The fast-growing megacity in Southern China

If you’ve never heard of Guangzhou, you may have heard about it by its other name: Canton. Just a 2 hours train ride away from the iconic Hong Kong, this rapidly growing metropolis has less Western influence than Shanghai. It’s nonetheless a breathtakingly modern city that simultaneously has deep connections to ancient cultural traditions.

The international study program at Guangzhou University introduces you to the many sides of Chinese language and culture. It gives you a solid foundation for a global future where China is likely to be playing a central role. Applying to the program is easy and quick.

Why study abroad in Guangzhou, China?

  • Enjoy the warm climate and friendly people of Southern China
  • The diverse study program allows you to take a deep dive into Chinese language and culture
  • Take part in the bustling campus life with plenty of opportunities to interact with local students and practice Chinese
  • Experience one of China’s fastest-growing metropoles with plenty of things to discover
  • The exciting Macau and Hong Kong are only a couple of hours away

Star of the Pearl River

Guangzhou, located near Hong Kong and Macau, is also known to many in the West as ‘Canton’. The city sprawls around one of China’s most magnificent rivers, the Pearl River. Even though Guangzhou isn’t as famous as its peers Shanghai and Beijing, it is the third largest city in China and one of the country’s most important economic engines. It’s difficult to grasp the size of Guangzhou, which is inhabited by 13 million people, but you’ll get a picture when you catch a glimpse of the lights of 40 million people living around the Pearl River Delta from the descending airplane’s window.

Live in one of China’s fastest growing cities

The city is one of the most populous, energetic and rapidly growing places in China and, even though heavily influenced by the consumerism of the neighboring Hong Kong, it has a rich cultural tradition which is showcased overall in the city, just under the flashy surface of the modern metropolis.

Though heavily industrialized, Guangzhou also features large parks and quaint gardens that have increased in the city landscape in the recent years as Guangzhou has been given a makeover. In addition, the many elegant churches, villas and mansions of Guangzhou’s past have been unearthed, and wandering around the back lanes of the city often brings you to hidden gems, temples, shops and little gardens, that have been untouched for generations.

It is also in Guangzhou where the most famous of Chinese cooking, the Cantonese style kitchen, is at its best. There are more restaurants per capita in Guangzhou than anywhere else in China. According to an old saying, the Cantonese will eat anything that flies, except airplanes, and anything with four legs, as long as it’s not a table.

Guangzhou is one of the most industrialized areas in China and known especially for the massive Import and Export Fairs that are arranged every April and October and fill the city with businessmen from all over the world. Most of the world’s leather products and 90 % of the world’s watches are also made in the Guangzhou region. It’s also one of the most inexpensive place to buy almost anything, including high-end merchandise.

  • Key Facts

    Country: People’s Republic of China
    Population: 12,8 million
    Area: 3,843 sq. km
    Language: Cantonese and Mandarin
    Currency: Renminbi (RMB)
    Electricity: 220 Volts
    Religion: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Christianity
    Time Zone: UCT + 8

  • Best of Guangzhou

    The Pearl River flows through the city from West to East. An evening cruise is a great way of seeing the city. The trip from Guangzhou Bridge to Shamian Island is beautifully lit in the evenings, when the bright neon lights are reflected on the surface of the river. The cruises are about two hours long and are easiest to book via a hotel or similar.

    Enning Road is the perfect Sunday excursion destination, and has enough to see for several of your Sundays in Guangzhou. Enning Road is located in the area known as Xīguān which was the commercial centre of old Canton.

    Bāhé Academy is one of the absolute highlights on Enning. The academy acts as a guild hall for the traditional Cantonese opera practitioners and it opened its doors first already in 1889. The academy provided lodging, schooling, medical and funeral services to the Cantonese opera starts and you can still meet masters of this art when visiting the academy. There are Bāhé Academies, i.e. sanctums for the Chinese opera tradition, in 20 countries around the world but the one on Enning road is the first one.

    Take a right when you leave the academy and walk for about a block before taking another right into a lane called Yongqing Erxiang. The second-last house in the lane is Luányú Táng a 200-year-old club house for actors who performed the martial arts and acrobatic roles in Cantonese opera. The club still gives free martial arts lessons for children on weekends. Find out about the walk-in ‘jam’ sessions that are arranged multiple times a week as well as the most famous alumni of the school, Lǐ Hǎiquán, who is Bruce Lee’s father.

    Designed by the famous British architect, Zaha Hadid, the Guangzhou Opera House is a majestic example of the modern architectural gems in China today. It is the largest performance venue southern China and it’s almost entirely composed of glass panels that are pieced together to form gentle curves.

