It should not be confused with Dalyan in Turkey.
Dalian (大连; Dàlián) is the second largest city in Liaoning Province, Dongbei (North East), China, the largest port in northern China, and a major destination for Chinese tourists. At the southern tip of the Liaodong Peninsula, the main part of the city is on its own sub-peninsula, with the port to the north of the town centre and natural coastline dotted with beaches to the east and south.
Dalian in fact encompasses 6 districts, 3 county-level cities and one county. Visitors are likely to spend time in only 5 of the city's 8 districts (and none of the sub-cities). Among the 5 are the following; these 4 districts are the only ones locally called "Dalian":
The wider Dalian administrative area encompasses 2 further districts, 3 county-level cities (北三市 Běisānshì three northern cities) and one county. Jinzhou District and Lushunkou District are the other 2 districts. Changhai County, a small group of islands east of the Liaodong Peninsula, is the only county Dalian administrates. Wafangdian, Pulandian, and Zhuanghe represent the 3 county-level cities within the municipal territory of Dalian. Pulandian is the future home of the municipal government headquarters, with the center of control no longer in Xigang District as the China's central government's plans to continue to develop the districts north of Dalian's city center.
There are numerous sub-districts within each district, which would equate to "neighborhoods", but these are far too numerous and specific to be of much help to travellers.
Dalian, as a city, is young by Chinese standards, dating from 1898, though smaller settlements had long existed in the area. Like Hong Kong, Shanghai and Qingdao, Dalian's development stemmed from colonial occupation, in this case by Russia. Under Russian rule Dalian, or Dalny as it was known, became the southern tip of the Trans-Siberian Railway and the main port of the eastern Russian Empire. Following the Russian defeat in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-5, the city was transferred to Japanese control and renamed Dairen. The Chinese government resumed control following World War II (though the city was jointly run with the Soviet Union until 1955), and in 1950 it was again renamed by the newly formed Communist regime, this time to Luda City. There followed a period of relative stagnation until the city (once again named Dalian) was opened up to foreign investment in 1984. This sparked the first period of redevelopment of the city, the second period coming with the appointment of Bo Xilai as mayor. Under Bo's stewardship, the city became a model example of redevelopment, with extensive redevelopment of its infrastructure and open spaces and a new focus on tourism and commerce and away from heavy industry.
Dalian is less reliant on heavy industry than its Northeast counterparts, and its heavy industry there is mostly relegated to the development zone far outside the city center. This, combined with the city's many parks and green hills, wide thoroughfares and army of street cleaners, makes Dalian a more pleasant city to visit and live in than most Chinese cities of comparable size. Though most of the tourist industry in the city is targeted at the domestic, rather than the international market, overseas tourists should still find enjoyment in the city. The large number of foreign businesses in the city and foreign students and teachers at the city's many universities ensure that there are plenty of companies (from upmarket hotels to bars and coffee houses) which cater to those who do not call China their native home. The city has a population of around 6,000,000.
Dalian is perhaps most abuzz when it hosts the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting of the Champions (summer Davos).
Mandarin is the main language of Dalian, and most Dalianese speak a fairly standard version of the dialect, though the local variety (known as Dalian-hua and related to the Shandong dialect) can sometimes be hard to follow for those unfamiliar with it. As in the rest of China, English is increasingly spoken, but still not understood by most Dalianese, and you should expect a strong accent. Outside of the more expensive hotels and businesses that cater to overseas customers, a grasp of basic Mandarin phrases (at least) is advisable. If you need to have a conversation in English, try to find someone who looks like a student or aged from 15 to 25. They can usually have easy conversations with you in English and some of then can speak really fluently.
When to go
The city is best visited in spring, when Dalian begins to shed its drab winter coat and cherries begin to appear on the trees, waiting to be plucked. Autumn is also very enjoyable, mainly because the temperatures are a tad cooler and the humidity is far less evident. During the summer school holidays (early July-late August) the city attracts large numbers of domestic tourists, making long distance transport tickets and hotel rooms harder to find and some sights more expensive; however, this is maybe the time Dalian becomes most attractive. Labour Day (one week around 1 May) and National Day (one week around 1 Oct) holidays see similar, though smaller influxes, so it may be preferable to schedule visits outside these times. Although the cherries are long gone and wintry gusts have settled in, the Chinese New Year (lasting weeks, beginning in January or February depending on the lunar calendar) may be an enjoyable time to visit the city if crowds are not your thing, as Dalian's short history prevents many from calling the city their home town, and therefore the city has a quiet feel during these winter weeks (sometimes disturbed by firecrackers). The city is among the top ten cities in China in term of air quality, however in early winter (especially November) air pollution can be terrifying, as the central heat system of the city relies on coal burning. With heavy fog and smog in November, the city seems to be less attractive during those days. Consider using N95 masks during your visit if you intend to go at that time.
