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Guangxi Province, 580km (360 miles) W of Hong Kong, 229km (142 miles) S of Nanning

Located at the southeastern tip of Guangxi, Beihai is a sleepy coastal town famous for its beaches and pearls. First settled over 2,000 years ago, this fishing community was opened up to Western powers after the Yantai Agreement of 1876; Westerners moved in and established consulates and businesses here. With a relaxed pace of life and a subtropical climate offering plenty of sunshine, Beihai makes for a pleasant escape from the nonstop frenzy of many Chinese cities.