Best place to go for a cup of coffee, beautiful stroll and some history in Guangzhou?
Shamian Island is located in the Liwan District of Guangzhou, Guangdong Province in Southern China. The Island’s name literally means “Sandy Surface” in Chinese. A few fun facts for all your history buffs out there: From the Song and the Qing Dynasty, Shamian served as an important port for Guangzhou’s foreign trade. It became the strategic point for the city’s defense during the second Opium war (1856-1860). Alas, in 1859, the territory was divided into two concessions given to France and the United Kingdom by the Qing Government in the 19th century. The Island was connected to the mainland by two bridges, which were closed at 10pm for security measures. The English bridge to the North was guarded by Sikhs, and the French bridge to the East was guarded by Vietnamese French troops. Since then, the whole Island has been restored a plethora of times. However, each current building has a label on it to tell its former purpose, so tourists can view it for what it was originally meant to represent.
The whole island itself is a reminder of the colonial European period, with small quaint pedestrian avenues with beautiful trees and historical buildings. This is also my FAVORITE place to buy traditional Chinese souvenirs.
This is also an extremely popular place for local Chinese residents to come and take their wedding photos.
Another fun thing that locals do? An afternoon of chess.
Fishing on the Pearl River Delta!
Buying fresh food at the local market!
Shamian Island has a bit of everything, both for locals and for tourists.
How to get there
If you’re visiting this area, it’s definitely worth a stop by. If you’re coming from Guangzhou Metro, take Subway line 1 to Huangsha Station. Get out from Exit D and walk through an overpass to the bridge and cross to get to the Island. This park is also completely free to walk around.