Which city of China do you like most, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, or Shenzhen?
William Regan, lives in Guangzhou (2010-present)
I’ve only lived in Guangzhou — but I’ll make the following points as to why this area is the best to live in.
The Pearl River Delta is considered by some to be the world’s first “mega city” — exceeding over 40,000,000 in population. Some of the most affluent parts in China, and indeed all of Asia, are located here. Guangzhou, Foshan, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, and Macau are all quite affluent.
With that said, Guangzhou alone can’t possibly be more diverse than Beijing or Shanghai — although it is diverse in its own right — having the largest African population in China and having a substantial Arab population as well. My Arab and Turkish friends mentioned that the Arabic and Turkish food in Shanghai can’t touch whats offered in Guangzhou. It’s cheaper here, too, they said.
Travel - Guangzhou is situated perfectly for travel. Traveling to the rest of China is a breeze because Baiyun International Airport will host flights to pretty much anywhere in China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Flying to Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, or other vacation spots is also just a 2–3 hour plane ride.
Chinese Food - Even my friends who have lived Beijing and Shanghai will admit that Guangzhou has the best Chinese food around. Some people might say Cantonese food is too boring — but once you acclimate yourself to its subtle flavors, you’ll really start to appreciate it. The saying goes “Eat in Guangzhou”.
Western Food - I’ll give Shanghai and Beijing the nod on this. Guangzhou’s Western food scene is pretty weak. Western restaurants here are expensive and taste wise most of them leave you feeling like “meh, it was okay — but not exactly worth the price”.
Regulation - I always hear about passport checks or raids in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. I rarely hear about them here. Guangzhou is the most laid-back 1st tier city in China. This can have its drawbacks of course — but it makes starting a business and doing business in general more smooth.
Air Quality - Let’s face it. This is a huge issue in China. Guangzhou will beat northern China hands down on air quality — based on my weather app, its usually slightly better than Shanghai and Zhejiang. Shenzhen has the best air quality among 1st tier cities in China.
Opportunity - Shenzhen is a technology hub. Guangzhou is a manufacturing and go nment hub. Hong Kong is a financial hub. Macau is a gambling and hospitality hub. What are your dreams? Whatever they are, you’ll find opportunity to realize them here.
Cost of Living - Guangzhou is the cheapest 1st tier city in China. Apartments are cheaper to buy or rent compared with Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. While the average salaries might be below the other cities, I feel that the cost of living makes up for it.
Overall, I think the Pearl River Delta is the best place to live in China in general, with Guangzhou being the best place in particular. Guangzhou has more history and culture than Shenzhen preserved in its language and culinary traditions.
If you have money and are already settled on a career path — then Shanghai might be your best option. It will be the most accommodating and comfortable for foreigners. If depends on what you’re trying to get out of your experience in China. The Pearl River Delta is good for people on their hustle — because it has a little bit of everything.
Oliver Zimtstern, lives in Guangzhou
I think that highly depends on what you are looking for.
I lived in Guangzhou for almost 2 years and although I enjoyed the layed back atmosphere and the warm weather in spring and autumn I was lacking some western comfort.
1.language: I find that way more people speak or at least understand english in Shanghai. I often felt like a deaf and mute person in Guangzhou just because nobody was able to communicate with me. (i did live in the most western area)
2.nightlife: Nightlife in Guangzhou basically takes place in 3 places. 20 bars and the same 100 westerners. Shanghai has much more to offer.
3.food: Most of the western food places in Guangzhou were either dirty or mediocre. If you are looking for western breakfast on a sunday it will mostly come down to way too expensive hotels to get what you are looking for.
Don’t get me wrong. I did love my time in Guangzhou but I think life in Shanghai would have been a lot easier for a westerner. Guangzhou is still traditional at times while Shanghai seemed like a very western version China.
Steve Hammill, lives in Montana
I've been to all of these cities, although my only visit to Shanghai was in 1978. ’78 Shanghai was my favorite, but it's not a fair comparison with the contemporary cities being asked about.