Dalian Zhoushuizi International Airportphone: +86 411 8665 2071to the north-west of the city center, offers direct domestic flights to Beijing, Changchun, Changsha, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Guiyang, Hangzhou, Harbin, Hefei, Hohhot, Jinan, Kunming, Linyi, Mudanjiang, Nanjing, Nanning, Ningbo, Qingdao, Shanghai, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Shijiazhuang, Tianjin, Weihai, Wuhan, Xi'an, Xiamen, and Yantai. International destinations include Busan, Fukuoka, Hong Kong, Khabarovsk, Osaka, Pyongyang, Sapporo, Seoul, Taipei, Tokyo, and Vladivostok. Although busy at times, the airport is fairly easy to manage, having only one terminal and a very simple layout. International check-in takes place on the west end of the building.
The airport is served directly by Dalian metro line 2, which connects to Zhongshan Square and the harbor. A regular airport bus also departs after every flight lands and runs to the main train station (it also stops at the smaller Shahekou train station so be careful not to get off too soon), and to Renmin Lu.
If you take a taxi instead, be sure to hail one from the official taxi queue on the east side (ground level), just a few feet from any of the glass doors on the ground floor. Failing to use one of these could prove problematic (unless venturing further outside of the downtown area, where most drivers waiting in the queue will resist driving to).
Tickets for outbound flights can be booked in advance from the airport ticket office on Zhongshan Lu, just opposite Xiwang Square.
Dalian Railway Stationphone: +86 411 8260 3331address: 259 Changjiang Road, Zhongshan District (中山区长江路259号)Direct trains serve most cities in Dongbei as well as Beijing. Daily express trains also run to Shenyang. High speed trains are available from Dalian Railway Station and Dalian North Train Station. D Trains (High Speed Rail) operate between Dalian, Shenyang and Harbin on a regular basis from both stations but Dalian Railway Station also operates D trains to Beijing. Tickets can be booked up to ten days in advance from the station, though this requires a degree of Chinese proficiency (or access to someone with Chinese proficiency). Local travel agents and major hotels should also be able to book tickets in advance, often further than is possible from the station (for an extra charge). For further details on train travel in China, including details on the various classes available, see the main China article.
Dalian North Railway Stationaddress: Huabei Road, Ganjingzi District (甘井子区华北路)High speed trains serve cities in northeast China like Shenyang, Changchun, Harbin and Dandong. Most high speed services to Beijing and Shanghai also departs here. Very few trains to other cities in the northeast region (Yichun, Tongliao) also departs here. Metro line 1 connects the station with the city, while several bus lines also serve the station.
Any unoffical way to book a ticket is not recommended. Book tickets from stations as possible to avoid invalid tickets. Trying to board a train with invalid tickets may cause a fine or even an prosecution. Online ticketing is much easier and more possibly to get a ticket when people travels a lot (in summer, several days before Spring Festival or other holidays)if you understand Chinese or have a Chinese friend.
Long distance buses are available and serve most destinations in the vicinity of Dalian. A popular long distance bus station is on Jianshe Jie, just to the south of the train station along Changjiang Lu. Smaller stations, serving mainly local cities, are next to the passenger ferry terminal, another about 1.5 km west of the train station at the intersection of Anshan Lu and Xinkai Lu (běi gǎng qiáo station (北岗桥汽车站)), and in Heishijiao in Shahekou District.
Ferry services run from the passenger ferry terminal (大连港客运站 Dàlián Gǎng Kèyùn Zhàn) on the eastern side of Zhongshan District (along Gangwan Jie) to cities along the Yellow Sea and to Incheon in South Korea. A fast ferry runs to Yantai and has transport options of 3, 12 or 6 hours. Tickets can be purchased either from the ferry terminal or from a kiosk at the train station. On long haul domestic ferries (excluding fast ferries) first class berths typically offer a two bed room with a shower, second class offers a four bed room with a wash basin while lower classes may offer only a bunk in a large, shared area, a hard seat, or no reserved place at all.
Taxis are plentiful in Dalian and flagging one down is rarely a problem except in the more remote parts of the city (where high car ownership exists or large numbers of those who would have trouble paying a taxi fare)or in rush hour. Rates start at ¥10 (¥13 after 22:00) for the first 3 km and ¥2 for each additional kilometre. For idle time, tack on ¥0.3/minute. Round all taxi fares to the nearest whole number as drivers do not accept any coinage less than ¥1 (e.g., ¥11.60 would round up to ¥12). Drivers range in mood, some acting quite gruff and excessively aggressive while some are keenly interested in where you originate from or other small talk. On the good side, they are less likely to take needlessly long routes compared to other tourist cities in China as Dalian is a relatively small city with a limited number of major highways and thoroughfares. Drivers don't understand basic English, so be prepared ahead of time to ensure accurate drop-off. If a driver is looking to pick up additional passengers along your route, encourage him or her to keep on driving unless you're comfortable with what might ensue. Especially during rush hour, when taxis are heavily sought after, it's quite common for drivers to pick up additional passengers if heading in the same direction as those in the taxi.
