Qingdao , also spelled Tsingtao (青岛; Qīngdǎo), is one of the most beautiful and clean cities in the People's Republic of China and with a population of around 3.5 million (8 million regional) is the largest city in Shandong Province. The name "Qingdao" means "The Blue/Green Island".
Qingdao is a city steeped in China's 20th century history. Qingdao was taken as part of the an Imperial German concession of Jiaozhou Bay. Despite ongoing discussions with Chinese authorities about giving the Germans territory, on the 7th of November 1897, they landed troops. Their pretext was the murder of two missionaries on the 1st of November of that year.
The concession treaty was signed on March 6, 1889, for a 99 year lease. However, Japan occupied it on August 27, 1914, as part of the First World War. The Germans acquired it as a relatively unimportant town of about 1000 inhabitants. Yet by 1902, it had grown to 668 Caucasians and 15000 Chinese. As of the most recent data available, the city has a population of 2.6 million.
During the colonial period, the Germans left a distinct mark on Qingdao's architecture that can still be seen today in its historic center and train station: although the latter has been mostly torn down for redevelopment, part of the original station has been preserved to be incorporated in the new design. 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, the world-famous Tsingtao brewery was established by homesick Germans. The Japanese were ousted during the 1918 May 4th Movement but retook the city in 1938.
In 2008, Qingdao hosted the sailing events of the 2008 Summer Olympics. Qingdao's climate ranges from very hot and humid in the summer to snowstorms in winter. Qingdao is the ideal destination if you want to combine sea-side fun with your trip to China.
From Incheon, Korea there are ferries thrice-weekly by Weidong Ferries . There are also twice-weekly connections to Shimonoseki, Japan on Orient Ferries . The trip takes over 24 hours and 2nd class one-way costs ¥12,000. Note that the boat going TO Japan takes 2 nights while for some reason coming back to China it only takes 1.
The Qingdao Liuting International Airport is the main hub for Shangdong Airlines and a focus city of China Eastern. There are more than ten flights each day from both Shanghai and Beijing, and less frequent flights to all the other major domestic destinations. International destinations include Seoul (Incheon), Pusan, Tokyo, Osaka, and Hong Kong. The airport is located 32 kilometers from the city itself, about a half hour taxi ride. Prices for a taxi ride from the airport to the Hong Kong Middle Road area should be between ¥100-120 depending on the route taken (The 308 highway is slower but cheaper, the toll expressway is faster and more expensive).
There is a daily sleeper train from Beijing and one from Shanghai as well. The slow trains from Beijing take about 9 hours, from Shanghai 20 hours. The Qingdao Railway Station is located at the west end of ShiNan district.
There is now a much faster service from Beijing provided by CRH that has 6 trains per day and takes a little less than 6 hours for ¥300-350. One high speed train to Shanghai was recently added which takes about 10 hours.
Especially if you are travelling from within Shandong province, going by bus is probably the easiest way. Especially now with the new excellent and fast expressways linking Qingdao with other cities in the province. There are several buses per day to Jinan, Taian, Qufu, as well as Yantai and Rizhao on the coast. They leave from and arrive to the bus station just outside the train station, but also from the new bus station north of town, which can be reached by local trolleybus number 5 in 20 min.
Recently Qingdao officials have been sweeping local bars. To avoid troubles, you may want to have copies of your passport and visa at all times. As travelers, it's still advisable to keep your actual passport in a "safe place" at your hotel or hostel.
Take one of the plentiful taxis. The drivers practically run each other over trying to get fares. Although it can be hard to find them during rush hours (8-9AM and 5-6PM). Just ¥7+(¥1 tax) for short haul. You can get across town for less than ¥35. Be advised that there is indeed a fuel tax specific to Qingdao that is ¥1 regardless of distance traveled. Also be aware that you will be required to pay any toll fees incurred during the trip. So simply add ¥1 plus any toll fees you may have incurred (most likely not unless you traveled on the Qingyin Expressway) to the meter's reading.
The bus and trolleybus network is quite well put together and useful once you figure out the routes. Buses 26 and 501 run from the railway station (ShiNan Distict) along the coast via DongHai West Road (DongHai Xi Lu) to all the beaches in the modern eastern part of town (CBD), where pubs and cafes are located. Many major routes have dedicated bus lanes, that can make taking the bus faster than taking a car during rush hour. Buses 316 and 231 will bring you to the center of the town from the newly renovated station. Regular buses cost ¥1 and the air conditioned ones are ¥2. If you get on a bus that goes really far (out to the suburbs) you need to tell the ticket person on the bus where you're going and it will cost up to ¥6.
