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Authentic and bustling, the seaside city of Shantou boasts a thriving metropolitan culture, friendly and inquisitive inhabitants, and - unfortunately - a disappearing historic center.
Those wanting to see a major Chinese city unadulterated by Westernization and hordes of visitors would do well to visit this destination. Here, you can get a feeling for the rapid change that has transformed China's urban areas in recent decades. From local specialties like Beef Balls to historic monuments like the Palace-Temple of the Old Mother, there's something for everyone in Shantou.
Those interested in Shantou's history should note that much of the old town is not being preserved for posterity - the clock is running.
Shantou's cuisine is well known throughout China. Be sure to try baked oyster cakes and seafood while in town.
In many rural areas of Shantou, locals are not used to seeing visitors, making it an attractive destination for those looking spend time off the beaten path.
Nan'ao Island sits just off the coast, and it offers beautiful vistas of the sea and the continent.
Shantou is known for its history museums, which include the Cultural Revolution Museum, a fascinating look at the Cultural Revolution.
Shantou enjoys temperate weather throughout the year, with average daily highs peaking at just under 90 during July and only dipping to 65 in January.
The Jieyang Chaoshan International Airport (SWA) has international flights to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Tokyo, and other major Asian cities. Domestic connections abound. The airport express bus takes passengers to Shantou Railway Station, the Golden Gulf Hotel, and the Overseas Chinese Hotel.
A bullet train connects to Xiamen and Shenzhen, and from there to most of China's major cities. The ticket from Xiamen costs ¥119.
Many highways link Shantou to other Chinese cities. The G78 travels northwest towards Meizhou, the G15 travels southwest along the coast to Shanwei and Hong Kong, and the G324 travels northeast along the coast to Xiamen.
A bus service operates between the city and Hong Kong and takes about 5.5 hours.
The full range of hotels can be found in Shantou, with budget options such as Yijia International Hotel, mid-range choices like the Shantou International Hotel, and luxury establishments such as the Sheraton Shantou Hotel.
Shantou Free Trade Zone - this is an experimental zone that houses the city's trade and finance centers along with some great restaurants.
Queshi Scenic Area - this quiet, green space is a tranquil spot offering good views across the city.
Nan'ao - this island is relatively underdeveloped and is home to quaint fishing villages.
A number of buses serve the city, but routes and schedules vary depending on the operators. Stops are announced in both Mandarin and Teochew. Tickets are about ¥6 to get from one side of the city to another.
Metered taxis serve the city but drivers prefer to negotiate with foreigners. The meter charge is ¥10 for the first 1.6 miles, and ¥2.40 for each additional 0.6 miles.
Traffic is hectic within the city, and a Chinese driver's license is required, so visitors are not advised to drive.
A number of major stores are located on the Jinsha E Road in the Longhu District. Jeans cost about ¥150 in the city.
There is a Walmart on Jinsha E Road and other grocers can be found throughout the city. A pound of potatoes is about ¥2, and a large bottle of water costs about ¥2.
Recommended restaurants include the Lianhua Vegetarian Restaurant and LaoMa Gong Zong Qiu (Xin Guan Jie). Low-key meals cost about ¥20, while more expensive ones run up to ¥60 for a main course.