While Qinghuangdao is not well-known in the West, part of it is: Beidaihe, where the Party parties, the Chinese government flees to in the heat of Beijing summers, and a sizeable proportion of the Russian population gets sunburnt. Even Mao Zedong wrote a poem about the place (he liked to swim here).
There are many mansions in Beidaihe, which belong to either the Chinese Communist Party, senior members thereof, or workers’ unions or their pension funds. Many are sanatoria for retired union (or Party) officials. Probably the most famous – and historically significant – former resident of Beidaihe was Lin Biao, Mao’s second-in-command, whose home (visitors are not allowed to enter its grounds, which are surrounded by a high wall) was inside what is now Liangfengshan Park. Lin’s story (all versions) is intriguing, to say the least.
As with the other districts of QHD, Beidaihe is made up of many distinct parts and tourist attractions, many of which were still under development while I was there. From Haigang district, going in the direction of Nandaihe on the other, southern, side of the Dai River, these include (because I may have missed or forgotten some):
QHD Safari Park
(This is a place I never visited, because I had fairly recently been on safari in Kenya and couldn’t bear to see the animals in enclosures after seeing them in the wild. It was pretty popular with tourists, though.)
Geziwo (Pigeon Park) and Bird Museum
Biluota Bar Park
Central Beidaihe and beaches
Jifa Ecological Gardens
Beidaihe really begins at Geziwo Park. A new ‘Bird Museum’ was completed at the corner of the main road on the way to the entrance in 2009.
At the time of my first visit, in 2007, it was still possible for local peope to collect seafood (oysters, clams, etc) from the beach at Geziwo, but it was later fenced off to protect migrating birds, mostly waders of many kinds, which pass along this stretch of coast twice a year on their migrations. Birdwatchers from around the world now flock here too.
A few hundred metres along the main road from the turnoff for Geziwo is the Olympic Park, created before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The Park is a popular meeting-place for locals as well as a tourist attraction. There is a lot of sport- and especially Olympics-related statuary dotted about, along with some larger displays. One thing I found slightly irritating is the inescapable music coming from many speakers near the footpaths.