China doesn’t really do beach culture, especially up north, but they’re learning fast in little BEIDAIHE. In fact, it wasn’t so long ago that there were strict rules enforced here: West Beach was reserved for foreigners after they were granted access in 1979, with guards posted to chase off Chinese voyeurs interested in glimpsing their daringly bourgeois swimming costumes; for visiting Chinese, dark swimsuits were compulsory to avoid the illusion of nudity. These days things have changed and skimpy bikinis are now de rigueur on the town’s three main beaches (and local girls are slowly learning that high heels and sand do not mix), while the streets by the shore are as gaudy and kitschy as any busy seaside resort. Away from the sea, up the hill, the tree-lined streets are much quieter, and the majority of the town seems to consist of nondescript compounds hosting guesthouses, villas and sanatoriums, some open to paying guests and others set aside for the Party, PLA or state-run companies who reward favoured members with trips to the seaside.

Note that much of Beidaihe shuts down during colder months; the streets along the seafront are at their liveliest from May to August.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

China features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

An expert's guide: where to stay in Shanghai

An expert's guide: where to stay in Shanghai

Shanghai has to be a contender for the buzziest city in Asia, a thriving business hub that's brashly modern yet wears its history on its sleeve. Dense with glit…

23 Oct 2017 • Simon Lewis insert_drive_file Article
The best aerial views in the world

The best aerial views in the world

Got a head for heights? If you're craving a new perspective on your travels, the best thing to do is get up high. From mountain-top panoramas to cityscapes, her…

17 Oct 2017 • Olivia Rawes camera_alt Gallery
Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

Budget trips: 20 of the cheapest places to travel

That ever-growing travel wish list might be putting some pressure on your pocket – but there are plenty of destinations where you'll get more bang for your b…

11 Oct 2017 • Emma Gibbs camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook