With seven beaches, a world-famous brewery, charming European architecture and the Olympic Sailing Center, the Shandong Province's city makes for a rewarding break.
The Zhanqiao Pier, located in the Qingdao Bay, is considered one of the key symbols of the coastal city.
Life in Qingdao is leisurely - drinking beer, enjoying the local seafood and bathing in the sea. A day can be passed very pleasantly just wandering through this attractive coastal city.
Long described as the "Oriental Switzerland" due to its abundance of European architecture, Qingdao is now transforming itself into the Olympic sailing city.
It was interesting and a real adventure to be aboard a sailing boat at Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center in advance of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. As a member of the media team invited to report on the 2007 Shangri-La Sailing Competition, I was lucky enough to sail on a 32-foot (9.75-meter) Flying Tiger sail boat and view the whole race as it unfolded.
Skippered by two professional sailing coaches, their task appeared straightforward but it was anything but. The slightest pull on the wrong ropes can cause big trouble. Mastering the natural power of the wind requires a lot of skill.
A total of 14 international companies such as Durex, Emerson Motor, Maersk Container and Shangri-La Hotels participated in the race. Each team had a crew of six - a mix of male and female expatriates and Chinese - who had all undergone three months of training before the competition.
"We call ourselves Shang Knights," said Wen Zhiping, general manager of the Shanghri-La Hotel Qingdao, and the team's helmsman. "To be honest, forming a Shangri-La team was not easy. We didn't realize that a lot of Chinese are afraid to go on the boat since they cannot swim. Moreover, we had to ensure that those on the team could commit to the training schedule despite our busy hotel operations.
"It was hilarious at the beginning and very confusing trying to understand wind directions and managing the sails. The girls screamed when the yacht tilted. Subsequent training became more fun as each crew member got to understand their roles better," Wen said.
In spite of being amateurs, each team member had quick and neat movements and cooperated well with each other during the competition. Dotted in the sea, the white canvases of the 14 boats made a spectacular contrast with the blue sea and sky.
As the competitors wrestled with their sails, photographers and reporters on the media boat floated leisurely by in a gentle breeze with a beautiful view of the coastline.
Located at Fushan Bay in the East New Zone of Qingdao, this sailing center is adjacent to the May 4th Square, one of Qingdao's scenic spots. At the square's center is a red sculpture called May Breeze, the city's main landmark.
"The competition was an opportunity to showcase the natural charm of Qingdao to both domestic and foreign visitors and it provided a platform for companies to develop a community spirit in the city," Wen said. "Maersk Container Industry Qingdao Ltd took first prize in the race, but in our eyes, everyone was a champion."
Qingdao's spirit of "Sailing with Heart and Sailing to Success" also reminds people of how Tsingtao beer has successfully sailed into beer markets around the world.
On this visit I made the trip to the Tsingtao Beer Museum.
The huge centennial sculpture outside the museum causes all visitors to stop and stare. Located at the birthplace of Tsingtao beer, 56 Dengzhou Road, where for more than a century quality beer for both the domestic and international market has been brewed, the museum combines a sense of history with a truly modern setting.
Established in August 2003, the 6,000-square-meter museum brings the beer's century-old history and culture to life through its display of sugaring workshops, brewing labs, raw materials, traditional fermentation, new filter plants and packaging workouts.
"The city takes pride in its beer and so do its people," said Zhou Longbo, a native tour guide. "The local residents used to use a reinforced plastic bag to hold the beer they bought from grocery stores."
At the end of the tour, a sample of the beer was served to each visitor. To taste more, the Tsingtao Beer Bar on the first floor, which can hold 100 people, provides a last stop before browsing for souvenirs.
Besides the tasty beer, another impressive and sweet thing in Qingdao is the number of wedding couples in their costumes and having their photo taken at the famed Badaguan Scenic Area.
Named after the eight passes of the Great Wall, it features a vast array of different trees such as peach, crabapple, pines and ginkgoes which grow along each avenue and provide a beautiful environment all year round.
Qingdao, as a coastal city at the southern tip of the Shandong Peninsula, boasts a total of seven beaches in the urban area. However, many other cultural relics such as the Catholic Church built by Germans in 1934; Zhanqiao Pier, the symbol of Qingdao; four-storied German castle style guest house in Xinhaoshan Hill Park; and Laoshan Mountain featuring steep peaks and grotesque stones contribute to the city's fame nationally.
(Shanghai Daily by Victoria Fei October 22, 2007)