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Two foodies' trip to Guangzhou

Two foodies' trip to Guangzhou

Mid-noon traffic in Guangzhou

Mid-noon traffic in Guangzhou

Hola. Yet another quarter has passed since my last post and I can't believe time is passing by so quickly. It's always nice to be back at this space to document about life; simply because it allows me to look back at a later stage in life and think to myself "hey I actually did that!”.

So, two months back in September, Koon and I took a short trip to Guangzhou (YAS! Our first trip to China together!) and this is in fact the first holiday we had this year; a real holiday without any work commitments. It was quite a last minute decision as it was also towards end of August when I decided we should probably take a break and explore a new destination to commemorate our 6th Anniversary. Can’t believe we've been together for 6 years already ˆ_ˆ

Why Guangzhou?

Because…FOOD, FOOD AND FOOD. Hahaha. I've been wanting to visit Guangzhou for the longest time and every time I look at food blogs introducing restaurants in GZ, I can't help but secretly salivate. Ah ha ha. And I am so happy to finally make this trip happen! Guangzhou is a food-haven as known to many; Dimsum, Hotpot, Charcoal Grilled Fish (whoohoo!), BBQ, you name it, they have it. I also had an agenda to visit the wholesale markets in Guangzhou but it didn't turn out the way I wanted though so I'd probably leave this topic for another time!

Planning / To bring more cash or not?

It wasn't easy (at least for me) to plan this holiday to China for the first time because there's really a lack of accurate information online. I had questions like, “can the stores accept cash or do they only accept WeChat Pay?”, "how can foreigners use WeChat Pay?”, "Do they accept foreign credit cards (Visa/MC) or do they only accept China Union Pay?". Not to even mention different sources (websites) had conflicting answers and they made me even more confused.

So finally with this trip (and several trial and error with personal WeChat account), I finally got the answers and I hope this would be useful for anyone who's planning their first trip to China too.

  • WECHAT PAY: You need to have a China-based Bank Account and China Mobile Number before you can use WeChat Pay. Otherwise, you can get a friend (a WeChat user) who is willing to transfer you funds in your WeChat account so you can start using it in stores. We personally found a guy (Singaporean based in China) on Hardwarezone forum offering this service where he charges a marginal FX markup for transferring RMB to your WeChat account in exchange for SGD (via iBanking). So yes, with his service we finally got a chance to experience WeChatPay in stores!

  • CASH IS OK: My no. 1 burning question prior to the trip because China has advertised itself as a cashless society so much that we had the impression they do not accept cash anymore but yes they still do. In fact we paid with cash in most of all the stores and restaurants we visited. Be prepared though - cashiers will validate your banknotes again and again either manually (think of them holding up the notes high up) or with a machine. There was once at the NOMO store where the cashier validated the notes we gave to him so many times and it was not long before he realised that he was rude and apologised. Hahaha. Well, we don't blame him though! We all know counterfeit notes is a real issue in China.

  • Can they accept Visa/MC? To be honest this is still a mystery to me… and I have no definite answers unfortunately. I had several cards declined at a retail store but worked perfectly fine when I checked out at my hotel. My personal conclusion is that… Visa/MC should be accepted in places like hotels or airports that are dedicated to serve foreigners but not in heartland stalls or shops.

And if you're running out of cash… Money changers were hard to find along the streets but banks are everywhere. We attempted to change our money at a local bank but left without doing so because taking a queue number from the ticketing machine requires you to tap your local ID card. We don't have a local ID of course and the employees were rather hostile in assisting…so end of story.

Moral of the story: bring more cash.

Our flight

We flew with China Southern Airlines as the tickets were going at SGD 320 per pax (all taxes inclusive) which was quite a good deal for a non-budget airline. But given a chance again, I probably wouldn't recommend it (unless the deal is too good to resist) because the whole booking experience almost drove me nuts. From the stage of opening an account to checking your booking status and performing an online check-in, every attempt met with an error and it was crazy. The website either stays unresponsive or would come back with a 'wrong password’ error when I am 101% sure the password is correct. Also, some minor technical hiccups which made me so afraid that my booking would be invalid. But I know I have a confirmation email as proof so I didn't pursue further. Clearly their system needs some upgrading.

About the inflight experience, it was okay but don't expect a full-fledge service where you get your individual IFE. Not sure if it's similar across other Chinese airlines but I've personally encountered twice where the aircrafts have this shared, tiny and flip-down TV screen dedicated for every 3-4 rows of passengers sitting within the same section and no you don't get to choose what plays on it. Not sure if this is common across China aircrafts though.