As anywhere in China, during bad weather (e.g., heavy rain, snow, etc.), some taxi drivers may decide to go off the meter (illegal but not enforced) or only accept far-away destinations. Plan your trip beforehand if there's bad weather.
The city has a lot of illegal taxis, both drivers and vehicles (even vehicles that are painted and have meters may be operating illegally). These drivers may be hesitant to go on routes which might be more heavily patrolled. The driver may use the meter, thus charging you an accurate fare, but they will often avoid giving a receipt. The best way to avoid running into any issues is to use taxis which have a blue or white light on top of the car: this is the highest colour ratings afforded to a Dalian taxi driver. Conversely, yellow is the lowest rating while all other coloured-lights are somewhere in between.
Many taxi drivers smoke and play their radios, and you can tell them to stop smoking or turn the radio off. Some may also hesitate to start the meter so be sure you let them know to start it if you think they've forgotten or up to their tricks. Few use the air conditioner in the summer, except for perhaps during the hottest parts of day. The nicest thing about the taxis and size of Dalian is that ¥20 can go a long ways in getting around. Ask for a receipt after journey.
Taxi drivers in China don't expect a tip and the fare should be the exact amount, but most drivers round it up to ¥1. So you usually pay slightly more, but not too much(less than ¥1). If you really mind that, just talk to the driver. No one will be angry.
Being a fairly compact city, it's easy to break up taxi or bus rides with a short walk. In the morning, it's not uncommon for the streets to be slick due to the pollution and dust mixing with the dew, so take caution. Additionally, some surfaces consist of shiny tile which make for beautiful viewing but can be incredibly slippery when wet or during the winter when snow may be hiding the slick surface underneath. Lastly, the pavements may have pits or missing utility covers, along with low-hanging clothes lines draped in front of businesses or homes, so be on the lookout at night when it can be harder to see these hangups. Controlled crosswalks and pedestrian tunnels (along with a few pedestrian bridges) make it easy to cross major intersections. It is advised to keep your head on a swivel when going to cross a street—autos typically do not yield even when the crosswalk signal is green for pedestrians.
- Using a translating software and the official site. However the website requires you to know the Chinese name of your destination stop instead of your destination.
- Using a translating software and Chinese map software (Baidu, Tencent, etc.). Due to the policy of Baidu, none of the map services are offering English services since they have cores provided by Baidu.
Gaode Maps (高德地图) provide English services of the way finding function, but without stops well-translated. You have to use an smartphone with IOS system and keep your system language in Chinese. To translate stops better you will need another translation software.
- Using unofficial local English services. A variety local platforms with single bus route search are set up by bus fans. However they do not feature route planning. This is usually useful when you are travelling to other districts where bus stands do not feature English, or when you are planning to ride a bus whose route has a very complicated fare policy i.e. bus 2003 to Lushun. The local services update quite frequently (sometimes more frequently than the official website). You may also send a message to the account, and hope that an account operator is online.
- Ask someone. This can be your best choice when you know your destination well or you are checking whether you are on the right bus, but asking long and complicated questions can be considered slightly rude and bothering by locals.
The typical wait between buses is about five minutes. Seats are generally hard and, even with very frequent services, buses on major routes can still get crowded at peak times. Although fitted to do so, most operate with air conditioning or heating systems off, although in extreme heat (higher than 25 ℃) or cold (lower than -10 ℃) the driver turns them on. Services start early in the morning (anywhere from 04:30-08:00) and usually finish around 22:00, although some services finish earlier or later depending on the popularity of the line. Fare is ¥1-2. You should get on most of the buses using the front doors, however some of them requires you to get on using the rear ones. Just follow your fellow passengers and everything will be fine.
Bus routes that may be of use to visitors include #2 (from Qingniwaqiao station to Tiger Beach), #4 (from Olympic Square to Tiger Beach), #5 (from Zhongshan Lu near Qingniwa to Jingsha beach via Fujiazhuang), #13 (from the west side of Victory Square to Haizhiyun via Donggang area and ferry terminal), #16 (from Conference Center near Donggang to Heishijiao) and #22 (from the railway station to Lingshui area via Xinghai Square). Ticket prices for all these routes, as with most buses in Dalian, are ¥1 regardless of distance and exact change must be given.
In addition to the regular public buses there is also an air-conditioned tourist bus line. Bus #K901 runs from the Foreign Languages University to the south-western edge of Dalian via Zhongshan Square, the Railway station, Xinghai Square and Heishijiao. Tickets are ¥2 regardless of the distance.
Of particular interest to tourists is a bus to Binhai Road for ¥10 (round-tour bus,08:00-16:00). It starts from near the railway station and covers the Conference & Exhibition Centre, Dalian Seashell Museum, Forest Zoo, FuJiazhuang beach, Yan Woling, Birdsong Forest, Tiger Beach Paradise, Harbour Square and Zhongshan Square. There is a bus every 40 min and throughout the day you can travel in this bus, or just stay aboard for a 90-min journey.
