Perched on the Liáodōng Peninsula and bordering the Yellow Sea, Dàlián (大连) is one of the most relaxed and liveable cities in the northeast, if not all of China. Tree-lined hilly streets with manageable traffic and fresh air, a surfeit of early 20th-century architecture and an impressive coastline, complete with swimming beaches, are just some of its charms. Toss in a decent restaurant-and-bar scene and serious shopping, and that frequent Dàlián epithet, the ‘Hong Kong of the North’, looks like more than just bluster.
Dàlián is a fine place to unwind for a few days. But after lazing on the beaches and strolling along the southwest coastline, pay a visit to the historic port town of Lǚshùn. The old battlefields and cemeteries offer a rare first-hand glimpse into some of the north’s most turbulent days.