Shijiazhuang (石家庄; Shíjiāzhuāng) is the capital of Hebei Province.
Shijiazhuang is a young city. It was an unimportant town until the building of the Zhengtai and Jinghan railways saw it become an important regional transport hub. Captured by the PLA under the leadership of the CPC in 1947, it was the cradle of the new China, and for three years housed the headquarters of the CPC.
Nowadays it is the capital and main economic center of Hebei and a relatively important city in China. Shijiazhuang is the largest pharmarceutical base in China and is as well an important center in the textile, IT, manufacturing and chemical industries. In 2007, it was listed as one of the top 15 economic powers in China.
According to the latest census figures, Shijiazhuang has a population of 2.19 million in the city proper, with a further 7.4 million people living in its 20 affiliated counties.
It's a modern city that's in the process of building many new apartment buildings, shopping malls and is renewing its image.
The city has a very serious air pollution problem.
Flights to different destinations have become more convenient since local low-cost airline Spring Airlines  established a base at Shijiazhuang airport in early 2011. Daily flights on Spring Airlines depart for Xiamen, Chengdu, Dalian, Shanghai, Shenyang, Hohhot, Nanjing and Guangzhou, with flights to Hong Kong three times weekly. Spring Airlines provides a free airport shuttle bus from Shijiazhuang (as well as the surrounding cities of Baoding, Hengshui, Xingtai, and Cangzhou) for all Spring passengers as the airport is located about an hour outside of downtown Shijiazhuang. Lots of travellers also elect to take the train to Beijing and fly from there due to extra flight options, connecting by the express trains (2 hrs to and from Beijing).
Shijiazhuang is one of the largest railway hubs in China, and so there are many trains to and from Shijiazhuang. The high-speed train to Beijing is 80 minutes.
Bullet trains leave regularly from the train station and from the smaller Shijiazhuang and Shijiazhuang North train station. Second Class is ¥129 and First Class is ¥207 to Beijing West Train Station if you purchase at the train station. If you use one of the many train ticket offices, expect to pay a 5¥ surcharge per ticket, but it is faster and the prices for all cities are posted on the walls (including all style of seat). The sign is in Chinese though.
Notice that buses to neighboring cities and towns depart from different bus stations, but each of these stations (and many close destinations) can be conveniently reached by buses and minibuses from the Central Railway Station. Long-distance buses (e.g. to Beijing) depart/arrive to the main bus station, just a few minutes walk to the south of the Railway Station.
West bus station on Xinhua Lu. As of June 2016 West quare exit to railway station is closed, so bus 9 not available.
Bus to Jungxing from Xiwang Khan. 12Y
Bus from Jingxing to Shitou Village (aka Yujiacun). 7Y. Huge numbers of trucks on the road, and part of the road very rough from overuse by heavy vehicles. Land being quarried away.
The road network is as well quite good and Shijiazhuang can be reached from Beijing by car in about 3 hours.
Railway was opened in June, 2017 and is still expanding.
Buses in Shijiazhuang, as in any large city in China, are frequent and cheap: just ¥1 for a journey, whatever the distance. but during the hot season and cold season some bus with air conditioner will charge 2yuan.
Taxis are plentiful and, again, will seem to Western travelers almost laughably inexpensive, with the flag-drop often just ¥5 or so and a delay rate of ¥1.60 per five minutes. Between 1600 and 1900, don't bother looking for a taxi.
Most tourist attractions are located outside the city proper.
Traffic is marginal, except at high peak hours (American rush hour), at which point it could take as much as 20 minutes to get through certain lights on many of the major roads (especially Ping'An Da Jie, Zhongshan Lu, Yuhua Lu, Jianshe Da Jie and Zhonghua Lu).
There are a number of sightseeing places in the area, both natural and historic. Most are not located within the city proper.
- Pilu Monastery (毗庐寺; Pílúsì; also known as Vairocana Monastery), (Shanjing Village in the northwestern suburbs of Shijiazhuang, bus 115 or 204 from the Railway Station will take you there). Built in the Tang dynasty and underwent major restorations under the Yuan and Ming dynasties. The main hall (Vairocana Hall; 毗庐殿; Pílúdiàn) contains a stone pedestal with excellent Tang carvings as well as murals from the Yuan-Ming period, some of which are truly magnificent (if you have the luck to visit when the sunlight is good enough to observe the details). ¥20.
