May Fourth Square at night
Qingdao wouldn’t be the same without Wusi GuangChang, or May Fourth Square. Almost as prominent a Qingdao landmark as Zhan Qiao Pier, the square’s unmistakeable ‘Winds of May’ statue is captured on every tourist’s camera. By day or night, its imposing, red structure makes a striking snapshot, with the Yellow Sea a beautiful backdrop which many visitors ignore, in favour of the government building at the opposite end of the square.
But May Fourth Square is more than just a statue. An open, green space by the sea in the heart of a thriving downtown, development around the site has been relentless over the last two decades. Yet the square itself remains a sizeable haven in the city centre, where the workers from the surrounding high-rises can take a break. Equally, tourists and locals flock there in their droves, with good weather ensuring many ignore the ‘keep off the grass’ signs to fly kites, have picnics or just people-watch.
The square’s name alludes to a wide reaching, anti-imperialist movement kick-started by students in Tiananmen on 4th May 1919. Unlike Tiananmen Square, for example, the history of May the Fourth Square – while interesting - adds little to the experience of visiting the square and its surrounding area.
One of the main reasons to visit the square is simply to go for a walk. While Qingdao boasts 40km of shoreline, this area is undoubtedly one of the highlights along the way. With your back to the statue at the Square, facing the sea, a right turn will take you past stalls selling trinkets, the offer of tourist boat rides and along to Music Square, all in a matter of minutes. Continue the pleasant seaside walk in that direction for a further fifteen minutes or so, and you’ll be rewarded with Qingdao’s Bathing Beach Number 3; one of the best in the city. Along the way you can expect to pass all sorts of interesting characters, such as crab fishermen, roller-bladers and Tai Chi practitioners honing their respective skills, depending on the time of day.
From the same starting point - the statue at May Fourth Square - a turn to the left along the sea front provides an altogether different, but no-less-appealing, walk. The Olympic village and marina are moments away, Qingdao having been the venue for the sailing events of Beijing’s 2008 Olympics. A boardwalk along to the Olympic village – now free of charge to visitors – leads to a marina showcasing luxury yachts, smaller boats and peculiar, duck-shaped boat/bus hybrids, which tourists can take to visit the nearby attractions on land and sea alike. Go-karts and tandem bikes can be hired to explore the village, though these appeal to children more, as for most adults the walk is no hardship. With two new shopping malls in this area having brought international fashion and food names to Qingdao for the first time, along with a new cinema showing international films (in Marina City), it’s easy to spend a lot of time in this area, even in inclement weather.
Moreover, the marina boasts a street of seaside bars, opened in 2009, and a separate, open-air Tsingtao bar on a wooden platform on the water. These bars offer a refreshing break for those who have walked a distance along the sea-front. More than that, they offer great views of May Fourth Square and its beautiful, surrounding skyline, illuminated in neon in the evenings of every weekend. It’s an impressive site, with lasers from some of the buildings, while images scroll from one building to another, across four or five major skyscrapers separated by about a kilometre. You may also see Chinese lanterns, like little, red hot air balloons, bought and released by passing tourists at May Fourth Square, floating away into the night sky. It’s easy to forget you’re in the heart of such a major city when walking around May Fourth Square and its surrounding area.
Should you get hungry (or need wi-fi access), the Diner at May the Fourth Square will offer great American-style fare (burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and pastas among other dishes) at good prices. If you’re looking for something more upmarket, Café Yum in the Shangri-La hotel – across the road on Xianggang Zhong Lu - provides Qingdao’s finest buffet, at lunch and dinner time, while their Italian restaurant, Da Vinci, is one of the city’s better Italian eateries.
The DinerView In Map
Add: 33 Donghai Xi Lu (inside May the Fourth Square), Qingdao
Tel: 0532 8575 2296
Opening hours: 09:00-varies
Price: All day breakfast from 35RMB
Café YumView In Map
Add:1F, Valley Wing Level, Shangri-La Hotel, 9 Xianggang Zhong Lu, Qingdao
Tel: 0532 83883838 ext.6478
Opening hours: 6am – 11pm, call ahead for buffet times
Price: Approx 170RMB+VAT buffet dinner, drinks included
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Keywords: Qingdao wusi guang chang Qingdao landmark Qingdao may the fourth square
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