Dalian's most impressive buildings surround Zhongshan Guangchang. Highlights are the late Renaissance-style white-brick and green-domed Bank of China (built in 1909) on the north side of the square, and the Dalian Hotel directly opposite. Head to Renmin Guangchang (1km/ 1/2 mile east of the railway station on Zhongshan Lu; bus: no. 801 and 701), a large square surrounded on three sides by government buildings, to get an interesting taste of modern Chinese architecture. The city made an effort to recapture some of its Russian history with Eluosi Fengqing Jie (Russian Street), a collection of mostly new Russian-style structures north of the railway cutout, above Shanghai Lu. The large, dilapidated yellow-brick building at the end of the street was the municipal government office when Russia still controlled the city. But the street is only filled with shops selling kitsch and souvenirs. A stroll along the neighborhood of Gaoerji Lu will give you a glimpse of old Japanese-style housing built during the Japanese occupation. Unfortunately, many of them are going to disappear soon as the redevelopment project in the area progresses.
The Beaches & Binhai Lu
Dalian's seaside location is the major draw for Chinese tourists. Most of its beaches are pebbly and polluted, but the simple presence of the ocean and its attendant sea air provide respite from the rigors of travel. Binhai Lu meanders next to the coastline and gives breathtaking views of the sea. Start your journey by taking a taxi or bus no. 203 to Donghai Gongyuan (¥10), located about 5km (3 miles) east of downtown. In a nearby plaza at the north gate of the park, locals enjoy watching the sun rise. Continue on, by taxi, to Bangchui Dao. It was once the exclusive playground of Communist Party higher-ups and is now a pristine, hedge-lined country club only accessible by car (15 min.; ¥20). The city's nicest beach is a 30-minute walk past the gate (¥20). Just west of Bangchui Dao is Laohu Tan (Tiger Beach), a popular beach that also features Dalian's aquatic theme park, Laohu Tan Haiyang Gongyuan (¥190). A few kilometers west is the relatively clean Fu Jia Zhuang Beach (¥5). This is where the city's serious swimmers gather for a brisk dip before work. Take bus no. 5 (25 min.) from Qingniwa Qiao (north of Shengli Guangchang). Xinghai Gongyuan, 5km (3 miles) southwest of downtown, was originally a Japanese resort and is now Dalian's most accessible but crowded beach. Nearby is Sun Asia Ocean World (Shengya Haiyang Shijie;.
Known to war historians as Port Arthur, Lushun has been the most important, and most sensitive, naval base in northern China for roughly 100 years. Little used during the Qing dynasty, it became a formidable installation under Russia, was captured and expanded by Japan after the Russo-Japanese War, and was finally returned to Chinese control after World War II. Warning: Most of the area is a military zone and officially off-limits to the public; do not cross the railroad tracks, which mark off the restricted area. For more information, contact the PSB (tel. 0411/8661-3411).
Only two historical sights fall north of Lushun Bei Lu, both of which will appeal primarily to military history buffs. The express air-conditioned coaches to Lushun (1 1/2 hr.; ¥11) leave from the west side of the square outside the Dalian train station every hour. To reach there by taxi costs ¥250 to ¥300 round-trip. Some travel agencies, and even the Dalian Tourism Bureau, will claim that you can see other sights, but the only believable authority here is the PSB.
The Shuishi Ying (tel. 0411/8623-3509; ¥40; 7:30am-5pm), in the village of Shuishi, is where commanders of the Japanese and Russian armies met to discuss and sign Russia's surrender of Lushun in 1905. The tiny house, chosen because it was the only major structure still standing after both sides bombed the town, contains the original table on which the agreement was signed.
The 203-Meter Mountain (Erlingsan Gaodi) was Russia's rear defense base during the Russo-Japanese War and the site of one of the war's most pivotal battles. Between 10,000 and 17,000 Japanese soldiers, including the Japanese commander's son, died taking the mountain. A few of the trenches where they fought have been preserved, served by trails near the summit. An exhibition room halfway up the hill contains several Qing-era photos of the port and a few rusted swords and bullets used in the battle. Most striking is a large, bullet-shaped monument on the summit, erected by the Japanese and defaced by Russian tourists. You can look down into the port itself from here. The site is open 24 hours; admission is ¥30; for information, call tel. 0411/8639-8277.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.