China’s Fountain of Life

Blue skies prevail in Qingdao, a seaside metropolis that keeps topping livability lists in China with its inviting boardwalks, shaded streets and parks, and German colonial architecture.

Just to the east beckon the hiking trails of the Lao Shan Scenic Area, where chains of sapphire pools bubble with springwater and natural mist shrouds granite peaks.

In ancient times, Taoist priests deemed this the home of immortal beings and the water sacred. 

Drink the Water: Tap the longevity well on Taiqing Gong’s grounds, a sprawling complex of temples and cypress trees. Or try the city’s famed beer, Tsingtao, made with water from the same source.

Liquid Courage: At Huangdao Lu’s street market in Old Town, order Tsingtao by the pitcher or bag, or green tea grown on the slopes of Lao Shan.

    • Travel Trivia: In the 1950s, Tsingtao beer marketed itself as a health drink: “Not only is it harmless, it strengthens the body!”
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Written in Stone: Look for the ode to Qingdao by celebrated poet Yu Dafu, carved into a rock in Lao Shan. 

Harvest Time: On the full moon around the fall equinox, families gather and share moon cakes. Join the crowds hiking up Zhongshan Park’s peak for the best view of the clear night sky.

This piece, written by Tienlon Ho, first appeared in the October 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine. 

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