Where to stay in Guangzhou?

Finding an accommodation was easy but choosing which district was not. For starters, I'd recommend to go with Yuexiu district where the more popular shopping streets and restaurants are. Having stayed in both Yuexiu and Tianhe districts, I'd recommend the former anytime because we really enjoyed staying there.

Hotel Apartment in Yuexiu district

We booked a 5d4n stay with JiaJia MIX International Apartment (Beijing Road Branch) via Booking.com for the first 5 days of our trip. I chose this because of the nice interiors as seen in the pictures online and I was so glad it didn't disappoint.

The location is super awesome and I strongly recommend it because:

  • the metro station (Gongyuanqian station) is right below the building (urm technically you'd have to go through the shopping mall basement but it's just a 10 mins walk).

  • It's strategically in between two shopping malls and there are so much food options.

  • many popular eateries, restaurants and shopping street are just a walking distance away.

With the same address, you'd expect to find a lot of other hotel apartment brands too (like Yimi MIX International Apartment) as they are sharing the same building but managing different properties (rooms). It was confusing for us when we first arrived as a different hotel name kept showing up when we keyed in the address on the Didi app.

I was quite surprised to see each of these brands having their own reception counters at the lobby and I thought this business model is really cool; you don't actually have to own the entire building to start your own hotel brand!

Airbnb in Tianhe District

Tianhe is much like the CBD of Guangzhou and prices for the international hotels in the area are towards the high side so we chose to stay in an Airbnb instead. We booked an Airbnb for 3d2n and it was quite disappointing so I won't be sharing the link here. The actual place wasn't as nice and clean as the pictures advertised.

Our Airbnb was housed atop of a IT commercial plaza called 百脑汇商场 (Bai Nao Hui Plaza) along Tianhe road and the vicinity had a lot of other buildings dedicated to IT-related stuff. If you're looking to shop for electronics products, I'd recommend coming to Tianhe to have a look but you don't actually have to stay in the area since traveling around GZ is super convenient via the metro.

Canton Tower, Guangzhou

Canton Tower, Guangzhou

Useful Apps to have

Actually, I think they're a must have and I'd recommend anyone to use these apps to do their research and itinerary planning~

  1. Xiaohongshu (小红书) - available in Chinese only

    I love this app! My friend recommend this to me and it's like a combination of Instagram + Pinterest. Basically you enter a keyword (in this case for me, "广州" Guangzhou) and you can expect to see posts related to your keyword shared by the online community. Also acts like a micro-blogging platform where users share places of interest that can be related to food, shopping and leisure in general. It's a super informative and nice app to have if you need ideas for your trip.

  2. Dianping (大众点评) - available in Chinese only

    Chinese-equivalent of Tripadvisor where people would review places, mostly on food. I think my usage of Dianping has surpassed the total times I used Tripadvisor.

    In terms of features, like recommending "restaurants near you” and "popular restaurants", they are pretty much similar. But the user experience of the Dianping is so good and easy to use even for a non-native like me. This app is definitely a must have if you want to know where and what the locals enjoy eating. I personally visited a lot of restaurants recommended by the locals in the app!

  3. Didi (滴滴) - available in English and Chinese

    Didi is a ride-hailing app (just like Uber / Grab) in China and it makes our transportation around GZ so convenient! I have heard/read so much about people being scammed by cab drivers in China (especially at the airport) and the best advice they gave is to book your ride via Didi where the rates are pre-determined. Given several incidents (with female passengers especially) about Didi being unsafe, it's best to avoid the hitch rides and go for Premier rides where drivers are certified professional. Also it's best to download the app on your phone and link your credit card prior to the trip, and yes Visa and MasterCard works. Here are two sites that can help you work your way through Didi:

    And I also have to say that the drivers we got for our Didi rides are super professional. A typical conversation goes like this… (in Chinese but I am translating):

    Koon and I: Hello
    Driver: Hello, nice to meet you. This is [Driver's name] at your service. *
    5 seconds later…* Please buckle up your seatbelts and we'll be ready to go.
    Arrives at destination*
    Koon and I: Thank you, bye bye!
    Driver: Thank you and I am very pleased to have served you. Have a nice day.

    Every one of them is super polite and nice… and they drive at a pretty decent speed. Rash and speed driving cabbies always scares me. So back to it, I don't know if it is because they are certified professional drivers under premier service but to me, this already feels like a luxe service. Haha.

