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Qingdao (青岛; Qīngdǎo; also known as Tsingtao), is regarded by some Chinese as one of the most beautiful and clean cities in China. With a population of around 3.5 million (8 million regional) it is one of the largest cities in Shandong Province. The name Qingdao means The Blue/Green Island. In 2008, Qingdao was named China's 7th-most livable city.
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Points of Interest in Qingdao
Qingdao is a city steeped in China's 20th century history. It was taken as part of the Imperial German Concession of Jiaozhou Bay. Despite ongoing discussions with Chinese authorities about giving the Germans a territory, on 7 November 1897, they landed troops. Their pretext was the murder of two missionaries on 1 November of that year.
The concession treaty was signed on 6 March 1899, for a 99-year lease. The Germans acquired it as a relatively unimportant town of about 1,000 inhabitants. Yet by 1902, it had grown to 668 Caucasians and 15,000 Chinese.
During the colonial period, the Germans left a distinct mark on Qingdao's architecture that can still be seen in its historic center and train station. The train station has undergone a recent overhaul that has tried to strike a balance between maintaining its colonial heritage while modernizing to be the terminus of the high speed rail line to Beijing. Many German-period buildings have been preserved as heritage monuments. It is a kind of Bavaria-on-the-East-China-Sea, where they even sell Bratwurst on the street. In 1903, China's most well-known beer maker, Tsingtao brewery, was established by the new occupants homesick for Germany.
Japan occupied Qingdao on 27 August, 1914, as part of World War I, and remained until 1922. They took the city because they were allied with the British against the Germans during World War I. After the war, the Japanese wanted to continue to hold the city for the remainder of the German lease, and the Chinese government was going to accede. However, protests by students in Beijing during the May 4th Movement of 1919, eventually forced them to return the city to Chinese sovereignty. In 1937, the Japanese again took Qingdao and remained until the end of World War II in 1945. Between 1945 and 1949 the American 7th Fleet was based in Qingdao as it assisted the Kuomintang in fighting the Communist Party; the Communists took the city in 1949.
While Qingdao has a long history, the eastern half of the city has been built since 1993, and there is no sign of it slowing down. In 2008, it hosted the sailing events of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Qingdao's early summer is quite an enjoyable season, although it can be humid near the sea shore. Late summer can become hot, while other places of Northern China start to feel cooler. The climate in late fall and winter can be harsh but snow patches can generally last no longer than a few days. Qingdao is an ideal destination if you want to combine sea-side fun with your trip to China.
If you are looking for the typical congested Chinese scenario with swarming markets, unpredictable traffic and intense street commerce, Qingdao has little to offer. For instance, bicycling is actually forbidden. The city is relatively clean and orderly and might give the impression of an upcoming wanna-be Singapore.
Qingdao has some wonderful beaches worthy of visiting. Unfortunately, litter is a problem at all of them, ranging from the occasional cigarette butt to having to wade through a flotsam of trash just to get into the ocean itself. Your experience will vary depending on the tides and the time of year you visit. During summer weekends, Qingdao city beaches are very crowded (sometimes upwards of 100,000 people), and slightly less crowded on summer weekdays. Again, these can be packed full of people during the weekends. Bring sunscreen, while you can buy beach toys, food, drinks, and knick-knacks at any of Qingdao's beaches, surprisingly no one sells sunscreen at the beach itself. You can find bathing beaches all along the seaside from the Zhanqiao Pier to the Shilaoren Beach in the eastern suburbs.
- Laoshan Beach (崂山浴场; Láoshān Yùchǎng) (Close to the Qingdao Museum, about a 60 min drive from the train station (青岛站 / qīngdǎo zhàn). Bus 104, 230, 231, or 301 to Qingdao Museum Stop). Surrounded by mountains and visited far less often than its alternatives, Laoshan Beach is one of the best in town. Make sure to arrange transportation there and back, because taxis are harder to get there.
