Shantou is a beautiful harbor city in south China with many attractions. The long coastlines, high quality beaches, exquisite islands, together with the subtropical maritime climate, bless this city with charming marine vistas. Being home to thousands of overseas Chinese, the city also boasts of its special spots in relation to those countrymen. Actually, there are eight must-see scenic areas that are the most famous and representative attractions of the city.
Nan Ao Island
Nan Ao is a county composed of 23 islands. It is honored as the 'Pearl on Sea' due to its romantic and charming marine sights and large varieties of marine creatures. No wonder it's on the top things to do list in Shantou. The most attractive spots here are Qing Ao Gulf, Huanghua Mountain and Marine Migratory Birds Preservation Zone.
Qing Ao Gulf, also called the 'Oriental Hawaii', is reputed for its crescent gulf, long golden soft beach and unpolluted seawater. Taking a comfortable bath in the natural seawater bathhouses, taking part in the colorful above-water entertainments or just lying in the soft and pure sand to enjoy sunrise and listen to the murmuring of the sea will set you free from busy city life.
Huanghua Mountain is comprised of all the mountains in the west of Nan Ao Island. Without too many disturbances from the outside world, the ecological environment there is quite good for the growth of plants and animals. Now, it is a National Forest Park home to thousands of tropical and subtropical plants as well as approximately forty kinds of national protected wild animals. The rugged strange stones lying here and there in the forest add more primitive interest to the wonder of the park while the cliff carvings showing the art of Chinese calligraphy endow the park with more cultural flavor.
Nan Ao is the place where many marine migratory birds from other nations stop when they are flying to China. There are over 90 varieties of birds staying on the islands around the Nan Ao Island. Every year from June to September, the islands are filled with tens of thousands of birds, forming a spectacular sea of birds. The preservation zone is therefore called the 'Paradise of Migratory Birds'.
Qing Ao Bay and Citic Resort are the two environmentally friendly resort which are endowed with enchanting natural views. Situated to the east of Nan Ao Island, the Qing Ao Bay has the good names of 'Hawaii in East' and 'Heaven Pool of Swimmers'. The shape of this bay is a huge moon. It boasts a fine soft sand beach which is 100 meters (about 109 yards) wide and 2.4 kilometers (about 1.5 miles) long. Citic Resort is an amazing recreational center combining offshore bathhouses, beaches, villas and Golf clubs. On the Dragon and Tiger beach, you can appreciate the charming sea sights; enjoy the exciting sailboarding or swim in the only seawater swimming pool in Shantou. The exquisite villas near the beach present an architectural style of natural and fresh rural beauty, providing a perfect resort. Perhaps the most symbolic attraction here is the Citic Golf Club. Designed by the world famous American Pearson Golf Design according to the local geography, the playground is completely in accordance with the international standards.
Located on the shore of the South Sea, Lotus Peak is a hill consisting of a pile of granite rocks that look like lotus flower petals. Seen from afar, the hill is just like a blossoming lotus flower facing to the sea, hence the name of the hill. There is a broad sea in front of the hill; snow white sand beach to the east and thousands of different shaped strange stones to the west. Many ancient Chinese scholars have left their poems or calligraphic works on the stones of the hill, making it a stone book of Chinese civilization.
Queshi Scenic Spot
Queshi Island, the top one of the eight attractions, is separated from the city by the Queshi Sea in the south of the Shantou gulf. Surrounded by vast stretch of blue water, it is just like a miniature garden sitting in the sea. Along its coastline, the beautiful beaches and seashore bathhouses enable you to get in touch with the inviting sea water as well as enjoy other sea-related entertainments. On the island, the 43 hills presenting different postures are covered with evergreen trees and decorated naturally with pure springs, providing a nice escape from the summer heat. In addition, this place is well known for its granite geography. You can see various shaped granite stones on the hills. They are like human beings or animals or plants, leaving you to image beautiful stories about them. The huge stones are piled up, forming thousands of caves with a great variety of shapes, such as White Rabbit Cave, Dragon Spring Cave, Lion Cave and Elephant Cave. Climbing up and standing on the top of the hills, you can have a bird's-eye view of the entire gulf and will be captivated by the picturesque marine beauty.