Dalian has a few trams and trolleybuses, a legacy from the years of Japanese occupation, and which add character to the city in addition to being a practical means of transportation. The occasional hilly street with a tram scooting along past colonial buildings combine to give Dalian a look unique in China. There are two main tram routes: #201 runs largely west-east from Xinggong Street near the Shahekou Railway Station to the Haizhiyun (Rhythm of the Sea) Park on the coast. #202 runs from the High Tech Zone (near Xiaoping Island) to the Jinhui shopping area where the #201 starts. The #203 line was merged into the #201 route. As a result, note the destination sign on the tram before boarding, as the express and other special trams will skip some stops. Fare is ¥1, although an additional ¥1 may be asked for once passing certain stops (for example, boarding the #201 west of the train station requires ¥1 and then another ¥1 to continue riding east of the train station). When using a Mingzhu Card, you should swipe your card two times in total. When you are getting off with your card swiped only once, do swipe your card on the machine manually. Or if you have swiped your card twice (once you board and once the conductor asks you to), do not swipe out or it can lead to an error, causing a wrong fare deduction.
When getting on the modern trams, use the middle two sets of doors and get off from the other ones. However you may be asked to board a heritage tram using the front and rear doors. Just like the buses, do as your fellow passengers do.
Trolleybus #101 from Dalian Railway Station to Malan Square is actually considered a "busy bus route". See "By bus" for further information.
By fast rail
This not a means of transport around the city centre as there are only two central stations, but effective transportation for those travellers with transportation needs to GanjingZi District or even further out to Jinzhou District (construction is underway to extend even further north to Pulandian). The Fast rail (kuai guǐ) can be quicker than a taxi to get to or from areas north of the centre (if traffic is bad on the Zhenxing Rd, this mode will easily be the quickest). The Development Area stop serves as a transfer station, with no line transfer necessary to continue north to Jinshitan but a transfer required if wanting to hop on the Jiuli line (which goes to central Jinzhou and beyond). Fare is based upon the distance with the furthest distances having a ¥8 fare. Fast rail cars are air conditioned and the waiting stations are sheltered from precipitation but the journey can be extremely crowded during peak hours. At night, once the Fast rail has stopped operating for the day, it's possible to return to the city centre by taxi (or a shared taxi) for a decent fare. Most trains during peak hours terminates at Free Trade Zone Station. For further services to Jinshitan, please wait for other trains.
Notes for getting around
- A Mingzhu ("pearl" in Chinese) card (明珠卡) is available to pay the fare for metro/bus/tram/trolley bus trips and gets a 5 to 20 percent discount. You can get or recharge a card at vending machines at metro or fast rail stations, but some cards can't be refunded.
- Google maps do not provide up-to-date information in most Chinese cities like Dalian. Apple maps are reliable and up-to-date as it uses information provided by Gaode. If you do not have an iOS device you can use Baidu maps or Gaode maps and translate the places using Google. This may take some time but really works.
- Do not consider riding a bike a good way to discover the city unless you have a great strength. The city is located in a hilly area with a great amount of slopes, which may ruin a nice and relaxing trip inside the city.
- Squares – Within China, Dalian is renowned for its squares and green places, with a large number scattered throughout the city, each with its own distinct character. Zhongshan Square (Zhongshan District) hosts the city's financial centre and some fine old Japanese buildings, Renmin Square (Xigang District) is the seat of the city government and boasts an impressive fountain while Xinghai Square (Shahekou District) is the largest square in Asia and home to a wide range of tourist attractions.
- Old colonial buildings(老殖民建筑) - Though a young city, Dalian's status as a former colony of both Russia and Japan offers an eclectic mix of architectural styles for history buffs. Many of the older buildings in central Dalian were demolished during periodic bouts of renovation, but pockets of history remain with Russian Street (Xigang District) and Lüshun offering perhaps the best concentration of old buildings. You may also discover some in the central area or on a deserted street.
- Dalian Forest Zoo（大连森林动物园） - Dalian has a wide range of tourist attractions, but most of them are geared for the local market. To overseas visitors it would seem more of a tourist trap rather than attractions. The Forest Zoo (Xigang District) is one of the few that does stand up to international expectations, with large exhibits and a good variety of species. The zoo, set in the hillsides south of the city centre, is split into two sections on opposite sides of a mountain as well as offering an indoor rainforest (plant species only) and various performances showcasing animal talent. The zoo's pandas, both great and red, are probably its main attraction but rhinos, tigers, lions and polar bears are also some of the larger varieties one can see. Several primate species and birds are also found on the premises.
- Cherry blossoms – Late April is a good time to visit the village of Long Wangtang (龙王塘) (Lüshunkou District) to view its cherry blossoms. The 3,000 cherry trees were planted by Japanese colonists back in 1920s after the completion of Long Wangtang water dam. The Art Nouveau-style dam itself is another interest to visit. Also night blossoms in the 203 heights area are a impressive scene, but a bit further (30-min ride on metro line 12 and another 20 minutes on a shuttle bus).
