In the past Huangdao was normally shunned by many Qingdaonese who just thought of it as an industrial area polluting the air. But just like that first trip to China, the first trip to Huangdao can help alleviate those often overstated misconceptions, granted of course as long as you visit the right areas.
There is often a lot of confusion floating around about Huangdao and its other known identities like Kaifaqu and Xuejiadao. Basically it’s very simple when you think about it in relative terms to Qingdao and how it’s split up into different districts. This is definitely in no way the definitive guide to Huangdao but more of a loose interperation to help clarify the mysteries of the “Yellow Island” to our friends across the bay.
Even though Huangdao is basically the entire area, normally when somebody is referring to Huangdao they are talking about the old part of town that pretty much starts north of the Free Trade Zone. Huangdao is the industrial area of the city similar to Cangkou in Qingdao, this is where a majority of the factories reside and as a result most of the pollution stems from this area. In general Huangdao is not the type of place to hang around on a leisurely Sunday afternoon but rather the type of place you visit for business purposes. However, even though it is pretty industrialized, certain areas still manage to keep that small town vibe intact and can deliver that old 80’s China charm.
So what the heck is a Kaifaqu? China National Economic and Technological Development Zones or simply Development Zones are special areas of the People’s Republic of China where foreign direct investment is encouraged. Currently throughout China there are 49 Development Zones, with our Shandong neighbors Weihai, Yantai and Dalian all sporting some nifty Zones of their own.
Kaifaqu is the place to be in Huangdao, it’s the area south of the Free Trade Zone and is the newer up & coming modern section of town similar to Shinan in Qingdao. Kaifaqu is where you’ll find the majority of the expat community along with the expat run local businesses and of course corporate America, such as the KFC, Starbucks, Pizza Hut and more in the Huangdao Jusco.
Probably the least known area of Huangdao is Xuejiadao, yet most likely you’ve been there and never knew it. Xuejiadao is the area to the east of Kaifaqu, it used to be a bit run down and the only reason to go out there was for the beaches and the ferry but a recent real estate boom has this area poised to be the eastern Qingdao/Laoshan district type area of Huangdao. Sitting on the outskirts of town and close proximity to both Golden and Silver Sands Beaches will surely turn this area into the ‘burbs of Huangdao.
Xuejiadao is also where the easiest direct ferry route to Kaifaqu docks. If you’re coming over on the boat and you want to visit Kaifaqu or the beaches, you should hop on the Xuejiadao ferry. Even though it takes a little bit longer, it makes up for it in a much shorter taxi ride to the center of Kaifaqu. Xuejiadao is also the area where the highly anticipated underwater tunnel will connect Huangdao with Qingdao.
Huangdao, Kaifaqu, Xuejiadao
Huangdao, Kaifaqu, and Xuejiadao are all fairly quiet, clean, and safe, no matter what you may have heard. Visitors to the area increase greatly on the weekend of the annual Golden Beach Music Festival, and in the Summer the crowds come out to enjoy some of the finest sandy beaches in China. There’s also a wild animal park and zoo, for those into that kind of thing, and parts of the Great Wall of Qi (one of the oldest walls in China) still exist out near the SAIC General Motors plant. There’s shopping, restaurants, and shhhh.. don’t tell anyone, never any traffic jams on the wide and spacious underpopulated roads. All in all, Huangdao is a pretty neat place to live, work, and visit in Qingdao.
Photo Credit @ VW Park