It became one of my short break in March to visit one of the greenest and cleanest city in China. Qingdao itself is also one of domestic tourist destination, especially during the summer times, where tourist both local and international will flock into the beaches of Qingdao. The story of the journey was started from the Scoot’s voucher received for my previous family flight’s to Sydney as result of flight delay more than four hours before from Sydney to Singapore. Initially, I think of just utilizing the voucher for flight to Bangkok, as this is the shortest flight of Scoot which also mean might be the cheapest option compared to other flight destination. Fortunately, at the time I am trying to look into flight option through the website, I find out very cheap option for such as long flight to Qingdao, one of two new destination launched by Scoot in addition to Shenyang. At first, I am unsure what kind of activities or places to visit in Qingdao. I knew that Qingdao is the famous for its beer, Tsingtao beer, but would it be nice place as well for people who do not drink like me. Finally, I am glad I choose the option as my short weekend break in the mid of my busy work life.
The flight schedule from Singapore is convenient as it fly out from Changi International Airport at midnight hence I will still be able to work during the day before starting vacation. However flying in big aircraft itself also expose to big challenge on boarding the passengers. During my flight to Qingdao, the flight is full, and it takes a lot of times of boarding the aircraft. It had shown the time for the flight, but me with many passengers were still queuing to enter the boarding gate.
How to Get There ?
Qingdao international airport is your international airport to reach Qingdao. It serves direct destination like Osaka, Seoul, Taipei, etc. For South East Asia, the only budget direct flight is served by Scoot airline. Scoot is budget airline specific for long haul flight. It’s a sister company of Singapore airline same as tiger airways. Long haul flight will also mean big aircraft, which they user Boeing 777 to carry the passengers. The interior of the plane in some way have similarity with Singapore airline’s aircraft, like economy seating sofa and colour as well. It direct reminded me of my previous flight with Singapore airline before to Hong Kong which also use the same type of aircraft. To reach city in economical way especially if you travel in small group or single like me, you might want to consider using the airport express bus. You will need to purchase bus ticket inside the terminal building for only RMB 20, which is much cheaper option compared to taxi which can cost you approximately more than RMB 100, about 120-140 RMB. The journey from the airport to the city will take you approximately 50 minutes to one hour. If your hotel nearby the old town, the scenic area, you can take airport bus number 702 and stop at municipal hospital (Shili Yiyuan). The airport express bus have English instruction at the time it arrive the destination, however instead of naming the place in English, it will maintain the Mandarin name of the place, ie, you will hear Shili Yiyuan, instead of Municipal hospital. Airport bus 702 will also stop at railway station before Shili Yiyuan, good for you who want to continue the journey via train.
I reached my hostel ,Qingdao Old Observatory hostel at the morning. The hostel is located at the top of Guangxiang mountain, opposite Shili Yiyuan. It’s a hidden gem for having nice view of Qingdao area. Most of the area around there are residential area, Old observatory hostel is the only lodging on the area. The good thing of this hostel, the price of lodging is cheap considering the strategic location of the hostel which is quite near the old town area, friendly and helpful staffs with its big white and cute dog in reception. The only weakness of this hostel as it’s located at the top, hence it’s need an effort for going up especially for people who bring luggage with them.
For your travel resources, you can also find many travel’s book, like lonely planet in this hostel, hence you don’t need to bring your own lonely planet to there. I was lucky enough at the time I arrived in the hostel at the morning, as there is vacant place hence I can directly check in into the room.
After putting my stuff into the room, I went to their cafe at the forth floor to have my breakfast. Their Americano coffee taste good, but their pastry made of organic ingredients imported from Germany not taste so good. You can have other meals in the cafe also and it’s the only option nearby unless you would like to go down on foot of mountain to have your meal.
If you stay there during the weekend, do check with the reception as normally they have party arranged. On my first night, Friday, they do hamburger party for free, you need to get your coupon from the reception. Unfortunately as I am going out up to night, hence I can not enjoy their meal, as they only serve the hamburger starging 18.30-20.30. On Saturday night, they have pork ribs party, which cost you RMB 60 include pork ribs, potato salad, desert and free flow of Tsing Tao beer. For you who are fans of beer, there is a great deal, only pay RMB 20, you can have free flow beer for two hours. They have indoor arrangement as well outdoor. I think during the summer, it will be a nice option to go to outdoor spending time there as they have sofa seating there.
As breakfast served not full enough, I am looking around surrounding at the foot of the hill before starting exploring the city. I look into one local shop, where many people are eating inside. Normally, local shops will put their menu in Chinese on the wall with the price. However as I can not read Chinese, it’s a bit challenge and difficult for me to order. When I ask what they have to the owner, the owner only say look into the menu at the wall. Finally I am ordering by pointing the ones ordered by other people, bun with meat inside and dumpling soup. The owner then asked which bun you want, beef, pork or goat. Same as dumpling, which one you want, we have several prices of dumplings. Finally I managed to order my meal. My patience finally pay off. The food served nice and cheap. Only need to pay RMB 15 to have 2 bun with meat inside and one bowl of dumplings, which contain many dumplings inside.
