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Guangzhou is safe in general. There is not a particular neighborhood visitors should avoid.
Guangzhou offer various accommodations, from 5 star hotel to hostel.
Some websites to find accommodations: ctrip, agoda, hostelworld, etc.
Shang Xia Jiu Pedestrian Street 上下九步行街
The famous shopping area. One can find various shops and local restaurants. It is close to Shamian Island, which was the old French and British Concession.
Train Station area 火车站
This area has the main train station (not the one for fast train), Provincial Long Distance Bus Station, LiuHua Long Distance Bus Station and metro line 2. The area also has a lot wholesale markets for clothes and accessories. LiuHua Park, YueXiu Park and Museum of the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King are all in the neighborhood. It is a chaotic area and all kinds of people are around.
Hai Zhu Square 海珠广场
It is the center of old Canton. Metro line 1 and 2 come across here. Transportation is very convenient. Close to Beijing Pedestrian Road, the area offers a lot of shopping.
Huan Shi Dong Street 环市东路
There are a lot of hotels along Huan Shi Dong Street, from all price range. It is close to train station.
Bai E Tan 白鹅潭
If you like night life, Bai E Tan area has a lot bars.
Tian He Sport Center 天河体育中心
It is the relatively new city center. East Train Station is in the area and metro line 1 and 3 come across here. Transportation is very convenient. A lot of malls are in the area.
Higher Education Mega Center 大学城
Far from city center and not very convenient for regular vistors. But if one needs to visit the universities there for any reasons, there are many hotels around.
Southern Pearl River 珠江南
The area is covered by metro line 2. There is a big cloth wholesale market around.
Pa Zhou Island 琶洲
Canton Fair is held in Pazhou at Guangzhou International Convention and Exhibition Center. There is one metro station nearby.
Bai Yun District 白云区
At the northwest corner of Guangzhou, close to Baiyun Mountain. A lot of hotels around Baiyun International Convention Center.
Hua Du District 花都区
Where the airport locates. Pullman Hotel is a 5 star hotel right next to airport. Some other hotels are in the area.
Pan Yu District 番禺区
Hotels in this district are around Chimelong Resort and metro line 3 area.
Guangzhou Economic and Technological Development Zone 广州经济技术开发区
Locates at east of Guangzhou. A main industry area of the city.