Láodòng (Labour) Parkaddress: (Zhongshan District)You can walk up or use a seat-lift to reach the peak of the mountain. When you arrive there, you have the possibility to go up the Reach Sightseeing Tower to have a even higher panoramic view. On a beautiful day it is worthy a trip and the gorgeous view will pay off. To get back down you can take the "First Land Sled" which is a really fun experience. Besides looking at probably one of the biggest footballs in the World, you can do skiing or ice-skating in winter-time. Especially for children a lots of fun rides are offered, however take care as operators sometimes cheat, such as by attempting to charge inflated prices. If you get in such situations call the police (110).
Xinghai Bay BeachThe beach is in the Shahekou District of Dalian Xinghai international business center zone of south coast, adjacent to the square and park, is China's largest artificial seawater baths.
- Golden Pebble Beach - in Jinzhou District northeast of Dalian about 50 km (30 mi) from downtown, Golden Pebble Beach (金石滩 Jīnshítān), named after the unique rock formations of the area, is a tourist destination which has at its heart Dalian's best beach courtesy of specially imported sand. Surrounded by tourist attractions that could perhaps be best described as traps rather than attractions, it's the beach that's most likely to reward visitors. Swimming isn't too popular because of the temperature and cleanliness of the water but most just spend time on the beach grilling and walking around. Some of the other attractions include the kung fu museum, which doubles as a school for aspiring Jet Lis, and Kingdom of Discovery, Dalian's small theme park. Outside of the main tourist areas there are a lot of the beach-side shops and stalls which shut down during bad weather, so it's best to check the forecast before venturing out.
- Xiangshui Temple (Jinzhou District) One of the few truly ancient sites in and around Dalian, the Daoist Xiangshui Temple (响水寺 Xiǎngshuǐ Sì) was first constructed during the Tang Dynasty around a thousand years ago, though much of the current temple stems from renovations during the Qing Dynasty. The temple is built around a large cavern, the waterfalls inside give the temple its name ("Water-sounds Temple") and is part of a wider network of temples in the Big Black Mountain (大黑山 Dàhēishān) area.
- Lüshun - Formerly known as Port Arthur, is a historically significant city on the southern tip of the Liaodong Peninsula, about 40 km (25 mi) south west of the city centre. Due to the presence of sensitive naval facilities, foreigners used to be barred from significant areas of the city. Travel restrictions were finally removed on 21 November 2009.
There are a number of attractions around the city that, though they are within the Dalian administrative area, are far enough away from the centre to warrant devoting a full day to.
- Bingyu Valley - Billed as "Dalian's Guilin" Bingyu Valley (冰峪沟 Bīngyù Gōu), this is a twisting river valley, winding though steep cliffs, in a relatively unspoiled countryside just outside Zhuanghe City and about 250 km (155 mi) north of Dalian. Entry costs ¥100 but is well worth as there is hiking, boat rides (which cost extra) and enjoying a bit of nature. There are also a number of Buddhist and Taoist temples to explore along the river. It's theoretically possible to visit the valley in a day, but it's perhaps better to stay overnight. The local hotel costs ¥300 for a double room, or you can stay in a local farmer's house for as little as ¥10 (definitely an experience worth having, provided you have someone in your party with a good standard of Mandarin).
- Changshan islands and Guanglu island (长山群岛/广鹿岛, chángshānqǔndǎo/guǎnglùdǎo) are two distant islands on the Huanghai sea which is an great attraction to local people. Visitors can enjoy the traditional living methods on the island as well as the breath-taking views. you can take a ferry at the port at Pikou which is around 60 kilometeres from the city, or book a flight from Zhoushuizi Airport. Few people on the islands can understand English, so you had better go there with a Chinese friend or someone who understands Chinese.
- Changxing Island(长兴岛) In the west of Changxing Island of Bohai Sea, the two bridge connected the island and the mainland. Changxing island resort was a sightseeing, entertainment, leisure, sports in the integration of tourism resorts.
- Relax on one of the city's beaches – There are a number of beaches clustered along the southern and eastern sides of the Dalian Peninsula, the largest of which are Xinghai Beach (星海海滨 Xīnghǎi Hǎibīn), Fujiazhuang Beach (傅家庄海滨 Fùjiāzhuāng Hǎibīn) and Bangchuidao Beach. (棒棰岛海滨 Bàngchuídǎo Hǎibīn). Of these beaches Xinghai Beach is almost invariably overcrowded and Bangchuidao beach is hard to get to and expensive (its in an exclusive luxury resort) making Fujiazhuang Beach the best bet for anyone wanting to take a dip or simply sunbathe.
