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Dalian Cruises

About Dalian, China

About Dalian, China

Often called the “Hong Kong of the North,” Dalian enjoys a privileged stature as one of China’s most livable cities. Its picturesque setting and numerous parks and swimmable beaches help to create a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. Throughout its long history, several foreign nations called it their own, thanks to its strategic position on the Liaodong Peninsula on Korea Bay. Today, a relaxed manner prevails in this city of skyscrapers, colonial gems and modern cutting-edge design.

The British arrived in 1858, but their stay was brief. China fortified the peninsula in the late 1800s but lost the territory to the Japanese in the First Sino-Japanese War. It took an intervention by Russia, France and Germany to return the land to China. But Russia had other plans. In 1898, it forced a lease arrangement, building a port city here at the turn of the 20th century. Attracted by the bay’s ice-free waters, the Russians wanted to create the “Paris of the Far East,” connected to the rest of Asia by the Trans-Siberian Railway. But the lease was short-lived, as the Japanese returned, taking the region back in 1905 and holding onto it until the end of World War II, whereupon it was returned to Russia. The Soviets and Chinese developed the city together over the next 10 years, by which time the USSR had given the city back to China.

Dalian Lifestyle and Culture

Dalian boasts clean air and many public parks where residents can enjoy outdoor living. Sports have an important place in local pride; Dalian has even been called “Football City,” thanks to its love of European-style football. Swimming, gymnastics and sailing are also popular, and it is common to see some old, authentic junks leisurely skimming the waters in one of the bays.

Even the city’s festivals underscore the local love of the outdoors. The International Cherry Blossom Festival is held in the historic district of Lushun; it’s said that the Japanese planted the trees here during World War II to relieve their homesickness. An International Walking Festival promotes health and well-being, attracting participants from all over the world. Dalian also hosts an annual beer festival, inspired by Munich’s Oktoberfest, and a fashion festival.

Dalian Sights and Landmarks

Dalian’s central district is home to many Stalinist-era buildings, a legacy of Soviet occupation. But its overall cityscape is remarkably modern. A visit to the hillside of Labor Park, with its picturesque views of the skyline, provides a vast overview. For another bird’s-eye view, visitors can ascend the Sightseeing Tower. Beida Bridge, completed in 1987, is a tribute to Dalian’s friendly relationship as a sister city with Japan’s city of Kitakyushu. Its unique architectural style has made it a major attraction in Dalian. The city’s historic buildings include the Dalian Catholic Church.

Dalian also hosts a pair of impressive city squares. Its Xinghai Square is the largest in the world, dotted with sculptures, fountains and an amusement park. Zhongshan Square, designed by the Russians in the 19th century, is more circular in shape, with a roundabout forming its perimeter. Several classical buildings here were constructed by the Japanese during the early 20th century, and its open space comprises green landscaped parks and plazas where locals gather to socialize. Ten roads radiate from this bustling hub.

Dalian Entertainment and Activities

Dalian hosts an impressive array of cultural riches. At the Dalian Laohutan Ocean Park, learn about polar marine animals, coral reefs and birdlife. For a glimpse of natural history, head to the Heishijiao Geological Park and Dalian Natural History Museum. Sunasia Ocean World and Dalian Forest Zoo also help nature lovers learn more about the wildlife and habitats of northeast China. To experience some of Dalian’s parkland, visit Bangchuidao Scenic Area, a beautifully maintained open space hosting lavish greens and recreation facilities. For a glimpse of history, visit the Lushun Museum, home to mummies from Central Asia.

The ten-mile-long Golden Coast Beach offers long strolls on soft sands. The beach is part of the Jinshitan National Holiday Resort area, which also features the Golden Pebble Waxworks Museum, the Geological Museum, the Coastal National Geopark, the Tang Dynasty Hot Spring Resort and many other attractions that lure tourists from all over China and beyond. Witness the city’s arts scene at the Zhongshan Art Museum, the Dalian Modern Museum and the Dalian Peking Opera House.

Dalian Restaurants and Shopping

The cuisine of Dalian is widely inspired by the food and cooking techniques of Shandong province in which fresh meats, seafood and vegetables are quick-fried, stewed, roasted or boiled. In Dalian, seafood plays a central role in dishes like snowflake scallops or salted fish with corn cake.

Indulge in crispy Peking Duck roasted in a wood-fired oven, or perhaps seek out an upscale seafood experience. Wander the Tianjin Jie Night Market for one of the city’s most authentic experiences. Vendors here cook up barbecued seafood and serve their creations with local beer. Other shops and markets, like those at Fisherman’s Wharf, sell jade sculptures, opera masks and calligraphy scrolls.