Nan Liu, her husband Nick, their 16-month-old daughter Tina, and their ayi.
We went to Qingdao from June 22-26. Since we have a toddler, I wanted this to be an easy and relaxed trip. I (Nan Liu) always plan every trip myself. I chose The Castle Hotel (www.thecastle-hotel.com) for accommodations, which was reconstructed from the German governor’s house. Tina took her first steps on the sand, made bubbles in the valley of Badaguan, flew a kite, and fed pigeons in a square. We also went to an aquarium called Polar Ocean World; I brought picture books on sea animals, which helped keep her occupied on the train.
Here’s a quick breakdown of costs:
RMB 700 per person for roundtrip train tickets
RMB 1,200 per night for a family suite at the hotel
Approximately RMB 2,000 for meals
RMB 600 for three hours with a local professional photographer
RMB 1,000 for other transportation and tickets
RMB 500 for shopping
In total, we spent around RMB 6,000 for the entire trip.
The Best Part
The best part was that Tina had many chances to interact with little creatures. There was a big group of pigeons in front of our hotel, and bread could easily draw them to the ground. Tina was not afraid of the little beaks and had lots of fun. She also got to touch a dolphin’s silky, sticky skin at Polar Ocean World; that gave her quite a surprise! Tina fed a seal that was five times bigger than her. When the seal opened its huge mouth, she was happy and curious rather than afraid.
The Worst Part
There are no hotels with a private beach. This means we had to take a taxi or walk for 20 minutes to reach a public beach. Some of the beaches had large quantities of sea lettuce, which didn’t look very good.
There was a tiny hill called Signal Hill just besides the hotel. We didn’t plan to climb it at first, but the scenery was incredible once we got to the top. You could see the entire city from the top of this 98m-high hill. It was interesting to see how the old districts, with red roofs and strong German-style architecture, mingled with the modern parts.
Qingdao is a tourist-friendly city, so it should be easy for English speakers to get around. I would say that around half of all the hotel guests were foreigners, with lots of German, Korean, and Japanese restaurants.
I highly recommend taking the high-speed train rather than the plane. Tickets can be booked online at www.12306.cn or bought in person at Beijing South Railway Station. It takes 4.5 hours by gaotie (high-speed train). Tickets are half price for kids between 1.1m and 1.5m, and free for kids under 1.1m.
Through a road beside Huashilou (the former residence of Chiang Kai-shek), you can reach the best beach in Qingdao: Second Public Beach, or Qingdao Di’er Yuchang Shatan (青岛第二浴场沙滩).
Do not let taxi drivers recommend restaurants. You can find dozens of good ones on Yunxiao Lu. Seafood, beer, and dumplings are popular menu items and the prices are fair.
There are two aquariums: Polar Ocean World and Qingdao Underwater World. Polar Ocean World is the bigger of the two and has interesting shows. Kids can feed fish to seals and take photos with dolphins.
This article is excerpted from beijingkids December 2012 issue. View it in PDF form here or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out where you can pick up your free copy.