Pazhou Island is the new expansion area of Guangzhou city and it’s the location of the biggest trade fair in China: the Canton Fair. Many Chinese factories are finding their way into the area as more and more businessmen from all over the world are coming in to do business. While Zhujiang New Town is the financial core of the city, Pazhou is the conference and exhibition core. It’s definitely a place of the future and it will help to make Guangzhou a world city to be reckoned with.
The Pazhou Island is two metro stops away from my apartment and I can almost see it from my window. It is very accessible as there are 2 metro stops on the island, named Xingangdong and Pazhou. Many eye-catching buildings are located in the Pazhou area, which are mainly hotels, exhibition halls and offices.
Canton Fair Complex
Centrally located on Pazhou Island is the Canton Fair. It’s a place for buyers and sellers from all over the world to meet each other and do some networking. For a foreign company it can be hard to find a factory in China that suits their needs. The Canton Fair is a great opportunity to ‘shop around’ and to get to know your potential future business partners.
The Canton Fair area consist out of 3 main halls, which are all connected to each other. The exhibition halls cover a total area of over 170,000 m2. An interactive map of the halls can be found here. I went there outside of the Canton Fair period so there wasn’t much going on.
The Canton Fair runs two times per year (April 15 – May 5 & October 15 – November 4) and is divided into three phases. Each phase concentrates on different products, covering every product imaginable in this period of time. Walking around the halls, gives an idea of how crowded it must get here. On the bottom floor, there is a hallway with restaurants going on as far as the eye can see. On the ground floor, every hall you look in, people are building up exhibition stands.
For anyone looking to do business at the Canton Fair, all you need to do is register your business through this link. After that you will receive an invitation which can be used to apply for a Chinese visa. It would be best to arrange accommodation in advance because Guangzhou will be flooded with Canton Fair visitors.
Langham Place Hotel
There are two very distinct buildings on Pazhou Island that look almost identical. They are both owned by the same person so maybe he got a ‘two for the price of one’ type of deal here. It has a the look of a stack of books, piled up clumsily. Original and unique building designs are always a good thing to see.
One of the ‘book stack buildings’ is home to the Langham Place Hotel, which has a swimming pool inside and outside, an indoor fitness center and a midget golf area on the roof. The hotel opened its doors in 2013 but still isn’t completely finished from the inside.
This hotel is pretty luxurious and is within walking distance of the fair. I’ve been going up of course, having a view here at 2 hotel rooms. One of them with a city view and the other one a river view. Currently the hotel isn’t even almost full but it will be, around the Canton Fair period. Rooms will be about 3 times more expensive during this time.
Next to the Langham Place building is its ‘twin brother’, which has a large car store at the bottom floor and some offices on the higher floors. There will also be some shops opening up in the lower area of the building later on. The car shop has some Hummer type cars and a couple of beautiful Lotus sports cars for sale.
I can imagine hotel guests going up to this building thinking this is where they are staying, because these two buildings look so similar to each other.
Westin Pazhou Hotel
This hotel is directly connected to the Canton Fair so you don’t even have to face the intense heat outside, to get there. On the bottom floor there is a little supermarket, which is very convenient. There is an office building next to the hotel with several companies that are dealing with Canton Fair related activities, like selling ticket packages.
The rooms on the north side of this hotel are so close to the fair that the exhibition halls take up most of the hotel room’s view. The best viewpoint I could find in the building was from the ladies toilet on the 15th floor, looking out all the way to Zhujiang New Town.
Poly World Trade Center
As if the Canton Fair exhibition halls aren’t large enough, there is another exhibition hall in the area called the Poly World Trade Center. Instead of the Canton Fair with its 2 fairs a year, the PWTC has exhibitions all year round. The center covers an area of over 25,000 m2 and has several restaurant chains in the basement. Line 8 of the metro can also be accessed from the basement of the building, which is very convenient.
Shangri La Hotel
I was surprised to see a western looking girl working in the Shangri La Hotel here. She was kind enough to show me around the hotel and it turned out she was American. This girl arranged for an internship with the American branch of Shangri La and was then send to China. It seems like this is the best (or only) way for foreigners to get assigned here in China for an internship or job, apart from teaching English.
This hotel is also within walking distance of the fair, as the view from the hotel room is clearly showing. I was advised by the hotel staff not to book a room directly at their desk but to book it on an internet hotel site or through an agency. The rooms are cheaper this way, which is always good to know.
The rooms at the Shangri La Hotel can be booked online, starting from around 1,000 RMB per night, which is about 125 euro. Be warned though, because prices will be tripled during the Canton Fair.
The Shangri La hotel rooms are overlooking the Canton Fair halls, the Westin Hotel and the ‘book stack’ buildings
Future developments on Pazhou Island
Goettsch Partners Architects has made a design for a new site in the Pazhou district consisting out of 7 buildings. The whole area will be more then 425,000 m2 big and will be built around a large square. There will be retail shops and restaurants as well as some extremely tall skyscrapers. A road will be passing through it, making the whole area very accessible. Other than that, there is already a metro line passing this area.
Guangzhou seems to be expanding in all possible directions, with Pazhou Island as a clear example. It still has a long way to go but the city is rapidly growing and evolving. I’m looking forward to see what Pazhou Island will look like in a few years time.