SUN YAT-SEN MEMORIAL HALL As the founder of modern China, Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925) has streets, hospitals, schools, memorials and archways named after him in cities throughout the mainland, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and chinatowns around the world. He is also the only man in modern Chinese history is have had an entire city ? Zhongshan ? named after him. It?s not surprising, then, that one of the most important examples of traditional Chinese palace-style architecture in the capital of Guangdong - Sun?s home province - is a memorial hall dedicated to him. The Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall was designed by renowned architect Lu Yanzhi. It opened in 1931. Featuring an octagonal rotunda, cobalt blue tiled roofs, rust-coloured columns, and amber brick walls, it sits amid beautifully landscaped grounds in the heart of the city, in Yuexiu Park. Soaring to a height of 52 metres at its middle, the main hall seats more than 3,000 people. A building at the northwestern corner of the site has an exhibition of photographs and memorabilia outlining Sun?s life. The hall has been renovated seven times since the communists came to power in 1949; the most recent in 1998 cost 60 million yuan. While stately and imposing, there is nonetheless a distinctive aura of faded glory about the venue. A statue of Sun out front, meanwhile, has been reconstructed in copper. Although it is open daily, the best way to appreciate the hall is at showtime. Movies and live performances are held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Meetings and conventions can also be held at the venue. Call (86-20) 8356 1631 or 8355 2430 for programme details. Entrance: 10 yuan 259 Dongfeng Middle Road (86-20) 8355 2030 YUEXIU PARK According to legend, five immortals riding rams brought rice paddies to the people of Guangzhou, saving them from famine. The immortals left, but the rams remained ? turning into rocks. A stone statue of them is now mounted in the heart of Yuexiu Park, considered by many to be the city?s symbol. While the hike to take pictures in front of the five-metre-tall statue, which was erected in 1959, seems hardly worth the effort ? especially on a torrid summer?s day ? the park does provide shady respite from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding urban landscape. At 821 sq km, Yuexiu is quite literally an oasis in the heart of Guangzhou. It is also one of the city?s oldest parks. With five hills and three artificial lakes, it hosts venues for boating, fishing, swimming, body-building, ping-pong, and outdoor ballroom dancing. There are also children?s playgrounds, landscaped gardens, a barbecue area, an amusement park, a grassy meadow, and waterfalls. A collection of statues based on Chinese idioms and fables grace the leafy banks of Beixu Lake. A sports stadium holds more than 30,000 spectators. Other highlights include the Graveyard of Emperor Shaowu, the Qianyi Pottery Garden, the Guangzhou Arts Gallery, the Round Tower, and the Sun Yat-sen Memorial. The park?s most important structure is the four-storey Zhenhai Tower, featuring green-tiled roofs and vermilion walls. Built more than 600 years ago, during the Ming Dynasty?s Hongwu period, it contains a stone tablet dating back nearly 2,800 years, making it the oldest such engraving in the country. Housing the Guangzhou Museum since 1956, Zhenhai Tower is considered the best-preserved and most distinctive example of ancient architecture in the city. It has exhibitions relating to the history of Guangzhou from prehistoric times to the present. The third and fourth floors have exhibits relating to the city?s role as a trading centre both before and after the Opium Wars (1839-1862). There is a cafe and some shops selling gifts and souvenirs on the top floor. Richly planted with flowers and trees, Yuexiu Park is abloom with kapok in early spring, azalea in late spring, magnolia in April, golden balsam and morningstar in May, hanxiao in autumn, and winter sweet in the winter. A flower display is held every spring and a chrysanthemum show every autumn. Hidden among the foliage near the Sun Yat-sen Memorial is a 200-metre-long segment of the old city wall. Entrance: 5 yuan Jiefang North Road (86-20) 8666 1950 BEI YUAN RESTAURANT Dining at the Bei Yuan Restaurant is like reading a