11 Days Free and Easy China Tour – Day 8 Xiamen to Guangzhou

Tegoo Hotel to Xiamen North Train Station

We were entering the last leg of our 11 Days China Tour. The last city we would be visiting was Guangzhou, mainly for dining and shopping and of course sight-seeing as well. The faster way to get from Xiamen to Guangzhou other than flying would be travelling by high speed train. There are many trains connecting Xiamen to Shenzhen and between Shenzhen to Guangzhou. It is so convenient to travel between the two cities.

Our high speed train tickets were already bought when we arrived Hangzhou during the first leg of our tour. The train tickets we bought were as follows:

Xiamen North to Shenzhen North
Train D681 0804 to 1152 Cost CNY 150.50

Change train from Shenzhen North to Guangzhou South
Train G6518 1226 to 1302 Cost CNY 74.50

So all we needed to do was to get to Xiamen North Train Station early at least half an hour before our scheduled train ride. As such, we got up very early this morning. We had already packed the night before so checking out was pretty easy. Front desk staff handled out check out professionally and efficiently. The staff also helped us called two taxis to send us to Xiamen North Train Station.

The taxis arrived shortly and we boarded and were soon on our way to the train station. We really loved our stay at Tegoo Hotel, so pleasant and comfortable. Location wise was great too just a few minutes walk to Zhongshan Road shopping area as well as to Heping Ferry Terminal. So we left Tegoo Hotel around 6.30 am.

We travelled through Xiamen City which was pretty much still asleep with very light traffic. Dawn was breaking and the city was catching its first light. After travelling through the city, we soon crossed the high bridge leaving Xiamen Island behind. We encountered some traffic after that but soon arrived at Xiamen North Train Station near 7 am. Taxi fare was CNY 85 per vehicle.

Xiamen North Train Station

It was already daylight but the sun wasn’t seen yet. The exterior of Xiamen North Train Station is impressive, so new and modern, better than the exterior of some airports we have used in Asia. We then entered the train station. The first barrier was security clearance. All bags had to go through x-ray scanners. Having cleared security, we took the escalator up to the departure hall.

The interior of the hall is very impressive as well, so much space with many seats for waiting passengers. KFC is at one corner of the hall and another Chinese restaurant at the other end. There are other restaurants and shops at the departure hall as well. Not long after we had gotten up to wait for our train, sunbeams began piecing through the departure hall. This train station is designed to allow natural lighting into the departure hall to save energy. We were still early so we rested a short while. We took the opportunity to munch on the bread we bought from Tegoo Hotel last night. That was our simple breakfast.

Xiamen North to Shenzhen North Train Station

Soon we were called to enter the platform to wait for train D681. Our train arrived shortly and we boarded the train easily without much crowd. We were rather familiar with high speed train travel now and we located our seats and settled down for a relaxing train ride to Shenzhen. This time our train ride would take nearly four hours before changing train at Shenzhen to Guangzhou which would take another half an hour.

The train ride was pretty smooth passing beautiful mountains and valleys stopping at a few other smaller cities to pick up more passengers. So our train cabin began to fill up with children coming on board as well. We were doing our own things listening to music or watching movies via our mobile phones or reading books we brought along. The cabin was getting lively with the arrival of children as some became a little restless making demands for attention. Nevertheless we arrived Shenzhen North Station on time.

Shenzhen North Train Station

A lot of passengers disembarked over here. Surprisingly, it was quite cold and misty when we entered the platform to walk up to the departure hall to wait for our next train ride to Guangzhou South Station. Once up on the departure hall, it was back to creature comfort level. The departure hall was a hive of activities. The hall is massive with some many shops and restaurants. This train station is so big and it dwarfs some airports’ terminal buildings in South East Asia.

There are numerous gates for departing passengers to catch their onward or departing trains. Once we saw the display of our train G6518 on one of the many electronics boards, we sat near the gate to wait to be called to enter the platform. Our transit time was about half an hour so we didn’t have to wait long to enter the platform to wait for our train.

Shenzhen North to Guangzhou South Train Station

This time, our train ride was pretty crowded with many passengers waiting at the platform for train G6518. The train came soon enough and everyone boarded this train. Some passengers carrying bulky luggage were struggling and also hindering other passengers. Anyway, we found our seats and we sat to enjoy this short train ride to Guangzhou. The train cabin was packed. With train speeds reaching 300 km/h, we arrived Guangzhou South Train Station in 36 minutes.

