5 Hour Activities


LIU GENG TANG ANCESTRAL HALL & YUXU PALACE
Shawan Ancient Village, Panyu district
留耕堂和玉虚宫:沙湾古镇内

AUNTIE ZHENG’S FISH DUMPLINGS
4 Anning Lu Zhi, Shawan Ancient Village, Panyu district
+86-1371-041-3214
针姨鱼皮角:番禺区沙湾古镇安宁路4号

SHAWAN’S DAIRY QUEEN
Anning Zongjie, Shawan Ancient Village, Panyu district
+86-020-3473-2686
奶牛皇后: 番禺区沙湾镇安宁中街金龙楼沙湾奶牛皇后 针姨鱼皮角:沙湾古镇按宁路4号之三

BAI YOU TANG
14 Huashi Xiang, Shawan Ancient Village, Panyu district
柏友堂: 沙湾古镇滑石巷14号

KIN CHI-PAO
10-12 Anning Lu Sijie Quanzhou Lu, Shawan Ancient Village, Panyu district
+86-020-8411-5688
佰年金慧旗袍馆: 番禺区沙湾古镇安宁西街10-12号

STEP BACK IN TIME

  • Spend the afternoon in a beautifully preserved 800-year-old village
  • Walk through mist-shrouded halls and living Taoist temples
  • Shop for embroidered qipao dresses and hand-carved incense burners

There are a number of quaint historic villages scattered throughout Guangzhou, but well-preserved Shawan—with its relaxed vibe and notable lack of crowds—make this eight-century-old hamlet our top choice. Dating back to the Song dynasty, Shawan was founded by the He family, whose legacy is honored at the impressive Liu Geng Tang Ancestral Hall (originally constructed in 1275; the current incarnation was erected in 1720). Next door is the Yuxu Palace, a Taoist temple that’s most impressive for the thousands of incense coils smoldering in every nook and cranny, blackening the ceiling and casting the entire scene in a blurry haze.
After lighting your own stick of incense and paying tribute to the He family with curling smoke, step outside and stroll down Shawan’s cobblestoned paths to the village center. At the heart of town, you’ll spot Auntie Zheng’s humble eating room, whose signature dishes include yupi jiao鱼皮角, handcrafted pork-filled dumplings whose ethereal “skins” are made from fish paste. They’re deservedly legendary. Also try the firm scrolls of cooled poached fish skin with vinegar and peanuts, another signature plate.
Across the street and up just a bit to the left is Shawan’s Dairy Queen, where the shuangpi nai 双皮奶, a creamy, lush, milky custard, is a Guangzhou favorite. You’ll find all types of shuangpi nai throughout the city, but here, Ms. Wang (the dairy queen herself) relies on buffalo milk from her own herd. There’s a warm egg-white custard with a lotus-seed topping, or a summer-friendly chilled version with fresh, sweet mango cubes. Other must-orders: the magical ginger infusion (jiangzhuang nai 姜撞奶), and the mati gao 马蹄糕, a square of jellied water chestnut with caramelized sugar.
Across the lane from Shawan’s Dairy Queen you’ll see the famous oyster-shell building, an emblem of this onetime fishing village. Local artisans found oyster shells to be effective insulating material; countless Shawan buildings are covered with them. Up the lane, pop into Bai You Tang for handmade curios, temple trinkets, and carved incense burners, as well as aged orange skins filled with black tea. We love Kin Chi-Pao for its racks of embroidered qipao, traditional Chinese form-fitting dresses with handcrafted silk knot buttons, paired with elaborately painted shoes. (Peek in the backroom workshop where young seamstresses sew the garments stitch by stitch.) After that? By all means keep walking, in any direction you wish. Shawan is an easy place to wander—big enough to explore but almost impossible to lose your way in, which is why it’s one of our favorite spots in Guangzhou.

Shawan Ancient Town (as it’s formally known) is a 45-to-60-minute drive south of Conrad Guangzhou, depending on traffic. Start your visit at Shawan’s west entrance, closest to Liu Geng Tang Ancestral Hall and Yuxu Palace. You’ll get a map with your entry ticket; there are also engraved maps at almost every intersection, and plenty of signage throughout the village. When you’re ready to leave, head to the south entrance at Daxiangyong Lu 大巷涌路 to find a taxi.

LIU GENG TANG ANCESTRAL HALL & YUXU PALACE
Shawan Ancient Village, Panyu district
留耕堂和玉虚宫:沙湾古镇内

AUNTIE ZHENG’S FISH DUMPLINGS
4 Anning Lu Zhi, Shawan Ancient Village, Panyu district
+86-1371-041-3214
针姨鱼皮角:番禺区沙湾古镇安宁路4号

SHAWAN’S DAIRY QUEEN
Anning Zongjie, Shawan Ancient Village, Panyu district
+86-020-3473-2686
奶牛皇后: 番禺区沙湾镇安宁中街金龙楼沙湾奶牛皇后 针姨鱼皮角:沙湾古镇按宁路4号之三

BAI YOU TANG
14 Huashi Xiang, Shawan Ancient Village, Panyu district
柏友堂: 沙湾古镇滑石巷14号

