Dongguan (东莞 Dōngguān) is a city of 8 million people in Guangdong Province in China, about 55 kilometres (35 mi) Southeast of China's third-largest city, Guangzhou. It is of great historical significance in China for its role in the Opium Wars.
Evidence of human habitation in the Dongguan area goes back 5000 years.
Humen in what is now Dongguan is of greatest importance historically as being at the centre of the Opium Wars. The destruction of opium at Humen that began on 3 June 1839 involved destroying 1,000 long tons (1,016 t) of opium seized from British traders done under the instigation of Lin Zexu, an Imperial Commissioner of Qing China. Great Britain retaliated by declaring war on Qing China starting what is now known as the First Opium War (1839–1842). In the Second Battle of Chuenpi on 7 January 1841, British amphibious forces attacked at the Humen strait capturing Chinese forts on Chuenpi and Taikoktow islands. The subsequent negotiations led to the Convention of Chuenpi on 20 January. One term of the agreement was cession of Hong Kong Island to the British Empire. The British formally took possession of Hong Kong Island on 26 January.
During World War II Dongguan was a base for guerrilla actions against occupying Japanese forces.
In the 1980s Dongguan changed from being an agricultural hub to a major manufacturing centre. Dongguan is the fourth largest export region in China, behind Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Suzhou. Dongguan has a huge electronics sector with 1 in 6 mobile phones in the world said to be manufactured here. Dongguan is also a major player in the garment industry.
Demographics and language
Dongguan's reinvention as a major manufacturing centre has brought in huge amounts of migrant workers to fill the jobs in the electronics factories. This now means around 3/4s of Dongguan's 8 million people speak Mandarin rather than the Cantonese indigenous in Guangdong Province.
There are 32 Townships within Dongguan.
The Pearl River Delta has one of the largest concentrations of international airports in the world, including:
The Guangzhou-Baiyuan airport is just over an hour from the Dongguan city center. There is a shuttle bus to the Dongguan airport check-in station at the South China Mall in Wanjiang. If hiring a car, the fare should be about ¥300. Also, there is Intercity Bus at GZ-Baiyun Airport. Pick-up port: Gate A9 of the Arrival Hall and South China International Auto Parts City of Dalang Town. The Shenzhen Boa'an Airport is also about an hour from the center city but much closer to some Dongguan towns, especially Chang'an and Humen, expect to pay ¥100-300 by car. Hong Kong airport can be reached by buses that depart on regular schedules from hotels across Dongguan. It is also accessible by a special ferry from nearby Humen that connects directly to the international flights area of the airport (check with your airline, as not all allow this).
Humen Ferry Terminal serves ferries operating to/from Hong Kong International Airport.
Dongguan has multiple major rail stations on different lines.
Buses from Hong Kong include services from Hong Kong Airport. Tickets are usually HK$80-100 one-way or HK$150 for two-way. Travel times usually are 1.5-2.5 hours depending on traffic conditions.
Many major cities in China have bus routes to the Dongguan Main Bus Station in Nancheng. Buses run to several bus stations in Dongguan from the main Luohu border crossing bus terminal in Shenzhen. Hence be careful to choose the correct bus.
Dongguan Rail Transit is the metro system of the city of Dongguan. It is operated by the state-owned Dongguan Rail Transit Corporation, Limited. Operations began on 27 May 2016 with the first section (15 stations and 37.743 km long) of Line 2 from Dongguan railway station in Shilong Town to Humen railway station in Humen Town opened on 27 May 2016. There are plans for this to be expanded to 4 lines with some lines of the Dongguan Rail Transit to connect with the neighbouring Guangzhou Metro and Shenzhen Metro.
Buses cost ¥2 per ride. A 30-minute taxi ride should not cost more than ¥80 (price out of date?). Be sure to only use the green, licensed Dongguan taxis.
Guan Yin Shan is the holy mountain in front of Danshuei train station. It has a statue in a seated position of Guan Yin (Kwanyin), the Buddha of Compassion. The mountain has a very small village and a hiking trail taking a leisurely 2 hours from bottom to top. Views at the top include of the open sea.
Dongguan exhibition centre houses many exhibitions and conferences.
Dongguan Yulan Theatre is one of China’s newest multipurpose venues for performing arts. The distinctive multi layer design resembling an unfolding lotus is a major landmark in Dongguan city. Performances vary from Romeo and Juliet to the Chinese classic, Butterfly Lovers.
Dongguan is the 1st prefecture level city in China to have 3 professional basketball teams. Guangdong Southern Tigers was the first professional basketball club in China, formed in 1993. Win 9 Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) championships to their name as at November 2019, they are China's most successful basketball club. They play at the 16,000 capacity Dongguan Basketball Center.
If you only have a day and want to stay in one area, you might start at Jin'aozhou Pagoda, go east and see Keyuan Garden, and then walk along Dongcheng Ave (東城大道) for shopping and food.
The following take place each year in Dongguan:
Most four star hotels will have various "foot" massages and sauna services for upwards of ¥150. Before 2014, nearly all saunas were brothels, with a few foot massage parlors as well. After an expose on cctv, Dongguan cracked down on the vice, and the remaining establishments are legitimate.
