Zhanjiang (湛江; Zhànjiāng) is a city on the western coast of Guangdong Province in China.
Zhanjiang was a small fishing and trading port up till it came under French occupation at the end of the 19th century. The area leased by France from China’s Qing government was known in French as ‘Territoire de Kouang-Tchéou-Wan’ (meaning: Territory of Canton Bay). It had a total area of around 325 square miles, or 842 square km, on the eastern coast of Leizhou Peninsula and included two bays and the two large islands Dong Hai Island and Nao Zhou Island. The territory’s main town was Fort Bayard and from around 1899 up to the outbreak of WW2, the French had visions of developing this, and adjacent towns within their territory, into a trading port to rival Hong Kong. However, it came under Japanese occupation in World War II, and it was returned to China by France in 1946. Some grandiose old French colonial buildings survive in various states of repair in the older parts of Xiashan and Chikan districts. During the period of French administration, XiaShan served as the political and administrative centre and the more heavily populated Chikan district served as the main centre for commerce.
Today though, Zhanjiang is a major port city with a superb, deep water habour facilitating its rapid economic development into a modern, harbourside city. Many people in Zhanjiang speak Mandarin (普通话 Pǔtōnghuà) with a fairly strong accent. The native languages for true locals are Cantonese (广东话 Guǎngdōnghuà) and/or Leizhouhua (雷州话 Léizhōuhuà), a distinct dialect of Hokkien. Foreign visitors need to be aware that there is not much English spoken in Zhanjiang.
It is said that Zhanjiang has “a humid subtropical climate, with mild winters and hot, wet summers”. But, for much of the year it just feels outright tropical with high temperatures and soaring humidity.
Zhanjiang is at the base of the Leizhou peninsula that points toward the island province Hainan. Travellers often pass through Zhanjiang en route to Hainan. Some travellers pass through Zhanjiang en route to Hainan, but increasingly those coming to Zhanjiang do so simply to enjoy its harbourside ambiance, local culture and superb seafood. There are standard trains and buses to and from nearby mainland cities, with long-distance trains connecting Zhanjiang direct to Beijing (36 hours), Shanghai (24 hours), Kunming (24 hours) and a number of other distant cities.
Fast trains now also connect Zhanjiang (from Zhanjiang West Station) direct to Guangzhou (around 3 hours) and Shenzhen (around 4 hours).
Ferries travel to Haikou, capital of Hainan, from Hai’an at the southern most part of the Leizhou peninsula; the port for the Ferry service is a bit over an hour’s bus ride away from Zhanjiang’s Haitian bus-station.
There are two train stations and a small but busy airport with direct flights to Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chongqing, Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou and many other mainland cities, as well as daily direct flights to Hong Kong and several services each week to Bangkok and Phnom Penh. Buses also run daily to most nearby cities, with the main bus stations being Zhanjiang South Bus Station, located about 100 m south of Zhanjiang Railway Station (South Station), and Haitian Bus Station located to the north of town on Renmin Dadao Bei (North Peoples Avenue).
Zhanjiang is almost like two cities combined: the northern half, composed of Chikan district (赤坎区 Chìkǎn qū), Jin Sha Wan (金沙湾 Jīn Shā Wān)and Mazhang District (麻章区 Mázhāng qū) and the southern Xiashan District (霞山区 Xiáshān qū) are separated by a less developed corridor.
The main bus routes (2, 11, 12, 22) travel from the northern districts to Xiashan and back. Smaller buses and other routes can allow you to explore more areas of the individual districts.
Taxis in Zhanjiang are fairly cheap, starting at ¥7. Afterwards the fare increases by ¥2 per kilometer.
