First week in Guangzhou – what you need to know

Welcome to Guangzhou! An exciting journey is about to start while you make your self home in Guangzhou.

I have been living in Guangzhou since March 2010 and can’t think of a more interesting place to live! In this post I want to share with you some tips that can make your first week(s) a bit easier in Guangzhou.

Get WeChat now!

If you are living in China for the first time, you will soon discover how important the super app WeChat is over here. Getting WeChat app and especially the WeChat Wallet function ready as soon as possible, will ensure that you are able to communicate, find information, top up your mobile phone, make payments, buy movie tickets and so much more.

Outside of China you would probably find all sorts of information from a search engine, but in China it’s definitely WeChat that will give you all the answers. 

I remember when WeChat came in 2011 or 2012 and it felt weird having people suddenly sending voice messages to each other. But through the years WeChat has grown to be the tool that has made life in China so much easier!

Sara Jaaksola, Finnish, Expat Chinese Founder

Listen to the Monkey

For finding information about hotels, restaurants, hospitals and hobby locations, go to for listings and useful articles. If you have a questions “Where can I find…?” you almost surely can find that information on Bunga Monkey, and using it is free!

No matter what you are looking for, if it’s a location, good chance you will find it on Bunga Monkey!

Sara Jaaksola, Finnish, Expat Chinese Founder

Using public transportation

For going around the city head to local 7-11 to buy Yangchengtong transportation card that you can use in metros, buses and ferries. Using public transportation is both cheap and safe, just avoid rush hour times if possible. Morning rush hour during working days is around 07:30-09:30 and evening 18:00-19:30, depending on the location.

If you can just avoid the rush hour, taking the public transportation can often be the most convenient way of getting around the city. And greener option too!

Sara Jaaksola, Finnish, Expat Chinese Founder

Make life easier by understanding locals

The level of English has been rising each year in Guangzhou, but you might still notice that outside the city center few people speak it fluently and taxi drivers rarely speak any. To make your life easier in China you can consider learning the basics of the Chinese language. 

The more I studied Chinese the less cultural misunderstandings or culture shock days I had. I realized that all those strange things coming my way, many of them could be avoided by being able to speak and understand Chinese.

Sara Jaaksola, Finnish, Expat Chinese Founder

Visiting and getting to know old Guangzhou

Fun places for kids

Making friends, events and networking

  • For foreign women moving to the city, check out Guangzhou Women’s International Club
  • For both men and women wanting to make friends and attend meaningful events, check out Global Friendhip
  • For networking and fun, check out InterNations
  • There are many more events happening in Guangzhou, most of them are advertised on WeChat so you need to get into the WeChat groups first. That means someone inside needs to invite you. To get an invitation, add: yaxuefang and explain which groups you wish to join and why.

What to bring with you to Guangzhou

  • Imported produts you can’t live without, because of taxes anything imported is most likely more expensive than back home
  • Download a VPN on your phone before you arrive
  • Clothes and shoes if you wear a larger size as the Chinese sizes can be rather small, especially difficult sometimes to buy shoes larger than 39
  • Comfort food you might need when culture shock hits
  • Important medicine you or your children need, though don’t worry, you can buy most basic medicine here as well
  • A bit of Chinese – knowing even a few phrases will make a big difference!
  • An open mind! You might notice how things are done differently than back home, but remember that there is no right or wrong, it’s just a different culture and customs.

Writer: Sara

Sara Jaaksola has been living in Guangzhou since 2010. First studying Chinese full time and then growing her Chinese language center called Expat Chinese. She is married to a local and has a 4 year old daughter.

Contact her

WeChat: yaxuefang