Shijiazhuang (石家庄; Shíjiāzhuāng) is the capital of Hebei Province. It is also the main economic centre of Hebei and a relatively important city in China. Shijiazhuang is the largest pharmarceutical base in the country and has important textile, IT, manufacturing and chemical industries. It can be a useful base for visiting nearby places of interest including two monasteries and a stone bridge built around 600 CE.
Shijiazhuang is a comparatively young city. It was an unimportant town until the Zhengding-Taiyuan and Beijing-Hankou railways were built, whereupon it become a regional transport hub. Captured by the People's Liberation Army under the leadership of the Communist Party in 1947, it was the cradle of the new China, and for three years housed the party headquarters.
In 2007, it was listed as one of the top 15 economic powerhouses of China. It's a modern city that's building many new apartment buildings and shopping malls.
As of 2019, the prefecture had a total population of around 11 million, with over 4 million living in the central metro area.
- 1 Shijiazhuang Zhengding International Airport (石家庄正定国际机场). Shijiazhuang Zhengding International Airport is the main hub of Hebei Airlines. Daily flights on Hebei Airlines have covered most major cities in China. All international flights are operated in Terminal 1, while all domestic flights are in Terminal 2. There are free shuttles running between these two terminals.
Airport buses to Shijiazhuang downtown can be found in Terminal 2. Every bus will depart according to the arrival time of each flight, so you will not miss the last bus even if your flight is delayed and your plane lands at midnight. Fares are ¥20 per person.
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 and air terminal" where passengers complete all formalities without exiting the train station, then connect onto a shuttle bus for accelerated boarding.
Shijiazhuang has one of the largest railway hubs in China, with numerous trains arriving throughout the day. The express train from Beijing takes just over an hour.
- 2 Shijiazhuang Railway Station (石家庄站). CRH D and G trains leave regularly. 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 types of seats). Since there are special counters for foreign travellers in the ticketing area of the train station, it is more convenient to purchase at the station if you are concerned about avoiding language problems.
- 3 Shijiazhuang North Railway Station (石家庄北). CRH D and G trains leave regularly.
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 (all stations), subways (only Baifo Station) and taxis from Shijiazhuang Railway Station. Long-distance buses (e.g. from Beijing) arrive and depart at the main bus station, with a direct bus line to the railway station.
The road network is quite good, and Shijiazhuang can be reached from Beijing by car in about 3 hours. Expressways also link the provincial capital to Taiyuan, Zhengzhou and other destinations.
Most tourist attractions are outside the city.
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).
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 buses with air conditioning charge ¥2.
Taxis are plentiful and, again, will seem to Western travellers almost laughably inexpensive, with the flag-drop often just ¥5 or so and a delay rate of ¥1.60 per five minutes. Between 16:00 and 19:00, don't bother looking for a taxi. If there's no taxi nearby, it will be easy to download Didi (滴滴打车) app on your mobile and call taxi by this app.
Subway Line 1 and Line 3 opened in 2017. Subway Line 2 and the extension of Subway Line 3 are under construction. The construction is causing some inconvenience and delay.
Bike-sharing can be found everywhere in this city. As of 2019, the most popular bike-sharing businesses in Shijiazhuang are Hello Bike, Qingju, and Mobike. Just use the app to scan the code printed on bikes, and you can ride the bike to every corner of Shijiazhuang.
There are a number of sightseeing places in the area, both natural and historic. Most are not in the city.
- 1 Bolin Monastery (柏林寺; Bǎilínsì), Zhao County (赵县; Zhàoxiàn) (in Zhao County, 3 km from Zhaozhou Bridge, and can be reached by the same buses). Large monastery, dating back to the Tang dynasty.
- 2 North China Military Martyrs Cemetery (石家庄烈士陵园), Zhongshan W Rd, Qiaoxi. A large park with multiple memorials to those who fought and died in the anti-Japanese war. Notable for foreigners are the Canadian-themed memorial dedicated to Norman Bethune, and Indian-themed memorial to Dwarkanath Kotnis and other Indian doctors who assisted the Chinese.
- 3 Pilu Monastery (毗庐寺, Vairocana Monastery) (Shanjing Village in the northwestern suburbs of Shijiazhuang, bus 115 or 204 from the Railway Station will take you there). Built in the Tang dynasty and underwent major restorations under the Yuan and Ming dynasties. The main hall (Vairocana Hall; 毗庐殿; Pílúdiàn) contains a stone pedestal with excellent Tang carvings, as well as murals from the Yuan-Ming period, some of which are truly magnificent (if you have the luck to visit when the sunlight is good enough to observe the details). ¥20.