    Quing Ping Market is the best-known pet market in all of China where walking through the maze-like streets is a real adventure. There are Chinese medication, lobsters, snakes, seahorses, monkeys, cats, dogs, turtles and birds for sale. Smaller animals, such as scorpions and grasshoppers, are sold by the cup.

    Shamian Island is the former British area from the colonial era. The bridges were closed every night at 10 p.m. and learning Chinese was punishable by death for the inhabitants of the island. Some of Canton’s oldest buildings are located on the beautiful, peaceful island.

    Yue Xiu Park is the largest park in Canton, Yue Xiu Park, covers a total area of 93 hectares and has several man-made lakes and a large swimming pool. The park is known for the Zhenhai tower and the Sculpture of the Five Rams, which is the city’s symbol. The Zenhai tower has a city museum which showcases Guangzhou’s history from the very beginning.

    The Temple of the Chen Family, Chenjia Si, was built by the wealthy Chen Family during the Quing Dynasty. The temple is also known as the Chen Classical Learning Academy, because it used to serve as an altar and a school, where students were trained for military exams. The temple has beautiful frescos, mosaics and clay sculptures.

  • Climate and Weather

    Located just south of the Tropic of Cancer, Guangzhou has a humid subtropical climate and is influenced by the East Asian monsoon. Summers are humid and hot and winters mild and relatively dry. Extreme temperatures have ranged from 0 °C (32 °F) to 39.1 °C (102 °F) but average temperatus hovers around 22 °C (70 °F). The last recorded snowfall in the city was in January 1893.

  • Food and Drink

    Cantonese cuisine is renowned both within China as well as all around the world. The cuisine is extremely versatile and always made from the freshest possible ingredients. Chefs take pride in making sure that the food never tastes greasy and that the flavors are well-balanced. Steaming and stir-frying are very popular methods of preparing food.

    Rice and noodles are stamples of Cantonese cuisine, as are almost all kinds of meat, except for lamb or goat. You can try snake or intestines or stick to tofu, if it feels safer. The food is very affordable; you can enjoy a large meal for a few euros. Tap water is not drinkable so buy bottled water instead.

    Super Star Seafood restaurant is across the street from the Shamian Park. The ingredients are visible in the aquariums. Take your pick from snakes, shrimps and clams.

    Guangdong Victory Hotel’s first floor restaurant serves magnificent dim sum, which resembles steamed ravioli.

    Lian Xiang Lou is located on Dishifu Lu Street, which is also a good place for finding affordable clothes stores. The restaurant is famous for its moon cakes, which are filled with lotus paste.

    Nanyuan, which is said to be the best restaurant in Canton, is located on Qian Jin Street. The restaurant serves delicious dim sum, and fish and poultry dishes, such as chicken steamed in Maotai liquor.

  • Shopping

    Mall of the World is a new (opened in 2011), gigantic shopping centre which features over 400 boutiques, including the very high-end of the spectrum. There are stylish restaurants, bars, cutting-edge electronics shops and a 3D IMAX cinema.

    Beijing Road has been one of the most significant commercial streets and shopping areas in Guangzhou since the 17th century. There are two famous department stores along the street, Guangzhou Department Store and Xin Da Xin Department Store, in addition to a stream of other stores.

    Taikoo Hui is another spanking new multifaceted complex in the Tianhe Central Business District. Over 70% of the stores there are international brands’ boutiques, including Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Prada, Dior, Chanel and Gucci.

  • Transportation and Getting Around

    Guangzhou has a metro system, a bus network and trams for traveling within the city. An extensive railway network runs from Guangzhou to other cities and provinces. Ferries run from Guangzhou to Hong Kong. Many expressways have been built to ease the jammed roads.

    The nearest airport, Guangzhou Baiyun International, is the third largest airport in China.

  • Currency

    The renminbi, or Chinese Yuan, is the currency of the People’s Republic of China. One yuan is divided into 10 jiao and one jiao is divided into 10 fen.

    One euro is approximately 10 yuan. Money can be exchanged at four and five star hotels as well as banks.

  • Safety

    Guangzhou is a very safe location for students; however, it’s always good to keep in mind a few things: Beware of pick-pockets in crowded areas. Make sure your money belt is not visible. Carry your purse so that it can’t be snatched from your shoulder and do not leave valuables in your hotel room.

  • Vaccinations

    Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) and Tetanus-diphtheria should be kept up-to-date. Hepatitis A and B are recommended. Japanese encephalitis is recommended for those who are planning on spending a month or more in rural areas or who are going to spend a lot of time outdoors in rural areas after dusk.

    Consult your doctor before leaving.

