HoujieDongguan City, China, on the east bank of the Pearl River. It has a permanent population of 93,000 with official residency, but more than 400,000 who have migrated from elsewhere in China. Like much of the surrounding area, economic activity is dominated by manufacturing.
OrientationWhile the town spans to the east, the city center is approximately Houjie Avenue and Kangle Road. Houjie Avenue is a six-lane divided highway running west to east-(roads do not follow cardinal directions, it's more northwest to southeast). Going east on Houjie street will take you past the Haiyatt Garden Hotel and eventually to the Guangshen Expressway, which runs between Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Kangle Road is the town's main drag a two-lane road that runs through the busy main shopping area towards the south.
Houjie's large square is one block south of Houjie Avenue on Kangle Road.
Paralleling Kangle road a block south is Guantai Road, a massive 8-lane divided highway that Sheraton and HJ International hotels are found on. North on Guantai Road leads to Dongguan City, while Humen Town is to the south.
The majority of international visitors arrive via Hong Kong International Airport, or Guangzhou Airport (Baiyun).
From Hong Kong International Airport
Mainland Coach ServicesTo find the transportation counter, follow the signs to "Transportation to Mainland" near terminal 2. The trip should take 2.5-3.5 hours.
phone: +852 2262 3232Uses modern 7-passenger vans that will take you directly to the door of most hotels in Houjie. A first van crosses the border at Huanggang. From the mainland side, you will then be transferred to another van which will take you the rest of the way. They will sometimes make one or two stops at other hotels along the way before HouJie.
Train & busThe cheapest method of transport is not the easiest. Board the S1 bus at HKIA (HK$3.2), get off at the Tung Chung MTR station. Board the orange line, tranfer to red line, green line, then light blue line to Lo Wu (HK$48). Cross the border on foot, and in the coach station find the bus to Houjie (¥45, last bus at 21:00). This will take you to the bus station near Houjie square.
From ShenzhenThe coach station, on the street level at Lo Wu (Luohu), has a bus to the station near Houjie square. ¥45, 1-1.5 hour, last bus leaves at 21:00.
From Futian port, the Shenzhen railway can take you to Shenzhen North, and the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link. This high speed train takes 17 minutes from Shenzhen North to Humen. A taxi from Humen to Houjie costs ¥30-40. A metro (Humen Railway Station is the southern terminus of Dongguan Metro line 2) will cost ¥5.
From Shenzhen airport, the bus to Dongguan Central Terminal will pass Humen and then Houjie, so either get off at Humen and then use the Dongguan Metro or taxi, or ask to be dropped while passing Houjie. In the latter case, the bus may be only able to drop you at the highway exit, in which case you'll have to take a taxi for the last mile. Guangzhou–Dongguan–Shenzhen intercity railway, scheduled to open in 2019, will connect Houjie to Shenzhen Airport as well as parts of Dongguan and Guangzhou.
A taxi from Shenzhen to Houjie will cost between ¥220-260.
From ZhuhaiThe coach station at Gongbei has a bus to Dongguan City (¥60) that will drop you at the highway exit in Houjie if that's the destination you buy a ticket for. There you will find a limited number of private drivers waiting to take you downtown. The fare to downtown should be about ¥20, but they will often try to charge up to ¥50.
From DongguanA taxi from downtown costs about ¥90. Dongguan Metro, open in 2016, will cost ¥5 from central Dongguan and ¥10 if all the way from the Dongguan Railway Station. Getting off at Liaoxia station, you will end up standing across the road from the large Wanda mall, one block north from Houjie Avenue. Public buses are also available.
Guangzhou–Dongguan–Shenzhen intercity railway, scheduled to open in 2019, will connect Houjie to other parts of Dongguan.
Take a train from Guangzhou East to the main Dongguan railway station (most of the trains heading to Shenzhen will stop there, travel time is 35-50 minutes, ¥12-50 depending on the train and ticket class). From there, walk down to the Dongguan Metro line 2 and take a train to the station in Houjie nearest to your destination - this will take another 25-30 minutes and ¥10.
Guangzhou–Dongguan–Shenzhen intercity railway, scheduled to open in 2019, will offer service from Guangzhou.
Taxis can usually be hailed on busy streets, though they are a bit harder to find on multilane divided highways. Drivers seldom speak English, and fares should be negotiated before getting in the cab. A short trip under a mile should be ¥10. Across town is about ¥20. ¥40 should easily take you to the next town over.
Bicycle taxi is fun and easy way to get around the downtown area. They can be identified by the padded seat in back, and carry up to 2 (or 3!) people. A trip anywhere around downtown should cost ¥5. Most won't overcharge, but it's not a bad idea to agree on price in advance. Riding on the back of a bicycle in Chinese traffic is not an experience for the faint of heart.
Houjie Squareaddress: Kangle North RoadAn expansive flat space at the heart of the city, and is the sight of all celebrations and festivals. Midway through the evening on any day, it's typical on the west end to see a sizable group line dancing to techno music. Feel welcome to copy the steps and join in, but don't expect the electric slide.
