Dongguan (东莞; Dūnggún in Cantonese, Dōngguǎn in Mandarin) is in the Pearl River Delta region of China, about 100 km from Hong Kong. It's a major manufacturing center, producing an estimated one fifth of the world's smartphones and one tenth of the world's shoes.
Dongguan isn't really on the radar for most tourists, but it has lots of shopping and a handful of fascinating Qing Dynasty historic sites, especially from the Opium Wars in Humen Town.
The Dongguan government administers a whopping 28 towns outside the central urban districts. Here are a few of the most important:
- Chang'an (长安, Cháng'ān) is a well-off manufacturing center and the gateway to Lianhua Mountain.
- Houjie (厚街, Hòujiē) is an industrial town of 400,000 people, mostly temporary residents, 30 minutes southwest of Dongguan.
- Humen (虎门, Hǔmén) was an important site in the Opium Wars (with two museums to show for it) and is now a well-known spot for clothes shopping and has a major high-speed rail station.
Cantonese is the traditional local language spoken in Dongguan. The local dialect has distinctive features relative to standard Cantonese, but if you are already fluent in standard Cantonese, this should not pose too much of a challenge, and locals can usually communicate in standard Cantonese too. Most people can also speak Mandarin, and due to high migration from other provinces, a significant number of people don't speak Cantonese.
- Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport is just over an hour from the Dongguan city center. There is a shuttle bus to the Dongguan airport check-in station at the South China Mall in Wanjiang. If hiring a car, the fare should be about ¥300. Also, there is Intercity Bus  [dead link] at Baiyun Airport. And the pick up port:Gate A9 of the Arrival Hall and South China International Auto Parts City of Dalang Town. Buses to/from other bus stations, such as the Dongguan City Terminal, are likely to be available as well, enquire locally.
- The Shenzhen Airport is also about an hour from the center city but much closer to some Dongguan towns, especially Chang'an and Humen, expect to pay ¥100-300 by car. By bus, it will cost ¥40-50, and the last one going to the airport departs (as of May 2018) at 20:00, at least if going from the Dongguan City terminal (See also the information on Shenzhen airport website). A light rail line connecting Shenzhen Airport to Humen, Houjie, and other parts of Dongguan is under construction and scheduled to open in 2019.
- Hong Kong International Airport can be reached by buses that depart on regular schedules from hotels across Dongguan. It is also accessible by a special ferry from Dongguan's Humen town that connects directly to the international flights area of the airport. To catch the ferry from the airport, go directly to the ticket counter without passing through Hong Kong immigration or customs; see Hong Kong International Airport#By ferry for details.
There are several train stations in Dongguan; here are some of the most important:
- 1 Dongguan Railway Station (东莞站, Dōngguǎn Zhàn / New Shilong Railway Station, 新石龙站, Xīn Shílóng Zhàn) (Shilong Town). Frequent service from Guangzhou and Shenzhen. The station is connected to the Dongguan Metro.
- 2 Changping Railway Station (常平站, Chángpíng Zhàn) (Changping Town). Formerly known as Dongguan Railway Station. Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway offers service (the former Kowloon-Canton Railway service) from Hung Hom Station in Hong Kong to Guangzhou with a stop in Dongguan. The fare is payable in either Chinese yuan or Hong Kong dollars. As of 2018, the one-way fare is HK$155. Schedule here.
- 3 Dongguan East Railway Station (东莞东站, Dōngguǎn Dōng Zhàn) (Changping Town). Service from lots of destinations all over China.
- 4 Humen Railway Station (虎门站, Hǔmén Zhàn) (Humen Town). On the high-speed rail line between Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Connected to Dongguan Metro line 2.
The most popular method for Hong Kong locals to travel to Dongguan is by bus. There are several companies that offer bus travel to Dongguan from Hong Kong. A good place to find a bus, would be at the bus stands inside the arrival terminal at Hong Kong Airport. Prices are usually HK$80–100 for a one-way ticket or HK$150 for a two-way ticket. Travel times usually are 1½-2½ hours depending on traffic conditions. If you are traveling from another part of China, you can also travel to Dongguan by bus, most major cities in China will have bus routes to the Dongguan Main Bus Station in Nancheng. There buses to several bus stations in Dongguan from the main Luohu border crossing bus terminal, so be careful that you choose the correct one.