  • History

    Guangzhou’s recorded history dates back more than two thousand years and it’s played an important role throughout its history, under different occupiers and dynasties. Guangzhou has been especially significant as a port town and many ship routes from, for example, the Middle East ended their voyage to Asia in Guangzhou’s harbour.

    During the 700-800s A.D. Guangzhou was widely featured in Arab geographers and historians’ works. For example the Arab historian Abu Zayd as-Sirafi provided detailed descriptions of the daily life, food, business transactions, and the justice system of the already highly sophisticated city in his book The Journey of as-Sirafi.

    The first Europeans, the Portuguese, arrived in Guangzhou by sea in 1514 and tried to unsuccessfully establish a trade monopoly in the city. By the 1700s Guangzhou was trading with, in addition to the Portuguese, with the Spanish, Arabs, Indians, French, Dutch and the English. It was considered to be in the top three cities of the world by the 1750s based on the volume of trade and people going through its ports every year.

    The large number of foreign merchants from different countries and religions, including Arab Muslims, Persians, Jews and Christians, have added their rich cultural heritage to the city’s blueprint and you can catch glimpses of the different influences in everything from architecture to food. The British dominated the city during the Opium Wats of the mid 1800s and they’ve left one of the most visible marks on Guangzhou, to the island of Shamian.

    Japanese forces occupied Guangzhou during the Second World War, a period of trauma for many local people. When the Communists took over the city in 1949 many of the city’s more prominent capitalists fled to the nearby Hong Kong and Macau. The city was in an economic lull for a fer decades till the reforms of Deng Xiaoping in the 1970s after which Guangzhou’s hunger for growth has proved to be endless.

Dive deeply into Chinese language and culture

Although Cantonese is the native language of the people living in Guangzhou and the surrounding Guangdong province, Guangzhou is still an excellent place to learn Mandarin Chinese. To encourage foreign students to learn Chinese, the university grants a scholarship of 3000 RMB at the end of the semester to each student who has finished the program. The scholarship is contingent upon the student participating in the lectures and completing the program successfully.

The students will also have the chance to visit the famous Canton Fair which is organized twice a year. As a city of lively international trade and fairly large number of expats, there are plenty of opportunities for networking.

Guangzhou University


Guangzhou University is located in the University Mega Center, an island on the Pearl River that hosts ten different institutions of higher education. This modern area has all necessary features, such as a shopping mall with restaurants, sports facilities, a library, and excellent transportation connections to the Guangzhou city center.

Most students at the university come from Guangzhou itself and the Guangdong province, but there are also hundreds of students from abroad taking part in the university’s degree and exchange programs. The university actively organizes free time activities and trips to the international students.

  • Guangzhou University in brief

    Guangzhou University (GU), as it stands today, was founded in 2000, when Guangzhou Normal University, the South China Institute of Construction, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou Junior Teachers’ College, and the Guangzhou Institute of Education were combined into one institution. GU’s history, however, dates back to 1927 and the university was given the power to grant degrees in 1984. GU is a public university funded by the Guangzhou Municipal Government and recognized by the Ministry of Education in China as well as the International Association of Universities (IAO).

    The main campus of Guangzhou University is located in Guangzhou (Canton), China, in the Guangdong Province. The university has a total of five campuses. In addition to the main campus there are campuses in Guangyuan, Guihuagang, Luhu, Qiyi Lu and Longdong. Asia Exchange students study at the Guangzhou main campus in the city of Guangzhou.

    Read more about studying at Guangzhou university.

  • Accreditation
    • Ministry of Education in China
    • International Association of Universities (IAU)
    • Ranked 100th in Asia in World University Rankings 2017 by Webometrics
    • Ranked 12th in Guangdong Province in Universities Ranking of China 2016 by CUAA (Chinese Universities Alumni Association)
  • Courses and studying

    The international study program last 3 – 4 months (from September to December each year) and is taught in English. The aim of the program is to acquaint students with Chinese language (Mandarin), culture, legislation and international trade. The language studies are divided into reading, listening and speaking sections.

    In addition to studying Chinese, students are introduced to Chinese Culture, Chinese Economics and Chinese Law. The students also have the chance study traditional Chinese martial arts which have many benefits, ranging from keeping fit and improving one’s self-defense skills, as well as training one’s character and self-discipline.

    Read more about courses and studying at Guangzhou university.

  • Semester and application periods

    Currently it’s possible to apply only to autumn semester at Guangzhou University, but you can apply for a second semester at another of our partner universities, such as Shanghai University.

    Autumn: September – December
    Application deadline: End of May

    See the exact semester dates and application deadlines here.

  • Fees

    Tuition fee: 1790 EUR / semester

    Application fee: 75 EUR.

    See what’s included in the fees.

    Are you from outside of Europe? See the fees here.

