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Qingdao Cruises

About Qingdao, China

About Qingdao, China

With one of China’s most unique colonial pasts, Qingdao enjoys clear air, sweeping views of the Yellow Sea and European influences. Once a colony of both Germany and Japan, Qingdao straddles the waters of Jiaozhou Bay and boasts the longest beach in Asia. With its proximity to Korea and Japan, it also stands as one of China’s most important trade centers.

German influence began in 1897 when a survey mission under the kaiser revealed that Qingdao had been developing fortifications. They seized the area and leased it as part of the Kiautschou Bay concession, transforming the fishing village with wide European-style boulevards, reliable housing, government buildings, electricity and running water. The British moved to take over the German colony in 1914, but their Japanese allies finished the job during the Siege of Tsingtao. The emperor remained in control, despite some Chinese involvement, until 1949, just before the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Today, the city’s German and Japanese structures have been preserved in Ba Da Guan, or Eight Great Passes, a historic district of grand mansions whose streets are named for ancient military fortresses. European half-timbered houses also dot the streets of Qingdao.

Qingdao Lifestyle and Culture

Translated, Qingdao means “greenish-blue island.” The name is apt for a city that’s been called one of the cleanest in China. Modern and forward-thinking, Qingdao is a blend of towering skyscrapers marking a growing economy, ornate temples and stately German architecture that seems oddly out of place. Green parks, generous expanses of beach and surf and lively outdoor sculptures portray a city whose residents have a deep appreciation for nature and for the arts.

To get a glimpse of what the people of Qingdao hold dear, look no further than their annual festivals. Fishing competitions, ocean and beach festivals and maritime exhibitions celebrate the city’s connection to the Yellow Sea. An international fashion festival provides hints about the city’s place in the world of personal style. Beer drinkers embrace the city’s German heritage during an annual beer festival and bar culture festival. The city’s leading beer is Tsingtao, a brewery founded by German settlers in 1903.

Qingdao Sights and Landmarks

A bird’s-eye view of Qingdao’s Shinan District, the city’s Old Town, might reveal, as an old saying has it, “red tiles, green trees, blue sky and blue sea.” Parts of Qingdao are every bit as idyllic as this, particularly Ba Da Guan, or Eight Great Passes, where grand colonial German mansions line neighborhoods along the coast. Apart from these grand imperial homes, the city also boasts half-timbered houses that might make you forget you’re in China.

In Wusi Square, also known as May Fourth Square, the stunning “May Wind” sculpture resembles a bright red tornado frozen in motion. But the square is more known as the gathering place for protestors when the 1919 Treaty of Versailles transferred the city from Germany to Japan instead of back to China. Nearby, the twin-towered St. Michael’s Cathedral, built in the 1930s, was designed to mirror a 12th-century German cathedral. But perhaps Qingdao’s most prominent landmark is the remarkable Jiaozhou Bay Bridge; with a total length of more than 16 miles, it is the world’s longest bridge over water.

Qingdao Entertainment and Activities

For a distinctive view of Qingdao from the water, stroll to the end of Zhan Qiao pier, a 1,443-foot span punctuated by an octagonal golden pavilion at the end. The oldest wharf in the city, it is a symbol of Qingdao. More expansive views of the city and the sea can be had from the top of Xinhao Hill, recognizable by its three towers resembling torches. Continue exploring the outdoors at Lu Xun Park, a picturesque blend of pine woods, stone pathways, pavilions and other cultural treasures. The park is named for a famous writer during the May Fourth Movement in 1919. His poetry is featured throughout.

Within the park, too, visit the Qingdao Aquarium, dramatically perched on the Yellow Sea, and wander the classical gardens on Xiao Yu Hill, or Little Fish Hill. More natural beauty is on display at the Qingdao Botanical Garden and the Qingdao Zoological Garden. To view the more official side of Qingdao, visit the Governor’s House Museum, an excellent example of German concession-era architecture, graced with Art Nouveau interiors and period furnishings.

Qingdao Restaurants and Shopping

Seafood is a staple of Qingdao cuisine and it is most often served as part of a lightly flavored dish. Quick frying, stewing, roasting and boiling are typical cooking techniques in the Lu cuisine of the city. Sample the city’s famed pot stickers and kebabs. At a street-side stand, try tasty offering such as lamb and cuttlefish on spears.

The market scene thrives at the Huángdǎo Market in the heart of the Old Town. Among prepared and raw food items, you may even be able to purchase your fresh seafood, then bring it to a curbside eatery where they’ll prepare it for you for a small charge. On Culture Street, antiques and crafts are sold in front of a row of old German architecture. To glimpse a typical department store, browse the countless aisles at Carrefour.