chapter from that Chinese classic Dream of the Red Chamber. While the food at the two-storey culinary palace is excellent and reasonably priced ? a simple dinner for three during a recent visit came to just over 100 yuan ? it?s the traditional Chinese ambience harking back to a more gracious era that is the real reason to visit this 1,400-seat eatery. Forty private rooms are also available. Originally constructed in the early 1920s, the restaurant was completely rebuilt in 1957 as the city?s first garden restaurant. It features dark wood latticework, red lacquered banisters, coloured-glass windows, an outdoor courtyard, a waterside pavilion, and traditional Chinese-style landscaping complete with fish ponds, bamboo, flowers and rocks. From the outside, it looks like a Chinese temple ? except for the bright neon lighting, stylishly set against the green tile roof lines and grey brick walls. For a nostalgic look back, book a table upstairs and enjoy tea and snacks during the 90- minute show that starts every night at 9pm. Both Cantonese and Putunghua popular favourites are on the programme. 202 Xiaobei Road Tel: 8356 3365 GUANGDONG CULTURAL CENTRE Dali, Moore and Rodin are just some of the European masters whose works have graced the contemporary exhibition halls of the Guangdong Museum of Art ? one of the largest cultural establishments in the province ? since it opened in 1997. Contemporary Chinese art by both well-established and emerging artists as well as exemplary forms of traditional Chinese art are also featured. Some of the exhibitions go on tour throughout the country. With no permanent collection, the three-story venue has 12 exhibition halls, an interior garden and a sculpture garden. A training centre offers art education through object-based learning. The venue is often abuzz with activity as temporary exhibitions are set up for limited runs. About 60 exhibitions are staged every year. A major exhibition of terracotta figurines is now closing. While no major exhibitions will be held until next year, a series of minor exhibitions ? including one highlighting Renaissance art ? is planned. English-speaking guides are available at no charge, but it is suggested that you call ahead to make sure one is available when you plan to visit. Entrance: 20 yuan GUANGXIAO TEMPLE Legend has it that Guangxiao Temple predates the city of Guangzhou. Built in the second century BC, the Nanyue Imperial Palace was originally located on this 31-sq-km site, which is sometimes referred to as the birthplace of Chinese Buddhism. It is the city?s oldest and largest temple complex. Its residents have included some of the biggest names in Chinese political and religious history. Emperor Nanyue of the Western Han dynasty was the first. An exiled aristocrat, Yufan, apparently delivered lectures here during the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280 AD). According to temple records, two famous monks, Tanmoyeshe and Qiuabiduolue, held forums on Buddhist scriptures at the temple. Other key Buddhist figures also visited, giving rise to the belief that China?s distinctive style of Buddhism developed at the site. The complex contains a series of historically significant structures and remains of famous characters. They include a palace dating back to the Eastern Qin dynasty (317-420 AD), the spring for washing the monk?s alms bowl, Huineng?s Hair Tower, a stone buddhist scripture cabinet built in the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD), the 1,000-Buddha Iron Tower from the Southern Han, Jialian Palace, Sakyamuni Hall, Samgharama Hall, the King of Heaven Hall, and several ancient trees. Entrance: 4 yuan Guangxiao Road MUSEUM OF THE NANYUE EMPEROR Excavation work for the construction of the China Hotel in 1983 led to the discovery of a tomb that had been built for Zhao Mei, the Western Han dynasty?s second emperor, more than 2,100 years ago. The mausoleum is the oldest and largest tomb yet to be uncovered in southern China. It is also the only one to have been built of stone, with walls covered in coloured murals. The highlight of any visit is the chance to descend into the tomb of Emperor Wen. Altogether, more than 1,000 artefacts and relics are on display at the museum, which opened in 1988. An exhibition of 200 ancient ceramic pillows from the Tang to Yuan dynasties, donated by Yang Yong-de of