For some reason very few locals in Qingdao cycle. They blame it on the hills, but quite frankly if San Francisco can have as many bikers as it does, Qingdao people are lazy. Renting a bike for the day is a great way to get around the city. There's more than 40km of waterfront trails and tons of side roads in the old colonial parts of town that are great for biking. If you really want a work out, try hiking Fushan or the TV Tower hills as there are some decent mountain bike trails in there as well.
- Pier, (Near the train station). The famous pier makes it look a bit like a Chinese version of Brighton, England.
- Catholic church.
- Tsingtao Brewery, . The brewery has some interesting exhibits and the bottling plant is fascinating. Of course the ample free samples of beer are likely to persuade you this place is worth a visit.
- German Governor's Residence, (If you want to find it, ask for the Qingdao Guest House). A Bavarian-style castle where Mao stayed as well. Also the observatories on the hills around it are interesting for good views and museums.
- Zhan Shan Temple, (Situated at the foot of ZhanShan Hill and to the east of TaiPing Hill). 8AM-5PM daily. This temple was built in 1945. It has five halls and a pagoda, with an area of 20,000 square meters. The temple boasts a large collection of skillfully carved statues of Buddha and Buddhist scriptures. There are tens of thousands of people at ZhanShan Temple from the 8th to the 10th of April on the lunar calender every year.¥8.
- Qingdao Municipal Museum, 27 MeiLing Lu, . Open Tu-Su. Includes exhibits of art and antiquities of ancient to modern Qingdao.¥20.
- Haier Science Museum, 27 MeiLing Lu(In the same building as Qingdao Municipal Museum). A separate museum specially geared towards children.¥10.
- Qingdao Underwater World/Qingdao Aquarium, (Located next to the #1 beach), . Aquarium open daily. Qingdao is host to China's first public aquarium, opened in 1932. Today the "Underwater World" consists of four main areas on both sides of the street, and connected underneath the street itself. One highlight is the moving platform that takes visitors in a tunnel through the aquarium itself, one can look all around and see fish from every angle. Also, don't miss the ever-popular mermaid shows. A day at the aquarium and a late afternoon at the beach make for a great summer day.¥100.
- Polar Ocean World, . An aquarium focusing on polar animals, including polar bears and penguins. Newer and more modern than the Underwater World. It also has a well known beluga whale show.¥120 per adult.
Qingdao has some famous (within China) 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, 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, (Just at the entrance to Laoshan National Park, about a 30 minute drive east of the city limits). Laoshan beach is one of the best in town.
- Old Stone Man Beach(石老人浴场; Shilaoren), Donghai East Road and Haikou Road (东海东路 - 海口路)(Get there by bus 125 or 321). 24 hours. 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. Admission free; ¥5 for shower and changing facilities.
- Beach #1(第一海水浴场; Dìyī hǎishuǐ yùchǎng), Nanhai Road (南海路)(CNY15-20 in taxi from the center; busses #6, #15, #26, #31, #202, #206, # 214, #219, #223, #228, #231, #302, #304, #306, #311, #312, #316, #317, #321, #501, #604, #605, #801 stop at near by bus stop Hai Shui Yu Chang (海水浴场; Hǎishuǐ yùchǎng)). 24 hours. Clean and full of amusement for children but often crowded. Very basic shower and changing facilities available. Surrounded by restaurants and hotels.Admission free. ¥5 for shower and changing facilities.
- Beach #2(第二海水浴场; Dìèr hǎishuǐ yùchǎng), Shanhaiguan Road (山海关路; Shānhǎiguān lù)(CNY10-15 in taxi from the center; buses #26, #31, #202, #206, #214, #223, #228, #231, #304, #316, #317, #321, #501, #604, #801 stop at bus stop Wu Sheng Guan ([chinese; pinyin]) a bit north of the beach). Quiet beach.Entrance CNY2 in summer, else free.
- Beach #3 (City Beach). 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. Very basic shower and changing facilities available.¥5 for shower and changing facilities.
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 and watch (or participate in) various performances such as karaoke, concerts, auctions, or comedy.
- Huang Dao. Take a boat from Qingdao harbour to the nearby "island" of Huang Dao, a new and upcoming area.