One of the less used ways to get to Dongguan from Hong Kong is by ferry. This allows you to avoid the queues at the busy customs checkpoints on the border between Hong Kong and mainland China. Ferries are operated by CKS. They depart from Hong Kong International Airport's Skypier and arrive at Humen Ferry Terminal (虎门港澳码头, Hǔmén Gǎng Ào Mǎtou) in Humen Town.
The best method for visitors to get around is taxi. Taxis are cheap, and a 30 minute ride should not cost more than ¥80. Beware however, some taxis are used for kidnapping. Be sure to only use the green, licensed Dongguan taxis.
The metro system, Dongguan Rail Transit, opened in 2016 with a single line serving 15 stations between Dongguan Railway Station and Humen Railway Station. The system is being expanded, with plans for three additional lines and connections to the Guangzhou and Shenzhen metros.
Most buses cost ¥2 per ride. The Yang Cheng Tong pass from Guangzhou works for the buses in Dongguan. Announcements are made in Mandarin and Cantonese, no English.
Dongguan has an exhibition center in Dongguan city, which hosts many exhibitions and conferences. There is also a sports center for locals. If you only have a day and want to stay in one area, you might start at Jin'aozhou Pagoda (金鳌洲塔), go east and see Keyuan Garden (可园), and then walk along Dongcheng Avenue (东城大道) for shopping and food. It is not too far to bar street, where you can check out some pretty hopping clubs.
- 1 [dead link] Dongguan Botanical Garden (东莞植物园), 99 Lüse Street, Nancheng District (南城区绿色路99号) (Bus routes 10, 806, 850, lg1 and x7), ☏ , . 06:00-22:30. Free.
- 2 Dongguan Exhibition Center (东莞展览馆), Central Plaza, 97 Hongfu Road, Nancheng District (南城区鸿福路97号中心广场) (Take bus no. x13 and get off at the Telecommunications Bureau (电信局) bus stop), ☏ . 09:00-17:30, no entry after 16:30, closed on Mondays. Free.
- 3 Dongguan Library (东莞图书馆), Central Plaza, 100 Hongfu Road (鸿福路100号中心广场) (Bus route 31), ☏ . Monday and Friday: 14:00-21:00, all other days: 09:00-21:00. Free.
- 4 Dongguan Museum (东莞市博物馆), 36 Xinfen Road, Guancheng District (莞城区新芬路36号) (The nearest bus stops are People's Park (人民公园) and Dongguan Hotel (东莞宾馆)), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 09:00-17:30, closed on Mondays. Free.
- 5 [dead link] Dongguan Science & Technology Museum (东莞市科学技术博物馆), 2 Yuanmei Middle Road (元美中路2号) (Bus routes 15, 17, 31, 801, c3 and x20), ☏ . 09:30-17:30, no tickets sold after 16:30, closed on Mondays. ¥25.
- 6 Jin'aozhou Pagoda (金鳌洲塔), Jinqu Road South (金曲路南) (The nearest bus stops are Jiangbin Gardens (江滨花园) and Wanjiang Bridge (万江桥), both of which are about 15 minutes walk from the pagoda. The pagoda is about 200 meters south of the JIn'aozhou Theme Park (金鳌洲主题公园)). 08:30-17:30, closed on Mondays. This pagoda was built between 1597 and 1624, and attained its present appearance following a major rennovation in 1737. Experts are said to be impressed by the fact that since 1737, the pagoda has tilted by less than 1% despite being situated only a few meters from the river bank. Free.
- 7 Keyuan Museum (Ke Garden & Museum, 可园博物馆), 32 Keyuan Road, Guancheng District (莞城区可园路32号) (More than 20 bus routes stop here; get off at the Keyuan (可园) bus stop.), ☏ . 09:00-17:30, closed Tuesday. ¥8 to enter the area with the old buildings; other areas of the museum and gardens are free.
