Qingdao is the current international spelling for the city known in China as 青岛.

Historically the city has been represented as Tsingtao and Tsingtau (German spelling). Qingdao has been called by nicknames such as Dao Cheng (岛成/Island City) and Qin Dao (琴岛/Stringed Isle). The 2008 Summer Olympics brought the name Sailing City to go with Beer City.

Check out the various names and spellings for Qingdao below.

Dao Cheng/岛城

Dao Cheng is a name that has recently gained greater popularity as a nickname for Qingdao. It literally means Island City. Technically, Qingdao is a peninsula surrounded by the Yellow Sea and Jiaozhou Bay but island seems to have stuck, as Qing Dao translates as Green (sometimes called Blue) Island.

Ban Dao/半岛

Ban Dao literally means half island, or peninsula. It refers to Qingdao’s position on the tip of land west of Laoshan that juts out of the mainland and wraps around Jiaozhou Bay. Ban Dao is the name of Qingdao’s largest daily newspaper.

Qin Dao/琴岛

Literally Instrument Island. Not as well known as Gulangyu’s nickname of Piano Island. Qingdao has a strong violin tradition, and Qin/琴 usually refers to stringed instruments. Said to be a local reference to the shape of the city along the coast of the peninsula, like a guqin/古琴.

Sailing City/帆船之都

RIzhao tries to make up in natural conditions what Qingdao had entitled via the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Chosen as the site for the sailing events of the Olympics in 2008, Qingdao has embraced sailing, with yachts, clubs, marinas along the coast in addition to the Olympic Sailing Center. Frequent sailing events such as the Clipper and Volvo yacht races have solidified Qingdao’s place as Sailing City in China.

Beer City/啤酒城

Mention of Qingdao inevitably leads to discussion of beer and breweries. Tsingtao Brewery at 56 Dengzhou Lu (address on each bottle of Tsing Pi in the world) is still intact, still operational, since 1903. The brewery also houses a museum and a beer bar with some really fresh beer on tap. The Qingdao International Beer Fest is held in the Beer City (pijiu cheng/啤酒城) near Old Stone Man Beach (Shilaoren/石老人) every August.


Tsingtao is the former Western/Romanized name for Qingdao. This spelling has been used for the beer for over 100 years. One of the legacies of this name can be seen in the airport code for Qingdao, TAO. Tsingtau is the German version of the name, and this spelling could probably claim to be the most authentic and historically accurate, in use since the 1898 concession when Germany began a short lived yet productive control of the area then known as Kiautschou (present day Jiaozhou).

Jiao Ao/胶澳

The name Jiao Ao was used during the Qing Dynasty and referred to the whole general area including today’s Jiaozhou. The official founding of Qingdao as an administrative area is said to be the Qing’s initial demarcation of Qingdao as Jiao Ao in June, 1891.

Common Misspellings

The unique nature of pinyin, the romanization of Chinese according to its sound, has made it difficult for some people to get the name of Qingdao/青岛 right. Common mistakes include Quingdao (strange incarnation that appears more often than one would think – even the whistlers got it wrong), and Qindao when the writer is not intending to mean Instrument Isle, but just forgot the g in Qing.

Relevant Links:
Qingdao Municipal Government Official Website

Photo Credit @ Yumi

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