- Travel along Binhai Road – Running along the southern edge of the Dalian peninsula Binhai Road is a pretty, winding coastal road similar to the corniche of the French Riviera. The road is split into three main sections, Binhai West Road from Xinghai Square to Fujiazhuang, Binhai Middle Road from Fujiazhuang to Tiger Beach, and Binhai South Road and Binhai North Road from Tiger Beach to Donghai Beach. It's possible to walk along the entire 35 km (22 mi) stretch in a day, but for those feeling less adventurous the Fujiazuang-Tiger Beach and Tiger Beach-Donghai Beach stretches also make for a rewarding walk. A taxi journey is a less taxing means of seeing the road.
- Entertainment – Dalian offers a range of entertainment options, with theatres and concert halls in Zhongshan District for those interested in high culture, including local and international performances. There are dozens of KTV bars and a few bars/hotels offer live music. For those interested in the silver screen, there's a cluster of cinemas in the centre of town around Youhao Square, but these mainly cater to local audiences and so English-language screenings are extremely rare. Those who aren't fluent in Mandarin would be better off going to the Warner-Wanda cinema on the north side of Olympic Square (Xigang District), Ownar Cineplex in the He Ping shopping centre north of Xinghai Square (Shahekou District) or theater at Roosevelt Shopping center. Finally, those visiting during the football season (March–November) should make the effort to catch a game at the People's Stadium, Xigang District, given football's role as a fundamental part of Dalian's identity. Typical of northern Chinese cities, the nightlife comes to an end rather early and the city feels asleep around 22:00 and the formal bar closing time is 02:00.
Dalian Beer Festivaladdress: Xinghai SqThousands of visitors. Day-time folks tend to go for the food and music acts, night-time goers for the beer and music acts. Domestic and regional vendors, some selling beer from Germany and the U.S.
Dalian has a large number of universities, a number of which offer undergraduate and graduate courses in a variety of majors for foreign students, as well as Chinese classes of varying levels of proficiency. The universities below all offer courses for overseas students.
phone: +86 411 8280-1297address: 94 Yan'an Lu
address: No. 217 JianShan St., Shahekou District, Dalian, P.R.China 116025There is a hotel on Campus. There are also dozens of cheap places to eat and drink surrounding the campus.
phone: +86 411 8472-9210address: 1 Linghai LuYou can try to stay at the International Maritime Training Centre Hotel on campus.
phone: +86 411 8470-8897The city's oldest university.
phone: +86 411 8425-8562address: 850 Huanghe Lu
- Dalian Medical University(大连医科大学)
- Dalian University(大连大学)
- Dalian Jiaotong University(大连交通大学)
Cash is king. Chinese yuan (or renminbi) can be exchanged for at the airport, most 3-star and up hotels, and pretty much any bank. There may be restrictions to foreigners exchanging currency at some banks without the ID of a Chinese national, or limited amounts may only be permitted. Informal exchange personnel often spend time in the lobbies of large banks, with a black purse under arm, and typically offer a better exchange rate than the bank itself. Keep in mind these are not members working for the bank, and while there is a security guards in all lobbies of banks, so if you ever feel you're not getting a square deal, you may begin to bargain with others or attempt to exchange directly with the bank itself. While Unionpay is accepted at several establishments, those hailing from outside of China won't find the brand too helpful. Major credit cards are accepted few places other than 4- and 5-star hotels.
There are many souvenir stalls around the main tourist sights in Dalian. The typical local souvenirs are Russian-themed items (remnants of a bygone era when Moscow laid claim to Dalian and much of Northeast China) and dried seafood, neither of which are of particular interest to foreign travellers (the first would be a strange thing to bring back from China and the second would violate customs regulations). There are plenty of other shopping areas that would be of more interest. Some general Chinese souvenirs include jade sculptures, shadow boxes with shell mosaics, calligraphy scrolls, Peking Opera masks, etc. Day to day essentials are also available in these shopping areas. As with the rest of China, bargaining is pretty much mandatory outside of department stores and supermarkets (although you can also bargain on some department stores like the knock-off MyKals). Wechat payment and Alipay are available in almost every shop, supermarket, and mall. Really convenient if you have a account that you don't look for your cash everywhere but only scan the code on/by your phone.
If you go shopping in a supermarket or just want some snacks in a convenience store you should mind that staffs in China are good at maths. In another way, they may give you the change in other ways. For example, if you have to pay ¥191 in the supermarket, the cashier may ask a extra ¥1. Then he/she will give a ¥10 note back. (Usually happens when there's a lack of changes in the supermarket.) Or if you spent ¥19.6 in a store, the worker may give you something that is worth ¥0.4 (usually candy) and no change will be given. This situation happens everywhere but not so frequently nowadays. If you meet one of those situations, just trust the cashier. However, you should always check if the amount of change you get back is right.
The local cuisine of Dalian is influenced by Dongbei regional style of cooking (which has a not wholly unjustified reputation for being big on portions and relatively low on flavour) and the city's proximity to the sea. Buns, pancakes and dumplings are staples rather than rice or noodles. The city also has a very good reputation for seafood dishes which are well worth trying. Overseas travellers should be aware, however, that in China seafood has different connotations than elsewhere, literally seafood refers to anything edible from the sea. Fish dishes invariably contain plenty of small bones that must be navigated around or crunched through (the local method). Additionally, due to its relation and storied history with Korean and Japanese empires, Dalian has many restaurants serving this kind of fare.
