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Travel in Qingdao – City Guide
The charm of Qingdao lies in its verdant hills, blue sea, red tiles, and green trees; all of which perfectly describe the beauty of Qingdao. This mountain city, acclaimed as “the Switzerland of the Orient”, is a combination of European romance and northern China’s generousness. The historical western-style buildings with brightly colored tiles in the old city - embodiments of the city’s beauty and vicissitudes, are a reminder of centuries past, while the hustle and bustle of the beer houses reveal the city’s innate straightforwardness and hospitality beneath its western-style appearance. You will never be let down by Qingdao, a city full of different vistas all year round, with its springtime flowers, summer waves, fall fish, and winter snows.
A Capital Full of Sailboats near the Yellow Sea
Qingdao is located beside the Yellow Sea and surrounded by Jiaozhou Bay, with a tortuous coastline along which numerous scenic spots are scattered, making the city a place of romance. Shibei District is the old city where the streets and lanes, the Hotel Kiautschou, Tsingtao Beer Museum and other centuries-old buildings give the place a unique and somewhat alien appeal. Shinan District is famous for the Qingdao Seashore Scenic Area, Eight Great Passes, the Olympic Sailing Center, and Polar Ocean World. Licang District, with its Shimei Nunnery and Xuanyang Temple, is ideal for those who want to escape from the hubbub of busy streets while enjoying the tranquility of mountains and forests.
The misty mountains and rippling sea loom over the landscape beyond the three urban districts like a fairy palace. Both the supernaturally magnificent Laoshan and the crescent-shaped Golden Beach are worth a tour, given their landscapes and the fine golden sand.
Don’t Miss the Following Qingdao Destinations
Eight Great Passes scenic area has a collection of elegant, foreign-style buildings of which Huashi Lou, a European castle-style villa, and Princess Villa, with its fairytale name, are quite popular. There are ten tranquil and scenic avenues that criss-cross this scenic area, and the verdant and lush trees are very impressive. “The Cape Love” at the southwest corner of the area is definitely worth a tour, and is a place where lovers can enjoy the seascape and seclusion.
On the crescent-shaped Golden Beach, which stretches for several miles, the fine golden sand, azure sky, blue sea, and shady trees along the shore set each other off perfectly. For a unique experience, you can ride a spinning surfboat, kitesurf, float on the blue sea while drifting with a sea breeze under the azure sky, bask under the sun, or sample the delicious sea cucumber and abalone dishes here.
The Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center is a Qingdao landmark, as the Sailboat Capital. It is the venue where the sailing events for the Beijing Olympic Games were hosted. The crowded sailboats moored in the harbor and the giant Olympic Torch sculpture nicely complement the Wind in May sculpture in May Fourth Square. At sunset, the magnificent Fushan harbor seascape is indeed impressive.
There are just so many scenic spots along the Gold Coast of the Qingdao Seashore Scenic Area, including Huilange, a traditional two-storey octagonal pavilion, Eight Great Passes, and May Fourth Square. The unique landscape of Qingdao, featuring a mix of mountains, seascapes, and urban scenes, can be appreciated from Tsingtao Pier, Huilange, the Music Square, or the May Fourth Square.
Laoshan, a towering mountain by the Yellow Sea, is highly praised as the Mountain of Immortals at Sea, with its seascape and cliff. The bluestone path leading to the mountain top features relentless waves and sea views on one side, while lush trees and jagged, grotesquely shaped rocks lie on the other. Close to the mountain lies the Holiday Inn Qingdao Expo, with a sightseeing terrace that is the ideal place for taking a closer look at Laoshan.
Qingdao Polar Ocean World is a place full of surprises where you can entertain your relatives and friends with a wonderful performance by such polar animals as white whales and walruses, while imagining the vicarious thrills of living in a polar region.
A Poetic Seascape
In the vicinity of May Fourth Square and the Olympic Sailing Center, there are numerous high-end hotels including the InterContinental Qingdao, a Qingdao landmark that is within a stone's throw of sailing and yachting facilities. The hotel's seascape suites are surrounded by scenic views, and come equipped with outdoor massaging bathtubs. At night, the magnificent city coastline lies right before your eyes.
The Eight Great Passes Scenic Area locale is a world of tranquility, wherein a number of ingeniously designed holiday inns and old European-style villas are scattered throughout the streets and lanes amid shady trees. Staying here is a fascinating experience, whether chasing waves on silver sand at dawn, basking in the afterglow of sunset, or falling asleep to the sound of the waves - you can just relax and indulge yourself in the bosom of Mother Nature.
There are quite a lot of guesthouses hidden among the clusters of centuries-old, German-style houses on both sides of the flourishing Zhongshan Road. They are close to Qingdao Railway Station, enjoying the convenient transport links offered by metro, bus, and other public transport facilities. This location is a convenient for arrivals and departures, and is a mere ten-minute drive from many scenic spots like the beer museum, Zhanshan Temple, and the Cape Love.
