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Bewitched by Beihai
By Li Jing (Beijing Weekend)
Updated: 2004-06-03 10:39

The majority of visitors to Beihai in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region are on their way someplace else.

But this all-year-round beach resort on the Beibu Gulf is starting to attract admiring second glances from visitors on their way to established tourist traps like Hainan and Viet Nam.

 The coastal city is within striking distance of Guangdong, Hainan, Hong Kong, Macao and Viet Nam by land and sea.

Beihai was declared one of the earliest open cities to foreign investment in 1984.

Its industries include  shipbuilding, glass making, aquatic products processing and offshore petroleum drilling.

Tourism, too, is on the rise in Beihai. For most travellers it is still a stop on the way to Hainan or  Viet Nam.

More than 2 million tourists visited Beihai last year, with two-thirds of them passing through on their way to Viet Nam.

The architecture here is a harmonious mixture of Western and Chinese styles. The residential zones are surrounded by green plazas with distinctive features.

Beihai abounds in tourism resources for visitors interested in a marine environment. It boasts sea, sandy beaches, islands, seafood, coral and marine sports, as well as an established maritime culture.

The bordering sea is clear and deep blue and the sunshine is generally bright. The beaches of fine sand are amongst the major attractions.

The Silver Beach (Yintan) is the ideal place to relax and soak up the sun. On the volcanic Weizhou and Xieyang Islands you'll find an atmosphere of tranquility and mystery.

Beihai Silver Beach

Silver Beach lies to the south of Beihai, stretches 24 kilometres west and varies in width from 30 to 300 metres. The beach gets its name from its soft and silvery quartz sand. It has a reputation as one of the best in China. With an average seawater temperature of 23C, it attracts  sea-lovers all year round.

The beach is lined by a loose row of guest houses and villas built in different styles.

Water sports including windsurfing, yachting and motor boating are offered alongside traditional beach pursuits such as volleyball and football.

At certain times of the year, for example, from July to October, ethnic cultural dance shows are staged.

The resort is well served by transport, communications, water and electricity resources and by hotels, restaurants and entertainment facilities. Little wonder then that the area is becoming a fast-growing leisure resort in the south of China.

Weizhou Island and Xieyang Island

Forty nautical kilometres  from Beihai are found Weizhou Island and Xieyang Island.
Visitors can enjoy the colourful, beautiful corals by taking a boat ride operated by Jinhaiwan Tourism Transportation Company. Cost is between 30 yuan (US$3.6) and 100 yuan (US$12) per hour each person. The price you pay depends on what kind of boat you take.

Ruins of Ancient Bailong Pearl City

The attraction is located in Bailong village in the east of Hepu County. According to historical records, the Pearl City was the place where emperors  from far and wide came to choose their pearls. Unfortunately, it was destroyed during several wars and now only some ruined ancient buildings remain.

Examples of distinctive local customs include the Pearl Home, Hakka, and Danjia cultures.

Seafood snacks

Beihai is an ideal resort for seafood lovers with hundreds of snack stores lining the streets. The main seafood snack street is especially crowded between 7pm and 12pm. 

Crab is the most popular snack in the street. It goes for 30 yuan (US$3.6) per jin (500g).

How to get there: Train routes and flights connect Beijing and Beihai. It takes more than 30 hours by train and costs 500 yuan (US$60) for a sleeping berth and three  by air. Going by air costs around 2,100 yuan (US$253)  each way per person. Ticket agencies usually offer 30 to 40 per cent discounts so don't be shy to ask.

After getting to Beihai, you can take a taxi to the Silver Beach, which is about three kilometres from downtown Beihai. Just tell the driver you want to go to Yintan (Silver Beach).

You can also take flights from Beijing to Nanning, the capital city of Guangxi and then take a bus to Beihai. The 210-km Nanbei (Nanning-Beihai) Expressway connects the two cities.

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