Seeing China in a Different Light: Zhuhai

MY first visit to China was via Hong Kong followed by Macau, which are islands off the mainland and officially, special administrative regions. Besides this, both are considered urban megacities with cultural and entertainment complexes, as well as modern infrastructure for its millions of visitors who visit annually. 

As such, it was an entirely different experience to set foot at mainland China through Zhuhai. Lying on southern coast of Guangdong province, Zhuhai is one of the four cities declared as Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the early 1980s along with Shenzhen and Shantou, also in the province, and Xiamen in Fujian province.

First set foot at mainland China through Zhuhai in Guangdong province
It also serves as the border city of Macau so one only needs to pass through Gongbei Port of Entry via the Macau-Zhuhai Bridge to get there.

Today, Zhuhai has become one of the most progressive port cities in the country in terms of economy, transportation, education and tourism. It is also suited for residence among the four SEZs because of its population of only around a million.

In terms of tourism, Zhuhai’s main visitors are Chinese from other provinces. But it has the potential to lure international tourists because of its accessibility, modernity and tranquility.

Here are three of them:
The palace replicates some spots from the original Old Summer Palace of Beijing

New Yuan Ming Palace

Head on over to New Yuan Ming Palace, a culture theme park that replicates 18 spots from the original Beijing’s Old Summer Palace, set against lush trees, blooms, and lakes.

The replica was built in Zhuhai because parts of the old summer palace that were destroyed during the 18th-century Opium War were never reconstructed in Beijing.

Inside the palaces, there are also portrayals of history like a scene showing
China’s youngest and last emperor, Puyi (left photo)
Sights inside the park included Chinese palaces and pagodas, metal sculptures of mythical creatures, traditional costumes and vehicles, and a big manmade lake. Inside the palaces, there were also portrayals of history like the scenes showing China’s youngest and last emperor, Puyi.

It is set against lush greenery and man-made lakes
There are also children’s rides and games as the park is a favorite field trip destination for Chinese students.

Entrance to the palace is free and subsidized by the Chinese Government.

This attraction in Chimelong holds the record of the world’s largest ocean theme park

Chimelong Ocean Kingdom

Spend the whole day at Chimelong Ocean Kingdom located at the Hengqin Bay. Opened only in March, it now holds the record as the world’s largest ocean theme park.

It also has the largest underwater viewing dome, the largest aquarium tank, the largest aquarium window,
and the largest acrylic panel
This achievement by the way is just one of its five Guinness Book of World Records entries besides having the largest underwater viewing dome, the largest aquarium tank, the largest aquarium window, and the largest acrylic panel.

It has eight attractions with different experiences to offer
The theme park offers eight attractions namely the Ocean Avenue, Dolphin Cove, Amazing Amazon, Ocean Beauty, Polar Horizon, Fun Zone, Mt. Walrus, and the Hengqin Ocean. A must-see is the Whale Shark Aquarium filled with 15,000 sea

(No photos of sea creatures are included in this story because I am against animal in captivity particularly for theme parks and leisure purposes.)

Gongbei Underground Mall

Experience the locality through a shopping stop at Gongbei Underground Mall located right outside the border. Surprisingly, the mall was very similar to the Philippines’ own Divisoria or 168 where products sold are also China-made.

And just the same, there too abound imitations of gadgets, clothing, accessories, and bags. The only difference is that Gongbei has a wider variety of stores from very high end to local brands. There are also a lot of dining choices including street food, specialty cakes and milk teas.


Food! Because Cantonese cuisine is one of the most global cuisines in the entire world and at Zhuhai, it is the real deal, authentic.

A flavorful lunch at a Cantonese restaurant
In the evening, it’s time for street food hunting

This author went to Zhuhai, China for The Manila Times in a media familiarization trip organized by Cathay Pacific in 2014. This story was lifted from the article published for the Philippine broadsheet. 


Seeing China in a Different Light: Macau

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