Chaozhou is in the easternmost part of Guangdong Province in the north of the delta of the Han River, which flows through the city. It borders Shantou to the south, Jieyang to the southwest, Meizhou to the northwest, the province of Fujian to the east, and the South China Sea to the southeast.
Administratively, Chaozhou is divided into two districts and one county. Xiangqiao (湘桥) district forms the downtown core of the city, with Chao'an (潮安) district to the west, and Raoping (饶平) county to the east.
Many overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia can trace their ancestry to the area, with Bangkok, Phnom Penh and Singapore in particular being home to large and influential overseas Teochew communities. In addition, Teochews also form one of the largest non-Cantonese communities in Hong Kong, and play a prominent role in the city's economy.
Teochew is the main local language, which is closely related to Minnan, and mutually intelligible to some extent. Locals are very proud of their language despite government attempts to standardise Mandarin as a common language, so any attempts to speak Teochew will be met with encouragement, and may even get you preferential treatment in shops and restaurants. As the main cultural center of the region, the Chaozhou dialect is regarded as the prestige dialect of Teochew, thus making it a good place for those interested in learning the language.
As Chaozhou is part of Guangdong province, many people speak Cantonese as a second language. As with elsewhere in mainland China, standard Mandarin is the only language taught in schools so expect all educated people to be fluent in Mandarin. English is not widely spoken, though staff at the higher end hotels will be able to speak English.
Despite many residents having relatives in the much more international city of Hong Kong and in overseas Chinese communities, non-Chinese visitors are not common here so expect some friendly curiosity and attempts at conversation from people if you visit, especially from kids and teenagers who know a little bit of English. The city is developing with China's economic expansion, so visitors and facets of Western culture, while still infrequent, are becoming more common.
Chaozhou does not have its own airport. The nearest airport is Jieyang Chaoshan International Airport (SWA IATA) in Jieyang. It also serves international flights to Hong Kong and Bangkok on China Southern Airlines [dead link] as well as to Singapore on Jetstar Asia and Taiwan.
The Shenzhen to Shanghai high speed rail has a stop at Chaoshan, which serves both Chaozhou and Shantou. From Chaoshan rail station, north exit, take a frequently running city bus to Chaozhou city center (about 45 minutes, ¥5).
From Shantou, there are regularly scheduled buses to Chaozhou from the China Travel Services bus station, for about Y18-19.
From Shantou, you can take taxis (45 min - 1 hour, ¥15) at the intersection of the Shantou Radio & Television station (汕头市广播电视台) along Chaoshan road (潮汕路). The taxi drivers will stop along the way to pull additional passengers in.
- Try to walk as the main old parts of Chaozhou are easily walkable.
- Take a taxi is the fastest simplest way to travel longer distances and is relatively inexpensive from ¥20-30. If you are staying at a hotel, they can page a taxi for you and help you with heading to your intended location.
- Try a bicycle if you have one or can find a rental business. Just make sure to pack a face mask on heavy pollution days.
- Try a bus, if you are up for excitement. Bus stops are found all throughout the city.
- 1 Chaozhou Museum (潮州博物馆, 潮州市博物馆), Intersection of Fu'an Road and Chaozhou Avenue, Xiangqiao District (湘桥区福安路与潮州大道交叉口) (On the south side of Chaozhou People's Square. Bus routes 10, 110, and 604), ☏ . 09:00-17:00, no entry after 16:30, closed on Mondays. Chaozhou's main museum. Free.
- 2 Yi Garden (颐园; Yiyuan), 15 Dong Zhong Cheng Jiao, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. A museum and art gallery that tells the life story of Rao Zongyi, artist and sinologist. ¥10.
- 3 Chaozhou Old City Wall (潮州古城墙). 2.6 km long.
- 4 Guangji Bridge (广济桥; Guǎngjìqiáo). It was built in the Southern Song Dynasty (1170 AD), a bridge partly made of small boats. It was rebuilt a few years ago and now costs ¥60 to cross (one way). You may have seen a model of it in the old Guangdong Provincial Museum.