- Martyrs' Memorial (Lieshi Lingyuan). Dedicated to Norman Bethune, Eric Liddell and Dwarkanath Kotnis.
- Zhaozhou Bridge, Zhao County (赵县; Zhàoxiàn) (Bus from the southern Nanjiao Station (南焦客运站; Nánjiāo Kèyùnzhàn; which can be riched by bus 35 from the Central Railway Station) to Zhao County or, better, to Ningjin County (宁晋县; Níngjìnxiàn), get off the bus at the junction from which it is 1km walk). <A great masterpiece of Chinese civil engineering. Created around 600 CE under the Sui dynasty, it survived numerous floods and earthquakes, and is considered nowadays as the oldest stone single arch bridge in the world. Adjacent small museum with a collection of stone carvings, steles and statues from the vicinity of Zhao County. 3.5km from the Zhao county bus station. ¥30 including the museum.
- Yongtong Bridge (永通桥 Yǒngtōng qiáo) - another stone bridge, although smaller and not as famous as the Zhaozhou bridge. It was originally built in 765AD. Located in Zhao county.
- Buddhist Stone Pillar (陀罗尼经幢 Tuóluóní jīngchuáng) - a stone pillar standing where a temple used to be. Created during the Tang dynasty, it is now in the middle of an intersection. Located in Zhao county.
- Bolin Monastery (柏林寺; Bólínsì), Zhao County (赵县; Zhàoxiàn) (In Zhao County proper, 3km from Zhaozhou Bridge and can be reached by the same buses). Large monastery, dating back to the Tang dynasty.
- Fenglongshan (封龙山 Fēnglóngshān) - located on the border of Luquan and Yuanshi counties, this is a mountain. Of historical interest are some Buddhist grottoes on the south side of the mountain (about a 3-4 hour hike from the north side/ticket entrance) called Xishitang (西石堂). Two of the grottoes date from the Northern Qi (550-577) and Tang dynasties (618-970) while a carving of Buddha in Nirvana is from the Northern Song dynasty (960-1126). If you'd rather not hike the mountain to see the grottoes, specify to your taxi driver to go to the south-facing part of the mountain (it is a farther drive than the north-facing entrance).
- Baoduzhai (抱犊寨 Bàodúzhài) - located in Luquan county, this mountain has a history going back to the Han dynasty where a battle led by Han Xin happened here. Of historical interest are some Buddhist caves and stone carvings, some of which date as far back to the Northern Qi dynasty (these are on the mountain before reaching the ticket office). There are also some ancient carvings inside the Baoduzhai walled area itself, though most have been heavily renovated. Bus 320 from Shijiazhuang train station's west square arrives here.
- Qin Dynasty Postal Road (秦皇古道 Qín huáng gǔdào) - located 5km from Jingxing county, this road was originally made during the Qin dynasty (221-206BC). Only a short stretch of the road - with carriage tracks imprinted in it - has been uncovered. The area was also of strategic importance in ancient times and many battles happened here. There are also three statues from the Tang dynasty here.
- Thousand Buddhas Cave (千佛崖石窟 Qiānfóyá shíkū) - located in Qishi village (七狮村) of Jingxing county, here there are many small Buddhas carved from the cave's walls. Many of the Buddhas' heads have been remade but otherwise the carvings remain relatively well-preserved. Started from the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127) until the Ming or early Qing dynasty.
- Longwo Temple Grotto (龙窝寺石窟 Lóngwōsì shíkū) - located roughly 25km from Jingxing county, the grotto here is a small collection of niches and carvings of Buddha into the stone wall. The temple was demolished sometime during the Cultural Revolution to make room for expanding the road. All that remains is this grotto, which isn't in very good condition yet still retains some charm. It may have been carved in the late Tang or Song dynasty.
- Yujiashan Cliff Statues (瑜伽山摩崖造像 Yújiā shān móyá zàoxiàng) - located roughly 40km from Pingshan county, the main attraction here is an 8 meter tall statue of Buddha carved from the side of the mountain during the Tang dynasty. On the left side of the mountain there is an area with more ancient statues carved from the mountain, notably two life-sized Buddhas although both are missing their faces. Do not mistake the modern cement statues before reaching the 8 meter tall statue for being ancient. Aside from the history, the surrounding mountain scenery is also quite beautiful.
- Linshan Grottoes (林山石窟 Línshān shíkū) - located about 15km from Pingshan county, there are four grottoes here, with one of them being dug during the Song dynasty and others during the Ming dynasty. Inside the small grottoes, the walls have been carved with hundreds of small Buddhas. It can be a little difficult to locate all of the grottoes here without a local's help.
