Xigang District (西岗区; Xīgǎngqū), the smallest of Dalian's four districts, takes up the western half of the city centre and is the home of most of the city government. As with government districts in most cities there is not a huge amount for tourists to do in the central part of Xigang aside from gawking at the centres of power, though the stadium, and the nearby bar area, do provide alternative attractions. The southern half of the district offers more for visitors, with the forest zoo for panda watchers and Fujiazhuang beach for sun lovers. Bargain hunters may find a trip to the central market rewarding, provided their haggling skills are up to scratch.
For those arriving by air, all three airport buses stop in central Xigang. The express shuttle stops at the municipal government (just north of People's Square), bus 701 stops at the stadium, while bus 710 stops at People's Square. Those arriving at the central train station, meanwhile, can catch bus 16 or 22 to People's Square and the stadium. Those arriving by boat, bus 16 also stops just in front of the passenger ferry terminal.
Getting around in the central part of the district is little trouble given that most of the areas of interest are clustered around People's Square and the Stadium which are no more than 10 minutes walk from one another. To get to the central market catch bus 16 or 22 from the stadium or People's Square to Qingniwaqiao, head to the railway station and walk through the pedestrian tunnel on the left hand side. The Forest Zoo can be reached by catching bus 4 (terminating at Tiger Beach) from the stadium. To get to Fujiazhuang Beach head to Qingniwaqiao then take bus 5.
- 1 Russian Street (俄羅斯風情街 Éluósī Chuíqíngjiē), Across Shengli Bridge, NE of train station. One of the few places it's still possible to get a glimpse of Dalian's colonial past. Most of the old Russian and Japanese buildings were razed in the many bursts of redevelopment the city has seen over the years, but the old architecture is "preserved" in the sense many of the buildings along the road are actually modern facsimiles of old Russian buildings rather than the genuine article. The old buildings that do remain are worth examining, however, and more genuine examples lie along the side roads to the east of the main street. Stalls and shops along the road sell various trinkets and souvenirs (no affiliation with Russia other than some wooden dolls) but the same items can generally be found for much less elsewhere in the city. A similar Japanese Street exists in the south of the city center, near the Children's Park, but it is almost wholly fake, with empty shells of buildings lining the road. Those interested in real examples of Japanese houses would be better served exploring the area around Gaoerji Lu to the south of People's Square, although much of what exists is in shambles.
- 2 Dalian Art Museum (大连美术馆, formerly known as the Dalian Art Gallery 大连艺术展览馆), 35 Shengli Street (胜利街35号) (southern tip of Russian Street), ☏ . 09:00-16:00. In a spectacular old Russian building dating from 1902, the museum contains a varied and changing selection of works from local artists, ranging from traditional Chinese styles to works of modern art. The museum also periodically hosts touring shows from prominent artists both Chinese and foreign. Free.
- 3 People's Square (人民广场 Rénmín Guǎngchǎng), Zhongshan Road (中山路) (Metro Line 2, Renmin Square Station, Exits B and C). The other main square in the center of Dalian, where the seat municipal government buildings are housed, some in old Russian-style. Like Zhongshan Square, it is may interested some for the architecture alone, but this one has a much larger grassy area where kite flyers and fountains can be viewed (actually setting on the grass is frowned upon so don't expect to be able to throw a frisbee). The best time to see the fountain is probably during the evening show (8PM) when it is illuminated and elders join in dancing.
- 4 Dalian Forest Zoo (大连森林动物园 Dàlián Sēnlín Dòngwùyuán), 60 Yingchun Road, Nashidao Street (南石道街迎春路60号) (The north gate is accessible via bus routes 525, 529 and 715. The south gate can be reached via bus routes 5, 47, 49, 501, 541, and 702), ☏ (tickets & enquiries), (complaints). April-Octoberː 08:30–16:00, November-Marchː 09ː00-16ː00. A major attraction for Chinese tourists primarily because of its pandas (both red pandas and great pandas live in the zoo), although many other exotic species are also represented. The zoo is essentially split into two parts, with a walking section at the top of the hill and a safari area at the base near Fujiazhuang. The two sections are joined by a cableway and a foot path, with the pandas housed in the upper section. The cableway is most popular mode of transport to get between sections, but zoo buses are also offered, in addition to walking (which is likely too much for little ones, as the road is winding and hilly). There are also parking lots at the entrances to both section. While the exhibits and conditions may disappoint some, the zoo has passed numerous international inspections and is of high quality by Chinese standards. The only crowds are schoolchildren on field trips, otherwise it's very quiet. Fast food and BBQ are available from vendors inside the zoo. You can also pay to feed some of the animals from food prepared by zoo keepers (¥4 for fruit cup, ¥10 for raw chicken). The admission fee from April to October is ¥120, but from November to March, it is only ¥100. The fee includes tickets for the cable car. The zoo bus charges a separate fee of ¥20. Parking fees vary from ¥15 to 40 depending on parking lot and type of vehicle. If you want to use both parking lots, you must pay for them separately.
- 5 Dalian Wushu Culture Museum (大连武术文化博物馆 Dàlián Wŭshù Wénhuà Bówùguǎn, Dalian Martial Arts Culture Museum), 16 Zhongxia Road (仲夏路16号) (Take bus no. 5, 47, 501, 541 or 702. Get off at the Dalian Art Centre (大连艺术品中心). The museum is about 500 metres from the bus stop), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 09ː00-11ː00, 13ː00-16ː00, closed on Mondays. Free.
- 6 Dalian Science and Technology Museum (大连市科技馆 Dàlián Shì Kējìguǎn), 3 Changbai Street (长白街3号) (Take bus no. 4, 12, 29, 40, 407, 506, 541 or 702. Get off at the Dalian Transport Technicians College (大连交通技师学院). The museum is about 200 metres southwest of the bus stop), ☏ . 09ː00-17ː00, closed on Mondays. Free.
