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Guangzhou Shamian Island

Guangzhou Shamian Island - the Former French Police Station

Shamian Island is a small oval island, and it is now connected to the rest of the city by a series of bridges. The name of the island means 'sandy face' in Chinese. The island has witnessed the colonial history of Guangzhou and has developed with Guangzhou, seeing the great changes of the city.

It is the nearest and the most interesting historical place in Guangzhou, and you should know about its historical changes and sufferings. Shamian Island was originally a concession area given for European traders after they won the Opium Wars. Now, there remain many European style buildings on the island, including the former HSBC, the English Protestant Episcopal Church and so on.

Various bronze statues have scattered around the island which shows the life of its people during earlier periods, as well as in more recent times. For example, one statute entitled “ a gentleman, a lady and a darn woman" shows a western couple watching a Chinese woman damning cloth. Another depicts the changing styles of clothing of Chinese women, with a woman from colonial times in traditional clothing, a slightly slimmer woman from the early or mid-20th century wearing a cheongsam, and a relatively tall and slender young Chinese women wearing shorts and talking on a mobile phone. All these are mirrors reflecting the historical changes of Guangzhou and the hardship it suffered during the development.

Have you heard that in recent years, Shamian Island has become well-known for many Western couples who resided there while seeking to adopt Chinese babies and young children, most of whom are orphans and young girls? They have made great contributions to ease sufferings with their kind hearts. Chinese people will remember these peace-loving foreign friends. The White Swan Hotel is perhaps the best-known hotel in Guangzhou, having been in operation for many years, and is usually the hotel of choice for these couples. One reason for its popularity is that the hotel was once adjacent to the United States Consulate, making it convenient for them to handle bureaucratic matters.

Although the island is small, its story can never be forgotten. | hope you will remember this beautiful island full of history, its people and its story.

Historical Buildings on Shamian Island

Guangzhou White Swan Hotel on Shamian IslandSince the early 1990s, Shamian Island has become well known for many Western couples who reside there, seeking to adopt Chinese babies and young children, most of whom are orphaned and female. The White Swan Hotel is a block away from the U.S. Consulate and was filled with Chinese babies and young children in the 1990s. The hotel was also referred to as the "White Stork Inn" or the "Baby Hotel". Thousands of couples from the U.S., Germany, Spain and other nations come to Shamian Island each year to finalize the last bureaucratic procedures in the adoption of a Chinese child. The application process to adopt a Chinese child takes about 18 months and costs about US$18,000.


Former Embassy of the United States on Shamian IslandThis building is located in No.2 Shamian 3rd Street, it used to be Citibank NA Shameen Branch. For several months in 1949, after the Chinese Nationalist government moved its headquarters from Nanjing to Guangzhou, Shamian Island served as the site of the State Department’s “Office of Embassy.” As the civil war raged between Chinese Nationalist and Communist forces, the Nationalist government decided once again to move the seat of government to Chungking (Chongqing) and the Office of Embassy followed. Consulate Canton itself was closed in August 1949, and diplomatic relations between the communist government of mainland China and the United States ceased shortly thereafter.

To learn more about the historic buildings of Shamian Island, consider our Guangzhou walking tour -
Sai Kwan Walking Tour with Unique Food Tasting.

Attractions near Shamian Island

Guangzhou Culture Park | Thirteen-Trades Monopoly | Chrysanthemum ExhibitionQingping Traditional Chinese Medicine MarketShang Xia Jiu Pedestrian Street



Access all day;
¥Free of charge;
Shamian Island, Liwan District (荔湾区沙面岛);