With Beijing, Shanghai and Seoul only an hour's flight away from Qingdao, the lure of the big cities can dominate your early thinking when it comes to weekends away. It’s easy to check those boxes and, in doing so, miss the less-travelled ‘getaways’, and those closer to home, where you could take a weekend break. The options are endless, and increasingly accessible with improving railways, reliable flights and bus and ferry options. So if you've exhausted your interest in Qingdao's mountains, beaches, tourist attractions and beer, if you've familiarised yourself with the sometimes-overlooked attractions of Huangdao and Laoshan on your Qingdao doorstep, or if you just want to get away for a while, explore your options, endless as they are. Here are just a few suggestions.
While renowned as the ‘City of Springs’, Jinan – the capital of the Shandong province – might disappoint the visiting Qingdao resident. In short, what Jinan does well, Qingdao often does better. Whether it’s the relatively limited interest of the German architecture, or the difficulty of getting around Jinan’s massive area, you may wish you had stayed at home. The springs are simply okay, some say overrated, and while the city is not unwelcoming, more diversity can be found elsewhere in the province.
A more pleasant weekend in Shandong might be spent in Yantai, considered by some to be a ‘mini Qingdao’. With its impressive museum, relaxing parks, waterfront strolls and growing nightlife scene, the town of Yantai has less hustle and bustle than Qingdao and Jinan. Trains there and back are inexpensive and fairly comfortable, though journeys can take as long as travelling the newer trains to Beijing.
Still in Shandong, bordering Qingdao, the city of Weifang may catch your interest as the ‘world capital of kites’, in terms of both production and displays. The annual International Kite Festival in April attracts tens of thousands of kite fans, but it’s an ongoing obsession in the city throughout the spring months. The displays can be really quite impressive, even if your interest in kites is less-than-passing.
Tuoshan Ski Resort 驼山滑雪场
Or how about skiing in Shandong? Between December and February or March, Tiantai Holiday Hot Spring and Ski Resort inJimo is accessible in around an hour, making it ideal for a weekend away or even a day trip. Not only are there two slopes and a full compliment of equipment for hire, there’s also the option to relax in a bath of milk, mud or minnows afterwards, to clear your pores, dead skin and mind. More suited to beginners and families than to adrenaline junkies, this resort has two modest slopes. Experienced skiers and snowboarders will probably prefer the steeper, bigger slopes of Tuoshan Ski Resort, found in the mountains of Qingzhou.
Leaving the province and looking further afield, the gardens of Suzhou are well worth a look. Accessing these elegant havens among the skyscrapers and industrial landscape of the city is well worth the effort for the beauty and tranquillity they have to offer. Suzhou of course also stakes its claim as the ‘Venice in the Orient’, with its canals and the relative expense of its tourist accommodation reminiscent of its Italian counterpart. While the canal-side housing and little bridges evoke memories of Venice, areas with pagoda roofing make it unmistakeably Chinese, and all the more interesting for it.
Similarly, with its dominant 'West Lake' offering scenes of true beauty, Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, offers much to the weekend traveller. With its temples, pavilions, pagodas and famous lake sating your appetite for culture, history and legend; the nightlife and tourist infrastructure ensure a nice balance. You can find tourist accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets - though some may prove busy during peak holiday times. The cuisine is quite different to that of Shandong, which should interest the more adventurous diners. Decide whether you agree with Marco Polo that Hangzhou is the 'City of Heaven', by paying it a visit.
While Qingdao itself represents a mass tourist attraction, and has much to fill your limited spare time, it’s nice to take a break once in a while, to recharge the batteries and experience something different. Everyone you speak to has different recommendations of other places just off the beaten track, so take note, and discover your own. While newly-arrived expats often want to experience – and report back home that they have experienced – Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong, scratching the surface just a little deeper can open another layer of opportunities for fantastic weekend breaks.
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Keywords: Qingdao weekend getaways Qingdao travel ideas qingdao weekend breaks Qingdao travel
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