ESCAPE THE CITY
Crowned by seven hills and extending across 212 acres, Yuexiu Park is the sprawling centerpiece of Guangzhou, the city’s beating green heart at any time of year. In spring, fragrant blossoms perfume the air. At the height of summer, families rent paddleboats for lazy rides around the park’s three lakes. Even in winter, given Guangzhou’s mild climate, you’ll find plenty of locals enjoying a respite from the city just beyond the trees. Whatever the season, Yuexiu Park is the perfect place to witness a day in the life of Guangzhou. Come before sunrise to join the early-rising faithful for tai chi, or return at sundown to witness the charming spectacle of communal line dancing, a national pastime. Up the hill you’ll find the iconic Five Rams Statue, a tribute to what local folklore calls “the guardians of Guangzhou.” Throughout the park, the mix of professional and amateur entertainment varies daily and unpredictably, whether it’s an ad hoc performance by a group of opera singers, or a group of kung fu students decked out in Feiyue sneakers, practicing their moves.
Once you’ve walked enough to work up an appetite, hop in a taxi to Beiyuan (near the park’s southeastern edge) for one of the great dim sum experiences in Guangzhou. An institution since the 1920s, Beiyuan is known not only for its extensive menu of local specialties—including a fine version of Dongjiang salt-baked chicken, and some traditional herbal-medicine-based soups—but also for its splendid garden, complete with elegant topiary and a carp pond.