MassageMassage is a terrific and relaxing way to spend extra hours in China. It's much more affordable than in the West, and the service is very good. Contrary to popular belief, it's very unlikely you will be offered any "special" service. A good word to know is "轻点" (qīngdiǎn) meaning "softer". Chinese massage can be a bit intense when not accustomed to it.
Foot massage lasts about 60-90 minutes, and includes a back, neck, arm and leg massage, and foot washing. All while in a lazyboy recliner. Price is ¥40-70.
Body massage lasts 90-120 minutes. There is often an option with or without massage oil, and the price is slightly higher with oil.
Jinyi Foot WashingWhile seldom do the staff speak English, they have a menu of options in English and the rest is not difficult to figure out. Service and facilities are always tip top, and prices are competitive. Foot massage - ¥58, 60 min; body massage - ¥138-158, 90 min. Body massage includes admission to an area with a sauna, steam room, TV, internet, and pool table.
Most high-end hotels offer massage services, but they cost more than the independent options. Expect 1½-3 times the price of other places, for the same quality of service.
SportsBadminton, basketball, and ping pong are popular sports in China.
Sports Park(体育馆, Mandarin: Tiyuguan) has indoor badminton and pingpong courts for rent, outdoor basketball, a pool, and a large running/walking track. The park is a popular hangout for the locals on nights when the weather is nice.
Qiaodong Bowling Hallphone: +86 769 8558 4280A 4.5-km drive north on Guantai road will bring you to this bowling hall, on the left side of the street a bit past Chenwu East Road.
- Fushengang (福神岗): a popular park nearby downtown. It is north of the Tesco Supermarket, on a long walk down Caiyun East Rd. There are areas to hike, but the main attraction is the towering pagoda at the top of the hill. On clear days, there are terrific views of the whole town.
- Dalingshan (大龄山) has a hilly landscape and good views. It can be reached by a public bus.
KTVUbiquitous in China, these clubs will rent you and up to 20 friends a private room for karaoke. Most non-budget hotels will have KTV facilities.
- Henggang Reservoir (横岗水库) is in the Tingshan region east of the Guangshen expressway. It's on Hujing Rd - which is the road that extends east of the expressway exit. Here there are opportunities to go fishing and find barbeque.
Kangle South RoadThe main drag in Houjie, this street has eight blocks of clothing stores, shoe shops, mid range restaurants. Higher quality Chinese brand names are found here, as well as some genuine stores international brands, and a few stores peddling piles of cheap clothes and accessories. Busiest around the hours of 20:00-22:00.
Neoclassicism StudioA long walk down Kangle street to the south will take you to this two-story DVD seller. They have a range of foreign movies and TV series, software, and music. Quality is good, English movies are in English, and they function fine in the US. You can request to have them demo it for you. The software is generally not recommended.
Most open-minded people will find that good food can be found at any price point.
Budget and mid range options usually do not speak English. Any knowledge of Mandarin helps, but one can also get by pointing -- at picture menus, at things they have sitting out, or at items that other patrons are eating.
Like most of Asia, some discretion should be taken with what you eat. As a rule, it's safe if it has been thoroughly cooked (boiled, fried, or grilled), peeled in the case of fruits or vegetables, or opened from a sealed container (bottled, canned). Food from any budget range is usually safe to eat accordingly.
As far as water is concerned, do not drink tap water. However, water and tea served in restaurants is safe if it arrives hot - this means it has been boiled. Ice is generally always fine to consume, as the water is purified.
BudgetHawker stalls selling various items can be found in busy areas, many on Kangle Street near the main square. Popular items include a Chinese style pizza, fruits, tofu, chestnuts, steamed buns. Food quality at these stalls varies.
Outdoor sit-downAlley outdoor eating is very rewarding and cheap, and is ubiquitous in sidestreets of Houjie. They are easily distinguishable by the small tables and even smaller plastic chairs. Most places will have a selection of meats and vegetables on a stick you can choose, which will be grilled and seasoned spicy. With no Mandarin you can get by picking these out, and they'll be delivered to your table. Beer is served cold in large bottles. These same restaurants also will have various other items available to order including fried rice, fried noodles, hot pot, etc. If it's the rainy season, look for places that can pull out an awning. Items on a stick are ¥1, a 600 ml beer will run you ¥5-7, fried rice ¥5-7, hot pot about ¥25-35.
Some locations include the diagonal street connecting the Hyatt and Sheraton Hotel (Yuefanshan Avenue), the side street across Kangle Road from the Sunshine Mall, and streets paralleling Kangle Road on either sides (Kangle Cross Street just north of Shan Hu Road; Xing Long Road).
Xiang Fe Ge Wine Shopphone: +86 7 69-85968012address: 镇康乐北路11号Not a wine shop at all, this place serves terrific Hunan style food.
phone: +86 7 69-88910982address: Tiyu RoadOn the high end of mid-range, this tastefully decorated establishment has an impressive range of food options. Includes Chinese, Italian, Thai curries, steaks, and fish. Food is pretty good considering how far they've stretched themselves.