- 8 Mount Shuilian Forest Park (水濂山森林公园) (Take bus routes 10, 42, 806, x12, Houjie 15 or Houjie 5 and get off at the Mount Shuilian Forest Park bus stop), ☏ . 05:30-19:30. Free.
- 9 Qifeng Park (旗峰公园, Qífēng Gōngyuán) (Metro Line 2, Qifeng Park Station).
Humen Town played a pivotal role in the Opium Wars, which were a central part of the decline of the Qing Dynasty and China's "century of humiliation" at the hands of foreign powers. The wars were fought between China and the United Kingdom in the 1800s over trade policy, in particular the UK's insistence on selling opium to China. Humen was the site of the destruction of a huge amount of seized opium, the event which sparked the First Opium War, and some battles were fought around here too. The Opium Wars are now commemorated by two museums and some historic fortifications, which make for an interesting, if one-sided, day of learning about this period of history.
- 10 Opium War Museum (鸦片战争博物馆; Lin Zexu Memorial Museum 林则徐纪念馆), 113 Jiefang Road, Humen Town (虎门镇解放路113号) (Bus route Humen 3a), ☏ . Tu–Su 08:30-17:30. Oddly enough, this confusingly named museum seems to cover everything about the opium trade except the Opium Wars. The biggest focus is on Lin Zexu's heroic 1839 campaign to destroy imported opium; the wars that ensued are scarcely given a mention. The museum has lots of interesting artifacts, though the labels and their English translations leave something to be desired in terms of precision. Next door to the left is Humen Story (虎门故事), a small museum of Humen's history. To the right is Yuxu Ancient Temple, a small temple that's more than 200 years old and thus saw both opium wars. Back toward the ticket gate and to your left, you will see the water-filled pits that Lin Zexu used to destroy the opium, though the historical marker is in Chinese only. Free.
- 11 Sea Battle Museum (海战博物馆), Huandao Road, Humen Town (虎门镇环岛路) (bus 212, 219, 229, or 238), ☏ . 08:30-17:30, no entry after 17:00, closed Tuesdays. This is the real museum of the Opium Wars: a detailed presentation of their context, details, and aftermath. To be clear, this is the official Chinese government interpretation of the Opium Wars – don't expect any kind of balanced presentation (though in fairness, from a 21st-century perspective it's hard to deny the British were in the wrong). For non-military history buffs, possibly the most fascinating part of the museum is the hallway at the beginning that displays Qing Dynasty history one one side and the Enlightenment on the other side, for a clear sense of what was happening at the same time in China and in Europe. Most of the information is bilingual in Chinese and English, and the English translations are not perfect but comprehensible. Free, but you need to show your passport to get a ticket.
- 12 Weiyuan Fort (威远炮台), Huandao Road, Humen Town (虎门镇环岛路) (About 300 metres west of the Sea Battle Museum; Bus route Humen 2), ☏ . 08:30-17:00. A 19th-century coastal fort that saw action during the Opium Wars. A little to the left and across the street from the exit is a trail that goes up the hill and over the highway to the ruins of other forts nearby, which are less interesting than Weiyuan Fort but also less crowded. Free.
- 13 Shajiao Fort (沙角炮台), Shajiao Community, Humen Town (虎门镇沙角社区) (Bus no. 236. To get here from any of the other Opium War sites, you will need to catch two buses), ☏ . 08:30-17:30, no entry after 17:00. Built in 1801, this fort is closer to the open sea than the other forts in Humen and formed part of the Pearl River's first line of defence together with the Dajiao Hill Fort on the other side of the river in Guangzhou's Nansha District. Below the fort is a small dock that was used by Lin Zexu for confiscating opium. Free.
