Jiangmen is a place you want to get to before the crowds do. Steeped in culture and history, the lack of glitzy development makes it ever more enchanting If you're the type that likes to say I remember when, then now's the time to see Jiangmen. Clearly off the beaten tourism track, the city and the surrounding countryside can best be described as tourist attractions waiting to happen. While government officials are keen to develop tourism and have already taken steps in that direction, the industry is in its infancy. But that's precisely what can make a visit there so rewarding. For architecture buffs, you can't beat Jiangmen's historic waterfront district. Overlooking the Peng River, 0.8-kilometre-long Changdi Middle Road is reachable by city bus lines 1, 4, 5, 9, and 10. It is lined with picturesque two- and three-story buildings in the treaty port style. Recognizing their tourism potential, the municipal government has renovated the exteriors of not only the historic buildings facing the waterfront, but also large swathes of commercial and residential buildings nearby. Unlike Shanghai's Xintiandi or Guangzhou's Shamian Island, however, you won't find many trendy bars, upscale restaurants, or fancy boutiques in the district - yet. You'll have to search for shops selling tea ware or calligraphy, antiques or jade. Some enterprising peddlers simply spread their wares on the sidewalk. But searching through the mostly non-descript shops that sell everything from daily necessities to sporting goods or dried fish is half the fun, making the cherished souvenir you finally do come across all the more memorable for the effort. Many of the upper floors of the commercial buildings lie empty. Will they someday house bed and breakfasts, artists' lofts, or offices for graphic designers, architects, and lawyers? Only time will tell. Right now, the picturesque and often grand Chinese and Western edifices that used to house many of the city's rich and famous are either empty or occupied by the working classes or retirees of limited means. When asked why the city's more affluent residents had fled these architectural gems for the increasing number of high-rises that are sprouting up all over town, tourism officials were blunt. 'These houses don't have indoor plumbing,' they said. A large sign pointing in the direction of a large public toilet provides graphic evidence that this was, in fact, the case. East lake Park Jiangmen has four parks that warrant a visit. The first, East Lake Park, is a tranquil oasis commanding pride of place at the city's heart. There are Chinese pavilions, a pagoda, boating on the lake, a small amusement park, a stylish restaurant, and a musical fountain with 30-minute performances each night at 8. Cultural shows are also sometimes staged in the plaza. 7 Gangkou Road Tel: (0750) 3180296 Zhongshan Park Located in the centre of the city, Zhongshan Park offers shoppers from the nearby malls a shady spot to rest their feet. Many people bring their lunchboxes here. If you're a stamp collector, check out the stalls at the top of the entrance steps. You'll find piles of old stamps as well as books, cold coins, and telephone cards. A lot of Mao memorabilia is also on sale. Fan Luo Gang Baishuidai Holiday Resort Set among rolling hills and valleys, Jiangmen's green lung, the Baishuidai Holiday Resort, is located across the Jiangmen River in the city's Jianghai section. Highlights include rolling hills, shady valleys, brooks, cool springs, and a waterfall that - from a distance - looks like a strip of white ribbon, hence the name baishuidai, or white water ribbon. There are temples, pavilions, a pagoda - everything you would expect of a traditional Chinese landscape. Baishuidai Park, Jianghai Road Tel: (0750) 3815722 Cha'an Park Yixing, an eminent Buddhist monk during the Tang Dynasty, drew a map of the stars during a visit to Jiangmen. Cha'an Park stands at the site of a thatched cottage the monk is said to have lived in during his visit. Other attractions include the Leafless Well and Zhuming Cave. Jianghai Road, Waihai Tel: (0750) 3791372 The Former Residence of Chen Shaobai Derided by Qing Dynasty officials as one of the Four Bandits, Chen Shaobai was a follower of Dr Sun Yat-sen, who established China's first republic in 1911. Comprising 130 square metres, Chen's former residence is now considered one of the city's key attractions. 1 Nanhua, Waihai Tel: (0750) 3792507 Suggested tour itineraries ONE DAY Leave Hong Kong (China Ferry Terminal, Tsimshatsui) 8.30 am. Arrive Jiangmen 11 am. Tour historic district near the waterfront. Have lunch. Go shopping. Visit East Lake Park, Chen Baishi Memorial, Guifeng Mountain Scenic Spot, Kui Xiang Musuem, and Zhou Enlai Memorial and Exhibition Hall. Leave Jiangmen 5 pm. Arrive Hong Kong 7.30 pm. OVERNIGHT Day One: Same as above until 5pm. Then take bus or taxi to Gudou Hot Spring Tourism Resort. Dinner at hotel. Enjoy hot springs. Day Two: Breakfast at hotel. Enjoy hot springs. Check out 12 noon. Have lunch. Return to Jiangmen for more shopping. Leave Jiangmen 5 pm. Arrive Hong Kong 7.30 pm. THREE DAYS Day One: As above. Day Two: Breakfast at hotel. Check out, visit Li Yuan. Lunch at Tianshan Restaurant. Visit Zili Village. Go to Jinjiang Hot Spring. Dinner at hotel. Enjoy hot springs. Day Three: Return to Jiangmen for more shopping. Leave Jiangmen 5 pm. Arrive Hong Kong 7.30 pm. ONE WEEK Day One: As above. Days Two and Three: Breakfast at hotel. Check out, go to Taishan. Take ferry to Chuan Islands. Go sightseeing or enjoy sun. Spend two nights at Taishan Wangfuzhou hotel on lower Chuan island. Day Four: Check out, have lunch at hotel. Head for Jinjiang Hot Spring. Have dinner at hotel and enjoy hot springs. Day Five: Breakfast at hotel. Check out, visit Li Yuan. Lunch at Tianshan Restaurant. Visit Zili Village. Return to Jiangmen City for more shopping. Choose from hotels listed on page 16. Have dinner. Visit Bar Street if you want to sample city's nightlife. Day Six: Breakfast at hotel. Check out, do some last-minute shopping. Have lunch. Go to Heshan and visit Danyan Mountain Scenic Spot. have dinner and spend night at the Yanshan Hotel. Day Seven: Breakfast at hotel. Check out. Return to Jiangmen. Have lunch. Leave Jiangmen 2 pm. Arrive Hong Kong 4.30 pm.