Qingdao (青岛) also known as Tsingtao, is regarded by some Chinese as one of the most beautiful and clean cities in China. It is the largest city in Shandong Province. The name Qingdao means The Blue/Green Island. In 2008, Qingdao was named China’s 7th-most livable city.
Qingdao 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. A concession treaty was signed on 6 March 1889, 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.
In 1903, the world famous Tsingtao brewery was established by homesick Germans. Every August since then, the Qingdao Beer Festival is a highlight. Japan occupied it on 27 August 1914, as part of World War I. The Japanese took the city since at the time, they were allied with the British. After the war, student protests in 1919, forced Japan to return the city to Chinese soverignity. During the World War II, the Japanese retook Qingdao as they captured most of the rest of northern China.
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 an 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 2008, Qingdao hosted the sailing events of the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Qingdao’s early summer is quite an enjoyable season, although it can be humid near sea shore. Late summer can become hot, while other places of Northern China start to feel cooler. The climate in 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.
- Beach No. 1 ( 第一海水浴场) is packed with equipment rentals and amusements of all kinds, is 800 meters long and draws unbelievable crowds during the summer months. Although surrounded by restaurants and hotels, Zhongshan Park (中山公园), Huiquan Cinemas (汇泉影城), and Small Fish Hill (小鱼山) are all within walking distance.
- Beach No. 2 (第二海水浴场) tucked away in Badaguan (八大关), occupies a small cove along the Qingdao Seaside Sightseeing Pathway. This scenic area was popular with political figures such as Chairman Mao and other central government officials. Huashi Villa (花石楼) and Zhongshan Park (中山公园) are within walking distance.
- Beach No. 3 (第三海水浴场) also called Zhanshan Beach (湛山湾), is 400 meters long and located at the eastern end of Taiping Cape (太平角) in Badaguan (八大关). Facilities include: restrooms and warm showers (10 RMB) as well as Kiosks that sell cold drinks, snacks, bathing suits, and sand-sculpting kits. Parralell to the beach is TaiPingJiao Yi Lu which has a few quaint restaurants and cafés with ocean-views.
- Beach No. 6 (第六海水浴场) also called Zhanqiao Bathing Beach, is located in old town near the Shinan District Train Station. Zhanqiao Pier (栈桥) is located at the eastern end of this short strech of sand. Tianhou palace (天后宫), formerly known as Tianfei Temple (天妃宫), is within walking distance.
- Shi Lao Ren（石老人）(translates as Old Stone Man) is the most impressive beach. It was named after shape of the prominent rock outcropping located just of the Shi Lao Ren peninsula and is said to resemble an old fisherman waiting for his daughter to return from beneath the waves. With tables, chairs, tents, ATVs, speed boats, jet skis, showers, and a boardwalk.
Zhan Qiao Pier (栈桥). The pier is the iconic symbol of Qingdao and is in the logo of the Tsingtao Beer. Built by Germans during the German concession, it is a popular tourist station.
Tsingtao Brewery (青岛啤酒博物馆), is China’s oldest brewery (1903), and has some interesting exhibits and the bottling plant is fascinating. Inside the brewery you will see the history of the brewery and how beer was made in the late 19th and 20th century. Of course the free samples of beer are likely to persuade you this place is worth a visit.
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, crowds flock to huge tents set up by each beer company.
German Governor’s Residence, (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 calendar every year. Admission ~ RMB 8.
Qingdao Municipal Museum, 27 Meiling Road, +86 532 88893336,. April to September: 9AM-5:30PM; October to March: 9AM-4:30PM. This museum includes exhibits of art and antiquities of ancient to modern Qingdao. Admission ~ RMB 20.
Haier Science Museum, 27 MeiLing Lu (In the same building as Qingdao Municipal Museum). A separate museum specially geared towards children. Admission ~ RMB 10.
Qingdao Underwater World aka Qingdao Aquarium (青岛海底世界), (Located next to the #1 beach), Aquarium open daily. Qingdao is host to China’s first public aquarium, opened in 1932. There is a moving platform that takes visitors in a tunnel through the aquarium itself. Some of the exhibits do not have air-conditioning. Admission ~ RMB 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. Admission ~ RMB 120.
WHAT TO BUY? Nanning has various local products ranging from fruits to handicrafts to traditional medicines. Lychee, banana, pineapple and mango are the most productive fruits, thus quite cheap. Leather products, handbags, luggage cases, waistbands and shoes are good buys. Zhuang Jin making (Brocade of Zhuang ethnic minority group) has a long history and is the most traditional and symbolic tourist souvenir of Guangxi Province. The arrays of golden and silver ornaments are good choices.
- Chao Yang Lu (Changyang Rd.) is the main shopping street of the city. There are many modern and comprehensive malls and supermarkets such as Nanning Department Mall, Diamond Square, and Wal-Mart Supermarket.
- Xing Ning Jie (Xingning Rd.) is where tourists can find various golden ornaments with relatively low prices.
- Xi Guan Lu (Xiguan Rd.) is one of the city’s night markets where hawkers sell cheap clothes, cosmetics and dolls.
- Yuan Hu Lu (Yuanhu Rd. in its northern part) is a market of flowers, bonsais, birds, fish and other pets.
- Fu Ye Tian Di Tourist Souvenir Market is located in the underground square in front of Nanning Railway Station
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