- 14 Guanyin Mountain National Forest Park (观音山国家森林公园), Bijiashan Avenue, Shixin District, Zhangmutou Town (樟木头镇石新区笔架山大道) (The most direct way to get there is to take bus no. L4 from Dongguan Bus Station. Alternatively, one could also take a high-speed train to Zhangmutou (樟木头) and then either catch a taxi or transfer to bus no. 6), ☏ . October to May: 07:00-17:00; June to September: 07:00-17:30. ¥45.
- 15 Lianhua Mountain Country Park (莲花山郊野公园 Liánhuāshān Jiāoyě Gōngyuán), Chang'an Town 长安镇 (take bus 3 in Chang'an to the end of the line). 07:00–19:00. Literally "lotus mountain", paved with extensive hiking paths. There's a temple not too far up. Free.
- 16 Songshan Lake (松山湖 Sōngshān Hú). Free.
- 17 Yinping Mountain (银瓶山, 银瓶咀). The highest mountain in Dongguan, on the border between Xiegang Town and Huizhou. A beautiful area with waterfalls, paved trails, and cable cars. Free.
Most four star hotels will have various "foot" massages and sauna services for upwards of ¥150. Saunas and foot massage parlors might be brothels.
- 1 The Spa at Hyatt Regency Dongguan, Hyatt Regency Dongguan Hotel, Song Shan Lake Central District, Science and Technology Industrial Park, Qinyuan Road, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 2 Dongguan Yulan Theater (东莞玉兰大剧院, Dōngguǎn Yùlán Dà Jùyuàn), 96 Hongfu Road, Nancheng District (南城区鸿福路96号).
- Dongguan Basketball Center (东莞篮球中心, Dōngguǎn Lánqiú Zhōngxīn). Home of the Guangdong Southern Tigers.
Dongguan is well known for its Huanghe Fashion Town located in the Humen District along Renming Road, Renyi Road, Jinglong Road and Yinglong Road. The district houses one of China's largest clothing and textile wholesale markets, which extends over an area of about one square kilometre. Many of the products sold there are exported to Hong Kong and the rest of the world. Everybody can enjoy low wholesale prices, even when buying in small quantities.
- 1 South China Mall (华南MALL, Huánán MALL), 10 South Wanjiang Road, Wanjiang District (万江区万江路南10号). The largest mall in the world (depending on how you count), featuring an IMAX theater and a theme park.
- 2 Hundred Flowers Times Square (百花时代广场, Bǎihuā Shídài Guǎngchǎng), 1 Shichang Road, Changping Town (常平镇市场路1号). Eight-story mall with free Wi-Fi. The ground floor has a food court with a good selection of Chinese restaurants, and the fifth floor has a movie theater. Just outside the mall are several jewelry stores and clothing stores, and the neighborhood around it is lively and full of restaurants and shops as well.
Dongguan is known for its Chinese sausages (腊肠 làcháng in Mandarin, laahpchéung in Cantonese) and lychees (荔枝 lìzhī in Mandarin, laihjī in Cantonese).
Most 5-star hotels offer buffets, these are around ¥30-60 for breakfast, ¥100-200 for lunch, and ¥100-300 for dinner.
There are many expat-oriented western restaurants in the bar area, particularly on Doncheng East road. Expect to pay the prices a bit higher than is typical for China, however (but generally cheaper than Hong Kong).
Smaller Chinese restaurants are the likely choice if you wanna be more on a budget - if (not unusually for mainland China) you can manage the lack of the English menus and limited English skills of the staff.
- 1 Ren Shan Su Shi (仁善素食 Rénshàn Sùshí), 11 Changdi Road, Zexu District, Humen Town 虎门镇则徐区长堤路11号 (second floor, above the health food store), ☏ . Very tasty Chinese-style vegan buffet. ¥28 per person, buy a ticket at the health food store downstairs, then go upstairs to get your plate and bowl.
The most popular bars are on or around "Bar Street" (Jiǔbājiē) in Dongcheng. However, like many parts of China, various kinds of services are popular, including prostitution. One should be careful with local girls if they seem to be getting too friendly if you are not looking for such services. Beware of your drink, it is not unheard of foreigners being drugged and robbed. Beer at supermarkets should not cost more than ¥4 a bottle for Tsingtao. Red wine costs from ¥10 a bottle.
