Downtown and the neighbourhoods to the north of the city are the most built-up areas and suburbs in Guangzhou, with their own business districts and tourist attractions. The city borders the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Hong Kong city itself is only an hour away on public transport.

Expats in Guangzhou tend to live in areas with decent Western restaurants or good international schools. The city centre – including Liwan, Yuexiu, Tianhe and Haizhu – is the most cosmopolitan and bustling area, popular with tourists and city-living locals. Tianhe is particularly popular with expats.

Those looking for a quieter, suburban life should look to the Panyu and Baiyun districts.

City living in Guangzhou

Including Liwan, Yuexiu, Tianhe, Haizhu

Liwan and Yuexiu are the political and cultural centres of Guangzhou, with a number of historical tourist attractions and popular shopping districts.

Of the central districts, parts of Tianhe and a few areas nearby are the best choice for expats wanting to live and work in the city and avoid commuting to the outlying suburbs. In addition to Western-style restaurants, there are a few international schools in the area.

Zhujiang New Town, on the outskirts of Tianhe, is a trendy cosmopolitan area with skyscraper office buildings, bars and restaurants. Liede has a number of foreign businesses, restaurants and a supermarket specialising in imported goods – a favourite with many foreigners. 

Suburbs in Guangzhou


Expats looking for a more suburban lifestyle should look to outlying suburbs such as Panyu. Panyu is a sprawling new development to the south of downtown Guangzhou which is steadily attracting investment, especially from the technology industry. Various theme parks, a mountain, parks and lakes make this an attractive area for those with children. Panyu has good transport links to the city and is less smoggy than many other areas. It has tree-lined streets, good international schools, a number of hospitals and several large shopping malls.

A community called Clifford Estates has especially become popular with expatriates. High-rise apartment buildings are set in tropical gardens around a man-made lake, and residents have 24-hour security, access to a gym, swimming pool, restaurants and a supermarket. Clifford International School, a hospital and nearby public transport links are also easily accessible.

Huadu and Baiyun

Baiyun, spreading to the north of the city centre, is also a growing area with its own developing industrial centres. The area boasts semi-rural pockets on the outskirts, a number of parks and good international schools. Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport is on the outskirts of Huadu, making it a popular area for frequent travellers. The suburb is well connected by public transport to the Guangzhou city centre.

Cities close to Guangzhou

There are two cities to the northeast of the city centre – Zengcheng and Conghua – which have been drawn into the greater Guangzhou metropolitan area. The Utahloy International School in Zengcheng has a good reputation, which makes the area a viable choice for expat families who don’t mind the commute to the city centre.

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