Most of tourist destinations are located in the old town area, where you can find many wonderful Germany architecture’s building in the area which make you feel like in Europe as Germany invaded and stayed long time back in Qingdao before. The location from sites to sites in the area is walkable. You can easily explore the area, walking along the street while enjoying the scenery itself.
First destination of the day is Lutheran church at the old town area. Entrance to the church will cost you RMB 10, which also give you the access to the bell tower. The exterior of the church is wonderful and it was built in 1910, while inside the church, you may enjoy the glass of the church. The bell itself was originated from Germany.
From Lutheran church, I walked to Xinhaoshan park (Signal hill park). You can easily spot this hill with its red rounded observatory area on the top. Entrance fee for this park cost you RMB 15 which include an entrance to 360 observatory area on top of the hill, where you can enjoy the view of Qingdao by seating on the seat available which then the seating area will go around 360. The park itself was a signal hill before used by Germany which then turn into the nice park.
While in Xinhaoshan park, don’t miss the heart to heart bridge especially for you who go with your couple. It’s a local tradition, where couples include newly wed will visit the bridge and put heart shaped of pad lock into the bridge to ensure their love will ever lasting. I myself had seen this type of padlock thing during my travel to several places around the world. One of the popular one include the one in Seoul.
German governor’s residence, now named as Qingdao guest house became my next destination. Entrance fee for this place during my visit in March only cost you RMB 13 as March is categorized as low season period (Nov –March) compared to RMB 20 which you need to pay during the high season (April – Oct). Many of tourist destination have also lower entrance price in low season compared to high season period. Hotel and other type of lodging is also much cheaper during the low season, while in the summer, the lodging price will be inflated. Mid March up to end of March will be good option to have good deal while the weather is not too freezing.
The German governor’s house was built in July 1905 and completed within two years in July 1907. This house became the residency house of two Gemany governor before. The cost of building this residency is extremely expensive that make Germany’s king angry and sacked the officer at that period.
Qingdao German prison site museum is my next destination. Entrance fee for low season is RMB 5 compared to high season RMB 25. From outside of the building, it doesn’t look like prison, but more like castle except the high fence wall outside with its electric wire on top. Not much people visit this place at that time. It might also due to as the place is former prison, some people might think visiting this kind of place bring bad luck. On some of the cell, you can find electronic illustrations of the condition of the prison during the time including famous Chinese people who being put into jail in the past.
Connecting to the prison, there is also office area for Germany official. Nearby the exit, you can find also underground prison built by Japanese at the past, which a bit scary for me who is alone at the time, which makes me quickly go to exit area.
Tianhou temple is my next destination. one of interesting thing in this temple is you can find a couple of very old Ginkgo trees, one female on the left from the entrance and the male on the right side from the entrance. The age of the tree itself is more than 500 years, hence it’s also named as living fossil. On the trees, you can find wishes from people written on the wooden block hanging around the body of the trees and branches.
Tianhou temple is one of the temple who worship God of Matsu, believed to protect the fishermen. You can find God of Matsu temple in several countries like Taiwan, and Hong Kong as well. The temple itself is facing into the sea area of Qingdao.
Not far from Tianhou temple is the iconic Zhanqiao. It become symbol of Tsingtao beer. You can easily spot Zhanqiao, as you can find the stone bridge with the building at the end of bridge. There are photography services on the areas should you do not bring cameras with you. You can also find people selling boat tour taking you around, good idea for summer, but not in March, where the weather is still cold. You can see some sea creatures inside the building of Zhanqiao with entrance fee.
After walking along the day, it’s time for snacking. You can find this Chinese type of crepes, made of egg, lettuce, sauces and crispy flakes inside in many cities in China. You can find seafood street snacks as well, like grilled squids or BBQ meats.
Last visit for the day in old town area is the Catholic church, also known as St. Michael’s Church, which was built in 1934. Unfortunately during my visit, the church had been closed, however it’s a nice area surrounding the St Michael’s church.
For the night, I spent at main shopping area of Qingdao, Taidong pedestrian street (Taidong Buxingjie). You can visit here starting at the afternoon, around 4 PM for your shopping. It had a lot of choices either pedestrian shopping, Wanda shopping mall and shops around the area. When you shop in this area, you need to be careful on the pickpockets which normally operates in groups as the area is packed of people. During my visit at night, many shops had started to close around 8 – 9 PM, except the pedestrian and some shops which makes me a return journey on the next day. It’s time for me to back to my hostel as I will need to wake up early on the next day for my journey to Laoshan. We will continue our journey to Laoshan before back exploring Qingdao area.