  4. Baidu (百度) & Baidu Maps (百度地图)

    The great firewall of China is real… and you don't want to risk having no access to the internet. Baidu and Baidu Maps are the equivalent of Google and Google Maps in China and it's definitely a must-have for you to navigate your way around.

    If you have a VPN service in place then you don't have to worry about not being able to access the typical sites like Google and Facebook.

    Koon and I are using M1 as our telco and enabling our data for our trips have always been very convenient with M1's data passport. This is #notanad okay. We truly enjoy the convenience of getting our data-roaming enabled via M1 every time we travel. The service with their telco-partner in China surprisingly bypasses the firewall and we had no issues with Google, FB and WhatsApp.

Guangzhou Metro Day Pass

Guangzhou Metro Day Pass

Public Transportation

The metro system in Guangzhou is so well established and travelling around the city was so convenient for us. And the plus point? It's super affordable! They offer day passes: 1-day and 3-day at RMB 20 and RMB 50 respectively which allows for unlimited rides for the next 24 hrs or 72 hrs from the first time you utilise the card. That's really nice because there are some countries where they offer passes like this but they go according to the day, instead of the time where you first use the pass.

And… if you're feeling lazy, you can always fall back to Didi which in my opinion is not expensive for a city-state like this.

Ok now let me move on to the real stuff…

Food / Where and What to eat?

(ermmm I'm actually having a love-hate relationship with travel-blogging at this point because there are so many photos I need to arrange for this section but I also know that I will have a sense of accomplishment once it's up! hehe)

I haven't been to Hong Kong but I do know that Hong Kong and Guangzhou shares a very similar culture when it comes to food, especially dimsum! :) You can find Cantonese cuisine almost everywhere in Guangzhou and for us, we had dim-sum for breakfast four days consecutively and decided we had to stop on the fifth. During the first two days we also overestimated ourselves and end up having to do take-aways because we over-ordered.

Restaurants are not in order and I will also be embedding the Dianping link for each restaurant below ˜

广州酒家(越华路店) Guangzhou Restaurant

I like this restaurant so much that I just had to return two days later. Not a fan of Char Siew Buns but the ones from Guangzhou Restaurant really got my heart. What really made me return to the restaurant though was actually the Bird Nest Yogurt Tart (see pic 4); *HANDS DOWN* the next best dessert on earth. There's just something special about the bird nest and yogurt combi with the airy layered crusts. If you enjoy egg tarts (the portuguese ones), I'm sure you'd like this too ٩(♡ε♡ )۶

Total damage: RMB 171 // SGD 34

They have a lot of outlets and the one I went to was the Yue Hua branch. Click on the embedded link below to view more on Dianping.

广州酒家(越华路店) Guangzhou Restaurant
Address: 广州市越秀区越华路112号珠江国际大厦5-6楼


点都德 (德誉楼) Dian Dou De (De Yu Lou Branch)

This restaurant also goes by the cantonese name Dim Dou Dak which is more commonly used in GZ. This is the first dim-sum restaurant we visited and it was really an eye-opener for me, personally, to witness the local dimsum culture and the buzzing crowd even on a weekday morning. The only bad thing though - was us, being newbies, ordering too much and we end up having to do take-aways, putting the food in our backpack and having it as tea-break/supper. Hahahaha. We ordered 8 dishes (under the impression of dim sum servings in Singapore) and only to continuously chant ‘omg’ when the dishes arrived one after another. If I have to pick a favourite, I'd recommend the pork floss in the glutinous red rice flour (first picture) anytime!

Total damage: RMB 172 // SGD 34

点都德 (德誉楼) Dian Dou De (De Yu Lou Branch)


炳胜品味 (天河店) Bin Sheng Pin Wei (Tian He Outlet)

I had high expectations on this restaurant because it was highly recommended by so many travel blogs. Because of the preset expectations, I didn't find it to be that impressive. But there's still still one favourite dish of mine; and that's the roasted pork skin! A bit pricey but it was worth it. The other roast pork dishes were too sweet/caramelized for my liking. Now you must be probably wondering how do I determine whether a restaurant is good or not…well I don't. Food is a subjective topic and the only metric I use is whether or not I feel inclined to go back. Bin Sheng Pin Wei is one of those that falls within the 50-50 possibility. I'd probably go back again only if I have the opportunity to visit with a larger group of friends/family so that we can order and try more of their other signatures.

