Once a stopover on the ancient Marine Silk Route, the port of Beihai has become a great place to take it easy and hit the beach, and it's an excellent jumping-off point for further tropical adventures on Hainan Island and in Vietnam, both of which are accessible via boat. As for Beihai itself, its combination of white sand beaches, great seafood, tree-lined streets and European colonial-style architecture make for a low-key getaway to rival Hainain's Sanya, but with fewer crowds and less hype.
Situated at the base of a peninula jutting into the Gulf of Tonkin (Beibu Wan in Mandarin), Beihai's harbor—once the haunt of South China Sea pirates—comes alive early, as a fleet of fishing boats brings the day's catch to market. If you've partaken in Beihai's relaxed but vibrant nightlife, you might prefer to wait to see what the boats brought in on your plate at one of the city's excellent seafood restaurants.
When it comes to beaches, the white sands of Silver Beach and the nearby volcanic islands of Weizhou and Xieyang offer some of the best swimming, snorkeling, body surfing and diving opportunities. Explore a mangrove lagoon, catch a boat to a nearby island, lounge on the beach and then check out Wenchang Pagoda or tour Beihai Submarine World.
Beihai is, like much of China, booming, with new construction taking place at an impressive rate, but at its heart it remains a laid-back seaside town perfect for rest and relaxation.
Beihai Submarine World (Beihai Haiyang zhi Chuang) is a large museum with two parts. One area houses the former Aquatic Products Museum which, next to Qingdao, is the..
Weizhou Island, the largest volcanic island in the country measuring in at 24 km², lies 36 nautical miles from Beihai city. The volcanic stones, solidified lava..