Shahekou District (沙河口区 shāhékǒu qū) is a mostly residential district to the south and east of the center of Dalian. The district's residential nature means the number of attractions are limited, with the area around Xinghai Square the most likely to draw visitors. Hotels are equally limited, though the large number of universities in the district means that those on a budget may well find themselves sleeping here.
The easiest way to get to the various destinations in Shahekou from the airport, train station or ferry terminal is to first head to the Xinghai Square area then change if necessary. From the airport catch bus #710 to Jiefang Square or Taiyuan Jie and from the train station or ferry terminal take bus #16 to the Xinghai Square Exhibition Centre. The only exception to this rule is for those staying at Liaoning Normal University in which trolley bus #101 runs to the university from the train station (those arriving at the ferry terminal will need to catch buses #13 or #16 and transfer at the train station) while the airport is a relatively short taxi ride away.
Most parts of Shahekou (or at least those parts of interest to tourists) can be easily reached from Xinghai Square. Tram #202 serves both the Xi'an Lu shopping area (heading north) and the Natural History Museum and Maritime University (heading south). To get to the University of Technology catch bus #23.
- 1 Dalian Modern Museum (大连现代博物馆), 10 Huizhan Road (会展路10号) (Metro Line 1, Convention and Exhibition Center Station), ☏ . Summer: Tu-Su 09:00-17:00, Other seasons: Tu-Su 09:00-16:30. This museum to the north of Xinghai Square contains a number of high quality, interactive exhibits on Dalian, both historical and current. It is well worth a visit for anyone even slightly interested in the city itself. Free.
- 2 Dalian Seashell Museum (大连贝壳博物馆), No. 2, Zone D, Xinghai Square (星海广场D区2号) (Take bus no. 49 and get off at Yifang Castle (一方城堡). Alternatively, take a train to Xinghai Square Station on Metro Line 1. The museum is at the southeastern corner of the Square.), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. April 27th to October 7th: 08:30-17:30, October 8th to April 26th: 09:00-16:30, closed from February 6th to February 17th. Housed in a modern building shaped like a giant shell, the seashell museum contains a huge variety of shells and other examples of sea life. Though very specialized, the museum still makes for an interesting diversion. ¥100.
- 3 [dead link] Dalian Natural History Museum (大连自然博物馆), 40 Xicun Street, Heishijiao (黑石礁西村街40号) (just SW of Xinghai Square; take a train to Heijiaoshi Station on Metro Line 1), ☏ . 09:00-16:30, no tickets sold after 15:30, closed on Mondays. Mainly focuses on marine life though it also includes a dinosaur fossil exhibit. Free.
- 4 Sun Asia Ocean World (大连圣亚海洋世界, Shengya Ocean World), 8-6-608 Zhongshan Road (中山路608-6-8号) (Metro Line 1, Dalian Medical University 2nd Hospital Station), ☏ . 09:30-17:00, no tickets sold after 16:00. An oceanarium featuring numerous marine and polar animals. Not to be confused with its competitor, the Tiger Beach Ocean Park in Zhongshan District. Somewhat confusingly, 'Sun Asia Ocean World' may refer to either the park as a whole or only that section of the park that is focused on marine animals. The other major section of the park is the Sun Asia Polar World. Unlike the case at Tiger Beach Ocean Park, here one is not compelled to buy a combo ticket and can instead buy a separate ticket ticket to see only Ocean World or only Polar World. ¥110 to visit Ocean World, ¥80 to visit Polar World, ¥190 for a combo ticket which includes not only Ocean World and Polar World but also Coral World and the Deep Sea Legend multimedia experience.
- 5 Xinghai Park (星海公园), 634 Zhongshan Road (中山路634号) (Metro Line 1, Dalian Medical University 2nd Hospital Station). Open all day. Established in 1909, with a surface area of over 150 000 square metres, this is one of Dalian's oldest and largest coastal parks. Free.
- 1 Xinghai Square (星海广场 Xīnghǎi Guǎngchǎng), 572 Zhongshan Road (中山路572号) (Metro Line 1, Xinghai Square Station). Open all day. On the coast south west of the city center, is the largest square in Asia, a fact frequently mentioned in Dalian tourist literature. There are a number of attractions around the square, including museums, a bathing beach, large aquarium (Sun Asia Ocean World), Xinghai Convention and Exhibition Center, huge indoor tennis court and swimming pool, a number of seafood restaurants boasting local fare, bungee tower and a fairly small amusement park that's very kid-friendly. With the possible exception of the aquarium, museums and restaurants, few of the attractions are likely to be that interesting to visitors but it's still worth taking the time to visit the square and have a wander around the area. Free.
