari Park, the first safari park in China that offers exciting performances with over 1,000 animals and 300 actors, as well as Happy Valley which features a Disney-inspired wonderland that comes with dozens of water rides.
The Xiaomeisha Sea World, which is often referred to as the Hawaii of the Orient, is a must-visit as it offers nine museums, aquariums, two gardens, and an isle all in one place.
From nature and historical sights to contemporary architecture, Guangzhou seems to have it all for the tourist who wants a bit of everything.
The largest city in the Pearl River Delta, Guangzhou is a prime commercial and industrial destination where the largest commodity trade fair Canton Fair is held, drawing a huge crowd of business visitors every year.
Trade shows aside, there’s a lot to see in and around the city. For starters, you can’t miss the majestic Canton Tower, an iconic landmark that is currently the third highest tower in the world.
For families looking for an all-encompassing amusement park, Chimelong at the Panyu District offers a smorgasbord of attractions including a safari park, circus, thrill rides, and a water park.
That’s not all – history and nature lovers would also enjoy the museums and ancient structures that are located within Guangzhou’s green oases.
For instance, the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King, Shamian Island, and the Yuyin Mountain Villa would immerse visitors in a picturesque experience of Guangzhou’s bygone era.
Kaiping is one of the most serene destinations along the Pearl River Delta. Tremendously scenic, the city features centuries-old Sino-west culture which amalgamates with local customs to create an architectural style and folk tradition that are unique to the location.
In the Kaiping Dialou and Villages (a UNESCO World Heritage site) for example, the fusion of Chinese and Western architectural styles are a sight to behold, reflecting the historical journey that this destination has gone through.
Further on, Liyuan Garden at Beiyi Village also offers a mix of Chinese and Western features amidst a garden-style setting that have gained a lot of attention from the art and history community.