- Haibin Park (海滨公园 hǎibīn gōngyuán), Xiashan District (You can easily get to the park on a number 2 bus). A famous waterfront park with superb views out across the harbour from its harbourside promenade. . edit
- Cunjin Park (寸金公园 cùn jīn gōngyuán), Chikan District (Runs adjacent to Cunjin Bridge, which marks the historical boundary between the French treaty port and China). This is one of the oldest parks in Zhanjiang and has a wonderful leafy atmosphere, some classic Chinese arched bridges and appealing vistas around its small lake. edit
- Zhanjiang Museum, Chikan District (Walk in the front entrance of Cunjin Park and walk to the back of the park. There will be an exit that leads to the museum). 09ː00-17ː30, no entry after 17ː00. (湛江市博物馆), 50 Nanfang Road, Chikan District (赤坎区南方路50号) (There is a bus stop right outside the museum served by bus no. 26. Alternatively take bus no. 1, 2, 8, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, 29, 33, 35, 47, 73 or 912b and get off at Cunjin Park. This municipal museum might not be cavernous, or crammed with an infinite array of archaeological wonders, but it's still very absorbing. Located in Chakan, its major exhibits document the way that Zhanjiang's people resisted attacks from French naval forces in the 19th century. Foreign visitors may not know much about this episode, but the locals remember it, and you'll soon learn everything you need to know. Along with that, there's an excellent show of ancient copper drums, and some delicate porcelain creations - enough for an afternoon of diversion and education, for sure. Be sure to take time to appreciate the building’s exterior design – it’s a superb piece of grand Soviet style architecture. Also, be sure to see the many historical stone dogs in the grass to the side (away from the entrance) of the museum that are a must see. Free but bring your passport. edit
- Huguangyan Park (湖光岩世界地质公园 Húguāngyán shìjiè dìzhì gōngyuán), (About 30 minutes from Zhanjiang). The center piece to this UNESCO Geo Park is a large Maar Lake. Adults ¥50. edit
- Former Site of French Legation in Guangzhouwan ((广州湾法国公使署旧址)), 3 Haibin Road, Xiashan District (霞山区海滨路3号). Historic building built in 1903, that was the main administrative office of the French colonial government. The site is now a museum, located opposite Haibin Park. Bus routes 2, 2K, 12, 21, 30 (inner circle route), 30 (outer circle route) and 908). Open 09:00-17:00, closed on Mondays. edit
- Chikan’s Old Streets. The streets between Minzhu Road and Minsheng Road (in the older part of Chikan) have been closed off to 4-wheeled vehicles and are now just for pedestrians and bikes (both pushbikes and electric bikes), wander these peaceful old streets to discover some wonderful old shop-houses with European style facades, antique shops, coffee shops (there are 2 on Heping Road, and 1 on Minquan Road), the Guangzhouwan Museum of History and Folk Culture, fast food shops and lots more. edit
- Movie theaters, there are now countless cinemas in Zhanjiang, including at least 3 with IMAX screens - check out Wanda Plaza, JinZhaWan Plaza, DingSheng Plaza, Evergrande Cinemas (Near Wanda), WangFuJing Plaza and lots more. Admission is usually around ¥25. edit
- Haibin Hotel and Hotsprings, Xiashan District. Admission includes a dinner buffet and an evening to enjoy the various hotsprings and pools. edit
- Dong Feng Seafood Market, Haibin Dadao Nan, Xiashan. This market (in Xiashan, just south of Haibin Park) is a fascinating place to visit to see a wonderful assortment of fresh seafood being traded (both wholesale and retail). Travelers and visitors wanting to enjoy a great meal of fresh seafood can buy what they want in the market and then take to one of the restaurants bordering the market (there is a great on the 2nd floor above the main retail seafood hall) and for a modest price they’ll cook your seafood for you, which you can supplement with any of their other dishes. edit
- Jin Sha Wan (Gold Sand Bay), Chikan. This area and the harbourside promenades extending south and north from there – this place really comes to life in the evenings when locals flock to the place to enjoy relaxing on the beach and the narrow strip of adjoining parkland. edit
- Te Cheng Island. This is a great island located out towards the entrance of Zhanjiang's harbour, for cycling or walking as it is flat and without much vehicle traffic. A circuit of the island involves covering a distance of around 8 km, and will take you past little temples, mangroves and more. The Island can be accessed by local vehicle and passenger ferry from the boat dock at the southern end of Haibin Park in Xiashan (takes about 20 minutes), or by fast passenger ferry (about 10 minutes) from the new Fisherman’s Wharf development located about 1 km south of Haibin Park in XiaShan. edit
As a major stop for many bikers heading to the islands, Zhanjiang has a fair range of bicycle shops to shop on components and parts. Most shops are located along Minzhi Road (民治路) and certain brands such as Dahon, Giant, Merida also have their branches there, and various bike shops are scattered around Chikan.
Like all big Chinese cities, Zhanjiang has many big supermarkets by well-known brands including Wal-Mart, Chain-Mart, Lotus and RT-Mart. The best ones, for those seeking a range of imported foodstuffs as well as spirits, imported wines and an increasingly diverse range of local and imported beers, are the Wal-marts.