Hong Kong, is also on display. Entrance: 12 yuan 867 Jie Fang North Road Tel: 8666 4920 QINGBO ROAD, ERSHA ISLAND Pearl River Cruise If you only have a few hours to tour Guangzhou, one of the best ways to get a feel for the city is aboard a boat on the Pearl River. Taking a 90-minute cruise along the 23km waterway is like taking a short course in Cantonese culture. Depending on when you go, you might also be able to sample various teas, dim sum and other local specialties. The trip runs past many of the city?s key sites, from the historic buildings of Shamian Island, site of China?s first foreign concessions, to the upscale residential neighbourhood of Ersha Island. Other attractions include the Cantonese Customs Building, with its beautiful clock tower, the Postal Museum, Nanfang Mansions, Saigong Fishing Port, Zhongshan University Square, the White Swan Hotel, and Bar Street at Chandi. The voyage also passes beneath five bridges. Some boats are equipped with kitchens, offering buffets for hungry travellers. A night cruise is especially recommended as this is when the buildings, bridges and trees along the river are brightly lit with colourful ? sometimes flashing ? lights, creating a scene that, according to former premier Zhu Rongji, is ?a bit like the Seine?. We?ll let you be the judge. The Guangzhou White Gulf Company launched cruises along the river in 1961. There are a variety of options to choose from, running from luxurious air-conditioned yachts to open-air ferries. VIP rooms, conference rooms, ballrooms and karaoke facilities are available on some vessels. Boats depart from three locations along the riverfront: the Xidi Dock on Yanjiang Road West, Tianzi Dock on Beijing Road South, and Fangcun Wharf on Changdi Road. Check out the company?s website at www.bo118.com for more information. Tickets: 48 yuan without buffet; 78 yuan with buffet (86-20) 8337 7618; 8190 8190 CHEN FAMILY ANCESTRAL HALL Built from the 14th year (1888) to the 20th year (1894) of the Guangxu reign of the Qing dynasty, the Chen Family Ancestral Hall is one of Guangzhou?s most important and popular tourist sites, attracting busloads of visitors throughout the day. The 15,000 square metre compound is considered the largest, best maintained and most beautifully appointed traditional Chinese structure in the province. Highlights include intricate roof carvings depicting scenes from Chinese history, folk legends and mythology. The complex has lofty open ceilings, intricate dark wooden fretwork, lime sculptures, iron castings, and stunning coloured-glass windows. Visitors enter the grey-brick compound through massive wooden doors bearing the image of the two Door Gods, Qin Qiong, with a red face, and Yu Chigong, with a black face. In pre-revolutionary times, the place served as a venue for ancestor worship as well as a temporary residence for members of the clan from throughout the province. Comprising 19 buildings, it has halls and wing-rooms flanking both sides of a central axis, with covered verandahs and open courtyards connecting the interior spaces. Unfortunately, more than 5,000 wooden tablets bearing the names of clan members dating back more than 100 years were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Only two reproductions remain. Established in 1959, the compound has on display items from the Guangdong Folk Arts Museum. Current exhibitions include Beijing-style dark rosewood reproduction furniture from the Qing dynasty, Guangzhou-style embroidery, Longmen peasant paintings and sculptures by Wan Zhaoquan. Allow at least an hour to explore the site, and don?t leave empty-handed. Shops sell everything from tea (and accessories) to paintings, calligraphy, ink stones, calligraphy brushes, handicrafts, porcelain, ivory, and various other souvenirs. Entrance: 10 yuan Zhongshanqi Road Tel: 8181 4559 HUANGPUGANG PARK A gently arched bridge spans the Silent Pond in Huangpugang Park, where many locals cross with head bowed in silent tribute to the 72 revolutionary martyrs that lost their lives in Guangzhou in a failed attempt to overthrow the Qing dynasty on April 27, 1911. The attempted coup, led by Sun Yat-sen, was one of a series of unsuccessful uprisings that took place before the Qing dynasty was finally overthrown on October 10, 1911. Standing proudly at the end of a long concrete boulevard is the Memorial Wall. The