The Little SheepThis Hot Pot restaurant is an all you can eat. They prepare two broths to boil the food in at your table, one mild and one spicy. You order the raw items to cook, but beware, you are charged for anything you order that you don't eat!
SplurgeMost high end hotels have pricey Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and general-international restaurants, quality varies but they are usually pretty good. Outside of the hotels:
Al Pozzophone: +86 7 69-85882286address: HouJie RoadThis Italian restaurant boasts great food and ambiance. Run by an Italian expat, you can't go wrong with most of the menu. Call them, and for free they will pick you up anywhere in town and drop you back off again. At the end of the meal you'll be given a small glass of homemade limoncello, which they'll gladly refill as many times as you can handle it (gratis!)
Houjie Bar StreetA small bar street on Kangle Folk Street, an angle street a ways south on Kangle Road. There are a couple trendy-seeming dance clubs with hired dancers, who will play Chinese dice with you when they aren't on stage. A live band will typically play two sets also, usually sappy sounding Chinese ballads. 350 ml beers can be bought for ¥30 each, although they are a much better deal when bought in quantities of 12 (¥150-200). Opening time is around 21:00, but things don't get going until at least 23:00.There are western bars, including the hotel lobby bars.
Buddha Baron Houjie Street serves beer, wine, and many options in spirits. Several of the wait staff speak English, and may sit down and chat with you if business is slow and you're alone.
Open containers and consumption in public areas is acceptable.
Irene's Baraddress: Yuefanshan DaodaoThe only expat pub in Houjie, good range of beers on tap and in bottles, wine and spirits. Busy most nights of the week, relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff.
Budget and Midrange hotels often will not have English speaking staff, but with a basic understanding of Mandarin or a game of charades, you should be able to work out your arrangements.
BudgetHotels along Kangle South Street charge in the range of ¥130-170. Expect clean, but very basic private rooms.
SplurgeHotels in this range generally compare to a three- or four-star hotel in a Western country. All include buffet breakfast with western and asian fare options. An Italian, Japanese, and Chinese restaurant inside the hotel is pretty standard.
phone: +86 769-85885888address: 厚街大道东2 Houjie AvenueNot to be confused with the "Hyatt" hotel chain, this hotel has tasteful spacious rooms.
Sheratonphone: +86 769-85988888address: 莞太路段 Guantai RoadBoasts the largest lobby in the list, complete with palm trees. Rooms are spacious and well decorated. Starwood Preferred Guest points can be earned and are redeemable internationally.
Houjie InternationalAt the lowest price level, rooms are a bit smaller, but the impressive decor makes up for it. With a corporate rate, room price is about on par with the Sheraton or HaiYatt.
Less populated areas, such as Tingshan in the east, are best avoided at night.
Instances of overcharging is only common when bargaining is part of the exchange, but there isn't a hard and fast rule to what's negotiable. Food and drink, posted prices for services like massage, public transport, and store items with a posted price generally aren't negotiated (at least, not by more than 10-15%). Taxis and shops without posted prices may or may not be charging double or more.
- Dongguan has a far more active nightlife than Houjie. Dongguan Bar Street (东莞酒吧街, Mandarin: Dongguanjiubajie) in Dongcheng has a large number of busy bars and clubs and is a good destination Friday and Saturday nights, or any night of the week. Dongguan can be reached by a taxi for about ¥90, or by a number of public buses on Guantai road.
- Hong Kong caters more to the Western lifestyle. There are a lot of tourist sites, Western-style bar streets packed with expats, and a myriad of food ethnicities. To get to Hong Kong International Airport, the same direct vans return from your hotel - hotels are able to book a ticket for you. ¥230, 2½-3 hr. See Get in. For downtown/Kowloon, take the bus to Shenzhen Luohu. Walk across the border, and take the MTR the rest of the way (~HK$46).
- Macau is an old Portuguese colony. Here one can see interesting European architecture, as well as a plethora of casinos and fancy hotels. It is considered Las Vegas of the East. To get to Macau, take the bus Zhuhai Gongbei. The border is a short walk from the bus station. On the Macau side there is an underground bus station. Public buses run to the area with casinos, hotels, and the old town. A bus to The Grand Lisboa will get you into walking distance of everything.
- Shenzhen has some tourist sites, as well as various places to shop.
- Zhuhai at the border with Macau, has a walking street with outdoor bar stalls, ample shopping, as well as a hot springs facility a ways out of town.
- Guangzhou is a sprawling city 1½ hours north.
At the bus station adjacent to the big square, coach buses run to Shenzhen Luohu (1-1½ hr, ¥45), Zhuhai Gongbei (2 hr, ¥60), and Guangzhou(1-1½ hr, ¥45). A short taxi ride to the Humen train station will also connect you to the high-speed train to Shenzhen North, and Guangzhou.