The formula for the megacity in China - equal parts meteoric economic growth and mass rural exodus - invokes inherent problems for anyone who strives to frame it all in words. How to describe the province of Guangdong without the usual hyperbole? Perhaps the most effective method is to state the obvious: Guangdong is big. Very big. Think the entire population of Mexico in a country the size of Uruguay. Of critical importance, however, is the fact that more and more of the province is urban. Welcome to the People’s Republic of China, circa the 21st century.
Dongguan is a vital cog in the new Guangdong and a cornerstone of the 40 million strong Pearl River Delta megalopolis, together with city partners Guangzhou and Shenzhen. The city of 8.2 million people is a busy economic hot shot that lags after only Shenzhen, Shanghai and Suzhou in total annual exports. More germane for visitors is a dense cluster of wholesale markets.
Alas, however, Dongguan is primarily a business city that has yet to find a soul or original identity and, as a result, has a way to go to compete with the Pearl River Delta likes of Shenzhen and Guangzhou, let alone Hong Kong. Most of the best tourist attractions in the city reside within Humen Town.
Dongguan’s Top 10
10. Humen Pearl River Bridge is a suspension span over the Pearl River.
5. Shajiao Fort was a major player in the First Opium War between the Qing Dynasty and the United Kingdom.
9. New South China Mall is infamous. Built in 2005 at double the area of Vatican City, it is still mostly vacant.
4. Sea Battle Museum of Humen chronicles vital chapters of Pearl River Delta history.
8. Former residence of Jiang Guangnai, a late statesman, is in Humen.
3. Window of the World, a popular Shenzhen theme park, is just over one hour from Dongguan by car.
7. Jin Ao Zhou Pagoda dates back to the late 16th century.
2. Weiyuan Fort is a monument citadel close to Humen Pearl River Bridge.
6. Keyuan Garden is a Qing Dynasty gem that covers half an acre.
1. Opium War Museum is for history buffs in Humen.
- Fenghuang Pavilion - The ancient buildings and culture of this area make it a must-see for those who love history.
- Zhangmutou Town - This ancient town near Dongguan is a living relic to the past of the region.
- Weiyuan Fort - This ancient fort was built to protect the city from invaders from across the sea.
- Shajiao Fort - Dating back to the Opium Wars, this fort still houses a few old cannons.
- Jiang-Guangnai Residence - The former home of this famous Chinese general.
Dongguan Art & Culture
- Keyuan - This popular park features multiple museums and an old house that is representative of the Qing dynasty.
- Dongguan Central Square - Featuring nightly music and beautiful landscaping, this is a great place to see the living culture of the city.
- Humen Bridge - One of Dongguan’s most visible landmarks.
- Ying En Gate Tower - Lovers of unique architecture will flock to this attraction.
- Huanwei Bookstore of Qing Dynasty - The home of important historical texts and a great place to learn about the history of the area.
- Humen - This small town within Dongguan is known for its successful garment industry, making it a great place for cheap clothing.
- Nancheng Fumin Commercial Pedestrian Street - This street is the best place to find famous international name brands.
- Global Plaza - Containing several famous department stores, this plaza has just about everything.
- Haiya Department Store - This famous store is one of the most popular shopping destinations in the city.
- Yongle Electrical Shop - Those hunting for electronics should start at this shop, which sells just about everything electric.
Gay & Lesbian Dongguan
- Cinese Hotel - This gay-friendly hotel features cosy rooms for a great romantic getaway.
- Musani Pub - This pub is open to all people but is popular among the gay crowd.
- K KTV - A popular karaoke bar that caters to the gay and lesbian community.
- BB Club - This popular Dongguan nightspot features a mixed crowd and a very lively dance floor.
- One for the Road - This bar is open to all types of people but tends to draw a younger gay crowd on weekends.
- Lianhua Mountain - This mountain is a favourite among trekkers because of its beautiful views.
- Tongsha Ecological Park - This nature reserve shows the greener side of the city and is a great place for an outdoor stroll.
- Huying Country Park - For a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, try this park near Dongguan.
- Yuehui Park - This park is a favourite place to relax in nature or to take pictures of the local bird life.
- Shilong Golden Bay - Just outside the city centre, this bay is a great place to catch a beautiful sunrise or sunset.
- Hike to the top of Yingpingzui Peak while in Dongguan.
- Take a jog around the trails at Qifend Park.
- Ride a bike around Huying Park.
- Take a swim in the beautiful waters of Songshan Lake Park.
- Play a game of basketball at the Dongguan Sports Centre.
Aside from national and civic holidays, from Mid-Autumn Festival to Lantern Festival, Dongguan is a trade fair city that hosts a number of international exhibitions throughout the year at the Guangdong Modern International Exhibition Center.
Humen International Fashion Fair takes place in November.
When To Go
Dongguan has a humid subtropical climate with palpable monsoon effects. The wet season features heavy rain, typhoon thunderstorms and oppressive humidity from May to September. Summer temperatures range from 76°F (24°C) to 90°F (32°C).
The mild winter and dry season is decidedly more comfortable. Weather from December to February wavers between 53°F (12°C) and 71°F (22°C), with minimal rain. The months of March and November can be rather pleasant as well.
The Pearl River Delta has a parade of international airports. Take your pick: Macau, Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. The last two reside within one hour from Dongguan. Humen is a ferry ride from Hong Kong International.
Bus is the most popular mode of transport for Pearl River Delta visitors, with a plethora of Dongguan options from Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.
Within Dongguan, a green city taxi is the most reliable bet.
Dongguan is a vital city in the Pearl River Delta of China, with over 7 million people. In conjunction with nearby Guangzhou and Shenzhen, the city forms a powerful regional economy. Like so many development zones in New China, Dongguan has grown by astronomical leaps in recent years, with a massive influx of immigrants from rural areas who now account for over seventy percent of the population.
The city has also been notably aggressive in the hunt for direct foreign investment. As a result, Dongguan has become a dynamic metropolis, with such prominent features as New South China Mall and Humen Pearl River Bridge. Once vacant, the record 600,000 m² retail and leisure complex, with room for 1,500 stores, has gone through extensive renovations. The Humen Pearl River Bridge on the other hand, has been a fixture over the Pearl River since 1997 and is worth a visit, if only to see historic Weiyuan Fort in Humen Town.
Attractions & Activities
- Ke Yuan Garden
- Opium War Museum
- Humen Naval Battle Museum
- Humen Pearl River Bridge
- New South China Mall
- Lantern Festival
- Qintong Boat Festival
- Lychee Festival
- Mid Autumn Festival
- Humen International Fashion Fair
Restaurant & Nightlife
- Royal Club
- Le Montmartre
- Song Shan Teahouse
- Qin Yuan
- The Road
- China Groove
- Hollywood Baby
- Feifan Pub
- BB Club
Dongguan has a tropical climate, with intermittent heavy rain between May and September.
- Winter (December to February) 10-21°C
- Spring (March to May) 15-29°C
- Summer (June to September) 25-33°C
- Fall (October to November) 17-29°C
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