    Benefits when applying via Asia Exchange

    • Confirmed acceptance within one week
    • Asia Exchange Guide with lots of information about studies, visas, accommodation and other tips
    • Orientation days
    • No English proficiency test required
    • 100 EUR discount when applying for two semesters. Currently it’s possible to apply only to autumn semester at Guangzhou University, but you can apply for a second semester at another of our partner universities, such as Shanghai University.
  • Accommodation

    Guangzhou University offers students the possibility of living on campus at a student hotel. The room has been about 100 € a month. The rooms are neat and clean and include basic amenities. The dormitory rooms will be automatically booked for all students accepted to the study abroad program.

    Find out more about accommodation options.

Apply to Guangzhou University

What students have said about Guangzhou

Here’s what some former Asia Exchange students have said about studying abroad in Guangzhou:

Bianca - Asia Exchange ambassador China

“It was more than what I expected”

This experience for me was really amazing and, of course, it was more than what I expected. I discovered a totally different world on the opposite part of the earth. I could learn a lot about Chinese culture, and also about many different cultures, because Guangzhou is a very dynamic city where there are people from many different countries. I could also make friends with whom I know I will stay in contact forever, and these kind of opportunities are also good for learning about yourself and for seeing what you like and what you want for your own future.


Bianca Concatti, Argentina

“One of the best places to learn Chinese”

Studying abroad in Guangzhou opened up a whole new world for me. Not only did I experience China and Asia for the first time, but also found what it is like to live in a fascinating, dynamic metropolis. Guangzhou might not be that well known, but it’s actually one of the biggest cities in China and one of the best places to learn Chinese. You will never run out of things to do and places to discover, and Hong Kong is just around the corner as well. 


Miika, Finland

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“One of the best things I have done in my life”

Going on exchange to Guangzhou University is one of the best things I have done in my life. I met so many interesting people, improved my Chinese language skills and discovered a new culture.


Jadhe, France

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“A formative experience”

It was awesome to get to know a whole host of new people and to learn about Chinese culture, custom and life. The semester in China was probably one of the most formative experiences in my life.

Tim, Germany

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“This experience contributed towards and benefited my career”

One of the things I could never have imagined beforehand is how much this experience contributed towards and benefited my career. I started to look for summer jobs and internships when I knew that I am coming to study here. I sent three applications to different places and I got all the jobs -all three!


Jenna Hytti, Finland

Blogs from Guangzhou

China Calls

Miika studied abroad at Guangzhou in autumn 2015. In his blog he writes about his experiences in Guangzhou as well as Chinese language and education.

Check the blog

Mimmi in China

Mimmi spent the fall term 2014 as an exchange student in Guangzhou. In her blog she shares her pictures and experiences of her studies and the Chinese way of life.

Check the blog

Become a blogger

Do you want to write a blog during your study abroad semester? We’re always on the lookout for good bloggers. If you’d like to write a blog and have us link to it from this page, let us know! Check out our hints and tips for bloggers.

Want to read more student experiences?

Student interviews from Guangzhou

Study Abroad Reports from Guangzhou


Asia Exchange in Guangzhou since


Million inhabitants


largest city in China

Reasons to choose Guangzhou

Enjoy the warm climate and friendly people of Southern China

Experience one of China’s fastest-growing metropoles with plenty of things to discover

The diverse study program allows you to take a deep dive into Chinese language and culture

Guangzhou in our blog


Lotus Flower Festival in Guangzhou

Guangzhou is the 3rd largest city in China but still, not many Westerners know about it. There are many reasons to fall in love with…

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Bianca’s Study Abroad Experience in Guangzhou

你好! (Ni hao) Hello! My name is Bianca and I am from Argentina. I study International Relationship, and last autumn 2016, I spent an amazing…

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Spring or fall semester? Part 3, China

We constantly have students asking us about which semester to choose for their exchange. If you are a student coming from the Northern side of…

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Comrades from afar – meet in Guangzhou

How does one find love? Is there a map that was once drawn for the lonely ones to follow, with a red cross in the…

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All things once come to an end

It’s been almost one month that the semester at the Guangzhou University drew to a close. Since then many exchange students have either returned to…

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November update from China: Wining, dining and networking

This is the point of time during the semester where you wonder where all the time has gone. Two months behind us, one more month…

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Greetings from Guangzhou – Mid-semester approaching

大家好! We have now a little over one month of studies behind us at the Guangzhou University and lots of interesting things have happened. Here…

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From Exchange Student to Entrepreneur – Ville’s story in China

This is a guest post by Ville Majanen, the founder and CEO of E-Ville, a large internet store located in China.  Ni Hao from China!…

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