As China’s third largest city and with a population of close to 12 million people, you would not be hard pressed to locate a nice shopping place in Guangzhou. Its strategic position to Hong Kong and Macau, has contributed to a nice mix of shopping possibilities. In addition the biannual Canton Fair contributes to the frenzied commercial atmosphere in the city.
If Singapore has Orchard Road and Hong Kong has Nathan Road, Guangzhou has its own version of a shopping mecca. Shangxia Jiu Lu Pedestrian Street at the Liwan District of Xiguan will awaken the shopper even among the jaded travellers (there are jade shops around here, mind you). With more than 200 shops lining the whole stretch of road, various stores that suit your taste and wallet size are located here. The street becomes a nice pedestrian lane each night and the whole afternoon and evening on weekends and holidays. Make it a point to check out the area even if you do not plan to buy any stuff, because just strolling up and down this street will give you the energy that typifies the flurry of economic activity in the city.
Then there’s Beijing Lu Pedestrian Street more than two kilometers to the northeast. This is also a major shopping thoroughfare in Guangzhou where the young congregate and love to shop. This area is both traditional and trendy, but lots of peddlers selling pirated goods litter the place. Tee Mall at 208 Tianhe Lu Street is probably the most bustling and most popular shopping destination for locals.
If trendy is what you are looking for make your way to Lihua Street where the Palace Mall is located. Here you will find high-end stores such as Burberry, Hugo Boss, Salvatorre Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and a lot more up-market shops. Wang Fu Jing department store in Beijing opened another branch in Guangzhou (40 Long Lin Xia Lu Street). This store also showcases high-end merchandize apart from many mid-end products all over.
For some novelty shopping, head to Shuiyin Road, more popularly known as Costume Street because of the 30 or so stores that exclusively sell costumes. You will snatch great deals with some off-season costumes, 20 CNY (US$3) for simple costumes and 100 CNY (US$16). Just avoid purchasing costumes around Christmas and various Chinese holidays, especially Chinese New Year.
The nice garden park of Shamian Island offers local handicrafts at the night markets that operate from sun down well into midnight. Onelink Plaza (39 Jie Fang Nan Lu Street) is the mall for wholesalers. So if you find satisfaction ordering in bulk, don’t forget to haggle when buying jewelry, jade, crafts, sporting products, toys, and your souvenirs. If money is an issue or you just need a few items, it’s okay; you can still buy some. After all, this is a wholesale area and everything is cheaper.
As a major Chinese city, Guangzhou has huge seafood markets, and a big part of these markets has dried seafood. Various dried fish, squid and abalone are offered here, not to mention questionable items such as shark’s fin and seahorse. Qingping Market, on the other hand, is an interesting place to visit with its rows of shops trading a wide variety of Chinese medicines, food and even animals. Although this is the site for genuine Chinese goods, many shops here sell items that were derived from dubious procedures that affect the wildlife and environment is some parts of the world.
The currency used in Guangzhou, just like the rest of China, is the yuan. The actual currency used, though, is the renminbi. As of August 2011, 1 US dollar is equivalent to 6.40 CNY, 1 British pound is 10.57 CNY and 1 euro will give you 9.23 CNY. Credit cards are accepted in major stores, and ATMs are scattered in tourist spots and shopping malls. Bank of China has more than 100 ATMs all throughout Guangzhou.