Despite being a rather young Chinese city, Shijiazhuang stands as the capital and also the major economic hub of Hebei. Being very industrialized to the extent of being the largest pharmaceutical area in China makes it a dependable and very important area in China. In fact, it was considered at one point as one of the very few economic giants in China.
Strategically located southwest of Beijing city and eastwards of Taihang mountains, Shijiazhuang makes a good area for activities like hiking, cycling, and a variety of other outdoor activities. With an approximate population of 10,701,600, Shijiazhuang is quite densely populated and comprises of a total of 8-districts, 2-county level cities, and another 12-counties.
Being the provincial capital of China’s Hebei province, Shijiazhuang has a very comprehensive transport system. Some of the ways you can get into Shijiazhuang include:
• By plane - Shijiazhuang's airport is the main entry point to the city. The airport covers almost all those well-known cities in the country
• By train –With one of the country's biggest rail-hubs, there are a good number of trains operating in Shijiazhuang. The trains are very fast in that an express one going to Beijing usually takes only one hour.
• By bus - Shijiazhuang also has buses that carry passengers to the neighboring towns and cities. Although the buses depart from a variety of bus stations, all the bus stations can be easily reached by buses from any of the stations.
• By car - The road network going to and coming from this beautiful city is so well-developed and well-laid out. In fact, it usually takes one not more than 3 hours to go to the nearby city of Beijing by car. Other destinations that are linked to this city by car are Taiyuan and Zhengzhou.
For efficient movement of people within the city, Shijiazhuang has a wider set of travel choices for its citizens. These include:
• By bus – Just like in most of the cities in China, buses in Shijiazhuang are frequent and rather cheap. Regardless of the distance, you will only pay 1 yen per journey. It is only during the cold season or hot season that you will find a few buses equipped with air conditioners charging 2-yuan.
• By taxi – Just like buses, taxis are also very cheap in Shijiazhuang. In fact, they are laughable inexpensive to many tourists and visitors to Shijiazhuang. Although there are plenty of taxis in the city, when it reaches between 1600 and 1900, you won’t find any unless you use the Didi app to call one.
• By subway – Although the subway is still under construction, Line-1 and Line-3 have already been finished and are operating. When the addition to the already existing subway line-3 and the subway Line-2 are finished, we expect a huge change in transportation.
• By bike-sharing – One of the most unusual modes of transport around the city is bike-sharing. The service is found everywhere in the city thus you are able to go biking anywhere in the city as long as you have the mobike app.
Shijiazhuang experiences a continental, semi-arid climate. The climate is characterized by hot and humid summers that are attributed to frequently blowing monsoon winds. On the other hand, the winters are cold and dry with very strong winds due to the effect that the Siberian anticyclone has on it. During the spring, there may be sandstorms accompanied by dry and rapidly warming conditions. The autumn season is usually just as the spring season when taking into account the temperature levels.
Normally, most people visit Shijiazhuang, China during the month of August then followed by the two months May and June. This means that during these months the hotels and flights prices are usually very high. If you are someone who prefers visiting a place during the warmest seasons then you should consider landing during the months of June, July, and August. However, if dry weather is what you are after then December, January, and February are the months with the lowest chances of significant precipitation.
Shijiazhuang is one city that is blessed with a wide variety of tourist attractions including historical sites, museums, and ancient towns.
• Cangyanshan Mountain - Located approximately 70 kilometers west of Shijiazhuang, this mountain is undeniably among the few breathtaking sight in the whole of Shijiazhuang. The mountain is made up of five sacred mountains and is famous for its magnificent combination of both natural attractive features of a mountain and historical man-made structures.
• Pilu Monastery - This is a very beautiful sight to visit especially when there is enough sunlight to help you clearly see it's finer details.
• Zhaozhou Bridge - Considered as the world’s longest reigning stone single-arch bridge, this bridge lies adjacent to a relatively small museum. The bridge makes an excellent piece of work and consists of stones that are joined by some steel plates. The area surrounding the bridge has been made to look like a tourist place where you will find a wide variety of local items.
• Baoduzhai - located in the Luquan area, you will find a variety of stone carvings and caves in this mountain that dates back to the golden era of the Qi dynasty.
• Yujiashan Cliff Statues – Here, the main attraction is a statue of Buddha that stands up 8 meters tall. The statue was skillfully carved from a mountain's side and has in existence since the Tang dynasty.
• Hebei Museum – This museum contains exhibitions that are from two major ancient discoveries which are King of Zhongshan's ancient tomb and that of the prince and the princess of Han principality. The best thing about this museum is that it is exclusively free for all. The only requirement you will need to enter is your identification which means that if you are new to the country you should carry your passport along.
• Shijiazhuang Museum - if you love grottoes then this is without a doubt a-must-see museum. While here, you will get to know all the culture and history of the province.
• Shijiazhuang zoo - Although the standard of cleanliness of zoos in China may not be what you are generally used to at home, the zoo is relatively good. Here, you will find a large variety of animals ranging from kangaroos and pandas to elephants and bears. To see everything, you will need to spend like the whole day here.
• Shitou Village - This village included a good number of beautiful homes and temples that are a perfect exhibition of the Chinese stone architecture.
• Baodu Zhai - Located about 16 kilometers west-ward, this name is used to refer to both the beautiful mountain and also the ancient village in which it is found in,
• Niangzi Guan – If you love old towns then you will definitely find it interesting being here.
• Yujia Stone Village - The name of this village simply means the “Yu-Family Village”. The village ended up being given this name since more than 95 percent of it's occupants shared the surname ''Yu''. The village is usually referred to as a stone Village because it is built using all kinds of stones.
Expats living in Shijiazhuang discover that while the city has only seen rapid expansion during the modern times, just like all the other industrial cities in China, its history still stretches back into the millennia. The local continental climate gives both the residents and expats a pleasant environment to settle into in.
There are plenty of foreign restaurants and clubs and even the most traveled expatriates will find the city’s hangouts stimulating and exciting and the cost of living is very good. Pizza Hut is among the large number of foreign restaurants where you can head to if you yearn to nibble on something like pepperoni or pizza.
McDonalds and KFC’s are also found everywhere and the number of cute coffee shops that have a western style is fast growing. When it comes to night outs, Seven Club is the major club that the majority of foreigners and expats go to. While the beer might not taste very great here, this place has a very commendable atmosphere according to many expats.
If you're looking to get connected with other people, check out these ways to meet other expats in China!
Overall, Shijiazhuang is a seriously industrialized city with very many strong sectors. While this may make most expats may be tempted to think that the city is all work and no play, surprisingly, there are a lot of things to also enjoy in Shijiazhuang. When you begin exploring the city, you will slowly realize that the city is not only one of China’s most industrialized centers, but also a place full of culture and heritage. From the city’s ancient history and local heritage to the local culture and beautiful sites of interest, it is on top of the list of the best host cities for an expatriate with an interest in the ancient China.
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