- Walking (hiking). Small mountains near Heping Square and also along Huanghe Lu offering some impressive views of the city and sea.
- Xi'an Lu (西安路 Xīān Lù). This street is the largest shopping area outside the center and boasts a shopping complex (Roosevelt Center) on the western side of the junction with Huanghe Lu. There's also a large electronics center just north of the new shopping mall and a smaller one next to Carrefour. Several tailors offer suits or traditional Chinese silk dresses at really reasonable prices (tailoring lasts 5-6 days).
- Peace Square Mall (和平广场 Hépíng Guǎngchǎng). Shopping mall with a food court, cinema and Tesco.
The Xinghai area has a number of decent quality restaurants offering a wide variety of regional Chinese cooking styles (look for ones that have their catch fresh on ice). Restaurants are easy to find throughout the district, with clusters of cheap restaurants around the universities and more upscale restaurants around Xi'an Lu. Korean restaurants tend to be found near the main universities while there's a few Japanese restaurants around Xi'an Lu. While most of these restaurants are decent, few are of high enough quality to warrant a special trip. About the only restaurants worth going out of the way for are found around Xinghai Square.
- Xinghai Square restaurants – Encircling Xinghai square are restaurants featuring a range of cuisines, mainly seafood (as the water is just a few meters away) but also Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Western styles. Prices vary but expect to pay at least ¥150 each.
- I-55 Cafe (S side of Xinghai Sq), ☏ . 09:00-midnight daily. Closed for redecoration; location at Xinghai Sq open. A popular place for locals and expats alike enjoying coffee brewed by the cup and a popular weekend morning breakfast buffet (¥85). Try the bakery items and sandwiches. Has an outdoor deck that is lit up at night and free WiFi access. About 100 m from the coastline. ¥25-50 drinks, ¥40-120 food.
Bars can be found around the universities and mainly cater to overseas students, as Chinese students can face stiff penalties if found drunk. The university bars tend to be small, unimaginative and not particularly cheap.
Tea and coffee
- Be For Time, various, incl. W of Huanghe and Xi'an Lu intersection. Chain tea house, and unlike traditional ones, caters to a young crowd with modern furnishings and milkshakes alongside the usual varieties of green tea. This, combined with the ¥16 all you can drink deal, makes it very popular with students and decent place to spend a couple of hours.
Hotels in Shahekou tend to be limited to cheaper guest houses and may be suitable for budget-minded, although the stay may not be particularly memorable. There are few luxury hotels, typically in or around Xinghai Square. The budget places tend to be found near the universities, both along Huanghe Lu and around the southwest border with Gaijingzi district.
- 1 The Castle Hotel (大连一方城堡豪华精选酒店), 600 West Binhai Road, Shahekou District (沙河口区滨海西路600号) (To the east of Xinghai Square), ☏ . Known as The Castle among Dalian residents, this one may be a good choice for travellers who want a luxury experience. It is the first castle hotel in China and also somehow a landmark of Dalian. The hotel self-branded itself as a "6-star hotel" but it actually received a 5-star branding. Designed as a luxury hotel, the service is worth the price. However, it is on a hill - walking up the hill may may be a little tiring. From ¥1000 to ¥1610.
- Howard Johnson, 95 Huizhan Lu (on Xinghai Sq), ☏ , fax: . 5-star and arguably the nicest spot in the district.
- 2 Jinjiang Inn Dalian Lianhe Road (锦江之星酒店大连联合路星海广场店), 151 Lianhe Road, Shahekou District (沙河口区联合路151号), ☏ . In the core part of Dalian City, this budget hotel is on a major road, which also means it has convenient bus connections. The metro station is 1 km to the north. The hotel is within walking distance to the Xi'an Road business district and shopping is convenient but as well, but it's a bit noisy especially during rush hours. Wi-fi is available in all rooms. From ¥110 to ¥250 per day.
- Super 8 Dalian Chenxi, 672 Zhongshan Lu (a 5-min walk W of Xinghai Pk), ☏ . Free Internet and breakfast.