Shahekou District (沙河口区 shāhékǒu qū) is a mostly residential district to the south and east of the center of Dalian. The district's residential nature means the number of attractions are limited, with the area around Xinghai Square the most likely to draw visitors. Hotels are equally limited, though the large number of universities in the district means that those on a budget may well find themselves sleeping here.
The easiest way to get to the various destinations in Shahekou from the airport, train station or ferry terminal is to first head to the Xinghai Square area then change if necessary. From the airport catch bus #710 to Jiefang Square or Taiyuan Jie and from the train station or ferry terminal take bus #16 to the Xinghai Square Exhibition Centre. The only exception to this rule is for those staying at Liaoning Normal University in which trolley bus #101 runs to the university from the train station (those arriving at the ferry terminal will need to catch buses #13 or #16 and transfer at the train station) while the airport is a relatively short taxi ride away.
Most parts of Shahekou (or at least those parts of interest to tourists) can be easily reached from Xinghai Square. Tram #202 serves both the Xi'an Lu shopping area (heading north) and the Natural History Museum and Maritime University (heading south). To get to the University of Technology catch bus #23.
Dalian TV Tower, one of the city's more notable skyrises
- Dalian Modern Museum, ☎ +86 0411 8480-0188. Tu-Su 09:00-16:00. This museum to the north of Xinghai Square contains a number of high quality, interactive exhibits on Dalian, both historical and current. It is well worth a visit for anyone even slightly interested in the city itself. ¥30. edit
- Xinghai Seashell Museum, ☎ +86 0411 8480-2938 ext 115. 08:30-16:30. Housed in a European-style castle to the east of Xinghai Square, the seashell museum contains a huge variety of shells and other examples of sea life (including a preserved giant squid). Though very specialized, the museum still makes for an interesting diversion. The climb up to the museum itself can be a trial (those wishing to avoid the stairs can take a taxi up the side road). This building does not exit anymore. Will be replaced by a hotel edit
- Dalian Natural History Museum, 40 Xicun Jie (just NW of Xinghai Sq), ☎ +86 0411 8469-1290. 08:30-16:30, 09:00-16:00 off-season. Mainly focuses on marine life though it also includes a dinosaur fossil exhibit. ¥30. edit
- Xinghai Square (星海广场 Xīnghǎi Guǎngchǎng). On the coast south west of the city center, is the largest square in Asia, a fact frequently mentioned in Dalian tourist literature. There are a number of attractions around the square, including museums, a bathing beach, large aquarium (07:00-16:00, ¥70), Xinghai Convention and Exhibition Center, huge indoor tennis court and swimming pool, a number of seafood restaurants boasting local fare, bungee tower and a fairly small amusement park that's very kid-friendly. With the possible exception of the aquarium, museums and restaurants, few of the attractions are likely to be that interesting to visitors but it's still worth taking the time to visit the square and have a wander around the area. edit
- Walking (hiking). Small mountains near Heping Square and also along Huanghe Lu offering some impressive views of the city and sea. To the east of Xinghai Square is the entrance to the famous winding Binhai Lu boardwalk, a popular day's trek along the coast. edit
- Dalian International Beer Festival. In late July/early August, Xinghai Square is overtaken by the famous beer festival. Always a very lively affair, beer companies from around the world set up huge tents for dancing, music, entertainment, and of course, plenty of beer consumption. The HB Oktoberfest tent is actually a pretty decent approximation of what you'd find at the famous festival in Munich, complete with an authentic German polka band--only the servers don't fill their dresses quite the same as their buxom München counterparts. edit
- Xinghai Park (星海公园). Not to be confused with Xinghai Square, Xinghai Park is further to the west, toward Heishijiao, along Zhongshan Lu. It's a big park at the beach with an aquarium, fun park, squares with tons of locals dancing, bungee jumping, and the Hopscotch bar. The fun park has an unbelievable number of bumper car options. The park is lively and fun well into the night. edit
