I recently took a business trip to Panyu, China, a two-hour ferry ride from Hong Kong. The pace of life in Panyu is markedly slower than HK or China’s big cities, and while there’s nothing terribly special about Panyu, it’s still a good stopover when en route to bigger places. There’s not a ton of English speaking persons around, but the people are friendly and the area is safe. Panyu reminds me of SE Asia a little bit, with tons of motorbikes and endless road construction next to banana tree fields.
If you’re thinking of taking the ferry ride over, check out these options for fun things to do in Panyu:
1. Chimelong Park. This park is enormous with three separate sections: a zoo, a water park and an amusement park. Tour groups get there at 9am and stay all day, so it’s never very empty, but there are endless ways to spend the day there. Many sites say it’s the largest in China or the world, but Wikipedia (so it must be true) does not confirm these claims. Still, it’s good fun.
2. Panyu Square. The square is also huge, and pretty empty during the day. At night, young people hang out here, dancing, skating, singing and busking. It’s a good atmosphere, and as close to an exciting night out that you’re going to get in Panyu. The government buildings are across the street, a huge mall with an IMAX theater and grocery store is nearby, and also nearby are several main shopping streets.
3. Shawan Ancient Town. This place is pretty cool (and free!) — it’s been rebuilt to look like Panyu 100 years ago. There are big patios and narrow corridors, and cool murals. You can easily spend an afternoon wandering around here. You can buy hand embroidered cloths and handmade jewelry and try the ginger milk dessert as well; it’s really good!
Getting to Panyu from Hong Kong is easy. Just go to the China ferry terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui. I didn’t buy tickets in advance, and a first class ticket is around US$25. If you have been slumming it, consider splashing out at Chateau Star River for around US$125/night and you can pretend to live like a queen. I don’t think Panyu is necessarily a destination on its own, but if you want to slow down a little, it’s a nice stop. And don’t forget to visit the roadside fruit stands — the star fruit and guava are delicious!
What else would you suggest for Panyu?