- Dalian central market – North of the train station, this is the best place to go for bargains. There are many different halls offering pretty much everything under the sun, but the main hall is the most useful to visitors, with foodstuffs on the ground floor, clothes and bags on the next couple of floors and trinkets and souvenirs on the next floor up. If you are willing to haggle hard, goods can be purchased here for a fraction of the price you would pay elsewhere.
The range of restaurants is nowhere near as comprehensive in Xigang as it is in Zhongshan District, with the only standout example being the Tapas Spanish restaurant near Russian Street. In the more residential areas there's still the usual range of cheap, hole in the wall and mid-range Chinese restaurants, however.
- Zihang Fan Dian (紫航饭店) (intersection of Changchun Lu and Huanghe Lu). Fresh seafood, arguably Dalian's finest.
- Brooklyn Bar and Restaurant, 184 Bulao Jie (不老街184号) (5-min walk N of Olympic Sq). Tu-Su 17:30-02:00, closed M. 2F is the main bar area with five tables and 3F has a larger seating area with table tennis table (1F is kitchen). Feature a movie night (Th) and quiz night (Su). Owner/manager is Western and has brought his bartending and kitchen skills for locals and expats to enjoy, featuring pizza and hamburgers with homemade buns. Clean spot with free WiFi. ¥20-90 drink, ¥50 food.
- Noah's Ark Bar (挪亚方舟酒吧; Nuóyàfāngzhōu Jiǔba), Wusi Lu (South side of People's Sq). Good place to go for a relaxing drink, especially in summer when the patio in front is open. The main bar is downstairs, where there's live music and eclectic themed décor with about 10 tables/booths. Owner can not get gruff with customers at times and English level is minimal with staff. Place is perhaps more known for their pizza although more so before Dalian had many places serving it. ¥30.
- Santiago, Bulao Jie (3-min walk N of Olympic Sq). Popular with the locals and those who enjoy live music, mainly vocals with keyboard accompaniment. Very comfortable seats fill up the two floors. Clean. ¥30.
- All's Well, 13 Wuyi Lu (and others), ☏ . Slightly cheaper coffee (including free refills of the coffee of the day) and all you can eat buffets at dinner time. Sell a lot of baked goods, namely cakes.
- Starbucks, 291 Zhongshan Lu, Tower A Wanda Commercial Sq (N side of Olympic Sq). 07:00-22:00 daily. The only location in the district, with free wi-fi for paying customers. To the dismay of customers, no restroom available but plenty within the attached shopping mall. ¥15-35.
- Huayue Business Hotel, 1 Yingchun Lu, ☏ , . Near the north entrance of the Forest Zoo, you can reach the hotel by taking bus 706 from Zhongshan Lu close to Qingniwa Shopping Area and Victory Square. Rates start from ¥118 for a room in high season.
- Merry Inn International Youth Hostel (美丽客栈国际青年旅舍), A Summer Garden, 133 Bayi Lu 大连市西岗区八一路133号仲夏花园8A号, ☏ . A short ride out of the center, this is one of the only 'hostel' options in Dalian, and can be a good place to meet other travelers. ¥48 dorm, ¥135 twin.
- 1 All Seasons Dalian Qingniwaqiao (大连全季酒店青泥洼桥店), 2-143 Zhongshan Road, Xigang District (西岗区中山路143-2号) (Intersection of Wuhui Rd and Zhongshan Rd), ☏ . Close to the major roads and a metro station, this hotel is in a convenient location in central Dalian. Across Wuhui Road, about 200m away is Labour Park which is a quiet place in the noisy area. Wi-fi is avaliable and most staff can communicate in English. From ¥250 to ¥400 (may be higher in tourist season).
- 2 Hanting Hotel Dalian Railway Station Branch (汉庭酒店大连火车站店), 31 Yunyang Street, Xigang District (西岗区云阳街31号) (West of the high-speed railway station), ☏ . A low-cost choice near the railway station, with easy access to public transport..However, the construction site of Metro line 5 which is close to the hotel may make some noise. And also, sometimes the hotel is NOT avaliable for foreign passport holders. Expect a rate from ¥100 to ¥150 per day.
- 3 Homeinn Dalian Railway Station & Russian Street Branch (如家快捷酒店大连火车站俄罗斯风情街店), 14 Tuanjie Street, Xigang District (西岗区团结街14-1号) (North of Shengli Bridge and about 700m to the northeast of the railway station), ☏ . A economical hotel inside the Russian street, which is one of the major tourist attractions in Dalian. Easy access to buses but a little distant (800m) to both metro or high-speed stations. The street is quite popular, which also means it's a little noisy. From ¥80 to ¥200.
- Sea Horizon (海天白云大酒店; Hǎitiān Báiyún Dàjiǔdiàn), 81 Binhai Lu, ☏ . The best thing about the Sea Horizon is undoubtedly its location, on the coast very close to Fujiazhuang Beach and within walking distance of Xinghai Square with some excellent views. Its facilities, lobby bar, seedy nightclub and a few run down tennis courts are nothing to write home about. The hotel does boast a very good restaurant. ¥325-1,355.
- [dead link] Sweetland Hotel, 171 Changchun Lu (2-min walk SE of Olympic Sq). Rooms are very clean. Very large hotel with a buffet featuring multiple food varieties (food quality is mediocre).
- [dead link] Wanda International Hotel, 539 Changjiang Lu. This four star hotel offers excellent facilities for both business and pleasure. It has 350 air-conditioned rooms equipped with a cable TV, mini-bar, IDD telephone, refrigerator, and safe.