Binzhou is considered the northern gate of Shandong Province and has a massive population of 3.2 million. The city is broken up into two districts – Bin Cheng District and Zhan Hua District – and governs five counties: Hui Min, Yang Xin, Wu Di, Bo Xing, and Zou Ping County. Although situated towards the north of the province, the city is close to a variety of other provincial destinations and just a 1.5-hour car ride from Shandong’s bustling capital, Jinan.
Binzhou City’s history can be traced back to the Shang Dynasty, when China’s recorded history began around the 16th to 18th century BC, a time period also known as the Bronze Age. Throughout this historic city, visitors will find a plethora of museums displaying ancient artifacts made out of bone, jade, ceramics, stone, wood shells, and bronze excavated throughout Binzhou. Today, the region has a brimming business community and is a major player in oil, chemicals, and textiles.
What many visitors may not know is that Binzhou was the former home to one of the world’s greatest military strategists and authors – Sun Tzu. In this city, you can visit his former estate and see beautifully illustrated scrolls of all 13 chapters of his famous work, The Art of War. Known today as The Museum Park of Sun Tzu, this area is among the city’s most popular and well-attended attractions. In addition to the scrolls, visitors can tour 15 clustered buildings in Qin and Han Dynasty building styles.
Visitors also flock to Wu Ding castle, considered one of the best preserved local official places in Shandong Province. The beautiful complex was formerly used as the county’s official office and courthouse that is now transformed into a museum with displays and artifacts picturing what life was like in ancient times.
Constructed in 2002 with its first phase occupying over 732,600 square meters in size, it consists of 15 clustered buildings in Qin and Han Dynasty building styles. Each of the thirteen chapters of The Art of War are thoroughly illustrated in one designated building cluster boasting an armory and memorial parks of the many distinguished military strategists. Replicas of the extended ladders used in battles over 2,500 years ago to climb castle walls are also on display, and live demonstrations are conducted during the travel seasons, April to November.
Tour this beautiful complex, considered one of the best preserved local official places in Shandong Province. In ancient times, the mansion was the county’s official office, residence, and courthouse. “Wu Ding” means “suppressing rebellion with military means,” and the castle was named after the execution of a greedy grandson by his own grandfather, a Song Dynasty Emperor, in the 1462.
Built in 1891, it is one of the top three Chinese historical family castles open to the public. It is also listed on China’s national historical registry. It’s also the largest and the best preserved family castle built in Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) that is open to the public. It is a maze with numerous hidden pathways and shooting positions throughout the top for its defense. One interesting fact about this mansion is that in the center of one of the entrances stands a tree that has been growing there for over 160 years. This tree has witnessed the rise and fall of the changes in the Wei family. Pay attention to the daughter’s maiden chamber. Historically, girls younger than 17 were not supposed to see strangers until their wedding. Their food and water were lifted from outside into their restricted living quarters. Peek through the wall’s tiny holes to see if you can capture a glimpse of their shadows.
Sun Tzu, or Sun Wu, was born around 535 B.C. in Le’an of Qi State (present-day Huimin). Later he moved to the state of Wu, where he penned Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. The architecture in the Old Garden of Sun Tzu is arranged along an axis with the statue of Sun Tzu as the focal point in the center. Visitors can find the Sun Tzu Academy, Sun Tzu Museum, and seven exhibition halls in the garden each reflecting the achievements of the great military scientists in Chinese history. Around the water area, there are pavilions, bridges, boats, and lotus flowers, adding radiance and charm to the garden.
Only one centuries-old tree in Zhanhua County grows our world-famous winter jujubes. Winter jujubes are crisp, tender, juicy, and rich in nutrition with thin skin, hence the name, “National Treasures.”
The winter jujube in Zhanhua is well known all around China, every year many jujubes are produced here and distributed to all parts of the country, or even exported to other countries in the world. Walk around in the jujube garden, embraced by thousands of plants. Pick up the fruit by yourself, experience the joy of harvest. It’s a time to forget the hustle and bustle of the city.
Wuni Shell Dyke is located on the southwest coast of the Bohai Sea. It is a very rare shell dike around the world, and the only one in China not only in quantity but also in the level of purity. The amount is still growing. Come visit and be amazed by how many shells you see.