The range and number of restaurants is huge, and the listings provided should be considered as merely scratching the surface of what is available. Individual exploration of the restaurants is recommended. Reservations are generally not necessary, so phone numbers have only been provided for those restaurants where tables may need reserving. Those wanting to stick to the familiar will find a large number of western and Japanese and Korean restaurants available, and international fast food chains are well represented.
For good eats, try the recommendations in Zhongshan District and in Xigang District.
Travelers on a budget will be spoiled for choice in Dalian, with low cost restaurants on literally every street corner (particularly in the more residential areas outside of the main city center). It would be impossible to begin to list them all, so only a couple of options available near the center have been listed in the district articles. The quality of the restaurants can be highly variable. A good rule of thumb when searching for a decent place to eat is, if the decor looks shabby but the place is packed the food is almost always good. Ordering can be tricky for non-Chinese speakers as English menus are incredibly rare in cheaper restaurants, and English speaking staff are even more rare. Try the roadside snack stalls which offer pancakes, rolls, skewers of barbecued meat and candied fruits starting at ¥1. These may cause some upset stomachs or bouts of diarrhea.
As with budget restaurants there are plenty of mid-range restaurants to choose from in Dalian (differentiated from budget restaurants usually by being larger and having better decor), so experimentation is the key. The restaurants listed in the various district articles are just a couple of particularly noteworthy examples. The same caveats as for budget restaurants apply as regards language, though quality is less variable.
The more expensive end of the restaurant market in Dalian is generally a seafood restaurant boasting fresh, usually local cuisine or the more authentic Japanese restaurants (as opposed to those which have been adapted for local taste preferences). English menus and English speaking staff are most common in the western-themed restaurants, but even mid-priced restaurants may have English or pictures available.
There are a number of restaurants which serve seafood. Typically those downtown or in Xinghai Square have the best seafood, notably Wanbao and Zihan Fan Dian.
Wechat payment and Alipay are avaliable in almost every restaurant.
You don't need to tip the waiters, as they don't ask for tips or the tip has been included in the bill as a "service fee". Larger restaurants sometimes put a service fee up to 20% in the bill.
Dalian offers a wide variety of bars and nightclubs catering to a mixture of locals, foreign business people and the teaching crowd. The city lacks a bona fide bar street such as Beijing's Sanlitun or Shanghai's Maoming Lu with bars fairly liberally scattered across the city centre as well as near large universities. There are three main clusters of bars that those wishing to bar hop could concentrate on, however, the first and most centralized along a side street off Wuwu Lu near Sanba Square, the second along Changjiang Lu north of the Shangri-la Hotel and the third along Gaoerji Lu south of People's Square. KTV, or karaoke, is a large part of Chinese culture. There are a variety of such, some catering more to family or group get togethers and some for business outings. Typically the former are based in larger buildings and have little shops inside where drinks and snacks can be purchased, while the latter tend have a row of standing waitresses or mistresses lined up at the front door or shortly upon entering the singing room.
Another good place to go for drinks for those on the cheap are the night markets that spring up during the summer. These offer very cheap draught beer (¥1-3 for a large glass) and barbecued meat, tofu, vegetables and bread in an informal outdoor setting; some may not even have chairs. This isn't recommended for those who are staying in Dalian a short time or those whom haven't spent a few weeks in China getting their immune system ready unless you're not worried about having any diarrhea issues. Many of the locals don't even eat at these types of places. Those looking for non-alcoholic drinks, there are plenty of coffee shops and tea houses around the city.
Chain coffee shops include Starbucks , SPR and Amici Coffee, all of which offer Wi-Fi (SPR and Amici a food menu as well). Details are in district articles.
Most room prices in China are the room prices of a day. Use Chinese platforms like Baidu or Ctrip for more informations and lower prices for accomodations. Or you can phone some of the hotels to get information.
Some youth hostels do not host foreigners (see discussion page).
Most accommodation options can be found in Zhongshan District.
The area code for Dalian landlines is 0411 (the area code is not needed if dialing locally and you have to dial )+86-411 from abroad with the area code of China. Almost all hotels have at least a perfunctory business centre offering Internet access, although usually at a higher price than at an Internet café but most of the splurge hotels offer it for free.
For international calls the best places to go are the phone bars (often labelled 电话吧 (diànhuà ba)), generally found around residential areas. To make a call simply walk in, choose a vacant phone and when finished indicate which phone you used to the cashier: typically the phones have a number written above them. Prices can be highly variable, but a reasonably long call shouldn't come to more than ¥50. (This is not an easy choice as phone bars are becoming less and less popular in China.) A more expensive, and possibly more convenient, option is to ask to use the phone in hotel lobbies.
