Beihai

Beihai (北海; Běihǎi) is a city of 600,000 to 1 million inhabitants in Guangxi on the southwest coast of China. It is said to be the fastest growing city in the world. Its centre is Beibuwan Square (北部湾广场; Beibuwan Guangchang) with a huge monument in the middle representing the Pearl of the South.

There is an excellent beach, Silver Beach (quite different from the polluted North Beach), and lots of cheap food, including Vietnamese food since many refugees came here. The weather is warm for most of the year, however during winter months it is not warm enough to work on your tan on the seafront.

Understand

Beihai is not much frequented by foreigners, and English is not widespread. The dialect spoken in Beihai is a form of Cantonese, but quite a few people also understand or even speak Mandarin.

Expats

There is a lively expat scene in the city, even though insiders guess there are only about 50-75 Westerners around. Meet some of the expats at breakfast around 09:30 at McDonald's (there is only one right at Beibuwan Guangchang) or in one of the bars run by foreigners, for example Tommy's Bar-Restaurant on Waisha Seafood Island, The Way Inn - Holland Bar-Restaurant in Old Street, The Rusty Nail in Haijiao Rd and William Shakespeares bar-restaurant on Jinhaian St.

There used to be an English Corner upstairs at McDonald's every Friday from around 20:00, where Westerners would talk English with Chinese visitors practicing their knowledge of the language.

Get in

By rail

There are trains daily from Nanning (downtown) Station as well high speed trains from Nanning East Station that whisk you at 200 km/hr to Beihai in less than 2 hours with two stops.

By boat

There is a ferry from Haikou to Beihai harbour (+86 779 3904011) which leaves alternate days. It takes about 11 hours and costs ¥67-200 depending on accommodation chosen.

By bus

There are overnight buses from Guilin and from Liuzhou going via Nanning. Shenzhen is also connected to Beihai by coach services, get to the metro station Zhuzilin in Shenzhen, right at Futian Bus Station, and take a bus, there is one in the morning and five in the evening running through the night for about ¥200.

From Nanning there are a dozen buses going to Beihai daily, usually from the Landong Long-Distance Bus Station in eastern Nanning along the express way.

There are three bus terminals in Beihai, two of them in the city centre on Beihai Guangdong Rd (one of them quite near to Beibuwan Square; buses to Nanning start from there), but in the near future both will be replaced by the huge new terminal about 5 km away on the present outskirts of the city. It has only recently been opened.

By air

Beihai Fucheng Airport is rather small with only five gates and a few connections to major cities in China. There are scheduled flights from Shanghai Pudong, Guilin, Guiyang, Chengdu, Chongqing, Beijing and Kunming.

There is also a scheduled direct flight from Shanghai every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. It is operated by Juneyao Airlines which is based in Shanghai. The flight takes off at 17:30 from Shanghai Pudong airport, and arrives at 20:50.

Get around

There are many taxis, motorbike taxis and tricycles. However, they will often try to overcharge you if they know you are not a native of China, or Beihai. Minimum rate for everything moving around apart from taxis stands at ¥4, even though the formal rate is ¥3. Haggling is customary, so do not be afraid to ask for a lower rate. Getting a motorbike ride from the bus station to the port is about ¥10.

Taxis should use a meter; there is a surcharge of ¥1 to be paid in addition to the fare shown on the meter.

There are many buses going everywhere in the city, but bus lines partly seem to follow rather irrational routes, apparently because the city has been growing rapidly over the last years, with traffic planning not keeping abreast. Tickets usually cost ¥1-2, to be dropped into a box at the driver's seat, have exact money ready. Buses frequently leave from Beibuwan Square in the centre of the city, but mostly do not run at night.

See

Do

Buy

The area produces pearls. They are sold in certain central high rises, for instance near RT Mart.

Eat

There is seafood everywhere and it is very cheap, about half the price of Shanghai or Hangzhou. When ordering anything with meat in a restaurant there is a chance of getting rat meat although you ordered beef.

There are two big sea food markets in Beihai, Donghai Market and Nanzhu Market. The price in Donghai Market is much more reasonable, but the quality is a little bit lower than Nanzhu Market. At Beiyun Market(北云市场) and Guizhong Market you can buy raw seafood. Salted and dried aquatic products can be bought in Shuichanpin Market (水产市场). A delicacy in Beihai (as in other coastal/sub tropical Chinese cities) is half a pineapple on a stick. Yours for less than ¥2.

On Seafood Island (Waisha), on the northern shore there are many places (restaurants as well as tents etc.), which offer various cooked sea foods. But going to the island restaurants may be difficult for those unable to speak Chinese as the price of seafood is quoted per wubaike (500 grams, also known as jin). In the fishing village Dijiao, there are some small eating places which offer cooked sea food much cheaper.

By far, some of the best eating in Beihai takes place at any of the various night markets. Most night markets tend to start around dusk, and food can be purchased from a wide variety of vendors who, in addition to cooking local seafood, vegetables and serving drinks, also provide plastic seats and chairs.

Pizzas are not so special in Bei Hai any more, but do not expect the Italian variety. Among other places, you will find a pizzeria in Changqing Rd, which also offers food specialities of Western countries.

Drink

There are a couple of music bars (discos) in the city centre, for example The Nest not far from the main office of China Mobile near Beibuwan Square, and at Old Street and No ONE bar in the Triumph building opposite McDonalds and N0. 88 bar in Guizhou Rd, not far from The Nest. In some of these places you have to order a sixpack at a price range above ¥100 if you want a beer, in others you accordingly get charged more for a single drink. Music is usually trendy, noisy and very little room for dancing.

As mentioned above there are 4 western owned bars:

Sleep

Hotel prices are usually lower than in other tourist cities. The Shangri-La, a five-star hotel, charges about US$60-70 for a single room.

There are quite a few low cost hotels, for instance near the bus stations: There are a bunch of hotels from ¥35 and up, but do not expect air-conditioning at that rate. Rooms provided with that will cost at least ¥100. Look at the room, then ask for a discount. Depending on the room, the hotel may or may not be willing to turn on the heat during winter months.

A bit more expensive, but still very reasonable, are the hotels around Beibuwan Square, for example Guang'an Hotel on Sichuan Rd.

There is a clean and well done hostel at Qiaogang Town called Seahouse. It has dorm and other style rooms. Dorm is around ¥35-45. The hostel is 50m from beach.

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, July 14, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.