From Unesco-designated World Heritage Sites to a famous birdwatching location whose name was coined by the famous Chinese writer Ba Jin, here are five of the best-known attractions in the city, one of nine in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong that make up the Greater Bay Area along with Hong Kong and Macau.
Kaiping Diaolou and Villages
Kaiping Diaolou and Villages is located in the county-level city of Kaiping, and was listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2007.
The multi-storeyed defensive village houses were built to fend off local bandits and can be traced back to the late Ming dynasty. They became widespread during the early 20th century as overseas Chinese returned to Jiangmen, combining Western architectural styles with local rural traditions.
The watchtowers are described by Unesco as displaying “a complex and flamboyant fusion of Chinese and Western structural and decorative forms”.
The Western-style defence fortresses were featured in the 2010 Chinese film Let the Bullets Fly, starring famous actors Chow Yun-fat and Carina Lau Ka-ling.
The watchtowers at Kaiping are described by Unesco as displaying ‘a complex and flamboyant fusion of Chinese and Western structural and decorative forms’ Photo: Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Birds’ Paradise is a famous natural wetland park located in Tianma Village, around 10km south of Xinhui county.
The main attraction is a small island covered by a thick banyan forest which has become a sanctuary for thousands of birds. The one-hectare site grew from an ancient banyan tree that has been spreading its roots for over 300 years, according to its website.
The iconic location takes its name from a lyrical essay written by Ba Jin, one of China’s greatest writers of the 20th century, who passed by scenery by boat in 1933.
His essay, titled “Birds’ Paradise”, has since become a part of the primary school curriculum on the mainland and in Hong Kong.
Also situated in Kaiping county is Li Yuan, or Li Garden, one of the four most famous gardens in Guangdong province.
The garden was built over a period of 10 years and completed in 1936 by Xie Weili, who was born in the United States to parents who had emigrated from Kaiping’s Tangkou township.
Xie led a team of engineers who drew inspiration from the classical gardens of Beijing, Suzhou and Hangzhou, as well as the architectural styles of the US and Europe.
The result is a 19,600 square-metre complex combining traditional Chinese and Western characteristics, complete with gardens, villas and a watch tower.
Guifeng Mountain National Forest Park
Guifeng Mountain National Forest Park, situated in the northern part of Xinhui county, is listed as the top attraction in Jiangmen on Tripadvisor.com.
Spanning 33.5 square km, the national park was rated AAAA, the second-highest rating in China, by the China National Tourism Administration in 2002.
Besides lakes and beautiful scenery, the park also includes plenty of historical landmarks.
These include the Yutai Temple, which dates back to the Han dynasty and is one of Guangdong’s most important temples, as well as the Zhou Enlai Memorial and Exhibition Hall, where tourists can find the bronze statue of the late premier who visited the mountain in 1958.
Gu Dou Hot Spring in Xinhui, Guangdong. Photo: Dustin Shum
Gudou Hot Spring
Jiangmen is also a renowned hotspot for thermal springs. The Gudou Hot Spring Valley in Xinhui, located at the foot of the Gudou Mountain, is one of the city’s most famous.
Established in 2001, the Gudou Hot Spring Resort combines natural scenery with cultural heritage, and can easily be accessed by rail and road from other bay area cities.
The resort, spread over 650,000 sq m of mountains, lakes, springs and beaches, has six themed hotels with facilities for both leisure and business travellers.
The Goudou Hot Spring Town tourist attraction, which receives more than half a million visitors a year, is also rated AAAA.