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Where life's a beach

Updated: 2011-08-12 11:01

By Hu Haiyan (China Daily European Weekly)

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Where life's a beach
Bathing Beach No 1, or Jin Shatan (Golden Sands beach), is one of Qingdao's most popular draw cards thanks to its clean water and fine sand. Yu Fangping / for China Daily 

Qingdao is one of China's most popular ocean holiday destinations attracting millions each year

Qingdao is often described as the "Pearl on the crown of the Yellow Sea" because of its rich historical background and natural beauty. Human settlement dates back 6,000 years, making it one of the oldest parts of China, and today the tourist gem of East China's Shandong province is one of the largest industrial centers and port cities in the country with a population of 7.63 million.

The city's international fame grew in modern times when it hosted the sailing events during the 2008 Olympic Games, but it has always been popular among Chinese.

There are many attractions, including Mount Laoshan, sandy beaches and colonial-style buildings scattered across interesting parts of the city. Other events also have their pull.

The Qingdao International Beer Festival and the Love of Sea Festival are held annually, entertaining millions of domestic and overseas visitors.

Qingdao is also a major city for finance and foreign trade, and local companies, such as Haier, Hisense, Tsingtao Brewery and Aucma are widely recognized.

A visitor to Qingdao cannot go wrong at any of these five places.

1. Zhanqiao Pier

Built in 1891, this famous city icon is 400 meters long, and is the symbol of Qingdao. At the southern end of the pier stands the Huilan Pavilion, which is the logo of China's most famous beer, Tsingtao Beer.

The pavilion was built in 1931 and now houses a small aquarium that has just been renovated. Here one can enjoy the scene of roaring waves and exotic rocks.

To the north of the bridge lies Zhanqiao Bridge Park, where the combination of colorful flowers, green pines and well-kept lawns presents a charming view.

2. Mount Laoshan

Known as the "Spectacular Mountain on the Sea", Mount Laoshan borders the Yellow Sea and its highest peak is 1,133 meters.

The mountain's cliffs tower over the sea and its clear streams create a beautiful sight for bushwalkers. Locals call it the "Immortals' Cavern" or "Fairyland" because of its enchanting scenery, and many famous Chinese men of letters have traveled here and, inspired by the natural serenity, written poems.

Mount Laoshan became the Second Monastery of the Taoist Quanzhen Sect, and at the height of Taoism, there were nine palaces and eight temples. The Buddhists liked the place, too, building 72 nunneries. Mount Laoshan's scenery is characterized by unique stones and caves, clean springs and waterfalls, and paths winding through high peaks.

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