I visited Shantou last year but have only gotten around to sharing what the city is like. You can read and see more photos at “Exploring Shantou’s vanishing treaty port architecture” which I’ve written for Ctrip’s China Travel Blog.
Shantou ( 汕頭), north east of Guangdong province, does not come to mind as a natural tourist destination. Rather, many of its tourists are from the Teochew diaspora (in Chinese, it is Chaozhouren (潮州人)) spread across the world, with a large concentration in Southeast Asia, especially Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Often, they visit to trace their ancestral roots and meet old families.
The point about Shantou is that its old town architecture has a beautiful mix of European influences with South China urban sensibility, and is typical of former treaty port cities like Qingdao, Shanghai and Xiamen. They won’t last very long if preservation efforts don’t get underway, and from the looks of it, they’ve more or less given up.
I’ve listed a few things to do in Shantou and neighboring Chaozhou city, so go on to Ctrip’s blog and have a gander.
P.s I’ve also updated my “Published work” page, you can see other stuff I’ve been writing about.
P.s.s Thanks to Paul over at China Rhyming who is a wonderful trove for upcoming Shanghai-related history books, I discovered The Urban Design of Concession: Tradition and Transformation in the Chinese Treaty Ports by Peter Cookson Smith which I’d love to pick up next time I see it. The book review here.