- Beijing Bar. A popular hangout.
- BB. Popular club and local hangout with a dance floor.
- V8. Popular club and local hangout with a dance floor and good cocktails.
- One for the Road. Popular ex-patriate bar. English pub style. Good food, good beer.
- 1 Day & Nite (雅宴, Yǎyàn), 21 Yangwu Street, Changping Town (常平镇朝阳五街21号). The center of expat life in Changping, with a TV playing football (soccer) and a menu with Western comfort foods like macaroni and cheese, burgers, and fries, as well as a variety of drinks. Menu in Chinese and English.
- Oriental Glory Hotel, Humen Avenue Humen Town Dongguan City Guangdong Province, ☏ . Nice room costs ¥298 per night. Nice KTV Room with minimum spending of ¥728 per night, not inclusive of DJ (¥200 per night)to pour your drink for you.
Dongguan has more than 30 government-rated 5-star hotels.
- Crown Prince Hotel, Huangjiang. An excellent 5-star hotel. Certainly worth a visit with excellent facilities, and even its own 'opera' house presenting superb show extravaganzas (do not be mislead by the 'opera' title).
- South China International Hotel (Centrally located and is within walking distance of the Walking Street). Quite old and does not have the best buffet in town.
- Grand Noble, Humen Town. The first 5-star business hotel to open in Dongguan. It is centrally located and convenient to shopping and dining options. In-house restaurants feature Cantonese, Japanese, American, and Italian foods.
- Hyatt Regency Dongguan, Song Shan Lake Central District, Science and Technology Industrial Park, Qinyuan Road (in the business district), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 5 star hotel with 350 rooms and suites, a 2,500-m² Convention and Exhibition Centre, a 1,800-m² freeform swimming pool and a spa. The Hyatt Regency is decent and big, but very inconvenient in location. It is also expensive compared to the other hotels, and the buffet is overpriced.
- Pullman Dongguan Forum, 32 Dongchengzhong Road, ☏ . This new hotel is a charming low rise Chinese style hotel adjoining a museum and art gallery and offers private access to the famous Qifeng Mountain. Guests enjoy a choice of restaurants, private rooms, meeting rooms for over 400 delegates, spa, gymnasium.
- Richwood Garden Hotel, Humen Town. While a bit out of the way, is spectacular in design and construction. The restaurants, particularly the Chinese and Southeast Asian restaurants, are also some of the best in the area.
- Sofitel Royal Lagoon Hotel (Near Qifeng Park). Secluded and set back away from the main road. It has a resort type feel and even has its own water park. A 36-hole golf course is adjacent to the property. Quite expensive.
- Ascott Songshan Lake Dongguan, No. 268 Changfu West Road, Dalang Town, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. The first internationally-branded serviced residence located in Dongguan, the property provides its guests access to the gymnasium, yoga studio, swimming pool, restaurants, and kids playroom.
As anywhere, be careful. However, be more careful in Dongguan because the city is known to have a relatively high crime rate. Violent crime is more common here than in nearby cities; you can be robbed by thieves riding on motorcycles, especially in less populated areas, and despite the city government's total ban on motorcycles.
- Beware of and stay away from pyramid schemes, as they are known to operate in the city and use coercion.
- Prostitution was widespread for years, with many men from Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and especially Hong Kong flocking here on the weekends. But after a major government crackdown that began in 2014, the industry has diminished.
- Do not gamble. You will end up in jail, with a maximum administrative detention period of 15 days if you are caught gambling, so save it for Macau.
- Lastly, a lot of the police force is corrupt, but since the government is still watching over them, they are discreet. So if a policeman tries to get money from you, calmly ask to see a superior.
- HERE! Dongguan, the local English-language magazine with a nice guide to the city
|Routes through Dongguan|
|Beijing ← Ganzhou ←||N S||→ Shenzhen|