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Introducing Qīngdǎo

A breath of crisp sea air for anyone emerging from China’s polluted urban interior, Qīngdǎo is hardly old-school China – parts of town resemble Bavaria – but its effortless blend of German architecture and modern city planning puts Chinese white-tile towns to shame. Its German legacy more or less intact, Qīngdǎo takes pride in its unique appearance: the Chinese call the town ‘China’s Switzerland’. The beaches may be overhyped, the local Putonghua carries a thick accent, and a metro system wouldn’t go amiss, but the dilapidated charms of the hilly old town are captivating and the port city is hosting the sailing events of the 2008 Olympics, prompting a further investment gale into the prosperous town. Wander at will round cobbled, higgledy-piggledy alleys, poke around stone-clad Teutonic vestiges, quaff the famous local brew (Tsingtao) and ditch the diet: Qīngdǎo has some of the best kebabs and seafood in north China.