When your city’s most famous (and beloved) export is an eponymous beer, you can bet on more than a few thirsty pilgrims to turn up. This is not to suggest, of course, that Qingdao is on par with a Sapporo or Budweis. Cogent differences separate the premier Shandong province metropolis from, say, a bucolic hamlet in Bavaria. To wit, the venerable Tsingtao Brewery may call Qingdao home but, remarkably, so do close to 9 million people. Qingdao then, is one formidable city and, indeed, one of the most populous in the People’s Republic of China.
The Shandong star parlays a number of positive attributes into a reputation as one of the most livable urban hubs in the country. A major regional pulse point, Qingdong overlooks the Yellow Sea and, like all good seaports, is a vital base for trade, commerce and industry. Though archaeological finds in the province hint at human settlement as far back as 6,000 years ago, Qingdao’s modern development began in earnest under the Qing Dynasty.
The presence of the Tsingtao Brewery owes much to the German Kiautschou Bay concession at the turn of the 20th century, from 1898 to 1914. Outside of the lager producer, only a few relics from the era hang on as the city expands at exponential clips. Some notable architecture from the colonial period survives, however, in the form of landmarks like the Guest House, St. Michael's Cathedral and Governor's House. That these points of interest still lurk amid a feverish skyline race is a boon for intrepid tourists in the eminent Shandong city.
Qingdao's Top 10
10. Jiaozhou Bay Bridge At 25.85 mi (41.58 km) the Qingdao-Haiwan bridge is the longest over water span on the planet.
5. Huang Dao requires a bit of a trek - a half hour ferry ride - but is well worth the effort to access the best beach within city limits.
9. St. Michael’s Catholic Church took some hits throughout the Cultural Revolution but still graces the Qingdong cityscape to this day. The interior is exquisitely photogenic.
4. Little Qingdao is a leafy peninsula with epic views of the new skyline and old German district.
8. No. 2 Bathing Beach could use a name makeover but the beach itself is quite clean and well-protected.
3. Qingdao Botanical Garden is one of the best flora exhibits in China.
7. Zhanshan Temple is the largest spiritual landmark in Qingdao.
2. Ba Da Guan is a handsome pocket of the city with legacy German architecture intact.
6. Qingdao Aquarium was the first underwater marine museum in all of China. The facility dates back to 1932.
1. Tsingtao Brewery dates back to 1903 and runs a superb museum on site.
- Qingdao Old Town – German architecture in this area shows the historical influence of Western settlers on this part of China.
- Qingdao German Prison Site Museum – See a torture chamber and more at this prison used originally by the Germans and later by Japanese invaders.
- Battery Fort – This underground fort was originally built by the Germans in the late 19th century.
- Qingdao Guest House (Governor’s Mansion) – This museum was a guesthouse where notable officials have stayed, including Mao Zedong.
- May Fourth Square (Wusi Square) – This popular attraction is named for the national May Fourth Movement which started in Qingdao.
Qingdao Art & Culture
- Tsingtao Brewery Museum – This museum is in the old Tsingtao brewery, which was founded by German settlers.
- Qingdao Grand Theatre Complex – This complex has a concert hall, performing arts centre and theatre and offers ballet, cultural performances and more.
- Qingdao Art Museum – This museum has rotating exhibits spanning a range of styles and free entry on Fridays.
- 1919 Gallery of Contemporary Art – This large gallery shows rotating exhibitions of modern Chinese art and sculptures.
- Tianhou Temple – This 15th-century temple was built even before Qingdao was a city and is decorated with colourful paintings and carvings.
- Beer Street – One of the best and most popular places in Qingdao to get a refreshing beer and some cheap local food.
- Taidong San Lu – This expansive and busy pedestrian shopping street offers stores from Walmart to those selling local goods. There is a night market here also.
- Pichai Yuan – This quaint street has been reconstructed to evoke traditional times, and there are a number of handicraft and souvenir shops.
- Zhongshan Commercial Street – This major shopping street has a number of department stores and shops, focusing mainly on clothes.
- Jimo Lu Market – Located near Zhongshan Commercial Street, this multilevel bargain store is a mecca for shoppers who love to browse.
Gay & Lesbian Qingdao
- Feeling Club – The huge dance floor is the main attraction of this nightspot, which attracts a huge mixed crowd on Saturday nights.
- Ze Xin Chi Sauna – This gay sauna stays open all night, which makes it a favourite spot for a massage whilst in Qingdao.
