As inexpensive travelers on a recent trip to Guangzhou China, my wife and I were quite surprised to arrive at the train station in the city. It is one of the largest cities in the country, and although we do not usually book early when we travel, this time the lack of hotels of any size at the main train station made us look for a guide.
Shamian Island, on the Pearl River in the middle of the city, seemed like a good place to find a cheap hotel, and when we arrived by taxi, we were immediately glad we arrived. This island is a small, maybe a quarter-square-mile riverfront location, and it’s a small oasis of silence in this busy city. My first impression, believe it or not, was from Savannah, Georgia, in the US! Much of the architecture has been colonial since the time when the United Kingdom and the French used it as a trading outpost. The old buildings are generally in good shape, there are wide streets and beautiful tall trees that create the whole island slowly. It’s a great place for walks.
We looked at some cheap hotels but stayed at the Guangdong Shamian Hotel, a rather cheap hotel that had a couple of rough edges, but was very friendly and helpful. I would recommend it for large rooms and great location.
At night, the shoreline of Shamian Island comes to life with outdoor restaurants on the Pearl River, and you can sit and watch the boat movement along the river and enjoy the spectacular city views. The prices here are a bit higher than in other parts of Guangzhou, but it was a decent excitement and we really enjoyed our seafood dinner.
An interesting thing about Shamian Island is the number of Westerners who see them strolling around pushing strollers carrying young children who are clearly Chinese. It turns out that Guangzhou is a hub for Americans who want to adopt Chinese orphans, and since the American Consulate is on the island, most people stay at the White Swan Hotel nearby.
Shamian Island is a very good base for exploring Guangzhou, China, and although there really aren’t budget hotels, we definitely were able to find good cheap Guangzhou hotels on a quiet island, right in the middle of one of the largest cities China.