Exiting the train took some time as hordes of passengers alighted here. So this ended our high speed train experience for this China Tour. Guangzhou South Train Station was a very crowded place. We followed the signage to head to the MRT Station. The MRT Station was very crowded as well.

Guangzhou South to Tiyu Xilu MRT Station

We found the ticketing machines and we tried to figure out how to purchase the train tickets. Having done our research before arriving, we knew we had to take the Blue MRT Line 2 to Gongyuanqian Station. From Gongyuanqian Station, we had to change to the Yellow MRT Line 1 to Tiyu Xilu Station.

We then selected Line 1 Tiyu Xilu from the machine and chose the number of tickets required. The machine displayed the amount to be paid and we simply had to insert cash and then tokens were dispensed. This was the first time we purchased train tickets in Guangzhou so we took a little more time. So having collected the tokens, we dragged our luggage and entered the MRT Station. It was pretty easy.

Being the first station on this line, we could find seats once we entered the train. So we settled down for this train ride to Gongyuanqian Station. As the train stopped at the other stations along the way, the train became very crowded. Eventually, the train arrived at Gongyuanqian Station. We took our bags and exited the train with many other commuters as this was an interchange station.

Change Train at Gongyuanqian MRT Station

Following the very clear signage, we had no problem walking over to the platform to catch our next train to Tiyu Xilu Station. We could get into the train but we had no seats this time. Once inside the train, we tried to stand with our luggage in such a way not to block the entrance of the train.

The good thing about the MRT trains in Guangzhou is that announcements are made in Mandarin and Cantonese as well as in English. So we couldn’t possibly miss the station. The only problem was commuters wouldn’t get ready to alight at their destination station. So they had to push their way through the crowd and other commuters had to push their way into the train. Finally, we arrived at Tiyu Xilu Station just five stations away.

Locating Paco Business Hotel Tiyu Xilu Branch

So we exited the train and walked out of this very busy MRT Station. Once we were out of the station, which is connected to a mall, we weren’t sure about the direction to Paco Business Hotel. We knew the hotel was just very near the station but once outside we couldn’t tell which way. So we dragged our luggage and walked around the perimeter of the station hoping to locate Paco Business Hotel.

It was drizzling lightly as we made our way out. So we braved ourselves under this wet weather condition to find our hotel. We had been walking around the perimeter and we saw Marriot Hotel. We realised our hotel couldn’t be so far away. So we turned back. The trouble with Google maps is that Paco Business Hotel is not indicated on the map. We were desperately trying to find Guangli Road where Paco Business Hotel Tiyu Xilu Branch is located.

After turning back and crossing the main road, we finally found Guangli Road. We then walked up to Paco Business Hotel. The pictures of Paco Business Hotel from Agoda taken at night was pretty impressive which gives the impression this hotel is a high rise building. We couldn’t be more wrong when we finally found Paco Business Hotel. This hotel is occupying the middle of a building full of shops and eateries on the ground level.

Paco Business Hotel Tiyu Xilu Branch

The entrance to the hotel wasn’t very conspicuous either. We won’t be able to see this hotel from the main road or from the exit of Tiyu Xilu MRT Station. But actually, it is very close by and by taking exit A and then turn left to walk left on Tianhe Street, we could turn right into Guangli Road and Paco Business Hotel is along the building on our right which is simply just three minutes walk from exit A.

It was such a relief when we arrived at Paco Business Hotel. This hotel was very busy. Front desk staff were friendly and professional. Check in was pretty smooth. We collected our keys and then proceeded to our rooms.

Our rooms were not big but very modern and bed very comfortable. The rooms including bathrooms were very clean and pleasant. Wifi worked and TV with plenty of programs mostly local channels. The hotel rooms were very much like Ibis Hotel rooms and we were very pleased.

Simple Lunch near Paco Business Hotel

It was already 2.30 pm when we finally located Paco Business Hotel and we were hungry. After checking our rooms, we returned to front desk to ask for direction and recommendation for a quick lunch. We were recommended to try the restaurant just a few shop on the left after exiting the hotel. So we left our hotel and walked next door and easily found Yinji Rice Noodle Rolls Store.

This was just a small eatery but we were pretty familiar with this type of local food. So we ordered porridge, rice noodle rolls, yam cakes as well as bean curd drinks. Eating here was very affordable and we were quite satisfied with our first simple meal here in Guangzhou. This would last us a few hours before we had dinner in the city.

