Dalian

Dalian is the second largest city in Liaoning Province, Dongbei (North East), China and the largest port in northern China as well as a major destination for Chinese tourists. Located 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.

Combined with the city's many parks and green hills, wide thoroughfares and army of street cleaners, make Dalian a more pleasant city to visit and live in than most Chinese cities of comparable size.

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Zhongshan Square in the heart of the city's financial district is surrounded by some of the best examples of colonial-era architecture in Dalian. Though the square was first laid out by the Russians most of the buildings around the square were built between 1910 and 1920 by the Japanese. The square itself serves as a social hub, with locals gathering during the evening to play hacky-sack or watch football games on the big screen above the Dalian Hotel. Square is currently under major construction.

Russian Street, Across Shengli Bridge, NE of the train station. One of the few places it's still possible to get a glimpse of Dalian's colonial past. Most of the old Russian and Japanese buildings were razed in the many bursts of redevelopment the city has seen over the years, but the old architecture is "preserved" in the sense many of the buildings along the road are actually modern facsimiles of old Russian buildings rather than the genuine article. The old buildings that do remain are worth examining, however, and more genuine examples lie along the side roads to the east of the main street. Stalls and shops along the road sell various trinkets and souvenirs (no affiliation with Russia other than some wooden dolls) but the same items can generally be found for much less elsewhere in the city. A similar Japanese Street exists in the south of the city center, near the Children's Park, but it is almost wholly fake, with empty shells of buildings lining the road. Those interested in real examples of Japanese houses would be better served exploring the area around Gaoerji Lu to the south of People's Square, although much of what exists is in shambles.

Xinghai Square. 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, 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.