KIN CHI-PAO
10-12 Anning Lu Sijie Quanzhou Lu, Shawan Ancient Village, Panyu district
+86-020-8411-5688
佰年金慧旗袍馆: 番禺区沙湾古镇安宁西街10-12号

THE LAST COPPERSMITH
143 Enning Lu, Liwan district
+86-1371-083-1372
伟兴铜器,苏少伟广州市荔湾区恩宁路143号

ZHANJIANGJI CHICKEN RESTAURANT
128 Duobao Lu, Liwan district
+86-020-8193-6175
安铺湛江鸡饭店:荔湾区多宝路128号

CANTONESE OPERA MUSEUM
127 Enning Lu, Liwan district
+86-020-8182-0016
广州粤剧艺术博物馆:荔湾区恩宁路127号

BRUCE LEE MUSEUM
13 Yongqing Alley off Enning Lu, Liwan district
李小龙故居:恩宁路永庆一巷13号

LYCHEE BAY
Longjin Xi Lu (intersection of Duobao Lu), Liwan district
荔枝湾:龙津西路 位于龙津路到多宝路一带

FIND THE HEART OF OLD GUANGZHOU

  • Follow the locals to the city’s commercial, cultural, and historical heart
  • Meet third-generation artisans in their streetside ateliers
  • Taste a provincial delicacy at one of Guangzhou’s favorite restaurants

If a single street could encapsulate life in Guangzhou—commercial, cultural, social, familial, past, and present—it would be Enning Lu (Enning Road) in the Xiguan neighborhood, a charming passage through time that’s endured, relatively intact, since the Qing dynasty. With its historical roots and abundant ambiance, the street has lately drawn the attention of developers, retail chains, and savvy city planners—and for better or worse, Enning Lu and the surrounding area constitute one of Guangzhou’s most dynamic “new/old” enclaves.
Start your explorations at the Last Coppersmith shop at 143 Enning Lu, where Mr. Su, a bespectacled third-generation artisan, still hammers away in his tiny stall every day without fail. Handmade Xiguan copperware has long been famous throughout China, and Su’s gleaming bowls and teapots outshine the machine-made replicas in nearby storefronts—a tribute to his mastery. A short walk north, near the intersection of Enning Lu and Duobao Lu, stop in at Zhanjiangji Chicken Restaurant at 128 Duobao Lu. The specialty here is baiqie ji 白切鸡—the same preparation you’ll find at YouLian CaiGuan in Qingping Market (see the 3-hour itinerary “A Taste of Tradition”), but here it’s made from the Zhanjiang breed of chicken, which has a gamier taste and slightly chewier texture. It’s hard to choose between the two renditions: both are pretty spectacular. The restaurant also serves a fine gulou rou—sweet and sour pork with fresh pineapple—that goes well with the baiqie ji.
Cross back onto Enning Lu and walk up to the newly built Cantonese Opera Museum, whose architecture evokes the style of old Guangzhou, and whose setting—in a traditional Chinese garden—is part of a citywide beautification project. Inside, the collection recounts the glory days of an endangered tradition beloved by an aging population. Ornate costumes and headpieces are impressively displayed; legendary opera stars are memorialized with audio and video recordings. Free performances on the building’s open-air stage happen every Saturday morning.
Development is under way that will more formally connect the main drag of Enning Lu with the footbridges across the canal and nearby Yongqing Alley, a charming lane of intimate restaurants and cafés. In the meantime, Bruce Lee fans may want to pay respects at the late star’s former home, now converted into the Bruce Lee Museum, an ad hoc display of kung fu memorabilia that’s diverting for aficionados but not so much for non-devotees.
From the Bruce Lee Museum, head back to the main alley to Enning Lu. Cross another footbridge over a canal to the corner of Shanmu Lan Lu, then keep walking across a series of bridges until you reach a narrow street running alongside a canal, lined with shops and ornate buildings. This is Lychee Bay, a popular pedestrian area, which borders Liwan Lake Park 荔湾湖公园. Here you’ll see Guangzhou residents going about daily life. Get to the park just after sunset and watch the lanterns brighten the path with their evening glow.

It’s a 30-to-40-minute drive from the Conrad to the Xiguan district and its main thoroughfare, Enning Lu (Enning Road). Have the taxi drop you off at the Last Coppersmith, at 143 Enning Lu, a convenient starting point for your walk. You’ll need your passport or Chinese national ID to gain entry to the Cantonese Opera Museum.

THE LAST COPPERSMITH
143 Enning Lu, Liwan district
+86-1371-083-1372
伟兴铜器,苏少伟广州市荔湾区恩宁路143号

ZHANJIANGJI CHICKEN RESTAURANT
128 Duobao Lu, Liwan district
+86-020-8193-6175
安铺湛江鸡饭店:荔湾区多宝路128号

CANTONESE OPERA MUSEUM
127 Enning Lu, Liwan district
+86-020-8182-0016
广州粤剧艺术博物馆:荔湾区恩宁路127号

BRUCE LEE MUSEUM
13 Yongqing Alley off Enning Lu, Liwan district
李小龙故居:恩宁路永庆一巷13号

LYCHEE BAY
Longjin Xi Lu (intersection of Duobao Lu), Liwan district
荔枝湾:龙津西路 位于龙津路到多宝路一带