- Old Stone Man Beach (石老人浴场; Shìlǎorén Yùchǎng), Donghai E Rd and Haikou Rd (东海东路 - 海口路) (Bus 125 or 321). daily. One of the best beaches within easy striking distance of the city. It is cleanish, very long and broad, with the highest waves. Tables, chairs, tents, boats, shower, changing facilities etc. are available for rent. Free; Shower and changing ¥10 at the cheapest. Locker additional ¥10 + ¥30 deposit.
- Beach #1 (第一海水浴场; Dìyī Hǎishuǐ Yùchǎng), Nanhai Rd (南海路) (¥15-20 in taxi from the center; numerous buses stop near bus stop Haishui Yuchang (海水浴场; Hǎishuǐ Yùchǎng)). Daily. Clean and full of amusement for children but often crowded. Very basic shower and changing facilities available. Surrounded by restaurants and hotels. Free. ¥5 shower and changing facilities.
- Beach #2 (第二海水浴场; Dìèr Hǎishuǐ Yùchǎng), Shanhaiguan Rd (山海关路; Shānhǎiguān Lù) (¥10-15 in taxi from the center; numerous buses stop at Wusheng Guan a bit N of the beach). Quiet beach. ¥2 in summer.
- Beach #3 (City Beach) (第三海水浴场; Dìsān Hǎishuǐ Yùchǎng). Has a "plastic island" so you can swim far away and have a rest before coming back (but it is sometimes exhausting to swim in the waves).
- Beach #6 (Muscle Beach). Not very clean. ¥5 basic shower and changing facilities.
International Beer Festival
Qingdao International Beer Festival, held at the end of August every year, is a celebration of Qingdao's brewing heritage. During the daytime, there are official ceremonies that celebrate Qingdao's heritage as well as carnival type rides, food and games. In the evening, the event really picks up as crowds flock to huge tents set up by each beer company with a presence in China. One can sit down and order beer or snacks. The price of food at night during the festival may be beyond budgets of some. One can also watch (or participate in) various performances such as karaoke, concerts, auctions, or comedy. The entertainment itself is tame and bland. The International Beer Festival, unfortunately, no longer seems to have much of an international presence save the beer. Much of what you see now can be found at any Chinese carnival, park or civic celebration.
- Huangdao (黄岛). Providing there isn't persistent fog as is often in the area, one can take a ferry from Qingdao port to the neighbouring district of Huangdao. The city has mostly been built in the last 10-15 years and thus is completely devoid of character. That said, there are plenty of Japanese hostess bars, and a few Western drinking holes too, if you get tired of Qingdao's fare. The ferry prices generally range from ¥15-30 one way, but be advised that if the ferries aren't running the taxi fare is ¥200+ back to Qingdao.
- Seafront walk. Walk along the sea front in the evening from Beach 2 back into town to 6.
Head to Yunxiao Road west of Fuzhou South Road for a large selection of restaurants of all Chinese varieties ranging from the local Shandong style, to Cantonese and Sichuan. Yunxiao Road is recognized as Qingdao's restaurant street, and serves up a wide variety of mouth watering dishes. Minjiang Road, near Fushou South Road (bordering on Qingdao's restaurant district), has several outstanding restaurants. The area is booming with foods from around the world.
Small cheap restaurants are found around the city, especially away from the main streets. Basic meals for less than ¥10.Dumplings
Also, dumpling restaurants tend to be cheap, some options are:
- Sanheyuan (Ningxia Road Branch) (三合园水饺 (宁夏路店); Sānhéyuán Shuǐjiǎo (Níngxiàlùdiàn)), 147 Ningxia Rd, Shinan District (市南区宁夏路147号; Shìnánqū Níngxiàlù), ☎ +86 0532-85838085. ¥30-40.
- Da Niang Dumplings (大娘水饺; Dàniáng Shuǐjiǎo). Fast food chain specialising in dumplings. ¥20-25.
- Shibei District Branch, 64 Taidong 3rd Rd, Shibei District (市北区台东三路64号; Shìběiqū Táidōngsānlù).
- Shinan District Branch, Hong Kong Middle Rd, Shinan District (市南区香港中路; Shìnánqū Xiānggǎngzhōng Lù).
