Spend 4 days in villas by the sea
When the blazing Beijing summer heat threatens to permanently melt your patience, just ask yourself “What would Mao do?”
He would do what you want to do – bust out to the beach. Relatively close to Beijing, Beidaihe is an oasis of sandy dandy fun in the sun, and has been a favorite getaway of China’s highest-ranking officials since the 1950s. These days Mao Zedong’s favorite beach resort is as jumpin’ as ever in the summer months. Boasting yellow sandy beaches, convenience, and a colorful history as the perfect picturesque retreat for backroom deals, Beidaihe is probably the most famous ocean resort town in China.
Life in this once-quiet fishing village on Bohai Bay was forever altered by the arrival of laowai in the late 19th century seeking relief from the heat of Beijing and Tianjin. The foreigners built bungalows and golf courses and, to the bemused surprise of locals, bathed in the ocean.
But honestly, who goes to the beach for the history? People go to the seaside to get sand in their britches! There’s a reason Beidaihe’s unofficial motto is “lick ice lollies by day – crunch crab shells by night!” From boat and bike rentals to seafood and people watching, Beidaihe has all the essential elements of a beach adventure. The sand and sea are obviously not what one could expect of a tropical beach, but otherwise surprisingly clean and groovy. The main public area of the beach can be lit up for safer night swimming, and during the day there is several kilometers of beach to explore. Beidaihe is very crowded during the peak summer tourist season from June through August, so you’d be advised to sharpen your elbows.
Owing to Beidaihe’s fame and popularity, the surrounding region has been built up with tourist attractions – ranging from classic and cheesy to magnificent. Aside from the beach, you can take your brood to any one of the many shopping centers, hotels, restaurants, massage parlors, and amusement areas. A can’t-miss for fans of snail towers, bars and parks would be the Jade Snail Tower Bar Park (碧螺塔酒吧公园), widely renowned as the most sumptuous snail tower bar park on earth.
Beidaihe is about an hour away from Shanhaiguan by bus, so visiting both places in one weekend is plausible. If you need some respite from the crowds, the city of Qinhuangdao is a short bus ride away, and boasts a large port and other swimming locales. South of Beidaihe is the intuitively named town of Nandaihe, which offers more beach and beach resorts. Compared to its neighbor, Nandaihe offers seaside at marginally cheaper rates, with less intense crowds. However, for those hoping to follow Mao Zedong’s footsteps in the sand, Beidaihe is the place.
Accomodation: Every single building is a hotel, some fancier than others. If you like to shop around, you might be able to make a deal you like. If you like to plan ahead, there are a few websites you can use to reserve rooms in advance. Chinese: www.beidaihe.org English: www.chinahotelsreservation.com/Beidaihe 北戴河，河北省秦皇岛
Bus: Long-distance buses run directly to Beidaihe from the Lizeqiao and Bawangfen bus stations. In the high season there are direct buses from Beijing Railway Station every hour.
Train: Thirteen trains connect Beijing Railway Station and Beijing West Railway Station to Beidaihe every day from 0.28am to 8.54pm.
Car: Take Jingshen Expressway to Beidaihe exit. Approx 253 km.