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One of the two major northern coastal cities (the other being Dalian), Qingdao has a lot going for it relative to its small size, at least by Chinese standards. Mild climate, parks, beaches, colonial architecture and China's most famous brewery, TsingTao, all combine to make it one of the most pleasant cities in the north. The city is also home to the Chinese mega-brands of Haier (who make kitchen white goods) and Hisense, who make televisions.

We went to Qingdao for the 1st May Chinese holiday weekend, a short flight across Shandong Province from Tianjin and then a bullet train back via Jinan. The weather was just picking up for the summer, and the locals were taking full advantage. We stayed in a "Home Inn", China's version of Travelodge, which was more than adequate.


One of the centres of Qingdao, this area is nearest to Old Qingdao, but there are other clusters of towers elsewhere in the newer parts of the city. The weather was quite nice and fresh.

Handy sculpture depicting a method of framing photographs, on Zhongshan Road.


Pichaiyuan Alley

Pichaiyuan Alley and its olde-worlde charm, just off Zhongshan Road, Old Qingdao.

Statue of a sweets vendor in Pichaiyuan Alley. These are a type of berry which are dipped in thick syrup, I found them a little odd to taste.

Sweets vendor


St Michael's Cathedral of Old Qingdao. The city was colonised by the Germans, who left behind much of their colonial architecture.

More German colonial architecture in Old Qingdao.

Colonial Qingdao


Pebbly beach in Old Qingdao - I have never seen so many people on a beach, particularly when the weather was as grey as this. They mostly appear to be looking for their dinner.

Tortoises for sale on the beach in Old Qingdao. For pets or the pot?

Tortoise for sale

Zhanqiao Pier

Zhan Qiao Pier pokes into the bay at Old Qingdao, we wandered along to the end through the huge crowds, trying very hard not to fall off!

May 4th Square or WuSi Square is in the newer part of Qingdao to the east. I think the building in the background is a government one.

May 4th Square

Wind of May sculpture

At the centre of May 4th Square is the Wind of May sculpture. The square commemorates the May 4th Movement in China, which kicked off in 1919 in the face of western and Japanese imperialism.

Disco dancefloor lighting on the May 4th Square concourse.

May 4th Square disco flooring

Olympic fountain

Some Olympic events were held in Qingdao in 2008, notably the sailing. The Olympic fountains were still going out in the bay.

Another view of Old Qingdao, this time from the top of Little Fish Hill.

Qingdao view

Number 1 bathing beach

The imaginatively named "Number 1 Bathing Beach" as seen from the top of Little Fish Hill. You wouldn't have guessed that it was still only about 18 degrees.

An aging local takes in the sea view.

Smoking view

Horse play

No Blackpool donkeys here, but if it's a mechanical horse you're after, then look no further.

Number 1 Bathing Beach crowded with locals for the holiday weekend.

Number 1 bathing beach

Hua Shi Lou, the Granite House

I was really pleased to find Hua Shi Lou, the Granite House, as it was just like a little piece of Aberdeen in the heart of Qingdao. It is part of the Ba Da Guan area, the Eight Streets, another colonial centre of the city.

The Chinese take wedding photography very seriously, and the holiday weekend was clearly a good opportunity for many, as the place was crawling with brides and grooms. Better watch that dress in the rock pools...

Wedding pics

Beeth Oven

Further east in new Qingdao is Music Square, which of course features all things musical, including none other than Beethoven's likeness.

Qingdao is the end of the high speed line that runs from Beijing through Jinan to the coast. Although we'd flown over, we managed to get tickets for the bullet train back, which took less than 5 hours.

Bullet trains

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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2010