Qingdao is one of the largest cities in Shandong Province and has a population of 3.5 million. Situated on the shores of Jiaozhou Bay, it is renowned as one of the cleanest and most beautiful cities in China. The city has a rich colonial history and, unusually, many buildings built in the German style from a period occupation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Qingdao has a number of good bathing beaches and the locals are keen swimmers. Join in and enjoy the great atmosphere.
Head over to Yunxiao Road for the best Chinese restaurants in town. You will find the well-known Cantonese and Sichuan styles of cooking, along with the local Shandong cuisine.
This is the pier that features on the Tsingtao beer bottles. It's the symbol of Qingdao and a popular tourist site.
Qingdao is famous for its green spaces, and parks like Xiao Qingdao Park and Xiaoyushan Park are great places to relax.
The city has lots of museums, from the excellent Qingdao Municipal Museum, where you can learn all about the history of the city, to the Naval Museum, which focuses on the Chinese navy.
One of the great things about Qingdao is its proximity to Shilaoren, which surely qualifies as China's finest city beach. Stretching for a mile and a half, the beach is ideal for sunbathing and swimming, but just as good for bodyboarding thanks to its impressive waves. And it's not even that busy. On most days, you'll have plenty of space to stretch out and watch the waves lap the Chinese shore, all within half an hour of the center of town.
One of the finest historical museums in China, the Han Dynasty Brick Museum came about thanks to a fortuitous find. In the 1980s, construction workers building roads in rural Henan found that the bricks they were working contained beautiful carvings. It turned out that the granite being used for the road was actually a treasure trove of 2,000 year old Han era masterpieces, most of which have been preserved and can be seen in this sumptuous setting. Largely depicting everyday life, they are incredibly rare windows onto ancient Chinese life.
Another bonus about Qingdao is the amount of peaceful green space inside the city limits, and the finest park of all is Zhōngshān. Occupying 69 hectares of prime real estate, the park is studded with fountains and flower gardens, but it also houses Zhanshan - the city's primary Buddhist temple. Don't miss the gold-leaf covered sandalwood Buddhas on display there, and be sure to take the cablecar up the slopes of Taiping Hill, which rises on the northern side of the park, and offers some stunning views across the city.
Across the world, the city of Qingdao is probably most famous for the success of Tsingtao Beer. A staple of Chinese restaurants from Sydney to San Francisco, this light, intensely drinkable lager was started by German residents in the 1900s, which probably accounts for its distinctly Germanic characteristics. The Beer Museum has been set up on the site of Tsingtao's original brewery (they've since moved onto bigger things). Inside, you'll learn how Chinese beer got a heads up from German experts, and - of course - sample the product itself.
Hopelessly picturesque, Little Qīngdǎo is an unmissable spot, and was built on a spit of land that juts out into the bay. Supposedly shaped like a lute (or "Qin" in Han Chinese) the peninsula was chosen by the Germans as the site of a lighthouse, which you can visit and climb for exceptional views. But the main appeal is the ambiance. With its thick trees, coastal paths, and scenic vistas, Little Qīngdǎo is a sublime place to picnic and take some vacation photos. As a bonus, the Naval Museum is just across the water, and maritime buffs won't want to miss that either.
Qingdao's summer can get very hot but late spring and early summer is pleasantly warm.
Qingdao Liuting International Airport has frequent connections with Beijing and Shanghai and international services from Germany, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan. The 20 mile taxi ride into the city center will cost around ¥130 and the airport shuttle bus is ¥20.
Qingdao has a great high-speed rail service to other Chinese cities. The fare from Beijing is around ¥275 and Shanghai is ¥550.
Qingdao is well served by excellent modern highways, with the G20/G25 taking you north to Beijing and the G15 running south along the coast to Shanghai.
The city has excellent bus links across Shandong Province and good services from other major cities. The fare from Beijing is around ¥231.
Qingdao Kaiyue International Youth Hostel on Jining Road has good dorm accommodation in the heart of the Old Town from ¥25. Oceanwide Elite Hotel on Taiping Road is also in the Old Town and offers luxury rooms from ¥800.
Shinan District - is the core downtown area, with many hotels, city attractions and some good beaches.
Shibei District District - is just to the north. It has good shopping and is home to the Old Town.
Laoshan District - is to the Southeast of the city center and is home to the picturesque Laoshan Mountain as well as some of the city's best beaches.
Qingdao has a modern metro network and good local buses. Fares are from ¥1.
Taxis are plentiful most of the year but can be scarcer in peak summer months. Flagfall is ¥12 and then you will pay around ¥4 per mile.
Qingdao is a large city and traffic can be heavy during morning and evening rush hours. Car rental is from around ¥140 per day.
Taidong Pedestrian Street sells everything from souvenirs to fashion, while Central Hong Kong Road is better for groceries.
A quart of milk in Qingdao will cost around ¥10 and a dozen eggs costs about ¥7.50.
Sanheyuan on Ningxia Road does great local dumplings, with dishes from ¥25. Haidao Seafood Restaurant on Yunxiao Road, meanwhile, offers superb seafood from ¥80.