Shaoguan is a quick and easy getaway from Shenzhen or Guangzhou being linked by the High Speed Rail. It takes about 2 hours from Shenzhen and 1 hour or so from Guangzhou.
On this trip I came from Qingyuan, I missed the fast train having ended up at the wrong train station but I managed to exchange my ticket and hitched a ride on the much slower T8354 train. This one takes about two hours from Qingyuan to Shaoguan, and it’s a bit of a squashy ride on the hard seats, but it’s full of life, once the train starts rolling the attendants chuck on a microphone and walk up and down the isle spruiking various wares. Don’t expect any peace on this ride.
So I arrived at Shaoguan East station and there are plenty of taxis floating about, buses and more. I asked for a taxi to the hotel and got pointed to a motorised rickshaw, OK, after some negotiation, and another guy jumping in and offering a private car, the homemade ramshackle looking pedicab driver agreed to 18 RMB, much cheaper than the private car for 50. I knew I was still paying too much, but, I’m a foreigner and if you only pay twice as much as the local things are probably OK.
The Shanshui Hotel is a little way from the city centre but still convenient, there’s a MKC, yes MKC aka a fully fledged KFC clone and a supermarket nearby. Across the road, there’s also a train ticket office if you need to buy like I did.
One hotel staff spoke a little English and they were all very friendly, the place is clean and the rooms have a fresh new feel at the time of writing, very clean too. Free wi-fi in room, flat screen TV and it’s quite. Happy choice.
The next day I am in the taxi (which was cheaper than the rickshaw) back to the Shaoguan East station (Shaoguan Dong) to find the bus that heads to the Nanhua Temple. Just as pictured on the website here, the bus arrived after about 15-minute wait and for 6 RMB and about 30 minutes later I was at the temple.
This is most definitely one of the more interesting temples I have been while in China, certainly, it’s the best in Guangdong. Considering its founder was Hui Neng, one of Buddhisms founders in China, I guess it should be too.
I was fortunate to be there in the morning and witness the monks going about there rituals and song.
The temple grounds are quite large and there are still quite a few people visit during the weekday, I can imagine it being quite a bustling place on weekends, it must be considering there are direct buses from Guangzhou to the temple. Entry cost to the temple is a very reasonable 20 RMB, made even more satisfying by the intently focused monk reciting script, even whilst taking my money and handing over the change, she was not distracted for a moment from reading aloud.
It was an insanely hot day, but with the beautiful big trees, the place feels cooler than anywhere else, regardless, if it was a bit cooler I am sure I would have stayed longer. All in all, I spent about 3 hours wandering and watching.
I think there are a lot more things to do in the city, but it was simply too hot. So, I have a good reason to go back.
It’s not a very big place and most of it is very old, but new residential developments are taking place and there are at least one reasonably new shopping mall and others underway. Seems this city like most in China is going through renewal.
Near the Metro Plaza, which is beside the Ramada Hotel, there’s pedestrian shopping street featuring mostly clothes shops. The surrounding streets also have various shops. You will probably struggle to find a good coffee outside the western hotels but I did see a couple of coffee shops, no time to try but will for sure next time.
For eating, it was mostly Cantonese cuisine while I was there which is always good.
Whilst its far from matching Shenzhen or Guangzhou for economic clout, there is someone who owns a gold-clad Lamborghini
Map: Featuring the Top Shaoguan Attractions and Places to Stay
The Top Attractions in Shaoguan
1. Danxia Mountain (丹霞山)
2. Jinji Mountain (阴阳石)
3. Nanhua Temple (南化神寺)
4. Guangdong Grand Canyon (广东大峡谷)
5. Nanling National Forest Park (南岭森林公园)
6. Caoxi Hot Spring Holiday Village (曹溪温泉度假村) – 广东省韶关市曲江区转溪桥
7. Nine Torrents and Eighteen Shoals White Water Rafting (九泷十八滩)