In China, the Guangdong province is synonymous with affluence. Located on the southeastern coast of the country, its surrounds the tourist meccas of Macau and Hong Kong, an enviable situation that has propelled the region nineteenth and twentieth centuries towards the Western Hemisphere, many of the Chinese cultural signifiers that have become encompassed by the western world derives from this group.
But the families that remained in Guangdong China have done quite all right for themselves, as a whole. Economic reforms in 1979 paved the way for the region's upward growth, feasting off a combination of Hong Kong infused growth and the province's ever growing manufacturing industries, the Guangdong Province has transformed itself from an economic non-entity into a major player in current China.
Topography has also played a large part in forging the identity of Guangdong China. Since its inception into the Chinese empire, mountains cut off the region from Central China, allowing Guangdong an amount of autonomy that isn't found much throughout the remainder of the country. Despite the uniqueness of the region, however, not many tourists spend much time in Guangdong China. There just aren't a lot of sights in the province that appeal to anyone outside of the average executives who frequent the area on business trips.
The capital of the Guangdong province is the sprawling strip mall of Guangzhou. If the province is well-known as a financial powerhouse, Guangzhou is appropriately on the forefront—everything from the large buildings to the tiny roadside shops offer pretty much anything you can dream of. The main sector of the city for tourists is known as Shamian Dao, or Sand Surface Island. The only respite from the commercialism and constant activity of Guangzhou, on the tiny island you will find gardens, cafes, and fading reminders of the city's relatively quiet past. Religious markers abound. The Temple of the Six Banyan Trees is the tallest pagoda in the city, even if the eponymous trees have long since vanished. The Five Genies temple is not far away, nor is the Bright Filial Piety Temple. Another structure that stands out is the Sacred Heart Church, built by the French in a well-manufactured replica of a European Gothic cathedral. Even a mosque makes an appearance here, the first built by Muslim missionaries in the seventh century.
Visitors that make it to Guangdong China often stay for a few days in Zhuhai. The gateway between China and Macau, the border town is perfect for those who wish to patronize Macau without actually staying there. Though it offers little more than a decent beach and a refreshingly relaxed ambiance, some travelers will undoubtedly be enchanted by the city's small-town demeanor (though industrialization is eradicating this feature bit by bit).
Those who want more atmosphere and personality in their travel destinations invariably head to Zhaoqing, about 75 miles west of Guangzhou. Limestone towers characterize the city, and the Seven Star Crags are the city's main attraction. Dinghu Shan is just northeast, and its mountainous trails bare a multitude of sparkling pools, ancient temples, and trickling streams for you to traverse. The protected reserve is a definite highlight of the Guangdong province.