- Seafront walk. Walk along the sea front in the evening from beach 2 back into town to 6.
- Taidong Pedestrian Street(Taidong Buxingjie). The best area for buying stuff. Very "renao" (bustling), especially at night when the peddlers come out and you can buy all manner of trinkets, clothing, household wares, etc. While in Taidong be careful of the Pickpockets.
- The Carrefour/Jusco/Book City section of town, (Where Mid Hong Kong Road and Nanjing Road intersect). To provision yourself, head out to this area. A new 8-floor mall, located close to this area, recently opened and is quite a bit better than Jusco. It is called MyKAL.
- Jimo Lu market. Do not miss this market, a great place to buy knock off Gucci, Prada, Louis Vitton as well as local retail goods. Recently refurbished and opening new shops across the street in a new plaza, it will soon become one of Qingdao's most popular retail markets.
- Zhong Shan Lu. Recently retrofitted for 2008, still boasts some of the oldest shops in Qingdao.
Chinese - Head to Yunxiao Road west of Fuzhou Nan 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 Nan Road (bordering on Qingdao's restaurant district), has several outstanding restaurants. The area is booming with foods from around the world.
Korean - The city has a very large Korean population, and thanks to this, lots of great Korean restaurants. Head to Hong Kong Gardens (Shanghang Road in particular) and you will find many excellent Korean restaurants.
Japanese - There are several good Japanese restaurants scattered about the Shinan district and the Shinan district near Hong Kong Garden.
German - It wouldn't be a trip to a former German treaty port without some real German food and beer cooked by Chinese.
Other Western - Most of the western restaurants can be found along the Mid Hong Kong Road corridor as well as in Hong Kong Gardens. You can choose from a wide variety of food: Italian, French, etc.
- Shanglinyuan Restaurant(上林苑餐饮), 169 Minjiang Road (闽江路169号), ☎ 86 (532) 8575-6188. Shandong cuisine and seafood.
- Zijing Shandong Restaurant(紫晶鲁菜馆; Zǐjīnglǔcàiguǎn), 48 Minjiang Second Road (闽江二路48号), ☎ 86 (532) 8565-2888, . Shandong cuisine. Claims to be the first restaurant in Qingdao to specialise in Shandong cuisine. Has both traditional dishes and modern ones.
- Haidao Seafood Restaurant(海岛渔村; Hǎidǎoyúcūn), 40 YunXiao Road (云霄路40号), ☎ 86 (532) 8597-3058. Seafood.Expect to pay CNY75-100 each person.
- Yumatou Seafood Restaurant(渔码头; Yúmǎtóu), 24 Yunxiao Road (云霄路24号), ☎ 86 (532) 8573-3583. Seafood.
- Bifeng Tang(港记避风塘; gǎngjìbìfēngtáng), 158 Minjiang Road (闽江路24号), ☎ 0532-85776789. until 4.00 in the morning. Honkong dimsun and seafood.Expect to pay CNY50-75 each person.
- Laoshan Pao Hotpot Restaurant(老山炮活鱼锅; Lǎoshānpàohuóyúguō), 20 Yunxiao Road(云宵路20号), ☎ 86 (532) 8578-4444, . Hot pot, seafood.
- Tanyutou Hotpot Restaurant(谭鱼头火锅; Tányútóuhuǒguō), 14 Minjiang Road (闽江路14号), ☎ 86 (532) 8583-9076. Hotpot.
- Heavenly Palace Old Mama Restaurant(天府老妈; Tiānfǔlǎomā), 54 Yunxiao Road; 云宵路54号, ☎ 86 (532) 8576-4906. Sichuan cuisine.
- Minsu Korean Restaurant(民俗酒家; Mínsújiǔjiā), 68 Shanghang Road; 上杭路68号, ☎ 86 (532) 6677-7308. Korean BBQ.
- Xiaobenjia Korean Restaurant(小本家; Xiǎoběnjiā), 58 Shanghang Road (上杭路58号). Korean BBQ. Reservation is recommended.
- Monnemer Eck's. The closest thing to real German food in the city.
Tsingtao is China's best-known brand of beer. The brewery was founded by Germans during colonial times and still today brews according to the German purity law. Every August there is a beer festival (check the listing in the "Do" section). Many European breweries participate.
Despite being a city of 3.5 million, nightlife is quieter here than in most cities of similar size. KTV (karaoke) 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.
