Shijiazhuang

Shijiazhuang (石家庄; Shíjiāzhuāng) is the capital of Hebei Province.

Understand

Shijiazhuang is a comparatively young city. It was an unimportant town until the building of the Zhengding-Taiyuan and Beijing-Hankou railways saw it become an important regional transport hub. Captured by the PLA under the leadership of the CPC in 1947, it was the cradle of the new China, and for three years housed the headquarters of the CPC.

Nowadays it is the capital and main economic centre of Hebei and a relatively important city in China. Shijiazhuang is the largest pharmarceutical base in China and is as well an important center in the textile, IT, manufacturing and chemical industries. In 2007, it was listed as one of the top 15 economic powers in China.

According to the latest census figures, Shijiazhuang has a population of 2.19 million in the city proper, with a further 7.4 million people living in its 20 affiliated counties.

It's a modern city that's in the process of building many new apartment buildings, shopping malls and just renewing it's image.

People are very friendly, it's easy to get around and it's a good place to teach English or study Chinese.

Get in

By plane

Flights to different destinations have become more convenient since local low-cost airline Spring Airlines established a base at Shijiazhuang airport in early 2011. Daily flights on Spring Airlines depart for Xiamen, Chengdu, Dalian, Shanghai, Shenyang, Hohhot, Nanjing and Guangzhou, with flights to Hong Kong three times weekly. Spring Airlines provides a free airport shuttle bus from Shijiazhuang (as well as the surrounding cities of Baoding, Hengshui, Xingtai, and Cangzhou) for all Spring passengers as the airport is located about an hour outside of downtown Shijiazhuang. Lots of travellers also elect to take the train to Beijing and fly from there due to extra flight options, connecting by the express trains (2 hrs to and from Beijing). If you don't know how to get here from Beijing capital Airport, you can download the map or ask for help to the staffs.

Passengers can also connect from the Shijiazhuang Zhengding International Airport to the nearly HSR station, with scheduled shuttles to the train station. The HSR station has a "rail / air terminal" where passengers complete all formalities without exiting the train station, then connect onto a shuttle bus for accelerated boarding.

By train

Shijiazhuang is one of the largest railway hubs in China, and so there are many trains to and from Shijiazhuang. The express train to Beijing takes just over an hour.

CRH D and G trains leave regularly from the main train station and from the smaller Shijiazhuang North (Shijiazhuang Bei) train station. Second Class is 86¥ and First Class is 103¥ to Beijing West (Beijing Xi) Train Station if you purchase at the train station. If you use one of the many train ticket offices, expect to pay a ¥5 surcharge per ticket, but it is faster and the prices for all cities are posted on the walls (including all style of seat). The sign is in Chinese though.

By bus

Notice that buses to neighboring cities and towns depart from different bus stations, but each of these stations (and many close destinations) can be conveniently reached by buses and minibuses from the Central Railway Station. Long-distance buses (e.g. to Beijing) depart/arrive to the main bus station, just a few minutes walk to the south of the Railway Station.

By car

The road network is as well quite good and Shijiazhuang can be reached from Beijing by car in about 3 hours. Expressways link the provincial capital to Taiyuan, Zhengzhou, Beijing, and other destinations.

Get around

Buses in Shijiazhuang, as in any large city in China, are frequent and cheap: just ¥1 for a journey, whatever the distance. but during the hot season and cold season some bus with air conditioner will charge 2yuan.

Taxis are plentiful and, again, will seem to Western travelers almost laughably inexpensive, with the flag-drop often just ¥5 or so and a delay rate of ¥1.60 per five minutes. Between 1600 and 1900, don't bother looking for a taxi.

Most tourist attractions are located outside the city proper.

Traffic is marginal, except at high peak hours (American rush hour), at which point it could take as much as 20 minutes to get through certain lights on many of the major roads (especially Ping'An Da Jie, Zhongshan Lu, Yuhua Lu, Jianshe Da Jie and Zhonghua Lu).

A subway network is under construction, but is not yet operating as of August 2014. This will have a positive impact on traffic congestion in the long run, but in the meantime the construction is causing some inconvenience and delay; plan accordingly.

See

There are a number of sightseeing places in the area, both natural and historic. Most are not located within the city proper.

Historical sites

Museums

Parks and nature

Towns and villages

Other attractions

Do

There are some well-equipped leisure centers, especially the luxury bathing centers.

Buy

Shijiazhuang is home to three of China's top 10 wholesale markets, which makes it is a good place great bargains. Be prepared to haggle, either yourself or with a friend!

There are also a number of very large modern department stores. Prices can be a bit steep, but you can usually find reasonably priced, good quality goods.

Behind and near Dong Fang are EGO, Tai He and Nan San Tiao, for wholesale shopping. Beware: Many items are pirated or ripped-off so make certain they work first. Nan San Tiao is behind the Enjoy Mall and extends west and east from there. It is many buildings of wholesale goods. Each building has different goods. There are buildings for cosmetics, women's clothes, purses, children's toys, sheets and towels and many others.

Tea market - many small shops and an entire building of shops - slightly north of Huai An, between YuCai and TiYu.

Seafood market and wholesale western food (a random selection and never the same things twice) The food is upstairs. SE corner TiYu and ?? north of old ShiDa campus.

Eat

Food card system

Most food courts in Shijiazhuang have a "food card" system whereby one pays for a "food card" first. You then take the food card to the food court restaurant to order and they then deduct points or "cash" directly from the card only. Each individual restaurant does not take cash. You then return the card to the cashier and receive the balance.

Drink

The good citizens of Shijiazhuang enjoy the Chinese alcohol made from rice baijiu, or white spirit. It is a strong drink and you need to develop an acquired taste. You will surely get to try some whenever you eat out with Chinese friends.

There are two internet bars and a movie theater within a five minute walk, along with three more KTVs and western and Chinese restaurants, as well as a sushi restaurant. 04:00.

Sleep

In the Cangyan Shan region, there are no places to stay for foreigners - in fact this is the issue in much of Hebei province. If a proprietor can be bothered and the police feel inclined, the police can allow you to stay in accommodation not approved for foreigners provided you register with them.

Budget

The Shijiazhuang administration does not allow foreigners to stay at budget hotels under about ¥200. This includes any hostels that might appear in booking sites, they are for Chinese only, including the hostel across the street from the train station.

Other options include checking with the Foreign Affairs Departments of universities who sometimes have budget accommodation. There are private accommodation options around, varying from rough to excellent. Near universities is a good place to look for a room. There are also what are often translated as private hotels, which might be an apartment where the rooms are rented out by the day. They can be found advertising on the Net but are all in Chinese. The law says that you must register with the police within 24 hours of arriving when you stay in any private accommodation (as it states on the back of the immigration card when entering the country). Most residents are unaware of this and probably will not ask you to, but you and the resident can get into mild trouble with the authorities if found out.

Mid-range

There is no problem finding higher priced accommodation and there is plenty of it.

Go next

If you want to go to some hot-springs, check out the White Deer Hotel in Pingshan County. Ask your Chinese friends. You need to take a bus from the North Station. It's around 200RMB for the day, but beautiful and huge. They have indoor and outdoor pools. Bring your sunscreen.

Routes through Shijiazhuang

Beijing  N  S  Handan Zhengzhou


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, March 09, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.