Dalian Travel Guide
Dalian, despite its young history (it was only founded in 1899), it enjoys considerable popularity with domestic tourists for its beaches and for being a past possession of Russia and Japan. Its museums explore its culture and its role in two significant wars, its beaches host scores of sunbathers, and its cherry farms will put a (red-toothed) smile on your face.
While Dalian is home to plenty of fun and interesting attractions, start your visit on a sombre note by paying your respects to past prisoners of war at the Japan-Russia Prison Site of Port Arthur. Built by Russia in 1902 to house detainees during the Japan-Russia War, it later came into the possession of the Japanese, who expanded the facility and used it for the same purpose during the Second World War.
The implements of torture found within will shock and horrify you, as will the hanging room where prisoners were executed. Other aspects of this facility include the dining hall and tiny cells which held upwards of eight inmates at any given time.
Brush up on the culture produced in the Dalian area by spending time exploring the Lushun Museum. Opened in 1917, it contains 30,000 relics from as far back as the Han Dynasty (3rd century BC), including the fascinating Xinjiang mummy exhibit.
Apart from this, its pottery, Buddhist artwork, paintings, and calligraphy will hold your interest throughout the duration of your visit here. Don’t miss the double dragon basin, as this bronze treasure will dazzle even the most jaded of travellers.
When life in the city starts to get to you as it often does in China, follow the locals up to the Grand Black Mountain of Dalian. Perched high above the hustle and bustle of this urban area, the greenery and fresh air will be just what the doctor ordered.
The vistas and the hikes available up here is worth the trip alone, but locally, this place is known for its cherries. Home to several U-Pick farms, you can pay 30 RMB to pick as many of this juicy fruit as you can take home with you, so take advantage if you are living and working in the area.
Combine all this with a number of peaceful temples, and you have a local gem you won’t want to miss.
Want to cool off on a hot day in Dalian? Spend an entire afternoon sitting by the sea within the Jinshitan Scenic Area. Situated 50 kilometres from the heart of the city, the ocean is cleaner than you would expect, and the beach, while not sandy, is made of fine pebbles which are easier to walk upon than you think.
If you have no interest in going into the water, there are numerous interesting rock formations to look at, and an outstanding golf course which pairs well with the seaside scenery it is built alongside.
Travelling as a family in Northeastern China? Make time in your schedule to check out the Dalian Forest Zoo. A sizable facility spanning 7.2 square kilometres, there are six separate sections housing over 1,000 animals representing 130 species, giving you and your children a chance to check out a wide variety of our four-legged friends from around the world.
Don’t miss the chance to ride a cable car to the top of West Hill, where you can get a dramatic view over the zoo from above.
Still looking for things to do with your kids while in Dalian? Take them to Pole Aquarium. Situated at Tiger Beach Park, you will find animals like dolphins, penguins, and polar bears within its bounds. The highlight is certainly the dolphin show, as these intelligent creatures interact with their trainers in a way few other animals do, so don’t miss it.
Outside, don’t forget to scope out the massive Six Tiger Sculpture, and grab a bite to eat at one of many food vendors who park in the plaza opposite this artwork.
After a long day exploring the city core of Dalian, unwind from its inherent busyness by spending some downtime in Xinghai Square. You’ll have plenty of room to unwind, as it is the largest public square in the world at 1.1 square metres – that’s about four times the size of Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
Shaped like a star, it contains a series of bronze sculptures, as well as a stone pillar known as the Nine Dragons Sculpture. Those things don’t interest you much? No problem – it is flanked by an amusement park, water park, and a Shell Museum which contains specimens from around the globe.
Want to check out the beauty of the coast in the Dalian area? Rent a car and set out along the Binhai Road. Initially built in the 1970s for military use, it was re-purposed in the 1980s as a tourist route at the urging of the president after visiting it.
Along its 32 kilometres, the rocky coast, mountains, beaches, and flowering trees (in spring) will cause you to stop multiple times along the way, so don’t think this will be a quick trip despite its short overall length.