It was Christmas Eve when we arrived in Guangzhou. So after this simple lunch, we returned to our rooms to make ourselves comfortable to get ready to head out for shopping and sight-seeing. We also took the opportunity to check out the TV programs as well as stretch out on bed and surfed internet for a while.

Heading to Shangxiajiu Old Walking Street

After 4 pm, it was time to hit the streets. It was so pleasant now and the light rain had stopped. We were very comfortable with the neighbourhood here so full of life with many shops and eateries around the hotel. A new bakery just a few shops away on the right of the hotel was opening as well. The atmosphere here was very much like Hong Kong.

We easily located exit A of Tiyu Xilu MRT Station and we entered the station. We had to go through security scanning when entering the station. This station was very busy too. Once inside the station, we located the ticketing machines and queued up to purchase our tickets. Our first destination was Shangxiajiu so we had to head to Changshou MRT Station using the yellow line. This meant we didn’t have to change train along the way. We bought our tickets quite easily this time and collected our tokens.

Next was to head to the platform which wasn’t difficult at all. Changshou Station is just 8 stations away. The train station was crowded as usual. The train came and we boarded. Five stations later, we were back to Gongyuanqian Station where we changed train earlier. Many commuters alighted and boarded. The interesting thing about this station is that commuters alight from one side of the train while boarding commuters come in from the other side. This is rather efficient. Three more stations later, we got off at Changshou Station. It was just half an hour ride to get here.

Changshou MRT STation to Shangxiajiu

Once outside the station, we found ourselves in another old neighbourhood. Human and vehicular traffic were heavy here. Shops and eateries were aplenty as we walked towards Shangxiajiu Old Walking Street. This was another exciting place as we followed the crowd and walked along to check out what were available here we might buy later.

We stopped by an eatery that attracted a crowd. It was just slightly after 5 pm and a little early for dinner. We queued and bought some snacks where the boys wanted those curly chips on a stick. The snacks were delicious and it was fun to walk and sight-see munching snacks like the locals here. So we continued our walk towards Shangxiajiu passing more shops including some famous bakeries and finally reached the start of the walking street.

Charming Shangxiajiu Walking Street

It wasn’t dark yet as we proceeded along this walking street with more shops on both sides of the street. It was easier to walk here with no vehicular traffic. Tourists and locals thronged the street. It was a pretty scene, quite cooling during this time of early evening. Lanterns were hung on the street.

The unmistakable and highly popular Holiday Inn Hotel is not very far from the entrance into the walking street. This hotel is strategically located here, very convenient for tourists to shop at this charming old neighbourhood. This is indeed a very nice hotel right in the middle of Shangxiajiu Old Walking Street.

Along the street, sales staff from some shops were holding huge advertisement and shouting out loud to invite shoppers to check out their shops. This was a very lively place with crowds of people coming into this walking street non-stop. It was a lovely walk down the street stopping from time to time to check out some shops.

Shortly after, we reached the end of the street and a square opened up the walking street with more shops and restaurants in a bigger building already nicely lit up. It was getting darker as well. In addition, the light drizzle we experienced when we first stepped out of Tiyu Xilu MRT Station returned and it was getting chilly.

Walking back to Changshou MRT Station

We continued to explore the area and walked passed the mall and checked out some other shops in the vicinity. So we had come to the end of the other side of the walking street. We didn’t want to continue walking further outside of this side of Shangxiajiu Walking Street. Hence, we retraced our steps to where we started and at the same time looked out for a restaurant to have dinner.

By the now darkness had descended and the whole walking street area was lit up. Visitors were holding umbrellas unfazed with this light rain that hardly dampened their shopping and dining mood. Back to the walking street we had passed earlier, the whole atmosphere was so much nicer now with those red lanterns lit up across the street against the backdrop of the dark night sky.

Dinner at Shangxiajiu

There were plenty of restaurants in the area but we were looking for something authentically local over here for a nice meal. At one junction, we spotted quite a lot of people queuing at a small eatery. There weren’t many tables and seats inside this little restaurant like those in Hong Kong. But the crowd was there. We were invited to head upstairs to find our seats so we proceeded.

Once upstairs, we were surprised the second floor was empty. We had the whole restaurant to ourselves. We wondered why dinners like to squeeze with others on the ground floor with so many diners and perhaps had to share table. For a larger group like ours, it would be hard to find a table on the ground floor. However, dining on the ground floor on the street level was more exciting and interesting.

