SOAK UP LOCAL CULTURE
Bordering the southeastern edge of Huacheng Square, Zhujiang New Town—home to the Conrad Guangzhou, among other landmarks on the rise—is the burgeoning financial hub of Guangzhou, and the location of some of the city’s most forward-looking architectural design. Chief among these is the provocative Guangdong Museum, conceived by Rocco Yim and his Hong Kong–based firm Rocco Design Architects. Completed in 2010, the museum’s charcoal-gray-and-cherry-red facade—with its interlocking layers of intricate geometric panels and slot like windows—calls to mind a hand-painted lacquer box. At night the whole building glows eerily from within, while seeming to float above the lawns and sloped walkways leading up to it. It’s a somber giant, alternately menacing and mesmerizing, and one of the undisputed masterworks of the new Guangzhou. It’s also just a 10-minute walk from the Conrad, so you can easily spend a quick hour or more exploring the museum, which is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Mondays (admission is free). The extensive collection takes a deep dive into the long and illustrious history of Guangdong province, from well-preserved fossils of the Paleolithic era to an eye-opening survey of Chinese herbal medicine. Other highlights include displays of Chinese calligraphy, woodcuts, and ceramics. Time to spare afterward? The Guangzhou Library is right next door, as is the Technicolor playground of Huacheng Square (see the 1-hour itinerary “Bright Lights, Big City”).