beige stone structure is crowned with a stone replica of ? yes, really ? the Statue of Liberty. She sits atop 72 stone blocks carved with the names of patriotic overseas Chinese organisations that contributed to the park?s construction in 1921. Chiang Kai-shek apparently once ordered that the statue be removed and it was replaced with the emblem of the Kuomintang. Lady Liberty made her re- appearance in 1983 during a complete restoration of the park. Chiang?s Communist successors don?t seem to have a problem with it. A stroll through the park?s leafy grounds can make for a pleasant 30 minutes of killing time. The peaceful sounds of cicadas and children reciting lessons at nearby schools is only occasionally interrupted by the din of traffic and neighbourhood construction. There is an unmistakable sense of reverential calm among the ferns and palms and banyans, which betrays the fierce battles for China?s republican future that ended tragically more than 90 years ago. Entrance: Y8 Lieshi Road WONG TAI SIN TEMPLE Wong Tai-sin, whose original name was Wong Cho-ping, was born in 328AD in Zhejiang province. He learned the art of turning cinnabar into a medicine that cured all illnesses, apparently from an immortal when he was 15 years old. He lived as a recluse for the next 40 years. Wong?s followers built a temple in Guangzhou?s Fancun district in 1899. He moved to Hong Kong, where he rebuilt the temple on the slopes of Lion Rock in 1921, now the heart of urban Kowloon. The original temple in Fancun was later destroyed. A project to reconstruct it was launched in 1997. The first phase of the project was completed two years later. The complex includes the Wong Tai Sin Main Hall, with an 18 metre high ceiling and a 3.2 metre high bronze statue weighing 3,000kg. There are additional halls for Master Lu, Confucius, the God of Money, Kuanyin, and the Chinese zodiacs. Gardens, ponds, a pagoda, souvenir booths, and snack bars round out the attractions. Entrance: 5 yuan 1 Guci Road, Fangcun (86-20) 8149 9426 THE SANCAI GALLERY (8735-1283) This is located on the east gate of the first floor of the Guangdong Museum of Art. Coffee and traditional Chinese tea are served at the 300-square-metre venue. Seal cutting and mounting and portrait-drawing services are also provided. Weekly exhibitions are scheduled through to the end of the year. Highlights include traditional Chinese figure painting by Zheng Zengke, artwork by Li Dongwei, Chinese landscape painting by Dong Jining, Chinese traditional flower and bird painting by An Lin, Chinese landscape painting by Pang Taisong, Chinese traditional flower and bird painting by Shangtao, and oil paintings by Ou Yang and Shao Zenghu. Consult the gallery?s website at www.sancaiart.com for dates and more information. The Sunflower Restaurant and Cafe (8735-1351), an informal western restaurant, is located on the ground floor, adjacent to the Sancai Gallery. Rounding out the nascent cultural centre is the Xinghai Concert Hall (8735-2222), located across the plaza from the museum. Coming attractions include a piano recital by Tomislav Baynov on Sunday and a Night of Tchaikovsky by the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra on September 4. Consult the hall?s website at www.concerthall.com.cn for times, programme details, ticket prices, and more information on coming attractions. A French restaurant and gourmet food shop, La Seine (8735 2531), are also located in the complex. BAIYUN MOUNTAIN It?s there, so you may as well climb it. Baiyun Mountain draws hundreds of thousands of people to its summit every year, even during unbelievably hot days like those experienced this summer. But for those less fit, or simply pressed for time, a car ride is well worth the 25 yuan entrance fee. It?s a beautiful drive, if you can stand the guilt of watching walkers stare at you in envy. Another reason to check out the summit, besides seeing Guangzhou laid out in all its splendour (that is, on the rare days when it isn?t shrouded in smog), is to visit the Mingchun Valley. The ?largest bird-admiring zone in China? opened in 1989 and today has more than 5,000 birds from 50 species. Children will love the show, with trained parakeets and parrots putting on some silly routines. At the foot of the mountain is the Luhu Park. Its winding roads and quiet lake provide a welcome escape from the city.