So we ordered rice set, noodles, soups, desserts and drinks and imagined we were dining in some little restaurant in Hong Kong. We were pretty familiar with this type of local food. Our food arrived shortly and we wasted no time to tuck in and we enjoyed our meals. It was a very enjoyable dinner and it wasn’t costly as well.

After the nice dinner, it was back on ground level pounding the street. By now, the drizzle had subsided. We took note of what were available as this was just our survey trip. We would be back to shop here one of the next few days. So it was the same scene as we made our way back to Changshou MRT Station but the vibes were much nicer after dark. The stuff sold along the streets were very inexpensive over here.

Shangxiajiu to Beijing Road Shopping Street

It was just 7 pm when we reached Changshou MRT Station. Our next destination would be Beijing Road Shopping Street. Being Christmas Eve, we expected crowds over there. We could easily get there by taking the train from the same line just three stations back to Gongyuanqian Station. So we bought our tickets quite easily and having gotten the tokens entered the station platform.

It was so crowded over here. Soon the train came. We tried to get into the train pushing through commuters who only got up from their seats once the train reached the station. After getting into the train, we found one of our boys still left outside the train. He failed to board the train. We signaled him we would wait for him three stations away.

Our train then left and very soon, we exited Gongyuanqian Station. Instead of following the crowd to exit the station, we positioned ourselves to wait for our boy heading here on the next train. Another train came and our boy emerged. We had a good laugh and joked about the incident. Very happily, we exited the station to look for direction to Beijing Road Shopping Street.

Gongyuanqian MRT Station to Beijing Road

Following the signage, we walked along the main road with high rise buildings on both sides of the road. A brightly shining Christmas tree was near a road junction attracting some crowd taking pictures at the site. Next we walked along the main roads among bright and exciting malls full of shops and restaurants. A few minutes later, we reached the junction of Beijing Road.

The traffic junction as expected was very crowded. Across the road, the shopping street closed to vehicular traffic was a hive of activities. After checking out this side of Beijing Road and taking a few pictures, we went back to the traffic junction to head over the other side for some shopping fun. Once the light turned green, we followed the crowd and crossed the road excitedly with much expectation.

Christmas Eve at Beijing Road Shopping Street

Not far from the entrance to this walking street, remnants of the old streets of Guangzhou encased under glass tops showed the history of this city. Guangzhou is a very old city indeed spanning back many dynasties and so full of history. Beijing Road was even more crowded here. Shops and restaurants are of course part and parcel of this shopping street.

Beijing Road is like Ximending in Taipei, so vibrant with so many shoppers and visitors especially on this Christmas Eve. We soaked in the atmosphere as we walked along with the crowd of shoppers doing only windows shopping so far. The neon lights from the buildings and shops were truly mesmerizing, a very atmospheric night out with these crowd to spend the evening in a tourist belt.

Having reached the end of Beijing Road, we walked back to the middle of Beijing Road. We then turned right to walk into a huge mall to look for a place for a break over coffee and tea. This multi level mall was not very unusually attractive but we noticed Saizeriya Restaurant inside this mall. So we located this restaurant on the top floor corner and entered the restaurant.

The restaurant was quite busy but we managed to get a table. We just had quite a huge meal not too long ago so we just wanted to have some light snacks. We ordered some snacks with cakes and drinks and settled down to rest a while. After this coffee break, we took the opportunity to visit the toilets. It was then back to the street to windows shop. We hadn’t bought anything this evening.

Beijing Road to Tiyu Xilu MRT Station

It was already close to 9 pm so it was time to head back to Paco Business Hotel. We already knew the way around so getting back to Gongyuanqian Station was a breeze. From this station, we took the train five stations away back to Tiyu Xilu Station. It was so crowded when we exited the train. The platform was so crowded. Security was tight. This time we ensured we left the station via exit A.

Once out of the station, we turned left to walk a short distance on Tianhe Street and then turned right to Guangli Road. The building along Guangli Road was still busy at this hour. A few shops later, we reached the entrance of Paco Business Hotel. So we returned to our rooms quite easily this time without getting lost.

Back to Paco Business Hotel

Then it was time to unwind in our rooms, TV time was fun to spend the night away. Surfing the internet and catching up on news were another pastime now. Although our rooms were not very big, it was very clean and comfortable.

The location of Paco Business Hotel was really good and hotel rates were very reasonable as well. So staying three nights at this hotel was a great decision. As we while the night away, the next day was coming up soon with more fun in Guangzhou in a few hours’ time.

Continue to Day 9

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