For my most recent trip to Guangzhou to visit the Canton Fair, I decided to do something different, in order to avoid the high hotel prices. I have good experience with Airbnb in other countries and wanted to try it for China as well. Plus, I wanted to expose myself to a more authentic Chinese life.
On Airbnb, I quickly discovered that there were two kinds of offers. Some of the apartments were clearly labelled as “not for foreign guests” whereas for others that didn’t seem to be an issue. I figured it had something to do with local registration requirements for people to register as a landlord, which seem to be different for different regions.
I found a one-room apartment one metro station away from the Canton Fair Exhibition Complex at a very reasonable rate. The host was rated a super host, with excellent English skills. One day before my arrival, I contacted her to let her know what time I would be approximately arriving. We then connected on WeChat for easy communication whilst being in China. She also provided me with the address, directions on how to get there, and the access code for the flat as well as the WLAN password. After I arrived in Guangzhou I let her know that I am close. I got to the designated metro exit no problems and then stood in front apartment buildings upon apartment buildings. Which way to go?
The street address I got was meaningless to me, so I quickly contacted her. She sent a friend to pick me up and take me to the apartment, which I would have probably never found by myself. The friend dropped me off at the flat and took a photo of my passport front page as well as my Chinese visa. This was for local registration. I’d read in various online forums that registration with the local police was required, and failure to do so would result in fines upon exiting China. I found that none of that was true. As a matter of fact, Airbnb explains that host information has to be disclosed to the Chinese government, and so I figured that served as the registration process and wasn’t surprised either when my kind host took photos of my passport.
The area around Wanshengwei metro station, where my Airbnb was, had plenty of food parlours, supermarkets, and everything else I needed for my daily life in the middle of a Chinese suburb. I barely saw any other foreigners and I want to think that I really got the authentic Chinese life I was after. All in all a very pleasant and enjoyable experience. I’d certainly go Airbnb in China again in the future.