Take a Trip to the Tip of Guangdong

This month’s weekender heads back to Guangdong province to bring you some lesser-known hotspots along the southwest coast. Explore the coastal cities all a short distance from Dongguan.

A couple of months ago I wrote about an alternative route for going to Hainan via the port city of Zhanjiang on the southernmost tip of Guangdong Province. Recently I had the opportunity to visit the city firsthand with a few little pitstops on the way back. Unless you are willing to take a short flight, the trip is a bit of a mission, but the city can be reached in roughly four hours by train from Dongguan after a transit through Guangzhou South.

Considering the city is relatively unknown, Zhanjiang exceeded 15 billion RMB in revenue generated from foreign trade during the first half of this year alone. The city center reminded me more of Hainan’s capital Haikou than what we are accustomed to in Dongcheng, but this seems to come with the seaside vibe. I wasted no time in heading down to the shoreline where I was fortunate to come across one of the only bars, Wild Club, run by a foreigner. Relieved to see they did food, I spurned their quintuple burger (yes you read it right) instead opting for the steamed clams accompanied by a refreshing elderflower cider.

From there it was on to my intended destination of Donghai (one of the adjacent islands) where passage by speedboat is readily available for hire on the nearby beach. Alternatively, the island can be reached by a road bridge. An hour-long taxi ride saw that I arrived in Donghai and its 17 km long beach Longhaitian. The name literally translates as “Dragon Sea Heaven” due to its shape resembling a dragon’s tail, and after negotiating a price I got a reasonable rate at one of the local hotels. I spent the day relaxing on the virtually isolated shore and enjoyed some fresh seafood that had just been pulled from the surf.

It was on to my intended destination of Donghai (one of the adjacent islands) where passage by speedboat is readily available for hire on the nearby beach.

Unfortunately, one day was all I had time for, and I headed back towards the Pearl River on the high-speed train for my next stop of Maoming. Another place which is quite unheard of, the grade-one port city actually boasts a population of over 5 million and has the seventh highest GDP in Guangdong. Named after the Jin dynasty scholar and doctor, Pan Maoming, the city also has its share of fine beaches if one is prepared to venture out of the inner radius. About 25 km from the city center is the No.1 Shoal area with miles of sand and watersport activities. One can even try scuba diving at the largest island off the Maoming coast, Chicken Island.

After another beach mission, I made a brief visit to the intriguing local temple of Madame Xian (the female leader of the Baiyue tribe) constructed in 1535. A quick lunch consisting of one of the local delicacies Genzi beef and it was back on the rails again towards Guangzhou and Dongguan. I originally hoped to have time to stop off in Yangjiang, an area I had visited before and previously mentioned in HERE!’s beach guide for its renowned islands of Hailing and Mawei. Alas, I had to cruise past the station as my time constraints saw my latest coastal island jaunt draw to an end.

I thoroughly recommend this hop, skip and jump down Guangdong’s southwest frontier for those looking for a sense of adventure in the true essence of The Weekender.