- Jiadixiang (甲第巷; Jiǎdìxiàng). Ancient family houses.
- 5 The Lighthouse of Buddha (北阁佛灯; Běigéfódēng). The lighthouse was used for boats in the Hanjiang river as this part of the river was dangerous. The lighthouse could remind people that they were in Chaozhou area and ought to be careful. It is said a former emperor once passed in his dragon boat while he was sleeping and was woken by the light from this lighthouse. He thought it must have been a bodhisattva sending him the light and therefore named it the Lighthouse of Buddha.
- 6 The old site of Song Kiln (Bijia Mountain Xiangqiao). Shows the scale of production and the exquisite craftsmanship of ceramic in ancient Chaozhou.
- 7 Xu Imperial Son-in-law Mansion (许驸马府; Xǔfùmǎfǔ), North Ma Road, Xiangqiao District (湘桥区北马路; Xiāngqiáoqū Běimǎlù). Retains the basic pattern of the architecture of the Song Dynasty.
- 8 Jiluehuang Temple (己略黃公祠; Jǐlüèhuánggōngcí), Yian Road, Xiangqiao District (湘桥区义安路; Xiāngqiáoqū Yìānlù), ☏ . Displaying the wood carving art of Chaozhou in the Qing Dynasty.
- 9 Kaiyuan Temple (开元寺; Kāiyuánsì), 32 Kaiyuan Road, Xiangqiao District (湘桥区开元路32号; Xiāngqiáoqū Kāiyuánlù), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Buddhist center embodied with the quintessence of the architectural art of various dynasties such as the Tang, the Song, the Yuan and the Qing. This temple is over 200 years old. The temple is also home to the most influential Buddhism Study Institute in Southeast China. Inside, handsome calligraphy and inscribed steles remind visitors that this temple once functioned as the record keeper of the city.
- 10 Chaozhou People's Square (潮州人民广场). The city's main public square.
- 11 West Lake (潮州西湖). There is a museum in the park, which has a unique collection of stones with natural geological markings representing (or resembling) Chinese characters. There is also a small crumbling historical building (revolutionary site) and a large modern phoenix at the top of a hill, with an interesting old painting of ancient Chaozhou.
Chaozhou considers itself the "Ceramic Capital of China" and you will notice that there are a lot of ceramics for sale, often at very inexpensive prices.
- Nike Store. Near the main McDonald's is a licensed Nike Store. Next to it is a licensed Addidas store.
Teochew (Chiuchow) cuisine, the cooking style originating from Chaozhou. Famous examples of local dishes include fish balls (鱼丸), braised goose (卤鹅), cold crab (冻蟹), pork trotter jelly (猪脚冻) and taro paste (芋泥). A popular street dish is oyster omelette (蠔煎 háojiān in Mandarin, 蠔烙 o5 luah4 in Teochew), which differs greatly from the more famous Taiwanese version.
- Lianhua Vegetarian Restaurant (莲花素食府 Lianhua Sushi Fu), Kaiyuan Square (Kaiyuan Guangchang) (across from Kaiyuan Temple (Kaiyuan Si duimian)), ☏ . Vegetarian chain restaurant also found in Shantou and Jieyang.
- McDonalds, China, 广东省潮州市湘桥区新桥东路南片1、3、5号商铺首、二层, ☏ . 24 Hours. A standard high quality McDonald's with free Wi-Fi as long as you have a mobile phone that can receive a text message. You can get stable food here 24 hours a day, and coffee.
- Pizza Hut. Standard Pizza Hut is across the street from the main McDonalds.
- KFC. Standard KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) is across the street from the main McDonald's.
- Yunhe Hotel (down the street from the inner-city long distance bus station, towards the park). No English sign. Some rooms have a large balcony. Well run, good value. Doubles ¥150.