- Trust Mart, (In Shimao Shopping Complex in the center of Chikan District). A large supermarket with a number of things to buy. Also found in the same building KFC and Macau Street Food City. edit
- Wal-Mart, Xiashan District, 2 in Chikan District and (soon) 1 in Mazhang District. The best supermarkets in Zhanjiang for those seeking a range of imported foodstuffs as well as spirits, imported wines and an increasingly diverse range of local and imported beers. edit
- i-Fortune, Xiashan District on Renmin Dadao (On the corner of Jiefang and Renmindadao). Has many different items - shoes, clothes, places to eat, manicure/pedicure, etc. KFC is at the bottom and lots of other restaurants. edit
- Vanguard, Xiashan District (With i-Fortune on the left facing Renmin Da Dao walk across the street keeping the park on the left. Vanguard will be about 3 blocks or so down the road). Has very few imported items, but is a clean and less traveled place to shop. It has the same goods as Wal-Mart without the shopping stress. By far the best place to do weekly shopping for a foreigner who is used to "Western" comforts. edit
- Place to buy cheese, (.). The best places now to buy cheese in Zhanjiang are the Wal-mart and RT_mart supermarkets. Possible cheese choices edit
Local specialties include fresh seafood, oysters (locals love them barbecued), longyan, lychees (litchi), jackfruit, pineapple, sugarcane and sweet potato.
There are too many great restaurants in Zhanjiang to list here. But if you are visiting, we recommend enjoying some fresh local seafood, barbecued oysters (which are a really popular evening snack) and local fruits in season. A great place to enjoy a range of fresh seafood is at Dong Feng Seafood Market. Many restaurants around town serve great local oysters, including some specialising in these morsels. But people wanting to enjoy some good barbecue with the locals, including superb barbecued Zhanjiang oysters, should head to the cluster of Da Pai Dong’s in Bai Xin Cun (100 names village – 百姓村 bǎixìng cūn) or on the corner of Renmin Dadao Bei and Hai Bin DaDao Bei.
- Inner Mongolia Dumpling Restaurant, (In 100 names village (百姓村 bǎixìng cūn)). If you would like dumplings or to sample a different variety of Chinese cuisine, this restaurant serves excellent food at inexpensive prices. edit
Over recent years, some great coffee shops and numerous milk-tea and bubble milk-tea shops have sprung up around Zhanjiang. As well as the famous American chain coffee shop, there are plenty of good, local coffee shops with great atmosphere, some of which serve up really coffee and/or try to cater to real coffee aficionados. May of these are to be found in older streets and laneways in Chikan and Xiashan, away from the fancy shopping malls, where the rents are much cheaper the local atmosphere far more alluring.
Many of the western-style restaurants, such as the West Coast Coffeehouse (西海安 xīhǎi ān) at the northern end of Haibin Park in XiaShan, with a second outlet at the norther part of Jin Sha Wan, and another inside Wanda Plaza, sell a great range of western style meals along with a variety of mocktails and wine by the bottle.
Also, Wal-Mart (all 3 locations) has the best selection of spirits, imported wines and a diverse range of local and imported beers if you would like to make your own drinks.
- Mr Robbin, Rivan Plaza, Jin Sha Wan. is an enjoyable country and western bar and restaurant. It is one of the few places in Zhanjiang where you can get a range of beers on tap. It also has outside seating that affords view across Zhanjiang’s harbour, and most evenings has some relaxing live music by local guitarists and vocalists. Its located on ground floor (podium level) of Rivan Plaza, fronting Ti Yu Bei Lu. edit
Zhanjiang is separated as two major districts: Chikan and Xiashan, in which Xiashan is more developed and newer than Chikan, but both districts also have plenty of hotels.
Many budget hotels are located along Minzhi Road (民治路) near to Jiefang East Road (解放东路). Prices range from 60-70 for a double room.
- Crowne Plaza, (In the Xiashan District). The only five-star hotel in Zhanjiang. Hosts a buffet dinner with both western and oriental dishes. All you can eat food and drink beer for ¥200 per person. edit
Five Star hotels in Zhanjiang include:
• Crowne Plaza (In Xiashan District). Has huge Chinese restaurant facilities and a small western restaurant that serves a combination western-Chinese buffet for breakfast and dinner.
• Sovereign Hotel (In Xiashan District)
• Sheraton Hotel (in Jin ShaWan)
• Garden Hotel (in Jin ShaWan)
• Hampton Inn by Hilton (mid-way between Xiashan and Chikan on Renmin Dadao)
- Donghai Island, the fourth largest island in China, is about 1.5 hours drive from Zhanjiang and is popular for its beaches. Buses leave regularly from the Xiashan District.
- There are almost hourly buses to Guangzhou, the provincial capital. Buses also leave four times a day for Zhuhai, where you can easily cross into Macau.
- There is a train to Hainan Island that originates in Beijing and will take you from Zhanjiang to either Haikou or Sanya. It is about eight hours to Sanya, the southernmost Chinese city.
- There are also regular trains to Guilin in neighboring Guangxi province. The ride takes about eight hours.