Zhanjiang was a small fishing port when it was under French occupation in the early 20th century - named Fort Bayard - and some old colonial buildings still survive. Now it is a rapidly developing modern city. Many people in Zhanjiang speak Mandarin (普通话 Pǔtōnghuà) with a fairly strong accent, the native languages for most locals are Cantonese (广东话 Guǎngdōnghuà) and Leizhouhua (雷州话 Léizhōuhuà), a distinctly different dialect close to Hainanese.
Zhanjiang is at the base of the Leizhou peninsula that points toward the island province Hainan. Travellers often pass through Zhanjiang en route to Hainan. There are trains and buses to and from nearby mainland cities and boats to Haikou, capital of Hainan. The boat is an hour bus ride away from Zhanjiang.
There are three train stations and a small airport that service Zhanjiang. Buses also run daily to most nearby cities.
A bus runs daily from Zhanjiang to Hong Kong (8 hours) via Shenzhen and tickets are ¥280 at the travel agency's office in Chikan District.
Zhanjiang is almost like two cities combined. The northern half, composed of Chikan district (赤坎区 Chìkǎn qū) and Mazhang District (麻章区 Mázhāng qū) and the southern Xiashan District (霞山区 Xiáshān qū) are separated by a less developed corridor.
The main bus routes (2, 11, 12, 22) travel from the northern districts to Xiashan and back. Smaller buses and other routes can allow you to explore more areas of the individual districts.
Taxis in Zhanjiang are fairly cheap, starting at ¥5. Afterwards the fare increases by ¥2 per kilometer. Please note that there is an additional ¥1 fuel surcharge that will be added onto your final fare.
- Haibin Park (海滨公园 hǎibīn gōngyuán), Xiashan District (You can easily get to the park on a number 2 bus). A famous waterfront park.
- Cunjin Park (寸金公园 cùn jīn gōngyuán), Chikan District (Runs adjacent to Cunjin Bridge, which marks the historical boundary between the French treaty port and China).
- Dragon Boat Festival (端午节 duānwǔjié). The fifth day of the fifth month according to the lunar calendar. A large international boat race.
- Huguangyan Park (湖光岩世界地质公园 Húguāngyán shìjiè dìzhì gōngyuán) (About 30 minutes from Zhanjiang). The center piece to this UNESCO Geo Park is a large Maar Lake. Adults ¥50.
- Movie theaters, Xiashan District. There are a few movie theaters Admission is usually around ¥25.
- Bowling alley, Xiashan District. bowling alley now closed
- Haibin Hotel and Hotsprings, Xiashan District. Admission includes a dinner buffet and an evening to enjoy the various hotsprings and pools.
- Body Sculpture Fitness Club (behind Chikan Nursery). For those looking to exercise, this gym recently moved to a new location and upgraded most of its equipment. Three month memberships cost ¥288.
As a major stop for many bikers heading to the islands, Zhanjiang has a fair range of bicycle shops to shop on components and parts. Most shops are located along Minzhi Road (民治路) and certain brands such as Dahon, Giant, Merida also have their branches there.
- Trust Mart (In Shimao Shopping Complex in the center of Chikan District). A large supermarket with a number of things to buy. Also found in the same building KFC and Macau Street Food City.
- Wal-Mart, Xiashan District and Chikan District. Has a few imported items not found at other locations and also regularly has fresh milk.
- Export Market (On the outskirts of Xiashan District). A clothing and fabric market with goods that are produced in China for export. You can sometimes find name-brand clothing items for cheap prices here.
Local specialties include seafood, sugarcane and beer chicken.
- Inner Mongolia Dumpling Restaurant (In 100 names village (百姓村 bǎixìng cūn)). If you would like dumplings or to sample a different variety of Chinese cuisine, this restaurant serves excellent food at inexpensive prices.
- Steakking Kitchen Production (In the new Wal-Mart Plaza in Chikan District). An upscale restaurant. The menu includes fairly authentic western food and an excellent Japanese sushi selection. Included in the price of your meal is a free trip to the salad bar.
- Macau Street Food City (Locations in both Chikan (Shimao Plaza) and Xiashan (Wal-Mart Plaza)). This restaurant is very foreigner friendly and offers tons of dishes to choose from.
Zhanjiang has a small bar street (酒吧街 jiǔbā jiē) in Xiashan District. Unfortunately, most places do not serve cocktails or shots, but instead tend to sell liquor by the bottle. Beers in the bar also tend to be about three to four times more expensive than on the street.
Some western-style restaurants such as Steakking Kitchen Production and the West Coast Coffeehouse (西海安 xīhǎi ān) do sell mixed drinks and shots.
Also, Wal-Mart has the best selection of spirits for sell if you would like to make your own drinks.
Zhanjiang is separated as two major districts: Chikan and Xiashan, in which Xiashan is more developed and newer than Chikan, but both districts also have plenty of hotels.
Many budget hotels are located along Minzhi Road (民治路) near to Jiefang East Road (解放东路). Prices range from 60-70 for a double room.
- Crowne Plaza (In the Xiashan District). The only five-star hotel in Zhanjiang. Hosts a buffet dinner with both western and oriental dishes. All you can eat food and beer for ¥100 per person.
- Donghai Island, the fourth largest island in China, is about 1.5 hours drive from Zhanjiang and is popular for its beaches. Buses leave regularly from the Xiashan District.
- There are almost hourly buses to Guangzhou, the provincial capital. Buses also leave four times a day for Zhuhai, where you can easily cross into Macau.
- There is a train to Hainan Island that originates in Beijing and will take you from Zhanjiang to either Haikou or Sanya. It is about eight hours to Sanya, the southernmost Chinese city.
- There are also regular trains to Guilin in neighboring Guangxi province. The ride takes about eight hours.