China Daily has called Dalian "China's most livable city," and though the state paper may print much that one would be well advised to take with a grain of salt, in this case they're right on the money. In a country where breakneck economic growth all too often seems to result in heavy-duty environmental degradation, Dalian shines as an exception. That's not to say it doesn't share in China's industrial growth, but it has managed to balance city planning, green space and economic development in a way that has eluded other cities of simliar size.
Known for its beaches, mountains and pleasant summertime climate, Dalian is a popular resort destination, and its allure is enhanced by its cosmopolitan nature: The city is known for its Russian, Japanese and Korean influences, which extend from the layout of the the streets to the availablity of kimchi and borscht in the city's restaurants.
Dalian highlights include fresh seafood, sunbathing and swimming at Fujjiazhuang Beach and other popular beaches, hiking to Yaowoling Pagoda with its stunning coastal views, a day trip to Daheishi to see its hundreds of of white Buddhas and a visit to the Thousand Hands Buddha of Mercy, the largest bronze statue of Buddha in China, perched on a mountain top.