Many travelers to Guangzhou are interested in Shamian Island. Shamian Island or Shamian Dao is one of the best places to visit. The meaning of the name literally refers to “sandy seaside”. Shamian Island is a reminder of Guangzhou colonial history. The Shamian Island covers an area of 24,000 sq meters at the side of the Pearl River, the most famous river in Canton and south China. Shamian Island is surrounded by the Pearl River from all four sides, this sandbar looks to have got an elevation from the river level. This tourist site was earlier known as Zhongliusha or Shichuizhou. The authorities have developed the island in such a way that tourists coming here have a great time filled with entertainment and relaxation.
Shamian Island is connected to the rest of the city by a series of bridges. From the mid 18th to the mid 19th century, Shamian was the only place where foreign merchants were allowed to live in Guangzhou. The large villas and shady tree lined avenues that were constructed then have a faded charm and create a contrasting atmosphere to much of the city. While most of Guangzhou is battling along at breakneck pace Shamian is merely ambling. Along the river, the park area is a great place for people watching and tea drinking. Or walk along the wide sidewalks and dine in the open-air under the old trees.
The history of the island shows that during the reign of the Song and Qing Dynasties, it was a great hub of foreign trade. It is through this port that most of Guangzhou’s exports used to happen. Even today, the island is connected via 12 different ways, perhaps to stress its importance in the business and history of the city. Even the military importance of the city is quite great. This place was a very strategic defense point for the city at the time of the second Opium Wars from 1856 to 1860. However, in 1859, the governance of the island was divided between the French and the British. While the former got about 1/5 of the island, the latter received 4/5 of it. Majority of the construction on the island started since then and was completed by the first half of the 20th century. The construction during this period was concentrated mainly on public amenities, official buildings, banks, consulates, schools, churches, and various other cultural edifices. After the independence of China in 1949, majority of these buildings became the official address of various important government departments. However, it was also true that many of these buildings required restoration, but the architects did their best to keep the original style.
There are about 150 buildings on Shamian Island, and at least 40 of them display various architectural styles including but not limited to, Baroque, Gothic, and Neoclassical. The various avenues that connect different parts of the island today are Shamian Street 1 to Shamian Street 5, Shamian South Avenue, and Shamian North Avenue. These are in addition to five streets that connect north and south side of the island and three more streets that connect the eastern and the western parts.
You can check into any of the resorts or hotels in Shamian Island. If you want, you can take any of the roads as mentioned above to go for a long walk with your partner. The beautiful view of the Pearl River and the surrounding landscape from the island are reason enough to make you stay here for a longer time. The various streets of this island have bronze statues depicting Chinese women and regular life of the city, which are worth a watch.
Apart from attracting travelers and business people who manage to find time to come here, Shamian Island has also seen an increase in the number of foreigners settling here since the year 2000. So, make sure to visit Shamian Island to experience its charm from close quarters. It is a beautiful and romantic tourist site in Guangzhou.