Qingdao (青岛; Qīngdǎo; also known as Tsingtao), is regarded by some Chinese as one of the most beautiful and clean cities in China. With a population of around 3.5 million (8 million regional) it is one of the largest cities in Shandong Province. The name Qingdao means The Blue/Green Island. In 2011, the China Institute of City Competitiveness named Qingdao China's most livable city.


Qingdao City lies on the east shore of Jiaozhou Bay (胶州湾; Jiāo​zhōu​wān​) and comprises four districts from south to north:

Three Suburban districts comprise primarily coastal areas close to the city proper

Five Rural areas administratively part of Qingdao:


Qingdao is a city steeped in China's 20th century history. It 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.

The concession treaty was signed on 6 March 1899, 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.

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 a recent 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 1903, China's most well-known beer maker, Tsingtao brewery, was established by the new occupants homesick for Germany.

Japan occupied Qingdao on 27 August 1914, as part of World War I, and remained until 1922. They took the city because they were allied with the British against the Germans during World War I. After the war, the Japanese wanted to continue to hold the city for the remainder of the German lease, and the Chinese government was going to accede. However, protests by students in Beijing during the May 4th Movement of 1919, eventually forced them to return the city to Chinese sovereignty. In 1937, the Japanese again took Qingdao and remained until the end of World War II in 1945. Between 1945 and 1949 the American 7th Fleet was based in Qingdao as it assisted the Kuomintang in fighting the Communist Party; the Communists took the city in 1949.

While Qingdao has a long history, the eastern half of the city has been built since 1993, and there is no sign of it slowing down. In 2008, it hosted the sailing events of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Qingdao's early summer is quite an enjoyable season, although it can be humid near the sea shore. Late summer can become hot, while other places of Northern China start to feel cooler. The climate in late fall and 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.

If you are looking for the typical congested Chinese scenario with swarming markets, unpredictable traffic and intense street commerce, Qingdao has little to offer. For instance, bicycling is actually forbidden. The city is relatively clean and orderly and might give the impression of an upcoming wanna-be Singapore.

Get in

By plane

Qingdao Liuting International Airport is the main hub for Shandong Airlines and a focus city of China Eastern Airlines. The flight paths linking Qingdao with Shanghai and Beijing are frequent. If you arrive in Beijing or Shanghai in the morning or in the afternoon, you even do not have to book the flight ticket to Qingdao ahead. Depending on the season, last minute tickets may be sold at discount, however this is definitely not the case during the busy summer months when buying in advance is advised.

International destinations include Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Seoul (Incheon), Busan and Frankfurt (via Shenyang). Qingdao also has flights to Hong Kong and Taipei. Asiana Airlines serves Qingdao twice daily from Incheon airport.

The airport is 32 km (20 mi) from the city proper, about half an hour taxi ride. Prices for a taxi ride from the airport to the Hong Kong Middle Road area should be between ¥120-140 depending on the route taken (The National Highway 308 is slower but cheaper, the toll expressway is faster and more expensive) and time of day (more expensive at night).

There is an Airport Shuttle Bus. Unfortunately, you need to make it clear where should you get on.

By train

Qingdao Railway Station (+86-532-6011111, reservations +86-532-2962777) is at 2 Tai'an Road (泰安路2号) at the west end of Shinan District.

Trains from major cities not too far away include:

Trains from major cities further away include:

By boat

Qingdao has international sea connections.

South Korea From Incheon, South Korea there are ferries three times a week by Weidong Ferries.

Japan There are also twice-weekly connections from Shimonoseki, Japan on Orient Ferries. The trip takes over 24 hours and 2nd class one-way costs ¥12,000. The voyage is one night from Shimonoseki to Qingdao, but two nights from Qingdao to Shimonoseki. The ferry also serves as a cargo vessel and after boarding in Qingdao, it will often take several hours to finish being loaded with cargo before it departs.

The restaurant food and drinks, snacks and souvenirs from the shop are all priced in Japanese Yen, so make sure to get some/have some left over before boarding. The cost of most food and drink is reasonable considering you're stuck on the boat with nowhere else to buy things, but the pennywise traveler will definitely bring their own alcohol, cigarettes, and snacks. (mind that there might be duties when crossing into Japan or China).

There are electrical outlets in the lounge area, but if those are taken, there are also some up in the gym/fitness area, where no one goes. Be advised that on boarding from China, the ship operates under Japanese time, so change your watches and pay attention to announcements for when dinner will be served, as food is only served at certain times of the day. There are Japanese-style shower/bath rooms on the upper level where the first class rooms are located.

By bus

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 from 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 minutes.

Get around

By taxi

As of December 2010, the meter rate for normal taxis starts at ¥9 while the larger cabs start at ¥12, plus a ¥1 surcharge due to rising petrol prices. The meter is based on both distance traveled and time taken. If you take a taxi to or from the airport, and use the Qingyin expressway there will be a ¥10 rate added to whatever the meter price is.

During the summer months that are the peak tourist season, taxis may be hard to flag down. If ever you get one of the larger taxis, the drivers will usually be delighted to give you their business card, so that in the case of planned travel to somewhere like the airport or train station, you can avoid the hassle of trying to flag down a cab.

By metro

Qingdao is currently building their metro network, which started in 2009, and the first line, M3, which will run from the main train station (火车站 / huǒchē zhàn) is due for completion by 2014, with 22 stations on the east-west line passing by May 5th Square and terminating at the north rail station. The M2 line is set for start in 2012, and to be finished by 2016, and will run from the train station along Zhongshan Lu, Taidong Lu, etc... The M1 line will commence construction in 2014, and finish in 2020, with line running from the city to the airport and Chengyang. There are also 4 more lines in plan for the future, possibly connecting to Huangdao.