- Founding Place of Linji School (临济寺 Lín jì sì - located in Zhengding county, this is the birthplace of Linji School of Buddhism, which would later influence the Rinzai school in Japan. The temple was established in 540AD.
- Hebei Provincial Museum. This is a must see and contains expositions from two major discoveries of the recent decades: the tomb of King of Zhongshan (中山王) from the late 4th century BCE, and the royal tombs of prince and princess of the Han principality of Zhongshan (Mancheng 满城 Han tombs) from the late 2nd century BCE.
- Shijiazhuang Stone Carvings Museum (石家庄市世界湾石刻博物馆 Shíjiāzhuāng shì shìjiè wān shíkè bówùguǎn) - if you are into grottoes, this is a neat museum to check out. Phone number: 15930167888.
Parks and nature
- A great park to walk around in is the Chang'an Park （长安公园）. It's a great people-watching park. Chinese men get together and play games, woman dance, and there are lots of babies toddling around. The park is actually four parks in one with an underground mall near the entrance (where the giant white statue of Mao Zedong is located).
- There are quite a few parks in the city. It's nice to walk around different ones in a day or afternoon. Locals are quite friendly and very interested to know where you're from (if you look approachable). Chang'an, Century and Zhongshan Parks are the biggest and most widely used.
- Cangyan Mountain (苍岩山; Cāngyánshān), (90 minutes drive from Shijiazhuang, one daily direct bus (8.40am) from the western Xiwang Station (西王客运站; Xīwáng Kèyùnzhàn; reached by bus 9 from the Central Bus Station) otherwise, take a frequent bus to Jingxing (1 hour) and change to Cangyanshan (another 1 hour), roughly hourly in the morning, last return bus 4.30pm). Really beautiful, picture postcard temples built on the steep hillsides. The centrepiece is the 'Bridge Tower Hall' ( 桥楼殿), built on a bridge 50+ metres over the gorge. The site was used to film the final scenes of the Oscar winning film Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. From there a loop takes you around the cliff face through several temple complexes in the hills above and back to the bridge. Allow rougly 1.5 hours walking plus plenty of time to stop and enjoy the views. 30Y.
Towns and villages
- Shitou Village (石头村; Shítoucūn; lit. Stone Village; also known as Yujiacun/Yujia Village (于家村; Yújiācūn)), (20km from Jingxing. From Shijiazhuang there are regular buses from Xiwang Kahn to Jingxing, where you can change to a bus to the village, though times are irregular. Busses to Cangyanshan can drop you at the turn off to the village, roughly 4km away (20Y taxi or wait for another bus)). A perfect example of Chinese stone architecture, with an excellent local temple (Qingliang pavillion; 清凉阁; Qīngliánggé) built in the late Ming-Early Qing period (16th-18th centuries). Village ticket (30Y) include a number of interesting homes, temples etc. Rooms are available for 50Y pp (June 2016) including all food. Ask at the ticket kiosk on arrival and someone will show you to a villagers house. It may serve as an introduction to popular beliefs of the Chinese peasants.There is no wifi available in the village. Many buildings are locked, ask at ticket kiosks for them to be unlocked and a walkie talkie will be used to conjure up someone to unlock them. As in June 2016 there didn't seem to be any English speaking guides this service was free. Go east, beyond the tourist parking, along a road of more modren brick housing, over bridge south, follow road round to right, under arch opposite a singing building to find more old stone buildings. Follow tracks out of the village to the surrounding hills covered with overgrown stone terraces.
- Niangzi Guan (娘子关; Niángziguān), (20km east of Shitou Village, a taxi will be ¥80-100 from Shitou Village or Jingxing County (井陉县; Jǐngxíngxiàn), or you can take the train from Shijiazhuang (6414, leaves at 6:38AM, back at 5:59PM)). For those who really love old towns. The dusty coalminers' town has two major attractions: a small but impressive section of the internal Great Wall, separating Shanxi from Hebei, a site of major battles from the sixth century on; and a beautiful village built on a stream, with private watermills run by many villagers (ask for Shuishangrenjia; 水上人家; Shuǐshàngrénjiā).
