Beidaihe: A summer seaside resort for senior government officials. Many political decisions affecting the whole of China are made here, making it the equivalent to resorts in Maine or Camp David in Maryland in the United States.
Haigang District: Qinhunagdao proper, or the harbor city is the primary development zone. This area is home to much of the retail offerings as well as the majority of academic institutions, including Yanshan University which is a leading university in NE Hebei Province.
Shanhaiguan: a popular tourist destination that caters to travelers who are interested in seeing the Great Wall. Shanhaiguan is the home of the Dragon's Head, which is the eastern most end of the Great Wall.
Qinhuangdao has two train stations. The main station is located in the Haigang District and the second is located in Beidaihe. A multitude of daily trains connect both stations to the various train stations in Beijing. Depending on which train you choose, the journey can range anywhere from 2-5 hours from Beijing. The express trains, or 'D' trains can make the trip in exactly 2 hours and are a very comfortable ride, whereas the 'K' and 'T' trains can take between 3-5 hours depending on the specific train. 'D' trains are ¥93 for a ticket in a soft seat, whereas the 'K' and 'T' trains are much less (often half) for a ticket in a hard seat.
Qinhuangdao has a main bus station that is located directly in front of the main railway station in the Haigang district of the city. Long haul buses from Beijing and the surrounding county level cities in China arrive/depart here. Buses from Beijing take roughly 4 hours to make the journey from the center of Beijing to Qinhuangdao. Ticket prices are comparable to the prices for non 'D' train tickets. However, with the ongoing construction and over congestion on the highway linking Beijing to Qinhuangdao, it is advised that you discuss current road conditions and expected travel time with someone at the station BEFORE settling on taking the bus to/from Qinhuangdao.
Conversational English is very thinly spoken in Qinhuangdao. The only exception is around the university areas where an occasional student will be bold enough to try their language skills in conversation with a foreigner. Do not count on finding a taxi driver or passer-by who knows English well. Neither should a foreigner with minimal experience with the Chinese language put undue faith in his or her ability to pronounce Chinese place names so that a local can understand clearly. Before embarking on a trip around the city, it is best to print out the names of places you want to visit in Chinese characters, or get someone who is a native speaker to do it for you. When going to specific addresses writing nearby intersections or basic directions can be helpful as well. Show the text to the taxi driver, or just ask for help on the street. In general, you will have a better chance of getting help in English if you address younger people, as many schools in China have expanded their English education in the last few years.
Crossing the road in China is an art and may be difficult for pedestrians unused to China's particular driving styles. Before crossing, assume that none of the road users will give way to you, even if a policeman is present. Zebra crossings are redundant. Chinese drivers lean on the horn heavily and frequently play games of chicken with pedestrians and other vehicles. Should you hear a loud horn when crossing the road, always look around as there is probably a car right behind you or heading straight for you. Should you find several cars and bicycles veering towards you from different directions, do not try to run to safety; instead, stand still. For drivers and cyclists a stationary obstacle is easier to avoid. Also note that traffic light crossings have zebra stripes painted on the road, but you should only cross when the walk light is green. As with pedestrian crossings in many countries, there is strength in numbers. When a mass of people crosses together cars are more likely to stop or slow down.
Bus: There are a web of intercity buses that connect the various districts of Qinhuangdao and connect main landing destinations like the central bus station and beach. While most of the maps sold in the city will only have Chinese or pinyin writing on them, most have bus routes listed by number with stops indicated by symbols. It is wise to buy an intercity map when arrive in the city and spend some learning how to navigate the bus network. Buses are very crowded when school is in session and pick pockets and petty thieves are extremely common during rush hours. Bus hours varies, but most routes do not run much the dinner hour, and no late night bus service is available. Tickets are purchased on the bus and cost ¥1-2.
Taxi: For most foreigners in Qinhuangdao, taxi service is the best way to navigate the city. You will not find drivers who can speak English (nor understand your Chinese) so be prepared with a written address of where you want to go, or even better yet (due to the fact that many drivers can not read) have the phone number of where you want to go so the driver can call and clear up any questions that may arise. Meter scams are rare in Qinhuangdao, but it is always a good idea to ask how much a ride will cost before getting in the car. Most destinations in the city can be reached for less than ¥25. Connections to adjacent districts will cost more (e.g. Shanhaiguan to Beidaihe).
Foot: Pedestrians are common in Qinhuangdao and walking is a great way to explore the city in greater depth. Many destinations are within walking distance especially in Beidaihe.
