From Beijing to Qingdao via Shenyang (Mukden), Changchun, Harbin, Dalian (Port Arthur) and Yantai
Shenyang (Mukden) is situated north-east of Beijing and the 840km/520 mile journey takes about eleven hours by express train. Shenyang was the Manchu capital before the conquest of China (1640) and is not only an important industrial centre but also has much to offer the tourist including the Imperial Palace.
Continuing in a north-easterly direction into the Chinese steppe about 300km/185 miles beyond Shenyang lies the city of Changchun, capital of Jilin province. Changchun in Chinese means Eternal Spring” but ironically winters in this part of northern China can be long and hard. During the Japanese occupation, it was the seat of Man-zhouguo’s government (1933-45). Today Changchun is a modern town and is home to one of China’s biggest engineering factories.
Travellers who wish to continue further north will leave Jilin province and continue another 240km/150 miles to Harbin, the capital of China’s northernmost province Heilongjiang, named after the river of the same name (Amur). Harbin is also a modern city with an important river port and many fine parks including Sun Island and Zhaolin Gon-gyuan Park where every year between January and February the famous Ice Lantern Show takes place when huge blocks of sculptured ice are displayed.
Beyond Harbin lies the far north of China, a steppe landscape extending 400km/250 miles to the border with Russia.
Returning by the same route south from Harbin, Dalian lies about six hours by train (397km/246 miles) due south of Shenyang. Built by the Russians in the 19th c. Dalian is a busy sea port situated on the northern cape of the Gulf of Bohai.
A boat crosses the Gulf of Bohai to Yantai, a small port on the north coast ofthe Shandong peninsula and renowned for its fine wine. This route ends at Qingdao one of China’s biggest tourist attractions and famed for its beaches, pleasant climate, picturesque setting and not least its brewery. A night train from Qingdao to Beijing will take about fifteen hours (400km/250 miles). There are two flights per week.