- Ancient town of Zhengding (正定; Zhèngdìng), (15km north of Shijiazhuang, bus 201 or 31 from the Railway Station). Features numerous beautiful sites, most specifically the Longxing Temple (隆兴寺), built in the Tang dynasty, which features a huge 22m high bronze Buddha statue donated by the Song emperor in the 11th century. It is also home to four unique ancient pagodas.
- China and Tajikistan Kwong Temple Tower, also simply known as the Tower. In 1961, the State Council marked it as a key national unit of cultural relics protection. The Tower is composed of a main tower and subsidiary turrets, all made of brick. The main tower consists of four corners of the bottom of the building in a fan hexagonal pavilion shaped turret, a turret around the main tower, scattered high and low, primary and secondary dependencies, exquisite gorgeous elegant, spectacular.
There are some well-equipped leisure centers, especially the luxury bathing centers.
- Tianshan Sea World (天山海世界), 116 Tianshan Ave (桥东区高新技术产业天山大街116号).
Shijiazhuang is home to three of China's top 10 wholesale markets, which makes it is a good place to find great bargains. Be prepared to haggle, either yourself or with a friend!
There are also a number of very large modern department stores. Prices can be a bit steep, but you can usually find reasonably priced, good quality goods.
- Bei Guo. In the middle of the city, at the corner of Zhong Shan Lu and Jian She Da Jie. Bei Guo has many locations around the city, but this is the largest.
- There is a new mall located on the east side of the city called the Wan Da Mall. It is on Huai An Lu, one block east of Century Park, on the north side of the street. It has a Starbucks, Pizza Hut, McDonald's, and KFC. It also has a movie theatre with an IMAX screen, as well as many clothing stores which are reasonably priced. Easily the nicest mall in the city, its an "American-style" mall, very nice to go just to walk around and window shop.
- The "You Mall" at Bei Guo Centre is very nice. Lots of little shops with clothing, accessories and various trinkets. Mostly for women. Nice food court on top floor (see "food card" system below).
- The Wonder Mall opened in Spring 2010 and has a theater, large department store and a really nice, clean food court, although the food was mediocre. It also has a Starbucks (opened December 2011)
- Xin Bai Centre offers more shopping, as does Dong Fang Commercial Center.
Behind and near Dong Fang are EGO, Tai He and Nan San Tiao, for wholesale shopping. Beware: Many items are pirated or ripped-off so make certain they work first.
- Hebei House. Chinese cuisine
- Seed Gastronomy, Yuhua District, Wanda Plaza, across from Gate III. Western Gastropub
- Rehehuiguan Restaurant (热河会馆; Rèhéhuìguǎn), (Just opposite the railway station (slightly to the south)). Features excellent Hebei and Manchu cuisine.
- Tu Da Ri, Zhongshanxi Road (中山西路; Zhōngshānxīlù) (a few minutes walk from the railway station, near Tai He, north side of the road). Small but lovely, and relatively cheap restaurant.
- There are few foreign restaurants and the ones that exist don't seem very Western. But it's still fun to go to them and try what they think is foreign food.
- Pizza Hut is in SJZ, although the food is different than PH in the States or other places. However, if you want something like pepperoni, they can usually make it, sometimes with a little polite insistence. Just tell them you want a pizza with LaRouChang. They also have decent onion rings.
- If you like ice-cream, there are 3 Dairy Queens in SJZ, within a few blocks of each other. One is in the EGO building beside Tai He, directly underneath McDonald's. The second is in the Wonder Mall, at the corner of ZhongHua DaJie and YuHua Lu. The third on is right across the street from the train station. All three of them also have a Yoshinoya (Japanese fast food) sharing the store space with them. Look for the orange Yoshinoya sign.
- Coffee shops in the western style are emerging. There's a new Costa Coffee that just opened in one of the malls, there are some cute coffee cafes, a SPR (starbucks look-alike) and others. You can goto one of the chain restaurants (McDonalds and KFC) and get a "Navy" coffee, and chill out there. One of the best coffee shops / bakeries is across from Beiguo "Tasty Bread." There is, however, a bakery on the bottom of "You Mall" in BeiGuo Shancheng that looks like a real bakery/coffee shop where one might sit down and have a coffee.
- A Starbucks recently opened (September 2011) in the Wan Da Mall on Huai An Lu in the east side of the city. Another Starbucks is opening soon in the Wonder Mall on Yu Hua Lu.
- Xiang Jun Fu, Ti Yu Nan Da Jie/ Dong Gang Lu (SW of the Train Station). Excellent Hunan food. To get there, take the 32 bus from the train station and transfer to the #6 bus at Hebei Normal University (师大）.
