English railway engineers were the first Europeans to discover the fishing village in the 1890s and it was not long before wealthy Chinese and foreign diplomats from Beijing and Tianjin made the village a popular destination.
Beidaihe is best known as the Communist Party of China's summer retreat, which is still commonly used by the Party's highest leadership each July to slip away from the summer heat of Beijing and to plan important strategies in the privacy Beidaihe offers. "Beidaihe," an diplomat once said, "is China's 'smoke-filled room.'" These conferences have been abandoned by the order Hu Jintao in 2004, mainly for two reasons. First, a conference in a resort area appeared to contradict the goal of Hu and Wen Jiabao in projecting a frugal image for the party and second, it is a desire of the leadership under Hu to work through formal party and state mechanisms rather through informal gatherings.
After Mao Zedong led the Communists to power in 1949, the new rulers also developed a taste for seaside atmosphere. Mao himself had a summer resort here. Sanatoriums sprang up to reward the efforts of model workers from every industry. A very large Friendship Guesthouse was constructed in 1954, one of dozens across China, to receive the Soviet "elder brothers" who came to assist Chinese development prior to tensions emerging between Soviet and Chinese leadership.
Now many Russian tourists come to the place every summer. You can see many shops and restaurants with Russian names in Beidaihe. The place is practically empty in winter.