- Shui Xiang Yuan Xi Yu Zhong Xin – This popular sauna caters exclusively to gay men.
- Q Bar – This popular retro cocktail bar off the lobby of the Shangri-La Hotel is a great place to have drinks.
- SOS – This giant nightclub is open to all types of people and features a popular dance floor and DJ.
- Little Qingdao Island – This island just off the coast has lovely scenery, fruit trees, Taoist temples and Qingdao’s iconic white lighthouse.
- Taiqing Palace – Situated on Mount Laoshan, the multi-pavilioned site is considered the birthplace of Laoshan Taoism.
- Qingdao Bontanical Garden – See over 1,000 species of native and foreign plants, including some rare ones, at this picturesque garden.
- Number 1 Beach – This is the nicest and most popular beach in Qingdao for sunbathing.
- Zhanqiao Pier – This pier serves as the symbol of the city of Qingdao and is a great place to watch a sunset.
- Play a round at the lush and well-maintained Qingdao International Golf Club.
- Watch a badminton match at the Qingdao Guoxin Stadium.
- Explore the items and gear used in the 2008 Summer Olympics at the modern Olympic Sailing Museum.
- Watch the popular Qingdao Jonoon F.C. play football at the Qingdao Tiantai Stadium.
- See yachts crowd the bay during the annual Qingdao International Sailing Week in August or September.
Qingdao International Beer Festival draws lovers of suds out of their hovels every summer for a few quaffs under the sun.
China Ocean Festival is a month-long celebration of the ocean’s bounty, from late July to late August.
Qingdao International Beach Festival takes place over five days in October at No. 1 Bathing Beach.
China Qingdao International Hot Air Balloon Festival is one of the most popular annual festivals in Shandong province.
China International Marine Fair and Boat Show lures the global pleasure craft community to Qingdao.
When To Go
Qingdao straddles the continental and subtropical climactic zones and and enjoys four distinct seasons, from hot and humid summers to cold winters. The city experiences heavy intervals of rain in June, July and August.
At the height of summer, temperatures range from 64°F (18°C) to 82°F (28°C). Lows in January and February approach 27°F (-3°C).
With mild conditions and scant precipitation, the months of May and October emerge as the most comfortable for Qingdao visitors on the whole.
With many ways to access a metropolis like Qingdao, one of the most memorable has to be the ferry from Incheon, South Korea. Total journey time is approximately 16 hours. A similar ferry from Shimonoseki, Japan completes the trip in 24 hours.
Qingdao Liuting International Airport serves more than 11 million passengers a year, good enough to place it 15th in China. The hub connects to every major destination in the country and the likes of Taipei, Busan, Seoul, Osaka and Tokyo.
The train is the most convenient mode of transport for many. Qingdao Railway Station links with counterparts in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Jinan, Guangzhou, Chengdu and more.
Until the completion of a vast subway system, the best way to get around Qingdong is by taxi, bus or trolley. The city has an extensive network of bicycle paths.
Home of world famous Tsingtao beer, Qingdao is known as one of the most livable places in China. The seaport city of over 7 million people in Shandong province overlooks the Yellow Sea and is one of the major industrial hubs in the country. Qingdao's history of human settlement dates back over 6,000 years but it was under the Qing Dynasty where the city began to flourish as an economic powerhouse.
A brief flirtation as a German port at the turn of the 20th century provides Qingdao with a unique legacy today, most notably in the form of the Tsingtao Brewery. Some city districts remain distinctly foreign in style, with German architecture quite pervasive in landmarks such as the Guest House, St. Michael's Cathedral and Governor's House. That these attractions still stand amid the hyper-modern development of Qingdao's skyline, not to mention traditional Chinese landmarks, is a testament to the city's diversity and heritage.
Attractions & Activities
- Ba Da Guan
- Qingdao Botanical Garden
- Zhan Qiao Pier
- Mount Lao
- Tsingtao Brewery
- Qingdao International Beer Festival
- China Ocean Festival
- Qingdao International Beach Festival
- China Qingdao International Hot Air Balloon Festival
- China International Maritime Exhibition
Restaurants & Nightlife
- Bei Da Huang Ren
- Monnemer Eck
- Le Bang
- Safari Pub
- FuShi Bar
- Corner Jazz Club
- Q Bar
Prone to monsoon rains, Qingdao borders between subtropical and continental and enjoys hot summers and cold winters.
- Winter (December to February) -3-6°C
- Spring (March to May) 3-21°C
- Summer (June to September) 18-28°C
- Fall (October to November) 7-20°C
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