Qingdao Travel Guide
Affectionately called the "Asian Riviera", by its proponents, Qingdao (pronounced chingdow), is one of China's best kept secrets. Located in the Shandong province, on China's north-east coast, Qingdao is a far cry from the smog-choked cities many associate with the rapidly developing country. Instead, pristine sandy beaches dot the coastline; yachts, boats, and ships bob along the busy harbour; and locals take peaceful strolls along the waterfront. Visitors will find themselves amazed by a vibrant, colourful city that is home to a rich and complex history.
One of the first things that strikes travellers visiting Qingdao is the synergy between old and new that permeates every aspect of the city. Qingdao began its life as a small fishing village that was built around seven hills at the edge of the Yellow Sea. After being being occupied by both the Germans and Japanese in the early 20th century, the city has boomed, becoming the commercial and trade of hub of the area. Nine million people now live in this fascinating seaside city where cobbled streets and Tudor-style buildings sit alongside impressive, glass-walled skyscrapers in the city centre - nowhere is this better seen than from Taiping Hill which is the starting point of a cable car ride that stretches out across the city, transporting visitors over prodigious green forest, allowing them to truly take in the city's beautiful contrasts.
Qingdao is renowned for its culinary delights. The city is home to Shandong cuisine, one of the 'Four Great Traditions' of Chinese cooking, and is said to be the seafood capital of China. Travellers looking to experience Qingdao's best street food should head to Pi Chai Yuan, a bustling market of food stalls that sell everything from spicy clams, fried starfish, and chewy steamed buns, to scorpions on a stick.
Thanks to its one-time German occupants, Qingdao's most famous product is beer, Tsingtao. Travellers can visit the brewery, located on 'Beer Street', for a tour to learn about the beer's origins and flavour. Afterwards, visitors should experience the city's nightlife in one of Qingdao's open air bars where they can enjoy cheerful music and mingle with friendly locals.
Beyond epicurean delights, there are plenty of sightseeing opportunities. Visitors should take a walk down Da Xue Lu, a historic road lined with trees that runs through the old town, which is full of German colonial buildings, thrift stores, and cafes. If travellers to Qingdao get their timing right, they can also marvel at the blooming of the cherry blossom trees at Zhongshen Park. The artistically inclined will be pleased to learn that Qingdao is fashioning itself as a creative hub which offers enclaves for artists, writers, and musicians - visitors can stop off at these to learn skills like traditional paper making while chatting to some of the local creatives. Finally, to finish off the day properly it's worth making a trip to the famous Zhan Qiao pier to watch the sunset.
The weather in Qingdao is regulated by the calming waters of the Yellow Sea, which cool it in summer and help to keep it warm during the winter. As a result, Qingdao's weather is moderate and the air is clean. With fantastic activities, culture, cuisine, and conditions it's no small wonder Qingdao is considered China's most liveable city.