Panjin is a very small city (by Chinese standards) in Liaoning Province that is famed for its gorgeous Red Beach. After seeing photos of Red Beach that were just stunning and learning that it was nearby, I made plans with a friend Yangdi to travel there. Click here for details of Panjin's Red Beach
Getting to Panjin’s Red Beach was much harder than planned and took three attempts. It was one of those cases where travel does not go according to plan but you still have a great time.
Our plan was to go leave Saturday just before lunch and come back after midnight. Panjin has it’s own train station and the Red Sea was 30-40 kilometers out of town so the plan was to:
-catch an 11:30am train and arrive in Panjn at 2:30pm
-catch a minibus from Panjin and arrive at the Red Sea at 3:30pm
-see the sights for a couple of hours
-head back to town and catch the 8:30pm train back home.
First Attempt – Missed the Train
I hate been late for trains so I arrived at the front of the station 20 minutes early. Yangdi arrived 18 minutes later puffing and out of breathe. There is no way get on the train in two minutes but we had to try. Result? We missed the train.
Why? Because Yangdi ordered a pizza on the way to the train station. Seriously?! Ordering Pizza on the way to catch a train??? Ok, no big deal, we all make daft mistakes. So we changed our tickets to the following day and ate pizza on the second floor of the train station.
Second Attempt – Arrived at the Red Sea Too Late
We met up at the train station (no pizza) and caught the train with out a problem. The train was a D train, one of the bullet trains that are taking China by storm. Most Chinese train stations ie Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Shanghai are in the heart of the city. The Panjin train station is different and is located 50 kilometers from the city. The bus from train the station to the Panjin us station cost 10rmb and takes around 40 minutes.
There are no direct buses from Panjin to the Red Sea so you can catch a taxi which is horribly expensive or catch the number 30 bus from the bus station. The number 30 bus takes around 50 minutes and you get off at the Da Wa Xian stop (大哇县站) where you can see a horde of motorbike taxis. We arrived at the Da Wa Xian stop at around 4pm.We negotiated with a motorbike taxi to take us to the entrance of the Red Sea area and back for 80rmb. Ride was exhilarating with the bike whizzing between trucks and buses and running red lights. Make sure you have travel insurance before you ride one of those.
By the time we arrived, the ticket office had closed down and no amount of begging or pleading would let us in. Undefeated we swore a solemn vow to return to Panjin the following Saturday, stay overnight in Panjin and arrive at the Red Sea entrance early Sunday morning.
Two hours later we were back at the remote Panjin train station with just enough time to have a leisurely meal at nearby restaurant. The train home a T train, one of the slow ones that took over 5 hours and arrived just after 2am.
Third and Final Attempt – We See Red Beach
Getting to the Red Sea – We caught an afternoon D train and arrived in Panjin city at around 7:20pm and were checked in to our hotel by around 8pm. The hotel was the Home Inn Hotel which was excellent and only cost 140rmb for double bed room. Click here for the Panjin Home Inn Hotel
After a cheap and enjoyable buffet breakfast in the hotel restaurant the following morning, we were on the road by 9am. 90 minutes, three buses and an aborted taxi ride later we were at the entrance of Red Beach.
The entrance fee for Red Beach is 160rmb which includes 80rmb resort fee and 80rmb for a boat ride. After you walk through the entrance, you catch an electric car to a wharf at the edge of the marsh then hop on a large boat that takes you through the marshes to Red Beach.
Red Beach – The actual Red Beach is basically a tidal estuary and mudflats where the crimson red Seepweed grows. A track is laid out in this area so you walk in a circle counter clockwise along a combination of track and raised wooden platforms over the mudflats and around the edge of the estuary. The whole walk takes around 90 minutes if you go slowly and take a lot of photos.
Not What We Expected – The promotional pictures and the photos you see online for the Red Beach at Panjin stunning and beautiful BUT what we actually saw was different not as vivid or impressive.
I still believe the online pictures/photos are real but they may have been touched up with photoshop, taken with professional cameras and taken during ideal conditions. Some of the better photos are also taken in areas you don’t see during the walk
This was a little disappointing but the weather was overcast that day and what we did see of the Red Sea was still very impressive and well worth seeing. The perfect time to see the Red Sea is in the middle of Autumn which was still a couple of weeks off so that could be another reason for the difference.
I still feel that the Red Sea at Panjin is great to visit, just be realistic about what you expect to see when you get there.
Time to Go Home
By the time we got back to the main entrance from the Red Sea area, it was time to head back to the train station for our train ride home. There was a lot more of the reserve to see but you need a full day from at least 8am to 4pm too see everything properly and even then you’ll be rushing. The Red Beach is the highlight so even if you only see that, you are doing well. Everything else is just icing on a very red cake.
We had another tasty meal at a restaurant near the train station then a quick ride home on a fast D train.
Tips for Visiting the Red Sea at Panjin
Stay Overnight – If you are arriving from another city such as Beijing, stay overnight and give yourself a full day the next day.
Timing – Make sure you go at the end of October or early September when the Seepweed is the most vivid.