I don't really like modern cities anywhere. When in China I try to find the oldest parts of a city. There I find Chinese people with whom I feel a kinship.
Don't get me wrong; modern China is good for the people (I don't like modern Ireland either - I'm 2nd generation Irish descent). In both countries I do my best to buy from people making things the old way (getting very hard to do).
So to answer the question; Guangzhou is probably my favorite of those cities (I eliminated Shanghai from consideration). My wife has family in Guangzhou so I am welcomed into homes and enjoy family living.
While I mourn the loss of the old ways, it benefits the people that I love and admire even if they are not relatives.
Logan Brouse, lives in Shanghai
I'm preferable to Shanghai - it's not only a very multicultural city but it's very open and modern in terms of locals being more excepting and willing to try new things. Perfect example is for my industry- F&B it's been a quick and steadfast rise in educated consumers that demand and understand quality. When I moved here 7 years ago in 2010 it mostly night clubs and talky girl bars. Now in 2017 Shanghai is populated by tons of craft cocktail bars and interesting food concepts. For example 2 of Asias top 50 bars are located in Shanghai out of the 3 listed mainland bars so it's a big improvement.
Yan Cao, former International Trade
My personal taste ,Shanghai is the best . It is a Western influenced metropolis and the people there are more civilized compare with other cities. Shanghai offers you a lot things to enjoy : various kinds of foods, vibrant nightlife, arts, nice bars, theaters, museums, parks, beautiful skyline, luxurious hotels and department stores, well dressed women,etc., It was called Paris of the East and now i think it is NYC of the East, but it is safer and cleaner than NYC. Shanghai is an ideal place to live in.
Nettuno Rossi, 5th year in China
I've lived in everyone of those cities except Beijing (which i visited only a short time).
In my opinion Shanghai is way above all the others, really it cannot even be compared. Shanghai in China is in a class on his own, don't know Beijing well enough to say anything, but for sure it makes look Shenzhen and Guangzhou like countryside villages. Shanghai is BY FAR more international, there are BY FAR many more things to do and to see..
Roger Gilmartin, Traveling the world and learning wherever I go
I have to say that although of the four listed (and I have been to all those listed), Beijing is my favorite, there is one city, not on the list, that I really like over those, and that is Wuhan.
The confluence of rivers, lakes, and surface features reminds me of a mix between two US cities, Seattle and San Francisco. Wuhan may not be as frequently visited as the other more famous cities, but it is a great city, just the same
译文来源：三泰虎 http://www.santaihu.com/49498.html 译者：Joyceliu
Mali She, lives in Astana, Kazakhstan
I haven't been to Shanghai, but among the rest I would choose Shenzhen. I live in Shenzhen for 3+ years now, used to live in Guangzhou for 6 months and been to Beijing several times.
As for me, I don't like Guangzhou at all. I hated living there. The subway is always packed, taxi drivers most often don't know the city, taking Uber was another pain: you could wait for a car for 30 minutes and not come at all. However the food is nice, a huge variety of different cuisines from all over the world available at a relatively low price.
I wouldn't choose Beijing because of smog and cold winter. Just like in my hometown. Why would you choose to live abroad at a place which is just like your home? The pros of Beijing for me are: northern food, northern people (I find it easier to communicate with northerners) and it is cheaper than Shenzhen in some aspects.
Finally, Shenzhen. This city is super comfortable. The subway is not packed as in Guangzhou most of the times (except for the rush hours, but thats ok), city was very well planned, roads are wide and traffic is not that bad, the seaside is one hour away, Hong Kong and Macau are close so you can always have an opportunity for nice shopping and change the atmosphere. Shenzhen is chilled. No rush, not many tourists. I'm having a mental rest here :D Absolutely no pressure like it was in Guangzhou. Of course there are cons of living here, such as lack of culture or variety of affordable foreign restaurants, and high prices for rent.
I hope to visit Shanghai this year, I think I’m gonna like it the most