There’s a lot to like about QINGDAO – and not just on account of its status as the home of Tsingtao, China’s most famous beer. This fresh, modern city enjoys a charming, windswept location right next to the famed Yellow Sea, where you can chomp down superb seafood, hunt down a nearby beach, or prise sea creatures from their shells at low tide. It’s also surprisingly cosmopolitan for a provincial Chinese city, the result of its former status as a German military base; take time to wander amid the red-roofed Bavarian architecture of the hilly old city centre. Modern Qingdao remains an important port, the fourth largest in the land; the city is connected by ferry to both Japan and South Korea, and is highly recommended as an introduction, or full stop, to a trip around China.
For all Qingdao’s colourful history, its progress is relentlessly modern. The 2008 Olympics, whose sailing events were held here, accelerated the rate of change, most evident in the skyscraper-filled new city sprouting to the east. For tourists, most places of interest are within the walkable, compact old German town; exceptions include a series of beaches dotted along the shoreline, and day-trips east to the famous peak of Lao Shan.