A lot of traditional cultural experiences can of course be sampled in Guangzhou and an evening at the Cantonese opera should be a must for any first-time visitors. Taking in the scenic night-view of Guangzhou Bridge, Goose Lake and the Pearl River is a highlight of your visit to Guangzhou.
The Pearl River is where Guangzhou's scenic spots are. Praises to the beauty of the Pearl River have been "Red Heart of the Pearl Sea" and "Night Moon over the Goose Pool", selected in 1962 as of the Eight Sights of Guangzhou, plus the "Sunlight Reflection at Shimen" of the old Eight Sights of Guangzhou and the recently selected "Clear Waves of the Pearl River" of the Eight Sights of Guangzhou.
The third largest river in China, the Pearl River measures 2,129 meters in length, with its name deriving from the Haizhu Rock (Sea Pearl Rock). When the thousand-meter long Pearl River went through Guangzhou City, a huge rock island in the center of the river was scoured time and again and became smooth and bright like a pearl, called "Sea Pearl Rock", hence the name "Pearl River" for the river with this rock. There is another legend about the naming of the "Pearl River". It was said that a Persian businessman stole the valueless pearl of his country and came to auction it in Guangzhou. Since it was the treasure of the nation, the Persian State sent people carrying lots of money to Guangzhou and buy the pearl. When they took out the pearl for appreciation on their way back by ship, the precious pearl flew up suddenly and fell into the river. Later the pearl changed into a huge stone, shinning. People called it Sea Pearl Island, thus the name of the Pearl River.
In fact, the Pearl River is the general name for the river systems of the West River, the North River , the East River and Liuxi River. The West River originates from the Yun(nan)Gui(zhou) Plateau, and the North River and East River from Jiangxi Province, whereas Liuxi River is from the Qixing Ridge at Conghua City. The four rivers joint together in Guangzhou and flow to the South China Sea. As a rule, the Pearl River is called to mean the section of the river traversing Guangzhou proper. As the Pearl River was so wide 2,000 years ago, up to 2,000 meters, so it was also called the "Pearl Sea". Later the river narrowed down to 900 meters wide during the Song Dynasty, and it is only 180 meters wide now.
There are 10 bridges over the Pearl River: Renmin, Haizhu, Haiyin, Luoxi, Zhujiang, Guangzhou, and the newly-built Jiefang, Jiangwan, Huanan, Hedong, plus Zhujiang Tunnel, all of which connecting the south and north banks of the Pearl River and Fangcun District. There stand on both banks numerous star-grade hotels and commercial buildings: White Swan Hotel, Hotel Landmark Canton, Nanfang Mansion, Aiqun Hotel, Guangzhou Hotel, Gitic Riverside Hotel , all like sky-scrappers. In the evening, both banks are lit brightly, joined occasionally by the bright moon hanging in the sky. Full of passengers, pleasure boats for Pearl River cruise travel from the west to the east elegantly on the river, like playing happy melodies all together.