Places that Will Blow You Out of the Water-Beidaihe

Places that Will Blow You Out of the Water-Beidaihe
May 21, 2009 By Andrea Hunt ,

China’s northeast is filled with exceptional places that will blow you out of the water without venturing too far away from Beijing - welcome to our third route. If you live in Beijing and are looking for a getaway with a definite swimming option to escape the dusty and heavy air that accompanies Beijing’s warm weather or the suffocating office air that tends to feel like it’s stifling your very soul, then keep reading…

We have resentfully accepted that it’s not possible to get an entire week of vacation anymore, and now realize 3 day weekends are all we get for the time being, so closer is better. Only a few hours from Beijing, Beidaihe awaits. It’s both accessible without a car and the perfect spot for a quick weekend getaway in the sun.

girl on beidahe  beach
Photo: A.D.A~Anna Duncan Art

No, it isn’t the white sandy tropical beach of Sanya, but there isn’t always time to go that far if you live around Beijing or Tianjin and only have a few days to spare! You need quick, you need close, and you need Beidaihe. The small costal town is sometimes all you need, coupled with the sea being only steps away, to put your brain and body into vacation mode. Located in Qinhuangdao Municipality in Hebei, Beidaihe is only about 2 and a half hours by train from Beijing. Known historically as a favorite beach resort spot by China’s leaders like Mao as well as countless politicians, the beach is also available to regular Chinese as well who inhabit the surrounding cities. Because of its proximity to Russia, it is also a favorite hangout for Russian tourists and like Sanya, there is Cyrillic writing all over the city.

The sand is a tannish color and the water is greenish but a very comfortable temperature for swimming if you go in the summer; in addition, the sand is soft for sunning yourself if China’s winter has left you with a pasty and transparent complexion. In the springtime, it might not be as warm for swimming but you can still sun yourself on the beaches neatly lined with umbrellas in rows for those who prefer not to get sand blown all over them when they lie on the beach. It’s amazing how refreshing the ocean can be when you haven’t seen a beach in awhile! Just the sun, sand and salty air seems to cleanse your lungs from Beijing’s polluted streets. You can relax along the seashore, which is dotted with little fishing boats bobbing on the water at sunrise.

There are free beaches, which are obviously more populated, or you can pay for a bit more space and peace of mind. The most popular free beach is the Liu Zhuang Beach, but if you are willing to go a bit further, the largest beach is called Tiger Stone Beach. This beach costs about 10 RMB but you have your choice of watersport activities like boating or, if you are feeling daring, why not try your hand at jet skiing? If you like boating there are 2-day options as well as hourly prices. As you might expect, fun has its price, but it is a chance to take on the sea firsthand. Just in time for this Dragon Boat long weekend, Beijing Sailing has specials for individuals and groups.

crab on beach beidahe
Photo: West Zest

The quietest beaches are in the East, but if you do plan on venturing away from the usual places note that you should rent bikes to go because the more tranquil beaches do not allow for arrival in taxi! If this is ok with you, rent a tandem bike on Qiqiao Nan Lu for at the entrance to the East Beach for around 10 RMB an hour.


Chinese guy drinking beer on beach
Photo: West Zest

One of the prizes of Beidaihe is notably the amazing seafood. There are markets available where you can pick out your own live seafood, wriggling and writhing and carry it around in a bag. Grab a plastic strainer and you can reach in the huge square trays and pick out your very own clams and mussels. Not into shellfish? Think of it as one of the few times in life you can catch your own octopus in a tank and take it to a local restaurant and instruct them how to prepare it for you. Get ready to enjoy mountains of freshly cooked shrimp that you can peel yourself with an icy Tsingtao to wash it down. If you are feeling daring, try the sea bugs, called, pipixia, which look like some sort of eerie combo between a lobster and a crayfish. They are really tastier than they appear if you can get past the crunchiness of the shell. You will have to bargain a bit price-wise in terms of how much they will charge you for them to cook it so ask around in a few different places to see how much the standard “BYO Seafood” charge is. Make sure when you are choosing restaurants that you check the menu first to make sure they don’t offer seafood dishes themselves or you may not be eating that 100RMB worth of market fresh seafood but instead whatever they have left over in the back!

In the evening along Bao Er Road you will find that the city is alive in the evenings as well and there are plenty of spots to hang out outside. However, at night things tend to close pretty early so if you can always buy yourself some drinks and go hang out on the beach in the evening.

Beidaihe at sunset
Photo: Likeyesterday

If you go in the summer, remember to book ahead. Also keep in mind that some places don’t allow foreigners to stay there. Here are a couple cheap places to look for if you are on a budget:

Beidaihe Guesthouse for Diplomatic Missions (Waijiao Renyuan Beidaihe Binguan)
No 1 Baosanlu, Beidaihe
Tel: 0335 4041287
Representative office in Beijing:
East Gate, Building No 12, Dongzhimenwai Street, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Tel: 010 65324336

Beidaihe Friendship Hotel (Beidaihe Youyi Binguan)
No 1 Yingjiaolu, Beidaihe
Tel: 0335 4048558

This is a quick getaway when you need to get out of the big city and you want the closest and best option! Now you know what you need to do for Dragon Boat Festival Weekend!


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