- Taishan Mountain (台山). It's a little bit tricky to find, but on the opposite side of the tram line from Heping Square (和平广场/"Peace Square"), there's an entrance to paths that climb this hill/mountain. It's a nice, leisurely climb, and on a clear day the view is fantastic, revealing most of Dalian, including the sea on three sides. edit
- Xi'an Lu (西安路 Xīān Lù). This street is the largest shopping area outside the center and boasts a shopping complex (Roosevelt Center) on the western side of the junction with Huanghe Lu. There's also a large electronics center just north of the new shopping mall and a smaller one next to Carrefour. Several tailors offer suits or traditional Chinese silk dresses at really reasonable prices (tailoring lasts 5-6 days). edit
- Peace Square Mall (和平广场 Hépíng Guǎngchǎng). Shopping mall with a food court, cinema and Tesco. edit
Xinghai Square restaurants at night
The Xinghai area has a number of decent quality restaurants offering a wide variety of regional Chinese cooking styles (look for ones that have their catch fresh on ice). Restaurants are easy to find throughout the district, with clusters of cheap restaurants around the universities and more upscale restaurants around Xi'an Lu. Korean restaurants tend to be found near the main universities while there's a few Japanese restaurants around Xi'an Lu. While most of these restaurants are decent, few are of high enough quality to warrant a special trip. About the only restaurants worth going out of the way for are found around Xinghai Square.
- Xinghai Square restaurants – Encircling Xinghai square are restaurants featuring a range of cuisines, mainly seafood (as the water is just a few meters away) but also Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Western styles. Prices vary but expect to pay at least ¥150 each.
- I-55 Cafe, (S side of Xinghai Sq), ☎ +86 0411 8369-5755. 09:00-midnight daily. Closed for redecoration; location at Xinghai Sq open. A popular place for locals and expats alike enjoying coffee brewed by the cup and a popular weekend morning breakfast buffet (¥85). Try the bakery items and sandwiches. Has an outdoor deck that is lit up at night and free WiFi access. About 100 m from the coastline. ¥25-50 drinks, ¥40-120 food. edit
- Hopscotch Bar (跳房子), Xinghai Park 星海公园 (Inside Xinghai Park's West Entrance). One of Dalian's most famous night spots, popular with locals, foreigners, and students. With a sort of tiki-bar theme, it's right at the beach with an outdoor area about equal to it's indoor space. Features table soccer, XBox, DJs, and occasional live music. edit
Other bars can be found around the universities and they mainly cater to overseas students, as Chinese students can face stiff penalties if found drunk. The university bars tend to be fairly small, unimaginative and not particularly cheap.
Tea and coffee
- Be For Time, various, incl. W of Huanghe and Xi'an Lu intersection. Chain tea house, and unlike traditional ones, caters to a young crowd with modern furnishings and milkshakes alongside the usual varieties of green tea. This, combined with the ¥16 all you can drink deal, makes it very popular with students and decent place to spend a couple of hours. edit
- I-55 Cafe, (S side of Xinghai Sq), ☎ +86 0411 8369-5755. 09:00-midnight daily. About 100 m from the coastline at Xinghai square, it can be a nice place to grab a seat and a cup of coffee. ¥25-50 drinks, ¥40-120 food. edit
Hotels in Shahekou tend to be limited to cheaper guest houses and may be suitable for budget-minded, although the stay may not be particularly memorable. There are few luxury hotels, typically in or around Xinghai Square. The budget places tend to be found near the universities, both along Huanghe Lu and around the southwest border with Gaijingzi district.
- Howard Johnson, 95 Huizhan Lu (on Xinghai Sq), ☎ +86 0411 8499-0000 (fax: +86 411 84990066), . 5-star and arguably the nicest spot in the district. edit
- Sheraton Dalian Xinghai, 582 Zhongshan Rd, . checkin: 15:00; checkout: 12:00. Shahekou continues its rise with a Sheraton expected to open 31 July 2012. edit
- Super 8 Dalian Chenxi, 672 Zhongshan Lu (a 5-min walk W of Xinghai Pk), ☎ +86 411 88907888, . Free Internet and breakfast. edit
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