If you want something a bit more comfortable than the most basic restaurants, you can try one of the restaurants below where you can expect to pay around ¥20-40 each person:
- 3'55.44&lon=120°23'22.28&zoom=17&layer=O&lang=en&name=Qingdao Old Hong Kong Restaurant (香港老饭店; Xiānggǎnglǎo Fàndiàn), 42 Hong Kong Middle Rd (Bbelow New York Club in the Hirun Hotel on Hong Kong Middle Rd), ☎ +86 0532-85978868. Better than average dim sum, clean upmarket atmosphere and decent service. Unfortunately their dim sum menu lacks English, but it is still definitely worth a try. ¥50-75.
- 4'17.75&lon=120°23'21.35&zoom=17&layer=O&lang=en&name=Qingdao Bifeng Tang (港记避风塘; Gǎngjì Bìfēngtáng), 158 Minjiang Rd (闽江路24号), ☎ +86 0532-85776789. until 4AM. Hong Kong dim sum and seafood. About average of ¥50 per person.
- Laoshan Pao Hotpot Restaurant (老山炮活鱼锅; Lǎoshānpàohuóyúguō), 20 Yunxiao Rd (云宵路20号), ☎ +86 0532-85784444. Seafood as well. ¥50.
- Tanyutou Hotpot Restaurant (谭鱼头火锅; Tányútóuhuǒguō), 14 Minjiang Rd (闽江路14号), ☎ +86 0532-85839076. ¥50.
- Minsu Korean Restaurant (民俗酒家; Mínsújiǔjiā), 68 Shanghang Rd (上杭路68号), ☎ +86 0532-66777308. Korean BBQ. ¥50.
- Xiaobenjia Korean Restaurant (小本家; Xiǎoběnjiā), 58 Shanghang Rd (上杭路58号). Korean BBQ. Reservation is recommended. ¥50.
- Shanglinyuan Restaurant (上林苑餐饮), 169 Minjiang Rd, Shinan District (市南区闽江路169号; Shìnánqū Mǐnjiānglù), ☎ +86 532 85756188, fax: +86 532 85756788, e-mail: email@example.com. Shandong cuisine and seafood.
- Yumatou Seafood Restaurant (渔码头; Yúmǎtóu), 24 Yunxiao Rd, Shinan District (市南区云霄路24号; Shìnánqū Yúnxiāolù), ☎ +86 532 85733583. Seafood. ¥75.
- Heavenly Palace Old Mama Restaurant (天府老妈; Tiānfǔlǎomā), 54 Yunxiao Road (云宵路54号), ☎ +86 532 85764906. Sichuan cuisine. Expect around ¥50 each person.
- 4'17.65&lon=120°23'25.86&zoom=17&layer=O&lang=en&name=Qingdao Lao Chuancai (老转村四川菜馆; Lǎo zhuǎncūn sìchuān càiguǎn), 158 Minjiang Rd (On Minjiang Rd very near to the intersection with Fuzhou Rd), ☎ +86 532 85772776. Probably one of the biggest and best Szechuan restaurants in Qingdao. This spot is part of a local chain of average Chinese restaurants. ¥75-100.
- Haidao Seafood Restaurant (海岛渔村; Hǎidǎoyúcūn), 40 Yunxiao Rd, Shinan District (市南区云霄路40号; Shìnánqū Yúnxiāolù), ☎ +86 532 85973058. ¥75-100.
- Zijing Shandong Restaurant (紫晶鲁菜馆; Zǐjīnglǔcàiguǎn). Shandong cuisine. Claims to be the first restaurant in Qingdao to specialise in Shandong cuisine. Has both traditional dishes and modern ones. ¥125.
- 48 Minjiang Second Rd, Shinan District (市南区闽江二路48号; Shìnánqū Mǐnjiāngèrlù) (Buses 217, 222, 228), ☎ +86 532 85652888.
- 113 Fengshan Rd, Licang District (李沧区峰山路113号; Lǐcāngqū Fēngshānlù), ☎ +86 532 87631111.
