Whether you are looking for traces of ancient history, a bustling modern city, natural countryside or the sea-side feel and pleasures of beach life, Jinzhou offers it all. Conveniently located just north of downtown Dalian, Jinzhou invites you to make the most of it.
The legend of the dragon
In the mountains of Jinzhou there is a very attractive and serene temple, described by some as paradise and it could be argued this is not far from the truth. With running water and an impressive dragon fountain head snaking its way through the undergrowth, Xiangshui Taoist Temple was built during the Tang dynasty, about 618-907 AD, and survives to this day. On the temple grounds there is a cave and it is here where the Guqin became famous; a unique seven-stringed guitar-like instrument that was popularized in Jinzhou.
Legend has it, there was a dragon in a nearby village, and this dragon was not a particularly nice dragon causing chaos for the local people who were petrified of him. One day a wise man found a solution to pacify the dragon. He had realized the only thing that could scare him was the sound of the Guqin. He approached a young lady named Wang Yao Qin who was the village’s most adept Guqin musician. He told the girl his theory and suggested if she played for nine days non-stop it would be the only way they could rid themselves of the problem. Without hesitation the girl agreed. Hiding herself in a cave so she could not be attacked by the dragon she began playing.
Nine days later the old man’s theory was proven right, the dragon had lost its magnificent power and turned into a worm. But sadly, the exertion of the nine days continuous playing had left the girl in a weakened state and consequentially she died, turning into a statue so her selfless act could be remembered for years to come. The cave in which the girl died is now known as the Yao Qin cave and it is the very same cave that can be found in Xiangshui Temple, if you have courage enough to brave the dark and spiders at the cave entrance you can enter the cave and seek the legendary statue for yourself.
There are many more legends and indeed factual places of historical import in the area of Jinzhou. Pay it a visit and you never know what you may unearth.
From the Ancient Past to the New Jinzhou
In ancient times, Jinzhou was a walled city that protected an imperial office under the Tang Dynasty. Later, during the Qing Dynasty It matured into a center of trade and commerce. It is estimated that Jinzhou had an established population and governing system in place as early as 107 BC. In the following 2000 years the city saw many changes – it changed its name from Tuhe to Jinzhou in the Liao Dynasty, it endured many dynasties, invasions and wars and it saw the development of other districts.
By 1945, this region had also seen its share of war, having staged battles from the first Sino-Japanese and the Russo-Japanese wars. At various stages of its history, its people had been shuffled between Korean, Chinese, Japanese and Russian rule. But all along, it remained an important administrative center to the province.
The city of Dalian is divided into many districts (区, Qu) such as: Zhongshan Qu, Xigang Qu, Shahekou Qu, Ganjinzi Qu, and Jinzhouxin Qu.
Jinzhou is now known as Jinzhouxin Qu. It became a larger and more inclusive district just recently (新, xin meaning ‘new’). The decision to combine Dalian Development Area (Kaifa Qu), Golden Pebble Beach (Jinshitan) and the city of Jinzhou into Jinzhouxin was made by the local government in 2010 and a new head of the district administration was appointed. This was done to accelerate the development of the new area and, since Dalian is a coastal city, to boost tourism as its main industry.
The Sandy Shores of Jinshitan
But it’s not just the coast that draws people. Jinzhou boasts many great historical sites and relics such as the Dahei and Xiaohei mountains. Especially Dahei Mountain, at 663 meters above sea level, is the biggest mountain in the Liaoning area. The mountains are special because they are the site of temples that were constructed over 1,000 years ago, and are good examples of how Daoism and Buddhism have merged in China.
These temples have magnificent statues that attract worshippers and visitors alike. The top of the Dahei Mountain offers spectacular views of both the Bo Sea in the west and the Huang (yellow) Sea in the east.
While the shores of Jinzhou are washed by the Bo Sea, the eastern shores of the Yellow Sea, around Jinshitan, are famous for their beautiful sandy beaches and a tempting option for travelers.
One can never forget the scenery of Jinshitan: picturesque green hills, golden sand beaches populated with small seafood restaurants, tourist facilities, convenient transportation, mostly calm sea with shallow waters – all of it makes a perfect place for a relaxing day. Jinshitan is also the home to Discovery Land, a world class amusement park. It was built by the companies “Haichan” and “Singapura” based on the design of the American company RVPA. The park has been operating since 2006, attracting thousands of visitors every season.
The golf course in Jinshitan can compete with the world’s leading golf resorts: unforgettable scenery, great service and state-of-the-art facilities. Tourist attractions such as a Racing Horse Club, Wax Museum, Folk Museum, Stone Gallery, China’s Martial Arts Hall, Golden Rock Park and an International Hunting Club can make anyone a busy tourist.