Ocean and beach. The biggest attraction, and main reason to pay visit to Qinhuangdao is the beach setting it provides. Sandy beaches line the shores from Shanhaiguan in the north to Beidaihe in the south of the area. The beaches are very clean (for Chinese standards) and are a great place to spend the day when the weather is nice. Swimming in the ocean is quite safe in Qinhuangdao. Large sand flats that stretch far out from the shore line make the ocean very shallow and relatively free of any sizable waves that might catch an unsuspecting swimmer off guard.
Parks: Qinhuangdao has many parks within the city proper. The central People's Square in the Haiguan district connects to a large park that is often a good place to people watch on the weekends. The best parks can be found in Beidaihe.
Qinhuangdao differs from many cities in China in that it does not have an extensive list of things 'to do'. Most people, both expats and locals alike, spend their time eating, drinking, and enjoying the ocean side while in the city. There are entertainment options available such as a zoo and an amusement park, but since most people visit Qinhuangdao as part of a one-day or two-day trip from the capital, it is ill advised to spend your time visiting these kinds of attractions as you can undoubtedly find better kept ones elsewhere. Qinhuangdao is a good place to enjoy seafood, seaside dining, and leisurely strolls along the beach. Save your time and tourist money for attractions in other cities.
Souvenirs: Qinhuangdao has the typical souvenirs found throughout China. Markets are filled with cheap clothes, knock off electronics, generic beauty supplies and so on. Some bargains can be found however, and most things (assuming you can find them) are less expensive in Qinhuangdao than in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai.
Pearls: Due to the proximity to the ocean there are a host of vendors selling pearls and other goods harvested from the sea. The typical pricing for a strand of pearls is on par with what you will find in Beijing. Most of these goods do not actually come from Qinhuangdao, so the supply you find in Beijing and other cities is the exact same as what you find here.
Seafood: If you enjoy seafood (and don't mind transporting it with you) Qinhuangdao is a great place to purchase it. During the spring months it is not uncommon to see Chinese travelers buying large boxes of fresh oysters and clams which they intend to transport back to Beijing with them on the train. If you don't care to travel with a bag full of oysters (and most of us don't), just make sure to eat your fill of them while you are in the city.
Pu Shi (樸石西餐厅), Taiyangcheng Zhengyang Street No. 39, ☎ 3252286, . 10:00 - 24:00. This is a favorite for pizza in the city. You can dine in, take out, or have it delivered straight to your door. The handmade crusts and ample toppings make this the best Chicago style pie in the city. The private rooms are classy and elegant. You will not be disappointed with the service and comfort. Watch a movie or a sports match on your own personal flat screen. If you do want some company, the piano bar is wonderful. You can curl up in the oversized, overstuffed furniture and take in the scene. This is the place to see and be seen in QHD.$$.
Vietnam Youyou Cafe (越南悠悠咖啡), baojie) Sidaoqiao Nanxing 100m, ☎ 3034585 / 15133557977. 9:30 - 24:00. The Vietnamese owner makes this the only place to go in Qinhuangdao for Vietnamese fare. The décor is refined, the owner speaks English, the food tastes just like what you’ll find in Hanoi, and the live music is a hit. The menu is pleasantly inexpensive considering the posh surroundings and classy atmosphere. It’s a great choice for a night away from the masses. Private parties large and small are always welcomed. $$.
Butterfly (蝴蝶时尚餐厅), Qinhuangdao Haigang District Kanglejie No. 1 (Renmin guangchang yingu xice), ☎ 3289777. 9:30 - 24:00. Located right next to People's Square, it sits in the heart of the entertainment district of the city. This is the place to go for quality cuts of meat and plump steaks. The prices are reasonable, and are on par with other western style steakhouses in China. The bar serves a full line of spirits and wines,and has a nice list of imported beers to choose from. A must visit for anyone who needs a "meat" fix. $$$.
Haitianyise Hotel (海天一色度假村), Qinhuangdao Haigang District Dongshanjie No. 51, ☎ 3417799, . 9:00 - 21:00. Nestled among the rocks overlooking the ocean, this is the place to go for weekend brunch. The restaurant is connected to the Haitianyise Hotel and Seaside Resort. It’s a top pick among travelers and locals alike. The seafood buffet is always fresh and includes all the sides and drinks (including alcohol) that you care to consume. Enjoy your meal while watching the waves roll in. $$$.
2046 — disco
N-Bar (嗯吧), Qinhuangdao Xinbaojie No.78. 13:00 - 4:00. N-Bar is a good place to go for an all nighter. Most nights the party starts late and goes until whenever the last of the last feel like heading home. Three spacious floors allow patrons to choose the atmosphere they like. The first floor is a traditional beer hall; the second floor has comfy lounge chairs and a massive projection screen showing films and games; the third floor has a free billiards table and private suites that you can curl up in to enjoy some alone time. $$.