I recently travelled to Dalian & Beijing, China with my old college roommate. She was travelling for a brief speech at a conference – I was travelling for fun. Since there has not been a lot of information posted on Dalian here at Trip Advisor, I thought I would do a quick trip report on our brief stay here.
My friend was attending a conference, which was our sole reason for visiting Dalian.
Day one: We flew from Newark to Beijing and then transferred planes to fly onto Dalian. Terminal 3 was impressive and modern. Chinese immigration & customs & security were unbelievably fast & efficient. The airport transfer check in process at Air China was very efficient. We made our connecting flight despite the fact that our flight was two hours late from US. Had enough time to get money from ATM and terrible coffee Americano at the gate before we flew to Dalian.
After a quick flight we landed in Dalian’s smallish airport. At baggage claim, we were accosted by women who were selling tickets for the “taxi bus”. The tickets were for 50 RMB each and they claimed it would be over an hour ride due to “road closures”. I think they just stopped at every hotel in town - like a big hotel shuttle. We went outside to the taxi stand and caught a cab. I had the hotel name written in Chinese. The taxi ride was about 30 RMB and took 20 minutes.
We stayed at Hotel Nikko - very smooth check-in. Beautiful western style hotel. After dropping off our luggage, we came downstairs to the lounge. It appeared that most everyone was drinking tea but we wanted something stronger, so we orders wine. Our wine choices were “red” or “white”. I got red and my friend got white and they suspiciously tasted the same. However, it hit the spot particularly after over 24 hours of total travel time.
Day two: My friend headed off to her conference so after my coffee, I took a long walk around the hotel area. Traffic was very heavy. I ended up at Friendship Shopping Center, which was filled with US type goods at US prices. I felt like I was at a Mall back in New Jersey. I did get a little lost but I managed to make my way back. I saw lots of little dogs and stopped to pet them all - missing my puppy at home. Near our hotel, I found a restaurant called “Café Copenhagen” and got a good coffee Americano. My mandarin phrasebook came in very handy in trying to explain “black coffee”. The café had free wireless so I emailed back home.
After a break back at the hotel, upon the recommendation of the concierge, I took a cab to the Dalian Fashion Mall (cost 8 RMB). This mall was very high end. Behind the mall there is an open air market with lots of flip flops and miscellaneous stuff to buy. I walked back to the hotel and it was getting hot. The air is more polluted than home and kind of hangs in the air. I had no problems navigating in Dalian. There was more English and better placed signage than in Beijing. I ended back up at the Café Copenhagen for a cold-ish beer and some kind of chicken sandwich. It was a nice rest after all the walking.
After a shower and some rest, I walked to the Shangri-La hotel for the conference welcome banquet. I got a little lost but I stopped at another hotel and the bellman helped me after I showed him a card with the Chinese name on it. After the banquet, we wandered the streets. We found our way back to the bar I found earlier, the Meetinghouse bar, for an amazingly cold Coors Light. The bar was decorated with Bob Marley and Harley Davidson posters. There were several male singers who were singing “boys band” type music. We had our first experience with squat toilets. Afterwards, we walked towards the hotel through and outdoor market that had food grills and fresh seafood (the mussels were squirting at us).
Day three: We got up and ate the hotel buffet breakfast and explored. It was hot and dusty. We did a little shopping and stopped at a cute coffee shop and enjoyed some more free wifi and coffee. The nice thing about Dalian was that free wifi was everywhere. Hit the Café Copenhagen for a good lunch again before it was time to head to the airport. Traffic was very heavy at it took twice as long to get there. Airport was very crowded and HOT HOT HOT. Onto Beijing….