Food card system
Most food courts in Shijiazhuang have a "food card" system whereby one pays for a "food card" first. You then take the food card to the food court restaurant to order and they then deduct points or "cash" directly from the card only. Each individual restaurant does not take cash.
The good citizens of Shijiazhuang enjoy the Chinese alcohol made from rice baijiu, or white spirit. It is a strong drink and you need to develop an acquired taste. You will surely get to try some whenever you eat out with Chinese friends.
- Seven Club (Qi Jiuba), (West of the train station). The main night club that all the expats and foreign teachers go to. The beer is not great but it has the best atmosphere compared to any other club.
- mazzo club, zhongshan lu (two km east of train station). 20:00. newest club/KTV in Shijiazhuang. Located between the train station and Bei Guo Shopping Center on Zhongshan Lu. Sister club is Rolling Stones （滚石酒吧: pinyin: gun shi jiu ba） and its adjoining club Club No.88 (八八酒吧: pinyun - ba ba jiu ba), just down the street toward the train station. There are two internet bars and a movie theater within a five minute walk, along with three more KTVs and western and Chinese restaurants, as well as a sushi restaurant. 04:00.
- Chokolate Bar (Shijiazhuang Chokolate BAR/ 夜殿酒吧), FOREIGN BAR 休门街民生路交口西行20米路北.Xiū mén jiē mínshēng lù jiāokǒu xīxíng 20 mǐ lù běi 050000 Shijiazhuang Shi, Hebei, China (Near Lerthai), ☎ +86 150 3268 6029, . Foreigners, some locals, pool table, table football, european football on tv, nightly specials, decent drinks and friendly people. Parties on holidays and a regular hang out for many of the foreign teachers and others. 15-50/drink.
In the Cangyan Shan region, there are no places to stay for foreigners - in fact this is the issue in much of Hebei province. If a proprietor can be bothered and the police feel inclined, the police can allow you to stay in accommodation not approved for foreigners provided you register with them.
The Shijiazhuang administration does not allow foreigners to stay at budget hotels under about ¥200. This includes any hostels that might appear in booking sites, they are for Chinese only, including the hostel across the street from the train station.
Other options include checking with the Foreign Affairs Departments of universities who sometimes have budget accommodation. There are private accommodation options around, varying from rough to excellent. Near universities is a good place to look for a room. There are also what are often translated as private hotels, which might be an apartment where the rooms are rented out by the day. They can be found advertising on the Net but are all in Chinese. The law says that you must register with the police within 24 hours of arriving when you stay in any private accommodation (as it states on the back of the immigration card when entering the country). Most residents are unaware of this and probably will not ask you to, but you and the resident can get into mild trouble with the authorities if found out.
- Home Inn, (about three blocks from the train station). Allowed to accept foreigners. It is pretty clean and moderately priced.
- Huiwen Hotel (汇文大酒店; Huìwén Dàjiǔdiàn)), 6 Zhanqian St (站前街; Zhànqiánjiē) (opposite the railway station), ☎ +86 311 87865818. Four star hotel with rooms with desk and kettle. Karaoke, pool and fitness available. Also has a restaurant serving Honk Kong cuisine. Discounted rates for doubles from around ¥250.
- Lude Hotel (陆德宾馆 Lùdé bīnguǎn) - located in Jingxing county (just a 15 minute/1km walk from the main bus station in Jingxing), this hotel accepts foreigners. It is on the third floor of a business plaza. Friendly owners. The rooms are clean and each room has its own wifi router. Shower has good water pressure. If you can navigate the TV's menu, it has lots of free American films to watch. Price: 100RMB. Phone：0311-82036032. Address：井陉县城建设北路11号.
There is no problem finding higher priced accommodation and there is plenty of it.
Despite its size, Shijiazhuang is a safe city, even though crime rate is reported to be higher in recent years.
Pickpockets may be a problem in railway station's square. Some theft groups are active in that area. If you're there, even in the surrounding areas, don't forget to keep an eye on your bags.
Some viaducts in Shijiazhuang have traffic lights. Be very careful when you drive on any viaducts in the city.
If you want to go to some hot-springs, check out the White Deer Hotel in Pingshan County. Ask your Chinese friends. You need to take a bus from the North Station. It's around 200RMB for the day, but beautiful and huge. They have indoor and outdoor pools. Bring your sunscreen.
|Routes through Shijiazhuang