Voted the Number 1 city to live in China, Qingdao is the place to be. It is located in ShanDong Province in the East of China. From sea to mountains, fresh fruit to fresh seafood, Chinese culture to Western culture and coffee shops to bars. The list is endless and the possibilities more so.
Chinese culture varies from one district to another but some aspects stay the same.Qingdao has a remarkable combination of the traditional and the modern so it’s difficult to be disappointed.
Let me paint a picture of a Summers day in Qingdao. Take a walk through the old town where you will come across various ancient buildings dotted with restaurants, local shops and much more. Here the prices are lower and the foreigners fewer. You will see a famous area known as Badaguan which is full of European style architecture and beautiful natural scenery. A really good place for those who love taking pictures. Walk further and find yourself at Zhongshan Park which is a beautiful, well-kept public area in which many locals and tourists wonder for hours admiring the scenery. Visit the various beaches dotted along the coast. Take a quick dip in the blue sea, fly a kite with the locals or better yet try the local BBQ and Qingdao beer whilst looking at the breathtaking view.
BBQ in Qingdao is a must and easily accessible from street vendors to in door restaurants. If you are looking for some good Chinese food you will find restaurants dotted all around the city from Lennon Bar (which also has a live band to entertain you while you eat) to Hong Kong 56 (which has a very large picture menu for those who cant read Chinese). For me I really miss a good English Breakfast but not anymore thanks to Kiwi cafe where the owner Danny makes a wonderful breakfast along with a variety of breakfast foods from around the world all made to perfection. If you’re travelling on a tight budget you can easily find numerous Lanzhou La Mian restaurants for a quick cheap fix.
When people learn about Qingdao, they usually hear about the beer. Qingdao Beer Museum, a place foreigners love to go to learn and try out the local beer. For just 50RMB you receive admission to the museum plus various tastings of Qingdao beer. Each year August becomes quite a spectacle when Qingdao hosts the International Beer Festival. All you beer lovers out there, this is the time for you to visit. I have personally attended this festival three years running and each year more than once. The local people really let their hair down and you can have some fun with them. Although the drinks are expensive, they’re worth it. Plus you can try a lot of food which is very cheap so it all balances out in the end.
Qingdao also known as May 4th Square is a large red statue which is always busting with tourists taking pictures. If you have time try to visit it both during the day and at night. It is located by the Marina and is overlooking the sea.
Qingdao nightlife can go from quiet to crazy in a minute depending on where you are and who you are with. You can easily find a place to satisfy your musical needs from live music in New York Bar to Reggae music in Angelinas Bar. Reggae night is quickly becoming one of the most influential nights in Qingdao thanks to DJ Marcos. For all the ladies who are looking for a fun free night out, Wednesday is your night and the options are endless. To name a few: Venue Roof Top bar hosts a Foam Party including hot tubs, classy cocktails and DJ’s from all over the world; Q-Bar also has a live band and a great mix of music to suit everyone’s needs; Angelinas Bar also offers great music and cocktails. For those looking for a chilled night of intellectual fun, try Little LPG’s Quiz night held on a Thursday. You can go with a team or just show up and offer up your knowledge to an existing group. The people here and always willing and happy to include new people into the fun. LPG is a bigger space owned by the same people where you can enjoy Happy Hour from 9-11pm, play some pool or table football.
The reason many people are attracted to Qingdao is the location. Qingdao has many beaches but one of the most common is ShiLaoRen Beach. It is very well maintained by the locals and you can easily spend a whole day just relaxing and looking out into the sea.
Hiking might be more more speed. Qingdao has Mountain Lao which is a very good hike and a great way to spend your day. For those who are not so active, you can visit Mountain Fu which is much smaller and less strenuous but still has great views and only takes a couple of hours total.
If you are like me and love to immerse yourself into a new culture then why not go that extra mile and take some Chinese classes to make your visit even more special. A well known school XManderin is a great choice to take a short course to pick up some basic Chinese but I should warn you, once you start learning you wont want to stop. Chinese (Manderin) is such an interesting language that you will become obsessed with the way the characters are written and the tones used to speak.
I am not a typical female shopper but I do have my moments so if you are one who likes to shop don’t worry, you have more options that you need. In terms of shopping malls the main ones are MixC, Marina City and Rock City where you can buy practically anything. For me I prefer to go to the markets where I can practice my Chinese by bargaining. Two very popular markets are TaiDong and Ji MoLu. Remember if you decide to test your luck at the market, be prepared to bargain politely but fairly and to watch out for your personal belongings.
Whether you are a tea/coffee drinker or a beer drinker you can check out two streets made just for that. Tea & Coffee Street (MingJiang Er Lu) has more coffee shops than you will ever need but its nice to have options. Some of the coffee shops even serve alcohol and decent meals and are great places to relax with a book or hang out with a few friends. Beer Street (PiJiu Jie) is very popular in the Summer time for its super chilled draft beer and varied BBQ. Its a great place for a medium sized group of friends to go and kill a few hours before possibly hitting the bars to end the night.
If you find yourself passing through China, don’t forget to check out Qingdao. For those travelling to South Korea, Qingdao is just a short flight away.