Rough Guide to Dalian Travel

Rough Guide to Dalian Travel

Dalian lies on the southernmost tip of Liaoning Province, with the Yellow Sea to the east and the Bohai Sea to the west. In its relatively short history, Dalian has become a significant financial and trading hub of north China, with the country's second-largest international commercial harbor. The Qinshan Mountain Range and the Changbaishan Mountain Range give this environmentally friendly city welcome shelter from the harsh winter winds.

Due to its strategic geographical location, Dalian has since its establishment played a very important role in the history of north China. Such a role, however, often comes at a heavy price: It has been occupied by, leased to and ceded to, respectively, the British, the Russians and the Japanese.

Following the defeat of Japan in World War II, Dalian became a Chinese naval base and a center of heavy industry during the late 1950s and 1960s. During the 1970s, Dalian was developed as China's leading petroleum port. Such a colorful history has left a great impression on the city; particularly in terms of its architecture. Many of its streets resemble early 20th-century Europe or Russia.

Visitors flock to Dalian in the summer to lounge on its beautiful, sandy beaches and savor the fresh air. The city enjoys long hours of sunshine in the summer time, so travelers are advised to pack the sunblock. It also has an unusually large number of public squares and parks for the pleasure of residents and visitors alike.

The central Zhongshan Square is often taken as the starting point of all Dalian's attractions. It was originally named after a Russian Tzar, and later after Dr. Sun Yat-sen (Zhongshan), founder of the Republic of China. Then there is the People's Square, or Renmin Square, with its leisurely contingent of locals contrasting with its solemn political atmosphere. The 40-km-long coastal Binhai Road is a 'natural oxygen bar' that is dotted with interesting attractions. And Xinghai Square, said to be the largest in Asia, is the venue for the city's International Beer Festival, its International Fashion Festival, and its Spring Festival Fireworks & Firecracker Gathering.

Dalian is well known for its sandy white beaches. The tiny Fujiazhuang Beach more than makes up for its size with the quality of its sand and its tranquil, azure waters. There's plenty of room in the beach-based Xinghai Park for visitors to bask in the sun and swim in the sea. It has a range of amusement parks, as well as the Sunasia Ocean World.

There's plenty to do and see in Dalian's outskirts, too. Visitors can head out to spots like the Bangchuidao Scenic Area, take part in a range of activities and even spend the night. The Golden Pebble Beach National Resort has golf courses, amusement parks, cross-country biking and a range of comfortable hotels. Also in the outskirts of Dalian is the Bingyu Valley. It is often likened to Switzerland for its rugged cliffs, jagged peaks and winding rivulets. And the popular Laohutan Tiger Ocean Park comprises several park-like attractions that pay tribute to ocean life, not the least of which is the Laohutan Polar Aquarium.

Dalian also boasts a treasure trove of fascinating museums and galleries. The Lushun Museum has 3,000 historical artifacts including bronze wares, cultural relics and calligraphy. The Dalian Modern Museum tells the history of this city using high-tech and traditional materials. There's also a Wax Museum, an Art Exhibition Museum, the Dalian Natural History Museum and a Stone Museum.

Finally, Dalian is also the host of a number of festivals of both international and domestic significance. During the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), there is an awesome Fireworks and Firecracker Gathering, while the month of May welcomes the Acacia Festival. And the International Beer Festival, the International Fashion Festival, the Dalian Marathon and a popular Winter Swimming Festival ensure a steady stream of visitors descends upon the city throughout the year.

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