If you’re based in Hong Kong or mainland China, you might fancy a trip to Guangzhou to Chimelong Park. Chimelong is a kids paradise that includes a Zoo, Amuseument Park, Water Park and Circus. My wonderful neighbour Elizabeth shares her experience below, particularly of interest are her positive reviews of animal treatment at the zoo.
Who: Three families + 2 helpers in Dec 2011 (12 people total).
2 adults, 2 kids + grandma in March 2012
Where: Chimelong Hotel (the official hotel of the Zoo), Guangzhou – China
Getting to Chimelong, Guangzhou
We took the ferry from Hong Kong to Guangzhou. If you book an early morning sail and there isn’t anyone else in the VIP cabin, it is well worth any additional $$. It is its own room and there are tables and couches for the kids to play, colour etc for the 2.5 hour ferry ride. After the ferry ride you jump on a hotel shuttle which is about 40 mins ride to the Hotel. The shuttle waits right outside the ferry stop. There is also a train you can take to the hotel but we didn’t choose that option. The ferry basically goes up the Pearl river. When it is in the harbour, there is lots of rocking which can make you sick. But once it goes up the river, the movement calms down.
The hotel room
We booked the Hunter Room which I really liked. If you buy up to the Hunter Suite (or the highest available offering in the ‘Hunter’ category), there is a nice living room separate from the bedroom, a big closet, huge bathroom & stand alone tub and a guest bathroom. We stayed for 2 nights. The first day with young kids is used up with the travel and the set up. So you need the second day to really see the zoo etc and then the third day for travelling back.
They provided us with two baby cots which were of good quality. The room also comes with a nice breakfast buffet.
We used the lobby bar often. There is usually nice music and the kids can ogle at the White Tigers in the atrium while you sip on your wine.
The restaurants at the hotel are very Chinese, so be cautious if you don’t like Chinese food. There is a ‘western’ restaurant. The food is just ok and the service is slow. The good thing is that there is a little play structure where the kids can play while you eat.
Xangjiang Safari Park
I was super nervous about what I might see at a Chinese zoo (malnourished animals, terrible cages or living conditions). Yet this was a zoo that I believed would rival the nicest zoos in the US. It is just HUGE and the animals are in nicely wooded habitats. Even though it is gigantic, I recommend taking advantage of being there as soon as the Zoo is open and enjoy some truly serene time with the animals before all the people arrive. It is a very relaxing environment. There is a safari train which drives you out with the giraffe and zebras and all the other animals. They usually have food you can buy and feed but a lot of the Chinese just toss in misc. food (especially to the monkeys).
There is also a reptile habitat which is supposed to be nice, as well as a water park near by. We didn’t visit either.
There is a new and old section of the hotel. We stayed in the new section which I think was Hall 5. But just double confirm your room is in the new section as it is very nice and close to the breakfast and lobby. We also visited the Circus which is right next to the zoo. I was nervous about doing the circus in fear of seeing some extremely inhumane tricks with the animals. But the circus was great and really was much like a Cirque du Soleil show. They only used the animals to walk around with on a walkway. They don’t use them for ticks or anything which was a huge relief. The circus show was too scary for our 3 year old (there were some spots where the people are blowing fire and lots of crazy lights in a dark theater).
Consider buying tickets for the Zoo in Hong Kong so that you don’t have to wait in line at the hotel.
The really awesome part about this hotel is that there are atriums where there are tigers and flamingos just hanging out and you can view them while eating breakfast or while you are enjoying a drink at the bar. Kind of like a zoo at the hotel. The staff are friendly although English can be hit or miss.
We would definitely return and it’s great value for money.