The Pearl River stretches for 1,376 miles (2,214 kilometers) from Xi Jiang to the Pearl River Delta where it pours into the South China Sea. It’s the third longest river in China and the second largest by volume. According to local legend, the river got its name from a huge boulder in the middle of the river, smoothed by water erosion to resemble a round pearl in the middle of the river.
The most famous portion of the Pearl River flows through the heart of Guangzhou, and the waterfront is home to many of the city’s top attractions, White Goose Pool and the behemoth Canton Tower among them.
One of the most popular ways to enjoy the Pearl River in Guangzhou is by cruise. While boats ply the waters throughout the day, the best time to experience the sights of the river are at night, when the Guangzhou skyline is colorfully lit up. No matter when you cruise, you’ll likely pass beneath the 10 bridges that span the river within the city.
Set aside about 2 to 3 hours for a cruise along the Pearl River.