The Pleasure of Shopping in Qingdao
The Hong Kong Middle Road shopping street is an emerging Qingdao fashion and shopping landmark, featuring numerous international luxury and fashion stores. You can always find both what you need and what you dream of in Hisense Plaza, Marina City, or the Mixc. Surrounded by a lot of shopping malls, the Holiday Inn Qingdao City Center is also ideal for those who enjoy shopping.
It takes less than one hour to cover the distance from the Holiday Inn Qingdao Parkview to the time-honored Taidong Pedestrian Street, a flourishing old street in the downtown area. The place is easy to recognize, with its brightly painted walls, a dazzling line-up of time-honored brands, street cries, and laughter. It should be your first stop if you wish to buy local souvenirs.
The most popular Qingdao specialties are seafood and beer. The Nanshan Seafood Market is an ideal destination where you can buy dry goods and valuable items as handy gifts. If you want more beer brands from across the world to select from, you should go to Jiubiaozi Street off Yingkou Road or International Beer City, and give it a go.
A Taste of Qingdao
In Qingdao, Shandong cuisine is highly recommended for its salty, savory, mellow yet normal flavor, as well as its excellent "quick-fry" technique. The “Fried Carp with Sweet and Sour Sauce” dish here is amber-colored and twists upwards, while the “Braised Intestines in Brown Sauce” dish is rosy and bright, and has a mixed flavor of sweet, sour, bitter, spicy, and salty. The “Braised Sea Cucumber with Scallion” dish is soaked in rich gravy while being dark-colored. All-round consideration has to be given to the appearance, aroma, flavor and presentation of the dishes. Local time-honored restaurants, such as the Chunhelou in Zhongshan Road, are good choices for those who are looking to taste authentic Shandong cuisine.
In Qingdao, a meal cannot be called a feast unless there is seafood. All Qingdao seafood dishes can be found on the Yunxiao Road's food street, including delicate and chewy mackerel, savory and plump oysters, and clams, which are recognized as the freshest food in Qingdao. Local people like to order a plate of Stir-fried Spicy Clams, where the flavor of the clams is truly set off by the spicy chili.
The Qingdao flavor depends not only on seafood but also on its beer. A unique Qingdao phenomenon has local people using plastic bags to hold their draught beer. The air becomes full of the smell of hops as the white foam flows out over the bag's opening, while water vapor condenses on the outside of the bag.
Qingdao Food and Scenery at Night
Qingdao at night is even more gorgeous and lively than it is during the day, with its neon and landscaping lights. There are many outstanding places for appreciating the beauty of Qingdao at night, including the summit of Guanxiang Mountain, where you can admire the city's landscape in its full splendor, the Cape Peace, where you can relax in the breeze and look at the flickering lights that outline the city's coastline, or the top of the 181-m Crowne Plaza Hotel Qingdao building, where you will be shocked by the sheer brightness of the city.
Alternatively, there is from Qingrenba Bar Street south to the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center, where the splendid strip of lights stretches towards the sea, or the embankment, where you can look off into the distance at the city's bright lights on the opposite bank, or enjoy the merry music and absorb the romantic appeal of Qingdao.
In Qingdao, where there is beer, there are clams. In fact, Qingdao locals have become accustomed to a lifestyle of “enjoying the sea breeze, showing off their pot belly, drinking beer, and savoring clams” for a long time. When the night falls, the beer houses in the streets and lanes begin to fill with customers. People sit around tables, swilling down fresh draught beer, devouring seafood, toasting each other, while shooting the breeze. That’s how Qingdaoers spend the night.
A Home to Many Cultures
Qingdao and its flowers, moon, seasons, and seascapes have been mentioned in poems and prose by Liang Shiqiu and Kang Youwei. Shandong University once had a campus in Qingdao, and numerous scholars and literary figures such as Shen Congwen, Lao She, and Wen Yiduo have taught and lived here. Their cultural marks can still be found here today.
Moreover, multiple religions have built many religious buildings in Qingdao, including several Taoist temples on top of Laoshan, the Zhanshan Temple at the east foot of Taiping Mountain, St. Michael's Cathedral, and a Protestant church.
The Tsingtao Beer Museum is in a charming, German-style red house within the first Tsingtao Beer brewery. You can take a look at the beer brewing process and taste the genuine, mellow Tsingtao Beer. The annual Qingdao International Beer Festival is one of the city's must-see events.
How to Get There
There is one airport and one passenger railway station in Qingdao. The airport, Liuting International Airport, is a 45-minute drive away from the urban area and has established domestic flights to 50 Chinese cities, and international flights to 8 cities including Seoul, Tokyo, and Hong Kong, with many visitors arriving at and departing from Qingdao from here. A free airport shuttle bus service is available for convenient travel from the Holiday Inn Qingdao Parkview, which is only 5 minutes away.
Qingdao Railway Station is the main railway hub of Qingdao. All trains running to and from Qingdao stop at and depart from this station. It is situated in an urban district and adjacent to the bus station, and can thus ensure a convenient and seamless transfer between normal speed trains, EMU trains, high-speed trains, automobiles, buses, and the metro.
The emotional appeal of Qingdao lies in its red tiles and green trees, its mist-covered waters and mountains, and its frothing beer. So, why not roam around Qingdao and take in its sheer romance and passion.