Zhūhǎi (珠海) is close enough to Macau for a day trip without any maniacal driving. Never too hot or too frosty, Zhūhǎi is the just-right popular Chinese getaway – especially in summer – with plenty of seaside glitz. Yet it remains laid-back, and what helps it really shine is the natural beauty of its gardens and an attractive, relatively clean port.
Kāipíng (开平), 140km southwest of Guǎngzhōu, is home to one of the most arresting human-constructed attractions in Guǎngdōng – the Unesco-crowned diāolóu (碉楼), eccentric watchtowers featuring a fusion of Eastern and Western architectural styles. Out of the approximately 3000 original diāolóu, only 1833 remain.
An easy half-hour metro ride will take day-trippers from Guǎngzhōu to this city. Fóshān (佛山; literally ‘Buddha Hill’) was famous for its ceramics in the Ming dynasty. Today, it’s better known as the birthplace of two kung fu icons, Wong Fei Hung and Ip Man (Bruce Lee's master), and the Wing Chun style of kung fu developed here.
Nánlǐng National Forest Park
Lying 285km north of Guǎngzhōu, the Nánlǐng (南岭; Southern Mountains) ranges stretch from Guǎngxī to Jiāngxī provinces, separating the Pearl River from the Yangzi River. The range in Guǎngdōng, home to the only ancient forests in the province, is a reserve for old-growth blue pines, a species unique to this part of Guǎngdōng.
Yángjiāng (阳江) is a city on the southwestern coast of Guǎngdōng. While downtown Yángjiāng is unexciting, picturesque Hǎilíng Island (海陵岛; Hǎilíng Dǎo), located 50km or an hour’s drive away, is home to the Maritime Silk Road Museum and some of the finest beaches in the province.
Dàbù (大埔) sits on the border with Fújiàn, in the easternmost part of Guăngdōng, about 89km from downtown Méizhōu. It's encircled by mountains and rivers, which means beautiful natural scenery and nicely preserved old towns. You can stay in downtown Dàbù and make day trips to surrounding areas.
The industrial town of Qīngyuǎn (清远) is where to set off for a scenic jaunt down the Běijiāng River (北江). The secluded temple in Fēilái and the monastery in Fēixiá are the main attractions. Four-hour cruises (¥380 to ¥600 for the whole boat, depending on size) leave from Qīngyuǎn’s Wǔyī dock (五一码头; Wǔyī Mǎtóu).