The summer heat and humidity are here causing Chinese women to break out their parasols and Chinese men to lift up their shirts and show off their bellies. It’s obvious to the keen observer that all of these men and women are frantically pondering one thing: how to cool off.
A few days ago, as this fantastically sizzling heat made sweat pour out of my body, at rates I’ve never experienced before, I to was wondering how to “beat the heat,” when it dawned on me that I could just ask the locals about the best places to go. Three places came out as clear winners: Labor Park, Xinghai Square and Xinghai Park.
1) Labor Park
If you’re feeling over-heated from the bus-ride over to Labor Park, immediately make your way to the centre of the park where you’ll see a beautiful and clean lake. Of course you can’t go swimming in this lake, but you can sit under one of the many weeping willow trees and listen as the wind rustles through their remarkable hanging leaves. As you sit there you might drowse off and have a mid-day, half awake/ half asleep dream featuring you as the star in the movie Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (the part where the kung fu masters fight each other on top of the willow trees). Even if you don’t have an amazing dream, these trees still offer an abundance of shade that will, along with the nice breeze that always seems to circulate around the lake, certainly cool you off.
Labor Park. Photo by Addam Goldman
After you’ve brought your body temperature down, you can walk around to the other side of the lake and rent a pedal boat. This is a very romantic way to spend time with your sweetheart and get a nice leg workout. After about 20 minutes the boat rental agent will start signaling that your time is up. This is a great opportunity to stretch your legs by walking over to the loud singing you’ll hear if you go to Labor Park on the weekend.
Labor Park is famous among the Dalian locals for having the best amateur singers in the city. These singers (they are usually retired men and women) often decide to pair up and sing with the various make-shift bands that set up throughout the park. Often times they are very big “productions” with many people watching them (when I went to Labor Park over the weekend there were about 100 people watching a woman sing songs from a Peking Opera. This woman had a band of about 30 people playing a variety of instruments as she sang.)
If you’re in the mood for some exercise, you can work your way over to the tennis courts, located in the northern corner of Labor Park. You can play as much tennis as you want for 25 RMB.
Labor Park also has an assortment of rides for children. They can have fun on the bumper cars, Farris Wheel, swinging pirate ship, or the roller coaster.
All in all, Labor Park is great place to go, but if you’re craving some cool salt water to dip your body into it won’t get the job done. Instead, you’d better go to the beach.
2) Xinghai Square
Xinghai Park and Xinghai Square are about two kilometers away from each other and they each serve up their own unique activities. If you want to go to both of them in one day I’d recommend that you start off at Xinghai Square. Why? Because you can’t go swimming at Xinghai Square, so its best to go there first, get hot and sweaty, and then go swimming at Xinghai Park.
Xinghai Square is the biggest square in all of China, so you should definitely walk around the plaza and take in the pure size of it. When you’ve finished gawking, there is an amusement park next to the sea. This amusement park has many carnival games and rides, but the main attraction is the Farris Wheel. I know many people think riding a Farris Wheel produces about as much adrenaline as riding in a taxi. It’s true this Farris Wheel won’t get your heart beating 100 times a minute, but you should still ride it, because when you reach the top of it you’ll see an amazing view of the dozens of islands jutting out of the Yellow Sea.
At Xinghai you can rent everything from one-seat to three-seat bicycles and because Xinghai Square is really big it’s a great place to bicycle around for an hour (its 20 RMB for an hour, with a 100 RMB deposit). If you get tired of the square then head towards the coast, because this section of beach has a nice boardwalk where you can journey up and down.
3) Xinghai Park
After you’ve enjoyed your time at Xinghai Square you can take the thirty minute walk over to Xinghai Park. You’ll see that Xinghai Park is much different than Xinghai Square because it’s an actual beach with sand, whereas Xinghai Square is filled with concrete.
Xinghai Park has two attractions that will satisfy action junkies. There is a bungee jump tower and a zip line that runs across the ocean. Bungee jumping costs 120 RMB and the zip line costs 60 RMB.
A quick warning about bungee jumping: last summer I went bungee jumping with a group of eight people. When we reached the top of the bungee jump tower one girl in our group started crying fat alligator tears, because she was scared to jump. One of the workers looked at her, grimaced in disgust, and then quickly strapped the bungee rope around her ankles. As she balled like a baby he pushed her off the tower. In the end she was glad the guy “made” her jump, but anyone who decides to go bungee jumping should keep this story in mind, because there’s no mercy up there.
If you aren’t into heart stopping activities you can take a motor boat ride around the park. You can also do the bumper cars. The bumper cars at Xinghai Square are much different than the ones at Labor Park for one reason. At Labor Park the bumper cars are a children’s activity, but at Xinghai Square, for some reason, the bumper cars are filled with adults laughing and trying to ram each other.
Summer time in Dalian is hot and brutally humid, but it can still be a lot of fun. So head over to one of these areas and have a good time, because soon the frigid winter will start closing in.
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Keywords: beating the heat in Dalian Xinghai Park Dalian summer fun in Dalian bungee jumping Dalian
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