Check out this quick video showing some highlights of a weekend in Chaozhou – details below!
Chaozhou – it’s defintely not on the main bucketlist for a trip to China – but actually, it’s a great place for a weekend trip from Hong Kong. It’s famous for its food – Chaozhou cuisine is a thing! Take a look at the following link => Chaozhou cuisine
It’s also got lots of history, interesting architecture – on top of that, it’s a nice city to just walk around and get lost in. There are not that many non-Chinese tourists – so be prepared to be stared at, get asked a few questions and interact with the locals!
The following tourist map I snapped shows the historic sites of Chaozhou in a cute and pictorial way:
It’s a little tricky to get to – in the sense that there is no high-speed railway station directly in the town itself. Chaoyang Station is the shared station for the 3 cities of Shantou, Jieyang and Chaozhou. It’s a relatively cheap and quick (maybe 30-40mins) taxi ride from Chaoyang Station to Chaozhou – which is the recommended way to go, once you arrive. There are also buses available, for those at a more leisurely pace.
I stayed at the Zai Yang Inn – which is an incredible place (no, I don’t have any affiliation with them!) – it’s just one of those places that you happen upon sometimes that has a very local and special feel. Take a look at some of the photos in the link – and you’ll see what I mean.
There are lots of things to see in Chaozhou:
The most visually impressive is Guangji Bridge (广济桥; Guǎng jì qiáo ): It’s a bridge (from the Song dynasty, c1170 A.D.) made originally of connecting boats (and now made up of a combination of boats and pavillion-liked connecting structures). It’s one of the biggest draws in Chaozhou – and for a very good reason. It’s not cheap (at RMB60 one way!) considering it’s just a bridge to cross to the other side – but it is very picturesque – and makes for some good photo ops!
The Fortified Walls of the city – are well preserved in places, and also very impressive. There is a huge gate by the Guangzi Bridge which is beautiful – and is reminiscent of some of the grander architecture in China, such as Tiananmen Square/the Forbidden City in Beijing.
The streets of the Old Town of Chaozhou – the city has a relaxed feel, and is great for wandering around and exploring. Paifang Street is perhaps the most iconic scene from Chaozhou -with its beautiful memorial arches decorating the bustling streets.
Kaiyuan Temple (开元寺; Kāi yuán sì ), 32 Kaiyuan Road, Xiangqiao District (湘桥区开元路32号; Xiāng qiáo qū Kāi yuán lù ). A Buddhist temple with over 200 years of history. The temple grounds are very extensive – and it’s a great place to wander in and explore its nooks and crannies!
Xu Imperial Son-in-law Mansion (许驸马府; Xǔ fù mǎ fǔ ), North Ma Road, Xiangqiao District . This is a well-preserved ancient residence from the Song Dynasty. The name of the place is a bit complicated – even more so in Chinese, something like “the residence of Xu, the Emperor’s extra horse (which means his son-in law!)” – go figure!
I went just for the weekend – leaving Hong Kong in the evening after work on a Friday and heading straight to Shenzhen (Shenzhen North station), catching a late night high-speed rail link to Chaoyang station. I then hopped in a cab and made it to my guesthouse at a decent time (before midnight!).
I spent the next full day wandering around Chaozhou, catching the sights detailed above and enjoying the food. There were some interest new trendy cafes, which I happened upon – perhaps first signs that non-Chinese tourism in this city might be developing. On Sunday morning I hopped in a cab and went to explore the old area of Longhu (which is a Guangdong village that has basically been left in a time-warp and is a fascinating place to spend a few hours) – and on Sunday afternoon headed back to Chaoyang station to hop on a high-speed rail train to Hong Kong, via Shenzhen.
A brief but fun trip, not too tiring – and enough time to see this historic and very walkable city!