OverviewProbably most famous to folks outside of China for its internationally exported beer, Tsingtao, Qingdao has a lot to offer (as well as good beer).
LocationQingdao is located on China's east coast in Shandong Province. Korea and Japan lie just to the east across the Yellow Sea. Famous for its beaches as well as its beer, Qingdao is surrounded by the sea on three sides and boasts 730km of unbroken coastline. It is an important port city in China and hosted the 2008 Olympic Sailing events.
HistoryQingdao was a coastal fishing village until two German missionaries were killed in the Boxer Rebellion and German Kaiser Wilhelm II jumped on the international band-wagon demanding a concession from the Qing Dynasty for this atrocity. Under international pressure, the Qings yielded and Qingdao became an international concession (like Shanghai) to Germany in 1898. Under the Germans, infrastructure was improved, hundreds of Bavarian style buildings were constructed and most famously, the Tsingtao Brewery opened in 1903.
A weakened Germany couldn't hold the city and in 1914 the Japanese moved in. It went back to China in 1922, back to Japan in 1938 and finally back to China after Japan's defeat in World War II in 1945.
Today, Qingdao is an important port city, hosts booming textile businesses and is an important tourist destination.
Features & AttractionsAccording to an old Chinese saying, there are four things a visitor to Qingdao must do: swim in the ocean, drink a Tsingtao beer, eat fried clams and climb Mt. Laoshan.
There are six famous beaches in Qingdao for swimming. The season runs from June through September; but bear in mind, it is a popular destination for Chinese tourists seeking some fun in the sun. As long as you don't mind sharing the beach with 50,000 others, you'll enjoy some sunshine.
You can drink a Tsingtao at any of Qingdao's fine eating and drinking establishments, but going to the source is worth a visit. The Tsingtao Brewery, opened by the Germans in 1903 and still supported by that beer-drinking nation, is open by tour only.
A good time to go drinking and enjoy some festival activity is during the annual Qingdao International Beer Festival held every August. The festival revolves around drinking large jugs of beer but there are plenty of other activities such as concerts, kids' activities and special food tastings. Have a look at some photos from my trip to the festival in 2010.
Those fried clams sounding good? Head to one of Qingdao's food streets to have a sample: Yunxiao Road, Minjiang Road or Maidao Road all offer great food and cater to tourists. Some local specialties that you shouldn't miss are the fried spicy clams (of course), seafood wontons and roasted sleeve fish.
Because of its proximity and good business climate, many Korean companies have set up shop in Qingdao and thousands of Koreans have made Qingdao home. So Qingdao is a great place to eat some authentic Korean cuisine as well.
Seafood is the thing to eat while you're there and Peninsula Seafood is a good option that is friendly to non-Chinese speakers (all the dishes are on display when you walk through the door - just point and choose!)
Climbing Mt. Laoshan
Known as the birthplace of Taoism, Mt. Laoshan is a famous Qingdao attraction just 40km outside the city. There are a number of sights on the mountain including the Great Purity Palace dating from the Song Dynasty. With three different routes to take up, Mt. Laoshan is a perfect day-hike destination.
Qingdao is also an interesting city architecturally, due to the number of preserved Bavarian-style buildings constructed by the Germans during their brief occupation there. Several must-see buildings are the Huashi Lou, the Qingdao Ying Binguan - the former German governor's residence, and the Catholic Church.
Getting ThereQingdao is linked by air and train to most major Chinese cities.
- Population: 7.5 million
- Telephone Code: 0532 (when calling from overseas, drop the first 0)