Qingdao Travel Guide
Also known as Tsingtao, Qingdao is regarded by the Chinese as one of its most livable cities. Home to only 3.5 million people (only in China can you say something like that), its location between mountain and sea, its modernity, and relative cleanliness makes it a delightful place to live and visit.
Qingdao is blessed with an abundance of excellent natural scenery, as not only is it situated on the eastern coast of China, there are also a number of spectacular mountain ranges nearby. Soon after arrival in Qingdao, plan a day trip out to Laoshan Scenic Area.
Mount Laoshan is the most important peak in the series, attracting scores of visitors on mornings when it is surrounded by a sea of clouds. When they clear away later in the day, view of the lower peaks can be had in all directions.
Throughout the region, temples, palaces, and waterfalls give visitors plenty of things to see and do in addition to the vistas which can be had everywhere you go.
Not everything about the history of Qingdao is cheerful – a visit to the German Prison Site Museum will make this point abundantly clear. Built by the Germans during a time of conflict between them and China in the early 20th century, it was where Chinese prisoners of war were held during the First and Second World Wars – in the latter conflict, it was the Japanese who were the jailers.
This is not an attraction for families or the faint hearted – within, you’ll be subjected to photographers of some truly heinous acts committed against POWs during these trying times, as well as exhibits portraying the torture devices to which prisoners were subjected. The captions are all in Chinese, but to be honest, the horror of those times don’t need a language to be communicated to onlookers.
As a former foreigner enclave in China, Qingdao has a number of sights familiar to those not from Asia. Qingdao Catholic Church is one of those, as it finished construction in 1934 to serve expats and locals who had converted to Christianity. Originally known as St. Michael Cathedral, it was closed for much of the 1960s and 1970s due to the edicts of the Cultural Revolution, but was left mostly unscathed during that tumultuous time in Chinese history.
Built with granite in a combination of Gothic and Romanesque styles, it has twin spires which stand 56 metres high over the surrounding area. Within, be sure to check out life-size wax models of key figures in the Bible, as well as the intricate interior decoration of this structure.
As for Buddhist sights, Zhanshan Temple is easily the most significant one in the Qingdao area. Pulling together the mountains which rise behind it and the sea which stretches before it, this Buddhist hall of worship is equal parts modern and old.
It may have been built in recent times, but its architecture holds true to the traditions of the Ming Dynasty, which emphasized the use of grey bricks and black roof tiles, among other design considerations.
Within, you’ll find the usual collection of Buddha statues along with a nice drum tower, but for locals, fall is the best time drop by, as the red leaves combines with the scent of pine trees to create an atmosphere you need to experience in order to appreciate it properly.
Qingdao is home to China’s best known beer, as this city is also known as Tsingtao. The Tsingtao Brewery Museum tells the story of this internationally famous brand from the very beginning – it was back in 1903 when the first batch of one of Asia’s first brews rolled off the assembly line.
From the copper brewing tanks which housed countless litres of beer over the years to the art of crafting China’s favourite brew, you’ll learn plenty about this popular brand during your tour here.
Can’t stand another minute in the heat of Eastern China? Cool off by finding some of this country’s best beaches in the Badaguan Scenic Area. Located in the part of town where diplomats, traders, and Communist Party elites lived (and in the case of the latter, still do), you’ll find European style manors situated within walking distance of beaches which glisten with golden sand.
The best beach stretches for two miles from end to end and is wide, so even if you aren’t keen to go in the water, there is plenty of room to catch some rays as sea breezes cool you off.
Need to slow down and relax for a bit during your time in Qingdao? Spend an hour or so relaxing amidst the greenery of Zhongshan Park. While this green space is at its best during cherry blossom season, you can find peace and serenity here at any time of year.