Dongguan is the hidden gem of the Pearl River Delta. You won’t find many tourists flocking here, but they’re the ones missing out! Located in China’s southern Guangdong province, this city of 6.5 million is waiting for you to come and explore.
What You Need To Know
Dongguan is located in the sub-tropical Pearl River Delta of south-east China. Dongguan has a 3 season climate, the winter lasts from November to the start of March with temperatures around 12c (53f).
The rainy season is as you’d expect – rainy! So from March to June you’ll need to bring a light rain jacket as the temperature will still be 30c+ (86f+).
The summer is hot and humid and lasts all the way through to the middle of November; sun-worshipers won’t leave disappointed!
Guangdong is the home to two of China’s mega-cities; Guangzhou and Shenzhen.These huge metropolises are a lot of fun, but can be very hectic and you will want to have a break.
Dongguan has very much a provincial feel. The pace of life is much slower, the streets are quieter, the smog is not so dense and the prices are lower!
Dongguan is the perfect place to spend a weekend, relax and get away from the crowds.
Getting to and around Dongguan
Trains from Hong Kong (彩虹站Cai Hong station) to Dongguan go to Changping, a town under the administration of Dongguan. A bus from Changping to Dongguan Central Station (东莞总车站) takes about an hour and costs 23 RMB (£2.30).
High-speed services from Shenzhen and Guangzhou are served by Shilong station, from here to the center of Dongguan should be no more than 50 RMB (£5) by taxi.
Dongguan is connected by an extensive system of long distance coaches, making it the easiest way to get to Dongguan.
Coaches to and from the Central Bus station and Nan Cheng Bus Station (南城汽车站) run regularly to Shenzen (1h30, 49RMB) and Guangzhou (1h30, 42 RMB) and overnight services connect as far as Xiamen and Guilin.
For Hong Kong a one way ticket to Central (中环) costs 100 RMB and to the airport is 150 RMB (£15). The coach departs from the so-called ‘Dongguan airport’ it is best to ask the taxi driver in Chinese for ‘候机楼’ hou ji lou.
Make sure you buy tickets for HK at least a day in advance!
Taxis are cheap here, even by Chinese standards. Fares start at 7RMB. Buses are 2 RMB any distance, but make sure you have the correct change as there is none given.
What to do and where to go
Dongguan is quite a compact city, the main attractions are all rather close together and in a taxi are cheap and easy to get to. Let’s look at the two districts with the most going on.
Dong Cheng is the heart of Dongguan. For shopping, head to DynaCity 星河城 on DongSheng Road 东升路. You will find all the top luxury brands as well as foreign eateries like Baskin Robins and Starbucks.
On the opposite side of the road are a host of good restaurants. My favourite is Tairyo Teppanyaki 大鱼铁板烧. Offering a wide-range of Japanese cuisine with Teppanyaki, Sushi, beer, saki and soft drinks all included for a flat rate of 150 RMB! If you are in a large group then you will be seated in a private room where the chef will cook in front of you. Or you can sit at a more intimate table or on a long table with the the chef cooking your teppanyaki there in front of you.
Around the corner from DynaCity on DongCheng East Road 东城东路 is the British pub, ‘One for the Road’. If you are British and want a taste of home, or would like to try traditional British food and drink, then this pub is the place to go.
Dong Cheng is also where the Bar Street 酒吧路 is located. One for the Road is a good place to start an evening and a taxi from there to the Bar Street should cost no more than 8 RMB. Here you can experience the traditional Chinese clubbing experience. Lots of tables, small dance floor and expensive booze.
Wan Jiang is without a doubt the hidden gem of Dongguan. Arriving at the Central Bus Station, you can cross the road and eat Mongolian food in a Yurt!
Alternatively, walk over to the world’s largest shopping center, the New South China Mall 新华南摩尔. It is
a sight to behold, whole wings of this gigantic shopping center lay empty and abandoned, the perfect place for imagining you are in a zombie apocalypse! Other parts of the mall are a lot more busy, there is a fun ground, a newly opened department store and at the rear of the NSCM is the ‘Dongguan Airport’, from here you can travel to Guangzhou and Shenzhen airports, as well as Hong Kong.
The Dong Jiang River running through Wan Jiang is perfect for morning or evening strolls.
My pick for the best bar area is the little known Xia Ba 下坝. In a road of traditional Chinese houses has been converted into uber cool and trendy bars.
Walk along the main road, enjoying the ambiance and street food, then sit in one of the roof top bars and enjoy the surroundings over a good Belgium beer!
If there is any more information about Dongguan that you’d like to know please do leave me a message and let me know what you think of Dongguan.