Verdant parks, fashion shopping and dim sum
A thoroughly modern manufacturing hub that attracts workers from across China, Dongguan is also an increasingly green city. Its parks weave their way alongside new architectural landmarks, like the Humen Bridge spanning the Pearl River estuary, that continue to shoot up as part of China’s economic miracle.
But reconnecting with nature is easy in Dongguan. Take a picnic to eat by the lakes in Qifeng or Songshan parks, or discover a hidden gem with a stroll around the lily ponds and temples of Yuehui Park. Join gentle morning Tai chi sessions in Dongguan People’s Park, or bring walking shoes to tackle the scenic hike up Dongwan Guanyin Mountain, topped by an imposing, gilded Buddhist statue of Guanyin and glorious views over hills coated in tropical rainforest.
Back in the 19th century, Dongguan played a pivotal role in the Opium Wars, and you can learn more about the opium trade through the pictorial exhibits in the Opium War Museum. Today it’s better known for fashion shopping in sprawling emporiums such as New China South Mall and Huanghe Fashion City, but to get a feel for the city of old, try bargaining for Hello Kitty snow globes and leather accessories at charismatic Guangming Night Market.
Steak bars and pizzerias are found in the Dongcheng District, but to rediscover the flavours of genuine Cantonese cooking, hit the streets of bustling Houjie Town after dark. Catch up with diners chatting over green tea in simple dim sum cafes, tuck into zongzi bamboo-wrapped dumplings made with sticky rice, and wind up the night singing along to retro pop in a packed karaoke bar.