There's no question it's exciting having a layover in Guangzhou Airport. Unless you travel regularly to China for business and have been there before, even if you don't go too far from the airport terminal, it'll be like discovering a whole new world. It can be a confusing one too, in which it's pretty easy to lose your bearings and get completely lost so before leaving your bags at a luggage storage facility, double-check you know exactly which terminal your connecting flight departs from.
When you're on a short layover in Guangzhou, the airport's distance from the city may put a bit of a damper on your plans for exploring the mega-metropolis that is the capital of the province of Guangdong. Even though there are good public transport services in place, metro and express bus, the minimum time it will take you to get between the two is around forty minutes if you take the metro and about an hour if you use the bus. Remember to calculate that fact into any plans you make and you won’t unexpectedly find yourself running for your flight.
6 hour layover in Guangzhou
A six-hour Guangzhou layover is far too short a space of time to do anything other than get off one plane and get back on another. That may seem like a simple process, but at present, it's a lot more time-consuming than you might expect, especially if you need to change terminals. On a six-hour layover, you'll be lucky if you manage to have spare minutes enough to sit down in a restaurant to enjoy a decent meal or browse the duty-free shops of which there are plenty of both at Guangzhou Airport.
- A free shuttle bus service operates between Terminals 1 and 2. The stops are right outside the terminal exits.
- If you do find yourself with an hour or more surplus, spoil yourself with a noodle dinner at Memories Noodle House which is located in Terminal 1 on the 3rd floor of the west concourse.
8 hour layover in Guangzhou
Having an eight-hour layover at Guangzhou may sound great, but isn't as uncomplicated as it may seem. If you're fortunate enough to have a long layover at Guangzhou, before you can leave the airport, the Chinese authorities may require you to be in the possession of a transit visa. There are some exemptions so check on the official website to see if they apply to you. If not, transit visas can take a few days to be issued so apply in advance of your Guangzhou layover.
- If you don't want to go to all the hassle and extra expense of getting a transit visa, the best way to spend the three or four hours free you'll have on an eight-hour layover is by using one of the airport's lounges.
- There's an economical all-inclusive fee for using the lounges which includes a food buffet, showers, internet connections and also sleeping pods.
10 to 12 hour layover in Guangzhou
If you have ten to twelve hours before your Guangzhou connection takes off, and have a valid transit visa, there are a few things near the airport you can do to help pass the time. You'll move around by public transport or on a sightseeing tour more comfortably if you store your bags in a luggage locker before catching the bus or train into Guangzhou.
- Keep in mind that you'll only have approximately half of your Guangzhou layover time free to do anything so don't plan full-day tours. Stick to activities around four to six hours in length.
- Maximize your layover time by taking a four-hour Guangzhou layover tour. You'll be collected from the airport, get to see some of the city's famous landmarks, visit a craft museum, and get fed a small lunch before being dropped back at the airport.
24 hour layover in Guangzhou
When you have a full twenty-four-hour Guangzhou layover, you'll be able to get to know this ancient city in more depth. Exploring alone really isn't an option here as just getting from A to B can be traumatic. Take a full eight-hour guide-led sightseeing tour and you'll get to see what you want to see rather than spending the whole day looking at a map or trying to decipher street signs in Chinese.
- Hire a private driver-guide for the day and with that amount of time you can see the city and head out to the countryside to explore too.
- Don't miss going up Baiyun Mountain in the cable car. The ride is a little hair-raising but the dramatic mountain scenery and views of Guangzhou below are impressive and will take your mind off the altitude.
- For a spectacular dinner view, book a table at the Canton Tower Revolving Restaurant on the 106th floor. Just don't expect Chinese food as the menu is Mediterranean.
- If you can't get a table or prefer to eat traditional food, just visit the Canton Tower observation deck for a mind-boggling view of Guangzhou.
- For a real local taste of Guangzhou head down Xihua Road and get stuck into some street food. Try a couple of different dishes for next to no cost, but unless you have a strong stomach steer well clear of the one made from beef entrails.