THE residents of Guangzhou are down to earth, even when the Chinese city has boomed along with the rest of the country, says quality assurance manager Ruan Yan.
'People there are very liberal and receptive to new ideas, so other cultures and new technologies are infiltrating its society very quickly,' says the 39-year-old who used to live in China's third-largest city.
Thousands from Hunan and Sichuan provinces also move there each year, says Ms Ruan, who moved to Singapore in 1995 and has since become a citizen. She's married to a service engineer.
She returns to Guangzhou four times a year on business trips, and adds that it is quite different from its more fashionable cousin Shanghai.
'In Shanghai, some people will skip meals in order to buy branded clothes or shoes, but you won't find that in Guangzhou.
'People there are more practical, and would rather wear casual clothing - kind of like Singaporeans.'
Here are her six recommendations to having a good time in Guangzhou.
1. Experience the nightlife
The city has a vibrant nightlife and there are many cultural activities like ballet and theatre to pick from.
But one thing you should definitely check out is traditional Cantonese opera. After all, Guangzhou is the place where this art form originated.
The operas there are similar to those you see in Singapore, except that the storylines are more fleshed out. I recommend the Huanghuagang Theatre in Huang Hua Street.
Ticket prices range between 10 yuan (S$2) and 60 yuan.
2. Admire Qing-dynasty relics
This house - Chen Jia Ci in Zhong Shan Qi Road - used to belong to a very wealthy man in the Qing dynasty, and you can't find many places like this any more.
The building's architecture is traditional Cantonese and, inside, the furniture, statues and carvings are all from the Qing dynasty.
There is an entry fee of 10 yuan.
3. Try out foot reflexology
You can find foot reflexology parlours just about anywhere, and they're very cheap too - about 40 yuan for a 90-minute session.
The masseurs will even massage your arms and back.
My husband really likes the service because he says it is much better than what he gets in Singapore.
4. Hail a cab
Taking a taxi in Guangzhou is an affordable way of getting around, for a 25-minute ride will cost you only about 30 yuan.
Better still, if you're travelling at night, you can even bargain for a cheaper fare.
You might be better off taking the subway during peak hours, however, if you want to avoid the severe traffic jams. It costs between 2 and 8 yuan, is very clean and efficient and the trains come once every five to 10 minutes.
5. Eat Guangzhou's speciality dish, Wu Mi Zhou (porridge without rice)
This is a steamboat where the soup is made of porridge that is ground until the rice grains disappear, and you can find this dish only in Guangzhou. You usually cook freshwater fish in this steamboat. It's served in many places now but the restaurant at 611 Tian He Road is where the dish was invented.
Budget about 70 to 100 yuan per person.
6. Buy cheap knick-knacks in Sea Pearl Square
The two-storey wholesale market sells all sorts of accessories and cool knick-knacks like keychains, pillowcases and clocks with designs that you'll never find in Singapore. Everything is very cheap but the place has no air-conditioning.