• Follow the locals to the city’s commercial, cultural, and historical heart
• Meet third-generation artisans in their streetside ateliers
• Taste a provincial delicacy at one of Guangzhou’s favorite restaurants
If a single street could encapsulate life in Guangzhou—commercial, cultural, social, familial, past, and present—it would be Enning Lu (Enning Road) in the Xiguan neighborhood, a charming passage through time that’s endured, relatively intact, since the Qing dynasty. With its historical roots and abundant ambiance, the street has lately drawn the attention of developers, retail chains, and savvy city planners—and for better or worse, Enning Lu and the surrounding area constitute one of Guangzhou’s most dynamic “new/old” enclaves.
Start your explorations at the Last Coppersmith shop at 143 Enning Lu, where Mr. Su, a bespectacled third-generation artisan, still hammers away in his tiny stall every day without fail. Handmade Xiguan copperware has long been famous throughout China, and Su’s gleaming bowls and teapots outshine the machine-made replicas in nearby storefronts—a tribute to his mastery. A short walk north, near the intersection of Enning Lu and Duobao Lu, stop in at Zhanjiangji Chicken Restaurant at 128 Duobao Lu. The specialty here is baiqie ji 白切鸡—the same preparation you’ll find at YouLian CaiGuan in Qingping Market (see the 3-hour itinerary “A Taste of Tradition”), but here it’s made from the Zhanjiang breed of chicken, which has a gamier taste and slightly chewier texture. It’s hard to choose between the two renditions: both are pretty spectacular. The restaurant also serves a fine gulou rou—sweet and sour pork with fresh pineapple—that goes well with the baiqie ji.
Cross back onto Enning Lu and walk up to the newly built Cantonese Opera Museum, whose architecture evokes the style of old Guangzhou, and whose setting—in a traditional Chinese garden—is part of a citywide beautification project. Inside, the collection recounts the glory days of an endangered tradition beloved by an aging population. Ornate costumes and headpieces are impressively displayed; legendary opera stars are memorialized with audio and video recordings. Free performances on the building’s open-air stage happen every Saturday morning.
Development is under way that will more formally connect the main drag of Enning Lu with the footbridges across the canal and nearby Yongqing Alley, a charming lane of intimate restaurants and cafés. In the meantime, Bruce Lee fans may want to pay respects at the late star’s former home, now converted into the Bruce Lee Museum, an ad hoc display of kung fu memorabilia that’s diverting for aficionados but not so much for non-devotees.
From the Bruce Lee Museum, head back to the main alley to Enning Lu. Cross another footbridge over a canal to the corner of Shanmu Lan Lu, then keep walking across a series of bridges until you reach a narrow street running alongside a canal, lined with shops and ornate buildings. This is Lychee Bay, a popular pedestrian area, which borders Liwan Lake Park 荔湾湖公园. Here you’ll see Guangzhou residents going about daily life. Get to the park just after sunset and watch the lanterns brighten the path with their evening glow.
It’s a 30-to-40-minute drive from the Conrad to the Xiguan district and its main thoroughfare, Enning Lu (Enning Road). Have the taxi drop you off at the Last Coppersmith, at 143 Enning Lu, a convenient starting point for your walk. You’ll need your passport or Chinese national ID to gain entry to the Cantonese Opera Museum.
THE LAST COPPERSMITH: 143 Enning Lu, Liwan district; +86-1371-083-1372; no website 伟兴铜器，苏少伟广州市荔湾区恩宁路143号
ZHANJIANGJI CHICKEN RESTAURANT: 128 Duobao Lu, Liwan district; +86-020-8193-6175; no website安铺湛江鸡饭店：荔湾区多宝路128号
CANTONESE OPERA MUSEUM: 127 Enning Lu, Liwan district; +86-020-8182-0016; no website 广州粤剧艺术博物馆：荔湾区恩宁路127号
BRUCE LEE MUSEUM: 13 Yongqing Alley off Enning Lu, Liwan district; no phone or website 李小龙故居:恩宁路永庆一巷13号
LYCHEE BAY: Longjin Xi Lu (intersection of Duobao Lu), Liwan district; no phone or website荔枝湾：龙津西路 位于龙津路到多宝路一带