Shop house is found in many parts of China. The Guangdong shophouses had influenced other shop houses in many countries in South East Asia. This is a very efficient urban building form to accommodate the merchant families in cities. Owing to the hot and humid climate in Guangdong province, it was quite typical to have the second floor extended out creating a covered arcade . The covered arcade became the motif for commercial streets found in many countries in South Asia.

Shop houses built in the 19th early 20th centuries showed influence from colonial architecture.