Mobile phones, and mobile phone stores, are plentiful in Dalian. If you have an international roaming plan then you should be able to use your phone to call within Dalian, though this can be very expensive. For those staying for longer than a week or two it may be cheaper to buy a local SIM card, and expect to pay around ¥50-100. The three main operators, China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom, operate on different standards. Select one of the three operators based on what type of phone you have. China Mobile and China Unicom are GSM, whilst China Telecom is CDMA.
Internet cafés, as in most Chinese cities, are plentiful and on nearly every street corner, especially in residential areas and around universities. Just look for the characters 网吧 (wǎng ba) on shop fronts. In the town center they're less numerous, though there are a few around the railway station and Victory Square. Expect to pay ¥1-5 for an hour. Foreigners are not allowed in Internet cafes without a special ID card which only Chinese Nationals can obtain. Wi-Fi is available in coffee shops such as Amici and Starbucks are scattered throughout the city.
China Post offices are scattered around the city, with the two main branches just west of the railway station and on Zhongshan Square. These branches, as with most larger post offices in the city, offer Western Union wiring facilities, though the branch next to the railway station is the only one which can receive funds.
Like most parts in China, a Internet firewall has blocked the internet connection to most foreign websites unless you have a VPN access, so do not even think of using your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube or even Goggle Maps CAN'T privide good enough services. Use local services instead like Baidu. Wikipedia and Wikivoyage can be accessed freely.
Most hotels provide free Wi-Fi services for customers. But the firewall is still a problem as the hotel Wi-Fi aren't considered a "Private Network".
Crime, particularly street crime, is low in Dalian as it is in most of China. That said, the people in northeastern China are on average more aggressive than their southern counterparts and fights do happen. (Most often when alcohol is involved.) While foreigners are unlikely to be targeted, one would be wise to avoid any heated exchanges. Additionally pickpockets do operate, so care should be taken with valuables especially in busy shopping areas or on crowded buses or trains.
Do be careful with traffic in Dalian. Nowadays, most people in Dalian know basic traffic rules, and some drivers may wait for you in front of a crossing. However, crossing the roads can be dangerous as not many drivers will let you go before them. You had better wait at all traffic lights, but when there are no lights, do as the locals do. Buttons at the crossings are usually not connected to wires so don't even expect to change the lights by pushing them and just wait.
Health-wise Dalian's relatively low levels of pollution mean health problems from bad air are less of an issue than in other Chinese cities. The water, while drinkable, is made so via the addition of hefty amounts of chemicals, and pipes are seldom kept in the best condition so boiling is pretty much mandatory. Bottled water is usually a safer bet—locals either boil tap water or buy filtered water. Tap water should be fine for brushing teeth and washing with, however. With inspections and strict rules on food safety, most restaurants should be OK. Even still, however, nice restaurants are known to sell outdated seafood from time to time. Avoid any restaurants that seem strangely quiet (customers tend not to return to places that leave them on the toilet for a week). All the legal restaurants in Dalian are rated by the department of food safety. A level means great, B level means good and C level means OK. No signs showing the food safety level means the restaurant failed the inspection or the restaurant is illegal, So check the sign first before you eat. You had better choose the restaurants with a B level or higher. It's always a good idea to pack a few diarrhea tablets before leaving, just in case. Hospitals are liberally scattered throughout the city with the Friendship Hospital on Wuwu Lu (+86 0411 8271 8822) and the first affiliated hospital of Dalian Medical University (Also known as "Fuyi" in Chinese) are the most likely to have English speaking staff. China's hyper-capitalist health-care system means that payment in cash is required before any treatment is dished out, so make sure to bring a few hundred yuan with you should you need medical attention.
Emergency phone numbers
- 110 for police
- 112 for traffic police (emergency only)
- 119 for fire services
- 120 for medical assistance or an ambulance
Though credit and debit cards are gradually becoming more widely accepted at department stores and supermarkets most stores and all attractions still operate on a cash-only basis and only the very largest or most expensive shops accept foreign credit cards. It's generally best to ensure that you have a decent amount of cash on hand when going out. ATMs are at virtually all bank branches, and most (though not all) of the large banks now accept foreign debit or credit cards. Bank of China branches all have the ability to take cards from foreign banks, and most offer English instructions. For more advanced financial transactions (converting currency or travellers checks, for instance) the best places to go are the Bank of China branch on the north side of Zhongshan Square and the HSBC branch on Renmin Lu just east of the Shangri-la hotel.
Dalian Christianity Cheng'en Churchaddress: Changjiang Lu and Beijing JieCan use the #201 trolley as the stop is at the intersection of the two streets. Locals and foreigners alike welcomed, with services in Mandarin.
Church in SwishotelReal Sunday service in a knock-off hotel. Foreign passport owners only.
- Mosque, Beijing Jie (near Diyi Dongxue).
- phone: +86 411 8370-4077address: 3F, Senmao Bldg, 147 Zhongshan Rd, Xigang District