- Le Bang. 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.
- Feelings Club. A large dance club that is often the most popular among Chinese, music there is strictly techno.
- SOS, (Just a little bit west from Feelings Club). Similar in style to Feelings Club, but plays more western music and is often not as crowded.
- Club New York, (Going even further west from SOS past Fuzhou Road). There is a live band almost every night, that plays cover songs. The atmosphere is definitely more western oriented than other places.Drink prices are expensive at ¥40-50, although foreigners planning a lengthy stay are nearly always offered a free VIP card for permanent half price drinks..
- YHA Old Observatory. Qingdao Observatory, the first observatory in China, is a great location for this youth hostel, which is situated on Mt. Observatory in the heart of Qingdao. It is a hidden gem from which to explore China’s most well-known coastal city.
- Qingdao Kaiyue International Youth Hostel. Quiet but large and very nice hostel in the old town near the train station and the Catholic church. Good place to meet other foreigners.
- Crowne Plaza Qingdao, 76 XiangGang Middle Road, ☎ (0532) 8571 8888(fax: (0532) 8571 6666), . The city's busiest international hotel with 388 rooms, great location and facilities, including Brazilian BBQ and a pastry counter. It's also near the 2008 Olympics sailing sites.
- Grand Regency Hotel Qingdao, 110 XiangGang Middle Road, ☎ (0532) 8588 1818(fax: (0532) 8588 1888), . The first 5-star hotel in Qingdao, it has excellent staff, billiard rooms, health club, squash courts, swimming pool, tennis courts, and a bowling alley. 393 rooms.
- Latour Laguens (Qingdao), 316 Hong Kong Rd, ☎ (0532) 88966969 ext. 8000(fax: (0532) 66717399), . Member of the small luxury hotels organization, Seaside resort hotel with an amazing ocean view, excellent service, vast selection of fine wines, comfortable high class atmosphere, very large personalized rooms with in-room sauna and spa, fantastic food selection, free pick up from the airport, and free breakfast.
- Sea View Garden Hotel, 2 ZhangHua Road, ☎ (0532) 8587 5777, . Offers excellent ocean side view, spa, tennis, KTV, bar, and close to shopping centres.
- ZhanQiao Hotel, 31 TaiPing Road, ☎ (0532) 8288 8666. 4/5 Star hotel with excellent location right on the water front.Prices start at ¥600 and are more for ocean views. Discounts available during the winter months..
- Copthorne Hotel Qingdao, 28 Hong Kong Middle Road, Qingdao 266071, ☎ (0532) 8572 1688, . Copthorne Hotel Qingdao is an international deluxe hotel situated in the heart of the city and central business district. This contemporary 455-rooms-and-suite hotel provides an array of facilities and impeccable service to both the business and leisure travellers. The hotel offers a variety of dining experiences including an award-winning Chinese Restaurant, Central Grill which serves international cuisine for casual all-day dining, a spectacular Lobby Lounge and a Japanese Restaurant.
- TOP YiHe International Serviced Apartments, 10 XiangGang Middle Road, . Comparable to most 4-star hotels in Qingdao at a much cheaper rate, has an excellent staff, Bird's Eye View of the Olympic Marina & May 4th Square. Free daily "western style breakfast", free local calls, free broadband internet with 42" plasma HDTV screen & cable TV, business center, conference rooms, 10 minute walk to all major shopping centers and restaurants.
Generally, Qingdao is a very safe city although the general travel advisories such as keeping your bag close, not flashing large amounts of money and using common sense are always advised. Violent crime or serious thievery is not a common problem although foreigners will be targeted from time to time.
Using common sense will keep you safe and for the most part, the worst thing you'll have to fear is getting ripped off for a few yuan by an enterprising businessman.
- Laoshan - Located a 30 min. bus ride east of downtown, these mountains complete with Dao temple is a must see for the Qingdao area. Often credited with being one of the temples that gave birth to the Dao way of thought, the Laoshan temple is tucked just between the mountains and beach. You can wander the temples or take one of the many paths winding up and around the mountains to enjoy the view, see waterfalls or listen to the tales of the ancient snake and other phenomena that haunt the Laoshan area.
This page was last edited at 15:50, on 27 March 2009 by Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel. Based on work by Claus Hansen, Stefan Ertmann and Carson Roen, Wikitravel user(s) Texugo and DaLong, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.