Du Shoutian is the teacher of Xianfeng Emperor in Qing Dynasty. He is a brilliant man of wide learning, who is admired, respected and beloved by all the folks in ancient Binzhou. There is an old Chinese saying “Great men’s sons seldom do well,” however, this saying is not suitable in Du Shoutain’s family. The generations of after Du are also very outstanding. This former residence contains 208 rooms. The architectural style is simple but not plain, it is a typical style in North Shandong in ancient times, originated from Ming and Qing dynasties.
Yangxin is the hometown of the Chinese pear, Yali Pear. This pear named Yali, because of its shape of duck’s head and a golden color. The pear features thin skin, crisp flesh, long-lasting fragrance, and a mixed taste of sweet and sour. It also contains a variety of rich nutrition, therefore Yali Pear can be used for the treatment of fevers or coughs. The harvest season is between late September and October. During the spring time, the white pretty pear blossom will be one of the most popular attractions in Binzhou city. After a winter snow, the pear trees are all wearing silver dresses, the scene in the garden will be more beautiful than ever.
Zanghu’s jujube fields are a popular ecotourism attraction and are considered a National 3A Tourist Destination. Between September to October, visitors can tour the fields, hand-pick jujubes in the garden, and stay overnight at the farm house to experience the local farm lifestyle first hand. Jujube picking is growing in popularity and attracting more people every year.
Other activities to enjoy include the opening ceremony and the Chinese ancient architecture tour. Getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city life is an exciting and unforgettable experience for tourists.
Binzhou Boxing cloth tigers originated from the Han Dynasty. In Chinese folk culture, tigers are believed to have supernatural powers.
Cloth tigers, such as these were made by mothers to guard their children from evil. This colorful and delicate handmade artwork is a must-have for every young kid in China.
In celebration of the Lunar New Year in China, it is the tradition of the local residents to prepare New Year wordings and hang them on the doors and walls of their homes. The woodblock printing in Qinghe, Binzhou has a history of more than 200 years. Compared with normal paper printing, wood printing is much harder to make. It is included in the first batch of intangible cultural heritage list.
The county of Wudi, in Binzhou is the only place in the world where seashell chinaware is produced. The raw material is chosen carefully, the production process is extremely complex and difficult, and that is why the finished products are precious.
Originally called the Xings Guozi Pie, Binzhou Guozi Pie is a tasty and aromatic snack meticulously prepared with stuffing inside.
It is prepared with tender chicken meat, crushed onions, and garlic. The raw materials are divided into 24 portions, wrapped with edible paper, and fried one by one.
Qiaozhuang Fried Bun was created by a man named Cui Guangrong. His restaurant was established nearly 100 years ago and has been passed down to four generations since. This fried bun is well-known for being delicious and cooked to perfection, using quality ingredients, and bringing out a sensational fragrance. The ingredient selection process is very strict as they use fresh pork, different kinds of spices, and sometimes ingredients go through the pickling process.
Donkey meat is popular in Shandong. Huimin donkey meat is even more popular as it inherits the essence of the ancestral secret recipe, picked by experienced chefs. The taste of the meat is crisp, tender, and aromatic.
This is a typical Shandong pancake made by wheat, buckwheat, and corn powder. The making process is very complicated and careful. Also, local people like to prepare it with a variety of stuffing inside, such as: shrimp, fish meat, chicken tenders, pork, mushrooms, and some Chinese vegetables. Soft but also crisp, tasty and not greasy. There are a lot of reasons why this pancake is so popular; it is an absolute a must-try item when you are traveling in Shandong.
Huimin International Sun Tzu Cultural Tourism Festival in September
Sun Family Homecoming in September
Zhanhua Winter Dates Festival: Known to be the best dates in the nation; and also a perfect time to pick dates.
Huji Book Festival: a carnival of folk art performances. The largest in Shandong and a competition of traditional instruments, cork fight, dog shows, drum shows, cross talk shows, local operas, etc. It takes place in February, March, June, August, and September.
Country Fairs, a Chinese New Year Celebration in February
Morning: Museum of Sun Tzu
Afternoon: Wuding Official Residence
Evening: Hot Spring
Morning: Wei Family Manor
Afternoon: The Song Wall and Du’s Residence
Evening: Local Shows
Morning: Mt. Heban
Afternoon: Sanhe Lake