When choosing our flights we knew we wanted to make the most of the opportunity to see a slice of another country. That meant looking for a layover that allowed enough time for us to leave the airport, in a country that didn’t have a hefty visa process. It just so happens we stumbled across what must have been the perfect layover for us; We want to help you make the most of this fantastic location so you can fully enjoy your long layover in Guangzhou too.
We flew with China Southern Airlines. Firstly because their prices were fairly cheap. Secondly, because they offered a 14 hour-long layover in Guangzhou. What we weren’t expecting was the huge amount of free extras we were offered upon arrival, like a 24-hour metro card completely free! (read my quick review on China Southern Airlines to find out what else they gave us!) So my first tip would be to check the airline’s website – like we should have done – to see what else they have to offer, and to make sure you don’t miss out… like we nearly did. We highly recommend China Southern if you really want to make the most of your layover.
If you’re from the UK (or one of the other countries listed on the government website), and you have an outbound flight from the same city, you will be entitled to a free 72-hour transit visa. You can fill in the yellow slip on the plane, but don’t worry if you forget or miss the handout, there are opportunities to do so once you reach immigration too.
Not everyone on your flight will be heading to the same connection as you so it’s important to listen out for any announcements that might be relevant to your stop. Don’t just follow the crowds through like you perhaps would on a domestic/short flight. If you want to make the most of your long layover in Guangzhou, head straight to arrivals and find the desk for the ‘special line’. Here they’ll check your yellow slip (again, available before you reach arrivals) and stamp your passport with your temporary visa. If you have any questions – there will be plenty of airline staff dotted around ready to help you.
Note; we did carry on only, so if you’re taking checked luggage you’ll need to double-check that your bags will be transported to the next plane for you. This varies with each airline.
Leaving the Airport
After immigration, you will need to make your way to the departures hall. The easiest way (and the way we were shown) was to go up to floor 3 via the stairs directly opposite where you exit immigration > straight across that hallway > then back down to floor 1. This is where you’ll find the exits to the metro, buses or taxis.
If you are flying with CS and making the most of what they have to offer, head to their desk with your boarding pass. Here you’ll be given you little travel package (More on that here) as well as some handy tips on getting around the city via the Metro.
This was what scared me the most about arriving in China. Would we be able to navigate the public transport? Will there be signs in English? If not, will I still be able to understand where I’m going? The answer is simply yes. Yes, you will. It is not too dissimilar to the tube in London.
If you’re not lucky enough to be given a free Metro card by your airline, simply head to the metro from the airport (it’s right underneath so just follow the escalators down) and purchase one from the machine. You can buy one by the journey/day/week etc. or put however much you think you’ll need, so if you’re only going to be doing one trip to the hotel or city and back you’ll likely only need one token as opposed to a full day card – the machines explain it all, and there’s an English option so don’t panic!
Once you’ve mastered the metro all that’s left is to enjoy the city. Grab some street food, wander the markets and enjoy being in China. We hope you found our guide to a long layover in Guangzhou useful and don’t forget to let us know how you got on exploring this wonderfully unique city.
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