Total damage: RMB 172 // SGD 34

炳胜品味 (天河店) Bin Sheng Pin Wei (Tian He Outlet)
Address: 天河东路168号石牌酒店1-2楼


探鱼 (五月花商业广场店) Tan Yu (Mayflower Shopping Plaza Branch)


This was memorable because it was our first day in Guangzhou and we were looking for a place to have our dinner; and I remember I was having a very strong craving for Charcoal Grilled Mala Spicy Fish! Koon is not a fan of this but he still accompanied me anyway :') And yes the serving is again, huge and all that red stuff you see there are dried chillies. Spice lovers would know that it's not that spicy actually. If you're not a fan of spicy food, they have non spicy options as well so fret not. Tan Yu also just landed in Singapore recently and I'm quite excited to try it out locally to see how it fares :)

探鱼 (五月花商业广场店) Tan Yu (Mayflower Shopping Plaza Branch)
Address: 中山五路68号五月花商业广场3楼


锦记饮食世家 Jin Ji Yin Shi Shi Jia

Finally, a restaurant out of Yuexiu district which is worth mentioning. We've been exploring different parts of GZ but always end up going back to our hotel area for dinner. But this time round we found a gem! This restaurant caught my eye on Dianping when I saw one of their signature dishes; 脆皮炸大肠 (fried pork large intestines). This may not be for everyone but for anyone who loves this dish as much as I do - this is THE BOMB. It's not easy to find in SG and I'm really excited to have found this in GZ. It was crispy on the outside but still chewy on the inside. The roast pork, char siew and chicken wings platter was also good but I'd rank it second after the fried intestines.

Total damage: RMB 175 // SGD 35

锦记饮食世家 Jin Ji Yin Shi Shi Jia
Address: 江南西路青柳大街48号


丁檔冰室 (北京路店) Ding Dang Bing Shi (Beijing Road Branch)

Found this pretty cosy tea restaurant, a gem hidden at one of the small alleys right below our apartment thanks to Dianping. It was one of the days where we were hunting for comfort food instead of dimsum for breakfast and this restaurant proved to be the right choice. I ordered a luncheon meat with tomato based soup macaroni (where the 90s kids at?) and Koon had the chicken thigh rice set. Their signature french toast set is also a must try!

Total damage: RMB 81 // SGD 16

丁檔冰室 (北京路店) Ding Dang Bing Shi (Beijing Road Branch)
Address: 广大二巷23号
Nearest MRT: Gongyuanqian MRT station


烧喜日本烧肉专门店(北京路店) Shao Xi Japanese BBQ (Beijing Road Branch)

Koon and I enjoyed our BBQ dinner so much at Shaoxi and it's almost impossible to forget. First all of, they don't have a wide selection of bbq options but the presentation, quality and freshness of the food they serve is SUPERB. In the pictures you can see the bbq pork marinated in a pineapple pot and also look how nicely the other dishes were presented. Our first attempt in bbq-ing the first serving of the bbq pork (from the pineapple pot) turned out to be so-so but we had the privilege of having the Japanese Chef to bbq the second serving for us. I was pleasantly surprised at how meticulous the chef is in grilling the meat and true enough the end result was farrrrr better than our first attempt. Indeed, a Chef is a Chef for a reason. Moreover a Japanese Chef!

We also wanted to bbq the crayfish ourselves but the staff held us back and got the Japanese Chef to serve us (again) because she recognised that it's difficult for customers to do it on our own. I think the Chef took around 15-20 minutes to bbq that ONE crayfish for us and I really appreciate his patience and service for his customers. And needless to say, the crayfish was grilled to perfection imo it was so fresh and crunchy and delicious and……….if you're still reading at this point, please remember to mark this restaurant into your MUST-VISIT list! ;)

Total damage: RMB 304 // SGD 61

Shao Xi Japanese BBQ
Address: 教育路11号
Address (Eng): 11 Jiaoyu Rd, BeiJingLu, Yuexiu Qu, Guangzhou Shi, Guangdong Sheng, China, 510000
Nearest MRT: Gongyuanqian MRT station (Exit D)


摩打食堂(贰店) Mota Japanese Restaurant

It was our last night in Yuexiu district and we were looking for a nice place for dinner and there MOTA popped up in my radar because I remember seeing recommendations from Dianping. We were there around 6:30 pm and had to queue for roughly 20 minutes before we got our seats. Surprisingly, Japanese cuisine in Guangzhou is really good, and I don't have a single bit of negative feedback! Sashimi was fresh and yumz, and if I have to pick a favourite out of all - that'd be the Mentaiko baked potatoe ;)

