Divided between the British and French in 1859, Shamian Island—technically a manmade island—is a tranquil oasis of historical architecture today. Composed of just three east-west avenues and five north-south streets, the island may be small, but it packs a surfeit of lovely landmarks. Local highlights include Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel, neoclassical ex-consulate buildings, and colonial mansions.
Private sightseeing and history-themed tours provide an accessible way to wander the island’s pretty avenues and learn more about its history. For the time-pressed, Shamian can even be glimpsed from the perch of a Pearl River cruise.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Much of the island is pedestrianized, and it’s small enough that you can easily make a couple of loops on foot.
- During your island visit, head into the historical White Swan Hotel: its lobby features a koi pond, waterfall, and multiple tiers of garden greenery.
- The island is renowned for its grand banyan trees, some of which are hundreds of years old; be sure to bring your camera along to capture the unique scenery.
How to Get There
Shamian Island is located just a quick stroll from the Huangsha Metro Station, and is also served by the Huangsha Ferry Terminal. Buses operate on the nearby Inner Ring Road, though not on the island itself: given its petite dimensions, it’s best explored on foot.
When to Get There
Shamian Island is always open to visitors, though it’s best to visit during good-weather days: its Victorian boulevards look particularly appealing when bright and sun-dappled.
Bronze Statues During your next walking tour of Shamian Island, keep your eyes peeled: the island is famously dotted with bronze sculptures that depict charming moments from everyday life, ranging from a girl mailing a letter to women from different eras in history walking side by side.
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