- 4 Zhaozhou Bridge, Zhao County (赵县; Zhàoxiàn) (bus from the southern Nanjiao Station (南焦客运站; Nánjiāo Kèyùnzhàn; which can be riched by bus 35 from the Central Railway Station) to Zhao County or, better, to Ningjin County (宁晋县; Níngjìnxiàn), get off the bus at the junction from which it is 1 km walk). A great masterpiece of Chinese civil engineering. Created around 600 CE under the Sui dynasty, it survived numerous floods and earthquakes, and is considered nowadays as the oldest stone single arch bridge in the world. Adjacent small museum with a collection of stone carvings, steles and statues from the vicinity of Zhou County. ¥30 including the museum.
- 5 [formerly dead link] Hebei Art Museum (河北美术馆), 113 Huai'an E Rd, Yuhua Qu.
- 6 Hebei Provincial Museum. This is a must-see and contains expositions from two major discoveries: the tomb of King of Zhongshan (中山王) from the late 4th century BCE, and the royal tombs of prince and princess of the Han principality of Zhongshan (Mancheng 满城 Han tombs) from the late 2nd century BCE.
- 7 Shijiazhuang Museum.
Parks and nature
- 8 Century Park (世界公园). Contains the Shijiazhuang TV tower.
- 9 Chang'an Park (长安公园). The park is four parks in one, with an underground mall near the entrance (with a giant white statue of Mao Zedong). People's Square is at the South east end of the park and Shijiazhuang museum is at the western side.
- 10 Cangyan Mountain (苍岩山; Cāngyánshān) (90 minutes drive from Shijiazhuang, bus from the western Xiwang Station (西王客运站; Xīwáng Kèyùnzhàn; reached by bus 9 from the Central Bus Station)). Really beautiful, picture postcard temples built on the steep hillsides. There is a pavilion built on a bridge over a gorge that was filed in the final scenes of the Oscar-winning film Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Looking down at the Cangyan Mountains, two mountains stand facing each other from east to west, and one chain of mountains lie across their back from north to south, with the Fuqing temple built in the valley formed by the precipices and cliffs.
Towns and villages
- Shitou Village (石头村; Shítoucūn; lit. Stone Village; also known as Yujia Village (于家村; Yújiācūn)) (20 km from Jingxing County and can be visited en route to the Cangyan Mountain). A perfect example of Chinese stone architecture, with an excellent local temple (Qingliang pavilion; 清凉阁; Qīngliánggé) built in the late Ming-Early Qing period (16th-18th centuries). It may serve as an introduction to popular beliefs of the Chinese peasants.
- Niangzi Guan (娘子关; Niángziguān) (20 km east of Shitou Village, a taxi will cost ¥80-100 from Shitou Village or Jingxing County (井陉县; Jǐngxíngxiàn), or you can take the train from Shijiazhuang (6414, leaves at 06:38, back at 17:59)). For those who really love old towns. The dusty coalminers' town has two major attractions: a small but impressive section of the internal Great Wall, separating Shanxi from Hebei, a site of major battles from the sixth century on; and a beautiful village built on a stream, with private watermills run by many villagers (ask for Shuishangrenjia; 水上人家; Shuǐshàngrénjiā).
There are some well-equipped leisure centres, especially the luxury bathing centres.
- Tianshan Sea World (天山海世界), 116 Tianshan Ave (桥东区高新技术产业天山大街116号).
Shijiazhuang is home to three of China's top 10 wholesale markets, which makes it is a good place for 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.
- Bei Guo. In the middle of the city, at the corner of Zhong Shan Lu and Jian She Da Jie. Bei Guo has many locations around the city, but this is the largest.
- Letai (Lerthai) Centre at the crossroad of Zhongshan Lu and Changzheng Jie. It has Starbucks, Burger King and Carrefour.
- Wanda Mall on the east side of the city. It is on Huai An Lu, one block east of Century Park, on the north side of the street. It has a Starbucks, Pizza Hut, McDonald's, and KFC. It also has a movie theatre with an IMAX screen, as well as many clothing stores which are reasonably priced. Easily the nicest mall in the city, its an "American-style" mall, very nice to go just to walk around and window shop.