Dongguan is well known for its Huanghe Fashion Town located in the Humen District along Renming, Renyi, Jinglong and Yinglong Rds. The district houses one of China's largest clothing and textile wholesale markets, which extends over an area of about one square kilometre. Many of the products sold there are exported to Hong Kong and the rest of the world. Everybody can enjoy low wholesale prices, even when buying in small quantities.
Most 5-star hotels offer buffets, these are around ¥30-60 for breakfast, ¥100-200+ for lunch, and ¥100-300+ for dinner. See 'Drink' section below for bars offering food.
The most popular bars were historically on or around "Bar Street" (Jiuba Jie) in Dongcheng. Nightlife is considerably more respectable in Dongguan following the high profile vice clean up of February 2014.
The biggest issue with Dongguan as at January 2017 is fake booze. Fake booze is industrial alcohol mixed with colouring and flavouring. Methanol in industrial alcohol causes blindness and death. Dongguan (as with most Pearl River Delta cities) is notorious for fake booze as bootleggers are rumoured to be based in and around Dongguan itself. Almost all of the fake booze is packaged in genuine glass bottles from original brands, simply refilled. While experienced people can tell the difference by examining the closures on bottles, the seals, and other tricks of the trade, consumers don't have a chance to check because spirits are poured by the shot by bar staff.
While it is unfair to use this wiki to outline every single detail about the fake alcohol industry in China, it is worth highlighting the following simple fact - the safest rule of thumb - don't drink hard liquor, unless it's from a bar or a restaurant that you know UNQUESTIONABLY stand against fake alcohol. These are bars that accept that there is a problem in Dongguan with fake booze, have taken the time to understand and learn enough to be able to identify fake produce and have invested their own time and efforts in supplier due diligence, to ensure that the entire alcohol supply chain is tamper proof.
Dongguan has more then 30 government-rated 5-star hotels -- take that for what you will.
Pick up a copy of HERE! Dongguan, an English-language magazine guide.
Those being sensible are very unlikely to have issues. Anyone who gets involved with certain people significantly increases the probability of getting into trouble. If you ignore the info in this section, you have been warned.
Dongguan previously developed an infamous reputation as China's vice capital. Prostitution initially boomed in parallel with the massive influx of migrant labour as Dongguan boomed as a manufacturing centre. Businessmen boosted the vice industry with significant patronage from them often as part of their business dealings. Such was Dongguan's sordid ill-repute it became a magnet in China for sex tourists. An estimated 250,000 - 300,000 people were estimated to be sex workers in Dongguan, around 1 in 10 of the female adult population. The vice industry became worth an estimated US$8 billion per year in business brought not just to the sex industry but to hotels, taxis, restaurants etc by visitors. Wives were reported as becoming anxious when being told their husbands would be visiting Dongguan on business. Anti-vice police activities were ineffective due to direct and indirect vested business interests of Dongguan city officials and administrators benefiting from tourism of the thriving vice sector.
That changed very publicly and dramatically on Sunday 9 February 2014. China Central Television (the official mouthpiece of the central government in Beijing), televised a special programme on Dongguan's vice industry. The broadcast set the stage for 6,000 Guangdong Provincial Police to then that evening raid and close 3,000 saunas, bars, foot massages, karaokes, and other businesses with sex industry connections. 200 gangs were busted. 36 city police officials, including former deputy mayor and head of the local public security bureau, Yan Xiaokang, were dismissed or suspended from duty with 17 of them charged with criminal offences. Hotelier, Liang Yaohui, among China's 500 wealthiest people and given a coveted seat in the National People’s Congress (the legislature that meets annually in Beijing), was among those arrested. He was sentenced to life in prison with organising prostitution among the charges. Shop assistant Zhou Xiaoli said in an interview with The Straits Times, "In the past, whenever I tell people I'm from Dongguan, they'd give a knowing look and smile, and say, 'Yes, lovely place'. I don't want my hometown to have this kind of reputation."
Prostitution is illegal in mainland China, except in Foshan in Guangdong where erotic massages known colloquially as Happy Endings were deemed different from prostitution and legal there by a local court in 2013. China's opaque court system has a 99% conviction rate. Consequences for anyone arrested by police can be dire. Look up yourself online the 2003 Zhuhai prostitution case resulting in 14 jail sentences (including 2 life sentences) with Chinese authorities requesting assistance from their Japanese counterparts in detaining a group of businessmen from Osaka. Like almost everywhere else, prostitution is largely ran by organised crime entities exploiting those working there. Many of the prostitutes are trafficked and/or forced into this work. Police assert that possession of condoms constitutes incriminating evidence when charging people with prostitution. This unsurprisingly discourages sex workers from carrying condoms making prostitution the primary vector for the increasing spread of HIV in China.
Watch your bag, electronic devices and pockets against theft / pick pocketing.
Unlicensed taxis are illegal and all too often have unscrupulous drivers. Taking an unlicensed taxi risks bringing trouble upon yourself of potentially infinite magnitude and variety.
If a policeman tries to get money from you, calmly ask to see his superior.