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Dongguan is a prefecture-level city within Guangdong Province on the southeast coast of China, situated 55 kilometres east of Guangzhou, the third largest city in the country.
With a population of more than 8 million, it is home to the nation’s most important manufacturing industries including many of the world’s leading computer enterprises. Unsurprisingly, the city ranks highly in Forbes China’s listing of the most innovative mainland cities.
Despite its ultra-modern outlook, Dongguan has a rich history with human inhabitation dated back to the Neolithic Period over 5,000 years ago. Moreover, several battles of the First Opium War were fought here, while the Second World War saw guerrilla resistance bases established in the small town of Humen, now belonging to Dongguan, in a stand against Japanese occupation. When arriving in this small port town by ferry, the Opium War Museum is a must, as is the marvellous suspension bridge.
Famed for its Dragon Boat Racing, Dongguan hosts the event on the 5th day of the 5th month every year on the traditional Chinese calendar, which falls in June in the Gregorian version. This spectacular festival lasts 15 days, attracting thousands of people from all over the world. Alternatively, you could spend your time in one of the many parks; the best include Keyuan Garden, Qifeng Park and the mountainous Yinxian Resort with its Buddhist temples and statues. These are particularly pleasant in autumn and winter: September to February, when it’s mostly sunny and mild, while summer and spring usually see heavy rainfall and high humidity.
Ferries to Dongguan represent a quick and convenient choice of transportation given the frequency of crossings every day, lasting under an hour and a half, departing Hong Kong Airport. This makes this route an easy connection if flying into Hong Kong from overseas, taking you up the Pearl River Estuary, a waterway spanning 2,400km in length.