Qingdao, China, located in the Shandong Province, is a very large city right on the Yellow Sea coast. The city, whose name means "The Green Island" due to it's gorgeous landscapes and interesting geography, was named China's most livable city in 2012. The city is rich in history, having almost become a German territory in 1897 and being occupied by the Japanese during WWI. Evidence of these occupiers is present in much of the architecture around the city, which includes a few Catholic and Protestant churches.
Weather is at its best during the spring, from April to May, with temperatures staying in the 60's Fahrenheit. Early summers are also enjoyable, although can be a little humid. Late summers are hot and do often get hit by heavy rainfall due to it being in prime monsoon territory. Fall and winter are fairly mild, with temperatures in the 50's during fall and the low 20's in winter.
Qingdao had a large German population from the 19th Century and into the mid-20th Century, so much so that for the Protestant Church there, they brought over a tower bell from Germany. The church is well worth a visit, especially as you explore the older part of the city, you'll find a large auditorium and bell tower that is open to visitors. For something more traditional, check out the Zhanshan Temple, situated on over 215,000 square feet, the temple has five halls, a pagoda, and a huge collection of beautifully carved statues of Buddha.
Qingdao boasts a large number of beautiful parks, including the Xiao Qingdao Park which is situated on a lush, green, island and home to a German built lighthouse and botanical gardens. At Xinhaoshan Park, you'll find great walking paths and a revolving tea shop where you can get a panoramic view of the city, including the famous Heart to Heart Bridge where couples place a lock on the bridge to represent their love.
The city is divided between large metropolitan districts, surburban districts, and rural ones. The metropolitan distracts include: Shinan, the downtown part of Qingdao which runs along the sea and is home to the major attractions; Shibei, home to the oldest parts of the city and some new residential developments; and Licang, a huge Peach Blowwon Tourism spot.
The suburban districts are: Laoshan, home to the Laoshan mountain and great beaches; Chengyang, home to a large Korean population and great Korean restaurants; and Huangdao, which is on the Jiaozhou Bay shore and has a few good beaches. The rural districts are primarily agricultural and therefore do not have much for tourists to do there.
Being on the coast, Qingdao boasts a number of amazing beaches to visit, ranging from the family friendly, to the remote and relaxing. Laoshan Beach is one of the more relaxing ones, and is often far less crowded as it is surrounded by mountains. Diyi Haishui Yuchang is a more family friendly beach with lots of things for kids to do and is often fairly crowded. The nearby Dier Haishui Yuchang beach is a good option if you want to stay more local but need something more quiet than Diyi beach.
Qingdao is also famous for the Tsingtao Brewery, which you can take a tour of to see the bottling plant, informative exhibits, and tour the brewery itself. The tour also includes a sample of raw, unfiltered, beer as well as a draft beer. In honor of Qingdao's brewing history, the Qngdao International Beer Festival is held annually at the end of August. During the day, you'll find fun carnival games and food, while at night, the streets come to life with different beer vendor tents, karaoke, and concerts.
Food and Dining
On Yunxiao Road, you'll find a huge variety of Chinese food options, ranging from the provincial Shandong style to Cantonese and Sichuan. The Shandong style includes a lot of grains and seafood cooked by quick fry or roasted. For more international fare, Minjiang Road has more amazing restaurants in a variety of cuisines from around the world.
As you could have guessed, beer is a popular drink here, thanks to the Tsingtao brewery. You'll find a variety of beer gardens and bars to enjoy the freshest Tsingtao at. The nightlife here is also growing fast, with many Chinese-style clubs and bars as well as a few western-style clubs.
There are a variety of ways to get into Qingdao, including boats from South Korea and Japan, the Qingdao Liuting International Airport, and the Qingdao Railway Station. Getting around is pretty easy, especially thanks to a new metro system and a large bus network. Buses can be confusing so make sure you have a good idea of your route before boarding. Taxis are quite common, though can be expensive and occasionally hard to find. Be sure to have the number of a taxi company on hand just in case. Also, be mindful to have passports and visas with you at all times, as authorities are known to check for them, especially when traveling around.