Zaha Hadid's Guangzhou Opera House.

©Cathy Adams/Lonely Planet

Guangzhou Opera House

Top choice in Guangzhou

Designed by Zaha Hadid, southern China's premier performance venue has transformed the area with its typically commanding, otherworldly aspect. Futuristic glass panels have been woven together to form subtle curves, creating a visual effect that has been described as pebbles on the bed of the Pearl River. As well as opera, dance and classical music, touring international productions, such as War Horse, are staged here. You're free to stroll around the architecturally interesting exterior, which is lit up at night.

Weekend visiting slots are at 10am, 11am and on the hour between 1pm and 4pm. Taking the form of a 45-minute tour (Chinese only), you'll get to see the grand opera hall with its ethereal LED lights as well as the state-of-the-art rehearsal studios.