Those intending to stay longer in Jinshitan will be interested in the newly built residential areas which have a strong element of Mediterranean style. The majority of town houses is arranged into residential complexes, designed to bring people together: beautiful gardens and lakes, a community center with gyms and an auditorium. Major international schools like the American School and the large high school branch of the Canadian Maple Leaf School are conveniently located here.
Moving westwards from Jinshitan lies the Dalian Development Area, (DDA) or Kaifa Qu, at the foot of Daheishan. It is a place where various international enterprises have their production facilities. Since its establishment in 1984 the DDA underwent major development. There are more than 1600 foreign companies registered there today. This has a major influence on the population and lifestyle in the area and makes it a place with its own character.
The streets and architecture look quite different from other places in Dalian. Many beautiful parks, endless numbers of restaurants and squares make it a community oriented place. To accommodate the needs of international residents, a wide variety of western restaurants and shops keep their customers happy. Beautiful landscape design makes the place look elegant and abundant greenery cleans the air.
Until recently Jinzhou was more like its own town: the life of regular Chinese folk could be seen here. Upon establishment of Jinzhouxin Qu, it picked up the development tempo of DDA and Jinshitan. Residential real estate standards went up and many new residential complexes started to grow. It has a lot of valuable land with beautiful views and landscapes and a lot of room for development.
The three areas together – Jinshitan, Kaifaqu and Jinzhou – brining all their qualities under one umbrella, create even more potential for the future to be a perfect place either for visit or for permanent life.
Not only does Jinzhouxin have a newly recognized importance for Dalian, but traditionally it has a rich cultural significance. Every spring festival throughout China, intricate and beautiful paper cuttings adorn windows, walls and doors. The development of this creativity and cutting technique can be traced back to Jinzhou. Over 600 years ago, people of the Han and Man ethnic groups combined their skills and expertise to develop the paper cutting technique that is so popular all over China now.
Other folk customs include dragon dancing and so-called bean paintings – pictures that are composed entirely of beans. These and other arts are presented every year at an exhibition of folk art called the Flower Fair. And there are other yearly events, too: the Dahei Mountain Climbing Festival, the acclaimed Cherry Festival and the Jinshitan beach festival to name just a few.
Besides regular festivals, there are other hotspots that offer insights into the history and culture of Jinzhou. For example the new museum that has a great display of fossils, artifacts, sand models and a scaled-down model of the original Jinzhou settlement or the old street known as the Jinzhou Ancient Culture Street. This is a reconstruction of the original old street and is only a stone throw away from the antique Chinese style architecture and the traditional Chinese snack street.
According to the director of the Tourism Bureau, Mr. Yang, Jinzhou is already the biggest tourist spot in Dalian; it boasts 6% of Dalian’s GDP in tourism. A considerable amount taking into account that China’s tourism portion of its overall GDP is only 2.6%. Statistics show that most of the tourists come from Russia, South Korea and Japan and Jinzhou looks likely to continue to target these groups. For the Jinzhou Tourism Bureau it is time to capitalize on both Jinzhou’s emerging modernity and its long history and transform the area into a tourist paradise. Hereby it also plans to promote Jinzhou as a hub of northern Chinese culture, clearly associating it with the Manchu ethnic group as well as Daoism and Buddhism.
Greatly helpful in this respect is another facet of Jinzhou’s appeal: it still retains much of its countryside and this is increasingly demarked as a tourist attraction. Soon, tourists will be able to visit its blueberry and cherry farms, as well as its grape vineyards, enjoy nearby natural villages and farm restaurants and sample the fruits of natural and organic farming.
The Future Starts Now
Jinzhou has big plans. Within the next ten years, it plans to build five-star resorts and golf courses in the areas near the Bohai Sea and Golden Pebble Beach. To ensure that tourists get the most out of the greater Dalian area, the city also plans to build a bridge that will connect Jinzhou with downtown Dalian.
Other plans to boost the economy and offer more to locals and visitors include building a new airport, establishing yacht manufacturing companies, creating golf clubs, improving the mountain related industries, expanding the flower fields, cherry and blueberry farming, creating geological parks, nature reserves, national forest parks and many more ventures accommodating both the young and the old.
Jinzhou is well located for these ambitions. Already the Liaoning Binhai Road stretches along 1400 kilometers of coastline. It starts in Huoludao and ends in Dandong and makes its route through twenty one counties, twenty five ports and past many tourist attractions. If you set off from Dalian, there are several transportation options available: a fast train also known as light railway, various busses and taxis make the commute easier.
For everyone visiting Dalian the pull of Zhongshan district or ‘Downtown’ can be great. There are many wonderful things to do in this part of the city from all the beaches, the squares and the parks to the theatre, great eating, bars and clubs. However, when in Dalian, it is important not to overlook the other districts.
Jinzhouxin is perhaps the most promising and diverse of those districts, situated north of Dalian. Getting there from the center will take around an hour, but it is an extremely worthwhile place to visit and you can easily spend a day or more there indulging in a variety of wonderful activities.