- The "You Mall" at Bei Guo Centre is very nice. Lots of little shops with clothing, accessories and various trinkets. Mostly for women. Nice food court on top floor (see "food card" system below).
- The Wonder Mall has a theater, large department store and a really nice, clean food court, although the food was mediocre. It also has a Starbucks
- The Enjoy Mall has a Starbucks. There are some good restaurants on the third floor.
- Centuary Mall on Zhongshang Dong Lu and Yu Cai is a high end mall. The grocery store in the basement has the best selection (still limited) of weastern groceries.
- Xin Bai Centre offers more shopping, as does Dong Fang Commercial Centre.
Behind and near Dong Fang are EGO, Tai He and Nan San Tiao, for wholesale shopping. 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.
- Hebei House. For a fantastic authentic Chinese feast you cannot go past this restaurant.
- Rehehuiguan Restaurant (热河会馆; Rèhéhuìguǎn) (opposite the railway station (slightly to the south)). Features excellent Hebei and Manchu cuisine.
- Tu Da Ri, Zhongshanxi Road (中山西路; Zhōngshānxīlù) (a few minutes walk from the railway station, near Tai He, north side of the road). Small but lovely, and relatively cheap restaurant.
- There are few foreign restaurants and the ones that exist don't seem very Western. But it's still fun to go to them and try what they think is foreign food.
- Pizza Hut is in SJZ, although the food is different than PH in the States or other places. However, if you want something like pepperoni, they can usually make it, sometimes with a little polite insistence. Just tell them you want a pizza with LaRouChang. They also have decent onion rings.
- If you like ice-cream, there are 3 Dairy Queens in SJZ, within a few blocks of each other. One is in the EGO building beside Tai He, directly underneath McDonald's. The second is in the Wonder Mall, at the corner of ZhongHua DaJie and YuHua Lu. The third on is right across the street from the train station. All three of them also have a Yoshinoya (Japanese fast food) sharing the store space with them. Look for the orange Yoshinoya sign.
- KFC is everywhere.
- Coffee shops in the western style are emerging. There's a new Costa Coffee that just opened in one of the malls, there are some cute coffee cafes, a SPR (starbucks look-alike) and others. You can goto one of the chain restaurants (McDonalds and KFC) and get a "Navy" coffee, and chill out there. One of the best coffee shops and bakeries is across from Beiguo "Tasty Bread." There is, however, a bakery on the bottom of "You Mall" in BeiGuo Shancheng that looks like a real bakery/coffee shop where one might sit down and have a coffee.
- There is a Starbucks in the Wan Da Mall on Huai An Lu in the east side of the city, one in the Wonder Mall on Yu Hua Lu, and a third one in the Enjoy mall on Zhongshan Si near the old train station.
- Xiang Jun Fu, Ti Yu Nan Da Jie/Dong Gang Lu (SW of the Train Station). Excellent Hunan food. To get there, take the 32 bus from the train station and transfer to the #6 bus at Hebei Normal University (师大) .
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.
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.
- Seven Club (Qi Jiuba) (West of the train station). The main night club that all the expats and foreign teachers go to. The beer is not great but it has the best atmosphere compared to any other club.
- Mazzo Club, Zhongshan Lu (2 km east of train station). 20:00. A club with KTV ibetween the train station and Bei Guo Shopping Centre on Zhongshan Lu. Sister club is Rolling Stones (滚石酒吧: pinyin: gun shi jiu ba) and its adjoining club Club No.88 (八八酒吧: pinyun - ba ba jiu ba), just down the street toward the train station. 04:00.
- 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.
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.
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.
- Home Inn (about three blocks from the train station). Allowed to accept foreigners. It is pretty clean and moderately priced.
- Huiwen Hotel (汇文大酒店; Huìwén Dàjiǔdiàn)), 6 Zhanqian St (站前街; Zhànqiánjiē) (opposite the railway station), ☏ . Four-star hotel with rooms with desk and kettle. Karaoke, pool and fitness available. Also has a restaurant serving Honk Kong cuisine. Discounted rates for doubles from around ¥250.
There is no problem finding higher priced accommodation and there is plenty of it.
- Zhengding County - 15 km to the north is the historic walled city of Zhengding with towering pagodas
- Pingshan County - Far off county to the northwest with a resort area featuring the world's longest glass bridge and Xibaipo Memorial, a key destination in red history
|Routes through Shijiazhuang|
|Beijing ←||N S||→ Handan → Zhengzhou|