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Formerly known as Canton in the West, the city of Guangzhou has a history dating back roughly 2,200 years. With a population of more than 12 million, it is the third largest city in China (after Beijing and Shanghai). On the Pearl River about 120 km (75 mi) north-northwest of Hong Kong and 145 km (90 mi) north of Macau, the city was a major terminus on the ancient maritime Silk Road and is still a major port. Despite impressive sight-seeing possibilities, travelers usually come to Guangzhou for shopping and dining. The largest number of restaurants in China (per capita) are located here.

Traveling to Guangzhou

In most cases, a visa should be obtained from a Chinese embassy or consulate before arriving anywhere in mainland China. Many travel agencies will assist you with the application and some can submit it on your behalf. Plan on applying for a visa at least a month before your trip; if needed, there are services available to expedite the process and shorten the wait time. For further details, please refer to the “Visa” page on this conference website.

By Air

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (IATA: CAN) is a major hub and the base for China Southern Airlines. It has both direct international routes and domestic flights. The airport is 28 km (17 mi) north from central Guangzhou.

Foreign nationals from 53 countries who transit through Guangzhou Airport when flying between two different countries (e.g., London-Guangzhou-Auckland) qualify for a 72-hour visa-free stopover. For the purpose of the policy, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan are treated as international flights.

The 72-hour period begins at 00:01 after the day of arrival (for example, if you arrive in Guangzhou Airport at 09:00 on 1 January, you can stay until 23:59 on 4 January). During the 72-hour visa-free stopover, you are allowed to move freely within the whole of Guangdong Province, but you must fly into and fly out of Guangzhou Airport.

By Train (from Hong Kong)

For visitors from abroad, another option is to fly to Hong Kong and then entrain via high-speed rail to Guangzhou. From the airport, the Hong Kong metro links to the Hong Kong West Kowloon station with a journey time of about 22 minutes (or you may elect to take a taxi instead).

From Hong Kong West Kowloon station to Guangzhou South station, frequent CRH trains (G series) travel non-stop for 47-70 minutes (cost $27-$93) for a distance of 142km (88 miles). If choosing the train option, we recommend booking the highest class of ticket available (Business or First) for your comfort.

Tickets for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link can now be booked online for up to 30 days in advance; tickets can sell out, so be sure to book early. Tickets purchased online for trains departing from Hong Kong West Kowloon Station can be picked up at the counters operated by China Railway (HK) Holdings Ltd. at the Hong Kong West Kowloon Station. Ticket pickup fees: 10 HKD for each ticket priced under 200 RMB; 20 HKD for each ticket priced from 200 to 300 RMB; 30 HKD for each ticket priced over 300 RMB.

For trains departing from Hong Kong West Kowloon Station, please arrive at the station at least 45 minutes prior to departure to pick up your ticket and complete entry and exit procedures. Ticket and customs queues can be long; allow plenty of extra time. Passengers must hold a valid ticket as well as a passport, visa, and travel documents. Please board the train in accordance with the date, train number, and class shown on the ticket.


A taxi ride from the airport to central Guangzhou will cost about ¥120, inclusive of a ¥15 toll fee. Taxi ranks are available outside Arrival Hall Section A, Gate 5; and Arrival Hall Section B, Gate 6.

Do not accept solicitations for rides to the city. Sometimes, people will stand at the arrival area and ask if you need a taxi. These are illegally operated and use unmarked vehicles, or charge you a fee, offer you a phony receipt, and then arrange a taxi that will still charge you. They usually cost a lot more than licensed taxis since many travelers do not know the cost of airport transportation.

Overall, few of the city's taxi drivers speak English. It is therefore important that you present the driver with the name of the destination (in written Mandarin), present them with a printed taxi card from your hotel (see your hotel's website for further details), or be able to point out your destination on a map.


Opened in 1999, the ever-growing Guangzhou Metro system covers much of the city center. The fare ranges from ¥2 to ¥12. Most of the signs and announcements are in Mandarin and English. There are currently 8 lines in operation. Metro schedules are available online or at the stations, or apps on your smartphone can help you to navigate the subway system (Metro Guangzhou Subway, Explore Guangzhou, MetroMan, etc.).

Linhexi Station (Linhe West) is the closest subway station to the Sofitel Guangzhou Sunrich hotel. It takes about 15 minutes to walk to the hotel. Take Exit B, and walk west on Tianhe North Road about 1 km to a large crossing. There you can turn south onto Guangzhou Middle Avenue, along which you can walk for another 250 meters. The hotel will be on your left.

References and Recommended Reading

Travel & Tourist Information

Guangzhou - Wikitravel

Guangzhou - Wikipedia

Guangzhou International Airport

72-Hour Visa-Free Stopover

Guangzhou Trains and Metro

Guangzhou Metro - Wikipedia

Guangzhou Metro: Subway Lines, Map, Tickets Fare & Types

Guangzhou South railway station (High-speed Trains and Metro)

Hong Kong Metro

China Rail High-speed Tickets

Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link