Please don't miss out this restaurant if you ever ever go to GZ!! You won't regret! :)

Total damage: RMB 267 // SGD 53

摩打食堂(贰店) Mota Japanese Restaurant
Address: 教育路36号
Address (Eng): 36 Jiaoyu Rd, BeiJingLu, Yuexiu Qu, Guangzhou Shi, Guangdong Sheng, China, 510000
Nearest MRT: Gongyuanqian MRT (Exit D)


晓晓舒芙蕾松饼 Xiaoxiao Pancakes


Caramel Pancakes @ RMB 24

Found this on Xiaohongshu and people were raving about how good (and pretty) these pancakes are~ And I agree! Perhaps still a little far from those Japanese fluffy pancakes but these were quite decent. It's a very tiny shopfront and quite easy to miss if you walk by too quickly, and we arrived only to realise that it is not a cafe but a buy-and-go shop. To be specific, they have a few chairs right outside their stall and we enjoyed the pancakes right there like many others. Since they don't exactly have a proper takeaway box and it was raining heavily that night, our pancakes would have be doomed if we brought it back to the hotel.

晓晓舒芙蕾松饼 Xiaoxiao Pancakes
Address: 教育路85号
Address (Eng): 85 Jiaoyu Rd, BeiJingLu, Yuexiu Qu, Guangzhou Shi, Guangdong Sheng, China, 510000
Nearest MRT: Gongyuanqian MRT station (Exit D)


MAYS 蔓莳创意美蔬(K11店)

One of the rare days where we travelled specifically to visit K11; an art galleria cum shopping mall. We went to K11 with the intention to visit KnotKnot珞珞, a dessert cafe that has been making waves on dianping.com for their desserts. It was mid-noon when we arrived, only to see Knotknot cafe crowded with probably 10-15 people in the queue. We didn't want to queue (unlike most Singaporeans hahaha) so we decided to walk a few stores down and that's how we found MAYS! We ordered a citrus chocolate cake and guava cheese juice and I really liked them. Koon had his usual mocha (not pictured here) and the total damage for our afternoon tea session was RMB 76 // SGD 15.

MAYS 蔓莳创意美蔬(K11店)
Address: 花城大道K11购物艺术中心B133号


南信牛奶甜品专家 NanXin Milk Dessert Experts


We made a trip to Shang Xia Jiu Pedestrian Street with this dessert shop in the itinerary because it's literally in everyone's recommendation for GZ. They're famous for their signature double-boiled milk dessert and I thought it was just fine and not worth the waiting time (45 minutes). I am not a fan of waiting, honestly speaking, and it was when we wanted to leave (since it was full house) a very kind staff actually helped to locate/squeeze out 2 seats for us. It was really nice of him so how could we just leave without trying! It was nice, but I definitely wouldn't want to wait for 45 minutes just for a single bowl of dessert ;)

南信牛奶甜品专家 Nan Xin Milk Dessert Experts
Address: 上下九 第十甫47号


As you'd have probably notice, most of the restaurants listed here shares the same MRT station (Gongyuanqian) and this further proves that Yue Xiu district is the best place to stay in GZ. There's just so many restaurants and you will never be out of options. Most importantly they are all within walking distance (which allows one to burn more calories from all that eating). There are some other restaurants which we visited but they aren't worth mentioning so here you go, 9 eateries/restaurants to kick off your itinerary!

HEY Tea // Also known as 喜茶

HEY Tea // Also known as 喜茶

In between all the exploration, we also drank a lot of fruit tea and bubble tea. Tea shops are literally everywhere and you'll be spoilt for choice. A personal favourite of mine is HeyTea which has also just landed in Singapore recently. Go try it if you haven't! :)


I hope this post inspires you to visit Guangzhou - If you have any questions, feel free to hit a comment down below and I'll try my best to help! :)


*All RMB-SGD conversion listed here is based on the fx rate of SGD 1 to RMB 5 at the time of writing and rounded to the nearest whole number.

PS: I just realised the english names (mostly translated to Hanyu Pinyin by me) and addresses of the restaurants is actually useless because Google sometimes doesn't return any results. If you are planning to visit the restaurant, make sure to use the restaurant name in Chinese to get more accurate results :)

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