By bus

The bus and trolleybus network is quite well put together and useful once you figure out the routes. Buses 11, 26, 228, and 501 run from the railway station (Shinan District) along the coast via Donghai Xi Lu to all the beaches in the modern eastern part of town (Middle Hong Kong Road), 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 are going and it will cost up to ¥6.

By cycling

Very few locals in Qingdao cycle because it is illegal on streets and sidewalks. When renting a bike make sure that it is legal to ride your planned route. There are more than 40km of waterfront trails. If you really want a work out, try hiking Fushan or the TV Tower hills as there are some decent mountain bike trails.



Catholic Church

Parks and nature



Qingdao TV tower



Qingdao has some wonderful 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 (sometimes upwards of 100,000 people), 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.

International Beer Festival

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. The price of food at night during the festival may be beyond budgets of some. One can also watch (or participate in) various performances such as karaoke, concerts, auctions, or comedy. The entertainment itself is tame and bland. The International Beer Festival, unfortunately, no longer seems to have much of an international presence save the beer. Much of what you see now can be found at any Chinese carnival, park or civic celebration.




Head to Yunxiao Road west of Fuzhou South 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 South Road (bordering on Qingdao's restaurant district), has several outstanding restaurants. The area is booming with foods from around the world.


Small cheap restaurants are found around the city, especially away from the main streets. Basic meals for less than ¥10.


Also, dumpling restaurants tend to be cheap, some options are:


If you want something a bit more comfortable than the most basic restaurants, you can try one of the restaurants below where you can expect to pay around ¥20-40 each person:


Dim sum






Tsingtao bottles over the years

Being Qingdao, you can expect to find, well, copious amounts of fresh Tsingtao. The brewery was founded by Germans during colonial times. Every August there is a beer festival (check the listing in the "Do" section). Many European breweries participate. One of the neatest things about Qingdao is the ability to purchase fresh from the factory draft beer almost anywhere. You will often see kegs sitting outside most restaurants and snack stores. The beer is sold by weight (asking for "yi jin" gives you 500 g, or half a litre), this will be served to you in a plastic bag! There are also numerous beer gardens where you can sit and drink from glasses, one glass of fresh beer ("san pi") only costs an incredible ¥1.5. The Tsingtao "san pi" is some of the best Chinese beer you can get. Don't worry, it's served cold.

Qingdao's nightlife scene continues to evolve. The Jiangxi Rd. strip located downtown near Hong Kong Middle Rd. continues to have more and more bars. There is also a new development called Zhonglian Plaza (中联广场) located at Nanjing Rd and Ningxia Rd, that offers many large Chinese-style clubs. Karaoke (KTV) 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. Thanks to the very large Korean expat population, there are many Korean style bars. Most of these bars can be found in the Hong Kong Gardens area.





Stay safe

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.

Also, be wary about buying Xinjiang nut loaves from vendors along the boardwalk near the Zhan Bridge unless you don't mind paying ¥200 for 2kg of the loaves when all you wanted was a small piece to try. If you must buy them, make sure you agree on the price for each liang (the unit of measurement) of the loaf before you get the vendor to slice it. Also, tell him exactly how many liangs you want, although some tourists have commented that the vendors will still cut a much bigger slice than what you asked for. Sinkiang nut loaves is notorious for its ridiculous price throughout China.

Visa information

Qingdao officials have been known to sweep bars. To avoid troubles, you should keep your passport and visa with you at all times. It is advisable to keep copies of your passport information page and visa in a safe place at your hotel or hostel.


There is a small tourist information kiosk located close to the main rail station. Whilst exiting, turn right and walk through the plaza, crossing the street, then turn left to the corner where you will see a small kiosk. It's located near KFC. There is a tourist complaint hotline, which is 8591-2000.

The main post office is located at 8 Anhui Lu, and branches can be found throughout the city. Opening hours at the main post office is 8AM to 6PM.

Emergency numbers: 110 - Police, 119 - Fire, 120 - First aid, 122 - Traffic accidents

Relevant numbers: Qingdao Railway Station: 8601-1111, Qingdao Railway Station Ticket Reservations: 9510-5105, Qingdao Sifang Bus Station: 8371-8060, Qingdao Liuting International Airport: 96567, Taxi Reservations: 9600-9797

Go next


Located a 30-min bus ride east of downtown, Laoshan (Mount Lao) boasts a 2100-year-old Dao temple and 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. The mountain offers both regular hiking from the main entrance, as well as a stone-paved trail to Chao Yin waterfall and tea house from the north entrance

Laoshan's temple

Bus 304 can be used when travel to Laoshan from Qingdao. The bus can be boarded at the train station close to the west side of beach no. 6.

Bus 304 will not take you all the way to Laoshan's main entrance. The bus trip from the train station to the terminal bus stop will cost about ¥10. A taxi from the terminal bus stop to Laoshan costs about ¥20. Unfortunately it's not easy to find an available taxi at the terminal bus stop. A good piece of advice is to start walking towards Laoshan and grab an empty taxi on the way. The actual distance from the end stop to Laoshan is too far to walk. The entrance fee for Laoshan is ¥70. It's also a good idea to book a taxi before hand for the return journey.


Weifang is a city in Shandong province that is the home of China's International Kite Festival. Visitors can visit the Kite Museum where artists produce not only kites, but also New Year's Paintings, carvings, and other forms of art. The Museum also houses a Ming dynasty era home of a young family of historical interest. Visitors may also visit the historical home of a local landlord from the Ming Dynasty on Weifang's oldest street. The city is approximately 2 hours by car from Qingdao on the way to the coastal city of Yantai.


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, March 03, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.