A mix of modern, quaint and verdurous, Dongguan contains diverse landscapes that can keep your head turning everywhere you go. Landmarks give us a sense of place. These monuments connect us to a place of dwelling or adventure. Not only are you in present-day Dongguan with its towering skyscrapers and uniquely designed hotels, but you can also be transported straight back to history to discover and imagine a different life of the past. If you ever feel like you’re in need of an escape, head over to Songshan Lake to travel through Europe or hike towards a gigantic lantern with a view that will leave you feeling as though you are standing on top of the world. Each of these twelve landmarks scattered across Dongguan reflects the mixture of individuals residing or passing by, bringing a sense of home to all who come.
Dongguan’s Central Square has long been one of the nation’s finest. The locals have a love affair with the wide-open space where passersby can watch groups of dancers, singers and old folks demonstrating their impressive tai chi. Today, the iconic twisted sculpture has become a symbol of Dongguan. In fact, the name of this dashing red sculpture, “Tie,” signifies the close and united tie of the government party.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Lester Leung
With a staggering height of 427 meters, The Dongguan International Trade Center 1 began construction in 2014 and officially completed this year in 2021, making it the tallest building currently in Dongguan. With 84 floors, you would assume it would take forever to ride to the top. However, the tower is equipped with 55 imported Mitsubishi elevators with a speed of 10 meters per second, which means it would only take 40 seconds to travel 427 meters high!
PHOTOGRAPHER: Kachun 钟家俊
Located at the southern border of Dongguan and Shenzhen is the well-appointed Mission Hills Golf Club in Tangxia, which also includes a handful of apartments, hotels, restaurants and a small village. Spread over 26 square kilometers, the range of mountains strides all the way to Shenzhen’s Guangming area and the south of Huangjiang. The golf course is home to six international championship level courses. Many international golf events have been held here, including the 2013 PGA Tour, the World Golf Championship and the HSBC Champions.
In describing Guancheng today, history and culture play a significant role in the conversation. The most significant landmark is a re-envisioned and rebuilt tower standing on the site of the western gate from the old city walls. Commonly called the West Gate, its official name is Ying’en Gate Tower, which loosely translates to “graceful welcome.” Yet, this is not the only landmark in this particular shot. Through the arch of the West Gate, you can find Dongguan’s first four-star international hotel, Chinese Overseas Hotel. Completed in 1996, it was the tallest and best quality service hotel. However, now that it has been abandoned for several years, many claim that the place is haunted.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Ren Cheng
It is rare for Dongguan locals to be confused with the name Dongcheng Walking Street, which has been a long-time favorite space within the city. The area contains many interesting retail businesses, bars and tattoo parlors. From enjoying an authentic taco to grilling your own Korean barbeque, hungry pedestrians can find an array of international cuisines to satisfy their palate. Because there is another walking street located in Nancheng, use the name Yonghuating to avoid any mix-up.
Over the past few decades, Dongguan’s Yulan Theater has held many different talents within its walls. Ballerinas and acrobats have sprung across those wooden floors; strings, percussion and woodwind have come together to create jaw-dropping masterpieces; and melodic voices have filled entire arenas. With an area of 40,257 square meters, there’s a main theater that can encompass up to 1,600 guests and a secondary theater for 400 people. Seen from a distance, it looks like a flamenco dress, soaring above the central square of Dongguan.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Huan Liang 梁桓
A short trip from Dongcheng will find you at the edge of the Pearl River Delta. There, in Humen’s Weiyuan Island Forest Park, you may be surprised to find more than just water. As one of the heritage sites dating back to the influential Opium War in 1841, the park consists of an imposing fort at the waterline, where visitors can admire the series of canon platforms and walk through the eerie small tunnels.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Janek Kopal
Located right on the Hongfu intersection, The Kande International Hotel sits in a prime spot with shopping, entertainment and parks all within a 5 to 10 minute walking distance. The Kande brand was born out of southern China, having hotels spread all around the Pearl River Delta. Because of its unique architectural design—a rectangular cut-out in the middle of the building—along with its exceptional location, it earned the title of “The Gate of Dongguan.”
PHOTOGRAPHER: Byron Chan 陈文龙
Unlike other parts of China like Beijing, Xi’an and Dunhuang, Dongguan is not necessarily known for its historical landmarks. Still, there are places for those history enthusiasts out there. Because of its situation by the water, Humen was a major shipping port, especially the shipment of opium. Located on the east end of the Humen Bridge, the Humen Sea Battle Museum looks much like a huge warship. Inside, history lovers can understand the role that Dongguan had in the opium trade and the two Opium Wars.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Shixian We
A tour through the Huawei campus in Songshan Lake is a trip around Europe. After a 10 billion RMB investment, Huawei built a European town in the Dongguan Songshan Lake base. The town takes inspiration from locations all over Europe. It imitates architectural designs from Oxford and Windermere in England, Luxembourg, Bruges in Belgium, Fribourg in Switzerland, Paris and Burgundy in France, Bologna and Verona in Italy, Granada in Spain, and Heidelberg in Germany.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Mika Cheng
Huangqi Mountain, the mere 180-meter peak of Qifeng Park topped with a red lantern, is often referred to as Dongguan city’s “lung” or “dragon vein.” Many agree that “No matter where you go, you won’t get lost looking at the lantern.” Upon reaching the peak, you will encounter an abandoned building on the edge of the platform. The faintly visible sign indicates that a Cantonese dim sum restaurant was once in operation there. However, the business shutdown remains a mystery till today.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Marlon H. Borowski
The all too familiar Tangla Dongguan Hotel looks like a tucked-away secret from this aerial view. The quiet atmosphere is a great break from the constant commotion of city life. Formerly known as the Sofitel Dongguan Royal Lagoon Hotel, Tangla has stood proud in Dongguan for multiple decades. It sits within Huying Park, providing guests a beautiful overlook of the natural scenery. When you have the chance, stroll around the gardens, take a dip in the pool, and greet its famous long-time inhabitant, the peacocks.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Asim Khan