Benxi On a BudgetBenxi, China is a city in the south east of the Liaoning Province in northeast China. The city itself is a major industrial hub, but is best known for the Benxi Shuidong National Park where you'll find the famous five million year old water cave. Benxi experiences cold winters, with weather being less enjoyable for touring from November through March. May through August see much warmer weather, getting up to the high 80's Fahrenheit in late summer. September and October are also good times to visit as temperatures cool to 60-70 degrees.
SightsThe most famous sight in Benxi is the Benxi Water Cave National Park, a five million year old, nine acre, cave with a river running through it. Take a boat ride on the long river and bask in the beauty of the cave where you'll find stalactites - hanging rock formations - on the ceiling. Keep an eye out for some of the largest formations, most of which have been given names such as Ginseng Baby and Tiger's Mouth.
Explore the ancient history of Benxi with a visit to the Liao Inkstone, which has a 1,000 year old history and is considered one of three famous inkstones in China. Then, head to the Liao Dynasty Ancient Ruins, which date back to the 10th century. From here, take a walk through Wangxi Park to see the beautiful carousels and even take a ride on a catamaran.
NeighborhoodsDue to Benxi being an industrial hub, there are few neighborhoods that would be enjoyable for tourists. Instead, travel just outside of the downtown area to the mountain ranges surrounding the city.
Neighboring Benxi is the fifth largest city in China, Shenyang. Here, you'll find beautiful ancient architecture and the famous Mukden Imperial Palace. To the west of Benxi is the city of Liaoyang, which is a historically rich city with their first temple dating back to 1145.
ActivitiesBenxi was named the national city of Maple in 2011 due to their huge number of maple trees. The city celebrates this honor annually in September with the Maple Leaf Festival; this is when the leaves turn bright red and there are a number of festival activities throughout the city.
Soak in the natural beauty of Benxi by hiking Huancheng Forest Park, which has a number of walking trails. Or, head to Jiuding Tiecha Mountain, which is considered the cradle of Taoism in Northeast China. Tiecha has a number of caves to explore and ancient cliff inscription. If you have to chose just one area to hike, check out Closed Door Mountain National Park. Here, you'll find lush forests, waterfalls, and bubbling springs on an easy to navigate trail. After your hikes, take a relaxing, and possibly healing, soak in the springs at Hot Spring Temple which are said to have healing properties.
Food and DiningBenxi's cuisine is called Manchu, which is involves a lot of soybean, millet, and grilled meat all with strong flavors. You'll also find a lot of pickled food here, like Bairou xuechang which is a soup with blood sausage, pork, and pickled Chinese cabbage. Pears are also very popular, and come in many different forms, including a frozen version called Dong Li. You'll find many restaurants in the downtown area, with a few cafes near tourist sites. Don't be surprised to find a lot Western chains like Starbucks and KFC, as the area has many expats.
TransportationFor shorter routes to and from Benxi, it is recommended to book ahead. The best prices for buses and trains in China can be found on 12Go. They let you search across all bus, train, and airline routes throughout Asia.
You can get into Benxi via train, bus, or car. Trains and buses will generally take you to the downtown area and you can pick up another bus or tram to the major tourist areas. The buses within the city are fairly easy to navigate and there are various trams to get you to the summits of the mountains. Taxis can be found throughout the area, just be sure that they turn the meter on to avoid any confusion.
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