Being Qingdao, you can expect to find, well, copious amounts of fresh Tsingtao. The brewery was founded by Germans during colonial times. Every August there is a beer festival (check the listing in the "Do" section). Many European breweries participate. One of the neatest things about Qingdao is the ability to purchase fresh from the factory draft beer almost anywhere. You will often see kegs sitting outside most restaurants and snack stores. The beer is sold by weight (asking for "yi jin" gives you 500 g, or half a litre), this will be served to you in a plastic bag! There are also numerous beer gardens where you can sit and drink from glasses, one glass of fresh beer ("san pi") only costs an incredible ¥1.5. The Tsingtao "san pi" is some of the best Chinese beer you can get. Don't worry, it's served cold.
Qingdao's nightlife scene continues to evolve. The Jiangxi Rd. strip located downtown near Hong Kong Middle Rd. continues to have more and more bars. There is also a new development called Zhonglian Plaza (中联广场) located at Nanjing Rd and Ningxia Rd, that offers many large Chinese-style clubs. Karaoke (KTV) is very popular activity amongst the locals. There are a few western style club/discos in the Hong Kong Road area close to the Jusco. Thanks to the very large Korean expat population, there are many Korean style bars. Most of these bars can be found in the Hong Kong Gardens area.
- 7th Street, 8 GuTian Rd (Close to Jianxi Rd), ☎ 13589200466. There is a DJ on most nights and you can request what songs you like to be played. It is a very laid-back western style bar with friendly and fun staff. Good selection of drinks available at a reasonable price. ￥15 and up.
- 3'58.43&lon=120°23'59.88&zoom=17&layer=O&lang=en&name=Qingdao Le Bang (乐邦) (Technically on Chengyi 1 Rd N of Hong Kong Rd, the official address is 2 Zhangzhou 2 Rd Gate B, it's on the side street next to SOS), ☎ +86 532 85935279. 6PM-close. A good first stop for travellers in the area is , a French expat bar. On Friday and Saturday nights there is an all you can drink ¥50 happy hour from 10PM-11PM. During weekdays there is always some kind of daily drink special. There are often French/continental nights. Drinks start at ¥15 and food starts at ¥25.
- Feelings Club, 83-85 Hong Kong Middle Rd (Across the road from Xinjiazhuang bus stop), ☎ +86 532 85932929. 8PM-close. A large dance club that is often the most popular among Chinese, music there is strictly techno. Ladies should watch out as it is not called "Feeling" Club for nothing.
- SOS, 71 Hong Kong Middle Rd (A 5 minute stumble west of Feelings Club on HK Rd), ☎ +86 532 85969898. 8PM-2AM. Formerly a part of the Shanghai Babyface chain. Name has changed but still the same Chinese techno loving, glow stick handling and dice rolling crowd, but often not as busy. ¥40 and up.
- Club New York, 41 Hong Kong Middle Rd 2F (Go further W from SOS past Fuzhou Rd), ☎ +86 532 85725666. There is a live band almost every night, that plays cover songs. The atmosphere is definitely more western oriented than other places. ¥40-50, although foreigners planning a lengthy stay are nearly always offered a free VIP card for permanent half price drinks.
- Freeman (自由人), 163 Jiangxi Rd (Jiangxi Rd near Hong Kong Middle Rd), ☎ +86 15853211877. 6PM-2AM. Laid back western style bar, with plenty of different kinds of booze available and good service. ¥20 and up.
- Charlie's Bar, 167 Jiangxi Rd (Jiangxi Rd near Hong Kong Middle Rd), ☎ +86 532 85897919. 6PM-2AM. Very similar to Freeman, but not as big and a slightly weaker selection. ¥20 and up.
- Beer Mama's street keg stall, 32. SiFang Lu.(GPS N36.07012 E120.31655) (200 meters West of the Kaiyue International Hostel). Beer Mama is a funny Chinese woman who sells good draft beer cheap from kegs to see-through plastic bags and sticks a straw through it for immediate mobile use. The mobile use comes in handy if you are wandering around the surrounding food and vegetable market.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Qingdao on Wikivoyage.