Guangzhou is the largest city in the province of Guangdong. It has a population that has now risen above 13 million in the city; together with the surrounding Pearl River Delta region, the population is approximately 40 million. South China's largest metropolis, Guangzhou has a humid, subtropical climate and a gross domestic product of almost $250 billion; in fact, Guangzhou was the first mainland Chinese city to kick-start the whole country's economic miracle. Approximately 100 miles north of Hong Kong Island, Guangzhou wields an influence that begins right at the border of Hong Kong province. Its economic powerhouse status can be seen in lavish Guangzhou event venues and such skyscraper developments as its Zhujiang New Town.
The principal airport is Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN). The second-largest airport in China, it is 20 miles north of the city center and a hub airport for China Southern Airlines. By 2018 (you will see operating signs already) an expansion will be completed that will see the airport able to handle more than 80 million a year, which could well make it the world's busiest. There is service to North American cities Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Vancouver and international cities such as Dubai, Paris, and Tokyo. Fast trains connect Hong Kong and other Chinese cities.
Chief among meeting venues, the Guangzhou Baiyun International Convention Center includes conference, exhibition, performance, hotel, property management and other spaces.
Hotel venues in Guangzhou are ultramodern: Choose from the 850-room China Hotel, a Marriott Hotel, Guangzhou, which is at the exhibition center and has 18 meeting rooms and a 13,000-square-foot ballroom of its own; the 704-room Shangri-La Hotel Guangzhou, which includes the Pearl River Grand Ballroom for up to 3,000 people; the 493-room Sofitel Guangzhou Sunrich, which has 17 meeting areas for up to 1,000 persons; the 308-room Hilton Guangzhou Baiyun hotel , which has 10 meeting rooms, 308 sleeping rooms, and 30,000 square feet of meeting space; the 403-room Jianguo Hotel, which has meeting and banquet space for up to 500 persons; and the 320-room Riverside Hotel, which—as its names suggests—looks over the Pearl River and also has meeting and banquet space for up to 500 persons.
The China Import and Export Fair Pazhou Complex, the largest exhibition center in Asia, is a huge space for mega-events that has 1.16 million square feet of event space and can accommodate almost 100,000 booths. It can cater to small events but essentially is geared up for hosting the twice-a-year Canton Fair. Smaller event spaces include the Guangzhou Museum, which is inside Zhenhai Tower, was opened in 1929 (although the tower has a history dating back to 1380), and has three exhibition areas; Guangdong Museum of Art, which has 12 exhibition areas, as well as a 5,000-square-foot sculpture garden; South China Botanical Garden, which is run by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, was founded in 1929, and has an exhibition hall and almost 3,000 acres with more than 2,400 species of plants; and the Guangzhou Chinese Opera House, which opened in 2010, is a performing arts center with an unforgettable, futuristic design courtesy of "star-chitect" Zaha Hadid, and has the main opera house with more than 1,800 seats and an experimental theater with around 400, among other spaces.
Southern Chinese cuisine tends to be spicier than that of other parts of the country. Great Chinese choices include the independent Panxi or superb Lai Heen at the 351-room Ritz-Carlton, Guangzhou, but if you want to see how Italian or French cuisine is dealt with here, go to Buongiorno and La Seine, respectively. To try a sports bar Guangzhou-style, try either one of two siblings called the Tavern Sports Bar.