For centuries Foshan was one of the four most important cities in China. It was an important religious and commercial center and was one of the main handicraft places of China. Silk weaving and papercutting were important local arts and Foshan papercuts are commonly sold today as souvenirs all over China. The nearby town of Shiwan, now part of Foshan, was renown for its pottery and the village of Nanpu, now also part of larger Foshan, for its metal casting. Ritual cauldrons with three legs called "ding" were made here. Ding can now often be found as huge park ornaments cast in bronze. Foshan is also considered to be the cradle of the Yue Opera (Cantonese Opera).
Today Foshan is a city of 5.4 million people which has been devoured by ugly buildings and factories just like Guangzhou but it is about half in size. Like in Guangzhou and the rest of Guangdong province the rate of development in Foshan is astonishing. Infrastructure is being built at incredible rates and the highways are very good. The Guangzhou subway is already worth seeing and, as part of the planned Foshan-Guangzhou Pearl River megalopolis it will reach Foshan in 2005. It runs in a circle, starting from Guangzhou, via Nanhai to Foshan, then via Panyu back to Guangzhou. Foshan is 28 km SW of Guangzhou and can be visited as an easy day tour (even half day if you are in a hurry) or on your way to Zhaoqing.
There are buses to Foshan from the railway station in Guangzhou and from a small bus station on the west end of Zhongsan road across the road from the large bus station which is on the north side of the road. Ticket price is 10-12 yuan from this station and 16 yuan from the railway station. Both lines are run by the same company and arrive in a small bus station in Foshan located quite centrally and quite close to the main tourist attraction which is the Ancestors' Temple.
Getting around in Foshan is easy. Besides the regular bus lines and taxis there are two-wheel motorcycle taxis and three-wheel pedicabs and tuktuks. The motorcycle taxis are everywhere and will offer to take you at every step. The pedicabs are tricycles designed to carry two passengers while others have just a cargo bed. The tuktuks are similar to the pedicabs but have a motorcycle engine.
Located on Zumiao Road, admission is 20 Yuan. The temple is 3,000 sq meters in area and comprises 5 parts: Wanfu Terrace, Jinxiang Pool, Front Hall, Main Hall and Qingzheng Pavilion. The temple has been renovated and developed over the centuries and houses a 2.5 ton bronze statue of the god Beidi (Northern Emperor) also known as Heidi (Black Emperor) who rules over water and its creatures. Because this part of China is prone to flooding the people tried to appease Beidi with temples where you can see many carvings of turtles, snakes and other water creatures. The temple houses a number of other statues and a collection of ritual weapons. The roofs are remarkable for their glazed colored tiles made in Shiwan. Click here for my photos of the Ancestor's Temple.
The temple itself is part of a complex which contains various museums, exhibitions, a theater for Cantonese Opera and several souvenir, arts and crafts shops. There is a museum dedicated to the martial art of Wing Chung Kung Fu and to its teacher Yip Man who was born in Foshan and who learnt the art at this temple. There is also a museum dedicated to Cantonese Opera and its history and there are others about traditional musical instruments and various arts and crafts like porcelain figures.
A short walk up the street is the Renshou (benevolent longevity) Pagoda. Admission is free and you can see the temple and the pagoda tower and the people who come to pray and offer incense. Click here for my photos of the Renshou Pagoda
Folk Arts & Crafts Center (minjian yishushe)
Located next to the Renshou pagoda. Here you can see an exhibition of all sorts of arts and crafts and you can see some of them, like papercuts, being made. There is a store where you can buy papercuts and other souvenirs.
Links to my pages with photos
Links to other web sites with related photos
Information contained in these pages is based on my visits in January - February 2004 and May 2006