Chen Cihong's Former Residence
Chen Cihong was a wealthy overseas Chinese who once managed rice selling in Hong Kong and Thailand during the 19th century. He and his sons have built many residences in their hometown since 1871, of which those constructed in Chenghai City are the most famous ones. Building originally commenced in 1901. The four residences have survived weathering for hundreds of years and are kept perfectly intact. They were designed mysteriously combining the western and classic Chinese architecture styles. In any one of the four residences, you can find small rooms opening off another big room; the stairs, corridors and overhead walkways connecting all the rooms together. This kind of layout makes you feel like walking in a maze. Additionally, decorations in the rooms are classically elegant but without losing exotic flavors. The exquisite statues, carvings and calligraphic works all show the extraordinary cultural appreciation of the Chen's family.
Symbolic Tower of the Tropic of Cancer
Shantou is one of the 16 places where the Tropic of Cancer traverses the globe. In 1986, a symbolic tower was set up to mark it about 20 kilometers (12 miles) to the west of the city. On the round granite base stands a reinforced concrete prop supporting a blue tellurion with a diameter of five meters (197 inches). Every year when the sun shines directly on the tower, its shadow will be reflected on the center of a piece of black granite set in the tower watching platform. Thousands of people are drawn to witness such a wonderful scene. Near the platform, a path paved with black stones marks the location of the tropic of cancer. With the tropical plants on one side and subtropical plants grown on the other, the path brings you a feeling of standing between the tropical and subtropical zones.
Zhongshan Park, located on the north side of the Zhongshan Road, is a comprehensive park boasting of its long history, large scales of entertainments and charming beauties. In the Yujian Lake, there are five islands connected with each river by various bridges. Jiuqu Bridge is the most attractive one due to its beautiful winding and sinuous formation. It's a good way to relax yourself to boat in the pure lake water; enjoy delicious food in the on-lake restaurant or have a cup of tea in the tea house. Another peculiar attraction in the park is the three layer rockwork with deep and serene caves and romantic pavilions on the hill.
Also in the park is Shantou Museum, where you can appreciate cultural relics left in the city by past dynasties, such as pottery, jade, paintings, wooden carvings and ancient coins. The new museum was built in 1993. The novel architectural features like huge props, beautiful glazed tiles and the granite relievos in the wall as well as the modern facilities make the museum quite magnificent and grand. Especially in the foil of the exquisite gardens, emerald lakes and colorful lights, the museum glitters with fascination and glamour. There are also zoos, Youth Palace, dancing halls, cinemas and skating rinks in the park. The entertainment facilities and the charming beauty of the park will greatly surprise you.
To be frank, this extremely beautiful harbor city has even more to be enjoyed than what we have mentioned here. You can have a wonderful experience for yourself in this delightful place.
Rainbow Shadows in the Harbor
There are two magnificent sister bridges in the east and west of the city respectively. Just like two rainbows crossing the sea, they not only decorate the harbor but also play important roles in the city's transportation. The Shantou Gulf Bridge measures about 2,500 meters (1.6 miles) long and is composed of three sections: cable bridge, beam bridge and viaduct. Connecting many cities such as Shantou, Shenzhen, Xiamen and Zhuhai, the bridge functions as one of China's most important seaside highways. The other one is the Queshi Bridge that is about nine kilometers west of the Shantou Gulf Bridge. The bridge measures about 3,500 meters (two miles) long and 30 meters (0.02 miles) wide. It links up the southern and northern city and makes it easier to go around the harbor. There are walk ways especially built for sight-seeing on both sides of the bridge, where you can appreciate an amazing picture of blue sea, green hills, ancient pavilions and modern high-rise buildings.