Qingdao, an old port city situated on the Southern coast of Shandong, is a quaint and popular spot for travelers and sun seekers alike. At first sight the city seems almost a small town, a quick stroll around the railway area, close to the Old German Concession and the seafront, can be a deceptive image of the city proper, a deception that thankfully tends to stick with most of her visitors. With a total area of 10.645 square km and a total population of 6.95 million (2.27 million in the urban district), Qingdao is in fact one of China's most important economic cities and is the nation's fourth largest port.
A German concession taken in 1897 and ceded for a total of 99 years, the city retains much of its colonial architecture and charm. The city has changed hands many times since then (the Japanese took the port in 1914, formerly ceded to them by the Treaty of Versailles in 1921, it returned to China in 1922, was then taken back by the Japanese in 1938 and finally returned to its present owners during World War II, 1945), but the dislocations of these changes have left little mark upon the city proper.
Qingdao lies between mountain and sea, a well chosen coastal port with clear deep waters and a comfortable climate. The mountains provide a collection of interesting sights, centered around the mystical Laoshan, while the sea provides relaxation, gentle waves, bared rocks, and some golden beaches forming what is probably China's best northern beach resort. The historical culture, variety of religion, civil traditions, village customs, and holiday celebrations all add to Qingdao's rich
The German influence in Qingdao extends beyond impressive architecture to many other areas; from town planning, creating lush wooded avenues and some of China's best parks, to local customs. Of particular interest to many of her visitors is, of course, the Tsingdao beer, produced locally from the pure Laoshan water, and whose origins lie in the first brewery, established in 1903. For those so inclined, the Beer festival (August 12-26) is a great time to visit.