Would you be surprised to learn that even the Germans left their colonial legacy in Asia? In a continent full of Spanish, Portugese, British, and French influences, the landlocked country of Germany, which for centuries was a loose group of independent states until the late 19th century, was able to put its stake in the resource-filled lands of the East. The most distinctive place is the city of Qingdao (pronounced “Ching-daow”), whichÂ was occupied by the Germans when all of China was being divided into spheres of influences among the European powers back in the 19th century. Today, Qingdao is one of the country’s economic centers and its 4th largest port, yet still retains much of its German heritage through its architecture and culture.
Explore Laoshan: Recognized for its peak spires, piled ridges, unique rock formations and deep gullies, this mountain is known since ancient times as the â€œHome of the Immortals.â€ Not only is Laoshan the highest coastal peak in the country, it is also a Taoist sanctuary, with several Taoist temples available for visits.
Stroll along Ba Da Guan: The Eight Passes Area is where the European legacy is most felt in Qingdao, having buildings with many different styles of architecture, with influences from Russia, Great Britain, France, Germany, the United States, Japan and Denmark. The streets are named after famous passes in China, which each one lined up with a different type of flower.
Catch a wave at Shilaoren beach: Called â€œOld Stone Manâ€ by the locals for the prominent rock formation that is attached with a legend, Shilaoren is ideal for being nearby other China attractions, like the Qingdao International Exhibition Center and the Qingdao Dolphinarium. You can splash in the waters of 5 other beaches in the city, like Diyi Yuchang and Disan Yuchang.
Enjoy the cherry blossoms in Zongshan Park: This multi-function park has the largest collection of cherry blossom trees outside of Japan, with more than 20,000 cherry trees. The Cherry Blossom Festival is held from mid-April to early May every year, allowing thousands of visitors to witness the a sea of blossoms for a couple of days.
Stroll within Small Qingdao Island: Located southeast of Zhanqiao Bridge, this little peninsula is shaped like a traditional lute; hence, it is also called Lute Island. Small Qingdao Island is a symbol for the entire city and its most noticeable feature is a white octagonal lighthouse which was constructed by the Germans at the beginning of the 20th century.
Pay respect at the shrines in Zhanshan Temple: A huge Buddhist temple at the heart of the city, Zhanshan has more than 20 different buildings, each having multiple enormous shrines within it. The golden shrine in the middle of the complex is that of the grand Buddha himself, while another impressive shrine is for Guanyin. The best time to visit Zhanshan is during the annual Temple Fair, when visitors can witness religious rites are accompanied by traditional Buddhist music. For a religious visit of the Western kind, you can try dropping by St. Emil Church on Dexian Road, the largest gothic edifice of its kind in the city.
Party during the Beer Festival: Of course, the prime legacy of German colonials to the city is Tsingdao Beer, produced from fresh Laoshan waters. This famous brand of beer is the center of the party during the Qingdao International Beer Festival, 16 days of entertainment and sampling of fine beers from around the world. From the festive opening day activities to the commemorative final ceremonies, the Beer Festival is Qingdaoâ€™s personal toast to the world. And if you really want to experience how beer is imbibed by the locals, then buy a beer-in-a-bag, where the vendor pours the frothy beverage inside a thin, transparent plastic and served with a straw.
Feast on Shandong cuisine: Qingdao is no slouch when it comes to food, as the city is known as “the cradle of Shandong cuisine”.Â An array of dishes awaits you with a style of cooking that emphasizes the use of soy sauce, shallots, and garlic with seafood. Among Qingdaoâ€™s popular meals are celery in creamy soup and stewed salted fish; these and many other dishes are best enjoyed in any of the many restaurants by the shore or in Laiyang Lu.
Getting to Qingdao is very easy, as this important port and industrial base of Shandong Province is connected by air, road and rail to all major cities in China as well as some overseas destinations, most of which are located in Japan and Korea. Qingdao Airport is found 33 kilometers from the city proper and transfer is done by the many buses plying. The best time to visit the city is from June to September when the climate is just right for walking around.