Heze sits at the southwest corner of Shandong Province and is home to 8.8 million people. Easily accessible by a variety of transportation methods, the area is just a short 2.5-hour journey by local train from Qufu, a 2-hour drive from Jinan International Airport, or an exciting 4-hour bullet train journey from Beijing!
Heze is most well known as the home of China’s national flower, the peony. During April and May locals and visitors alike flock to the region where fields of peony blossoms create a stunning spring spectacle. Throughout the season, festivals celebrating the national flower take place, offering fun activities such as peony competitions, photography shows, concerts, country fairs, and more. But more than just a beautiful sight to behold, Heze’s peony industry is an important economic driver as peony-based products from cosmetics to cooking oil have become popular across the globe.
Heze’s other claim to fame is the setting of The Outlaw of the Marsh by Shi Nai An, one of the four Chinese classic novels. Based on the true story of 108 natives who robbed the rich to feed the poor, the popular tale was written more than 900 years ago but is still a beloved novel today. It is a must read before embarking on your trip! Once in Heze, tour the Water Margin Hero Compound, where you will find heritage museums, county courthouses, the Timely Tea House, Martial Club, Aunt Sun Inn, and more, all based on descriptions of the novel. Even the food presented in the eateries is based on the book!
Heze visitors will also enjoy exploring the Sun Bin Tourism City and Yicheng Temple, built around the tomb of Sun Bin and featuring six Grand Halls, a temple of Buddhism and agricultural botanic gardens. Don’t forget to take in riveting performances at the famous Songjian Martial Art School and brush up on your Kung Fu skills with Master Yang Zhi!
The world’s largest peony garden with research facilities.
Address: 1000 Renmin Road, Mudan District, Heze City
Part of Yuncheng Castle and built by Lu Kingdom in 587 BC to ward off neighboring invaders, the compound is now an homage to the popular novel. Visitors can tour 36 courtyards and 72 depictions of action scenes from the story, as well as a heritage museum, county courthouse, tea house, and martial club. All streets and the layout of each building are based on descriptions of the novel, as is the food served in all the eateries. You must read the story before entering.
Ximen Street, Yuncheng County, Heze.
Built around the tomb of Sun Bin with six Grand Halls, a temple of Buddhism and agricultural botanic gardens.
Come to see 20-plus national champions and the group performance done at the opening ceremony of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Next door to Water Margin Cultural City.
Nationally renowned Heze Culinary specialty. Heavy but delicate taste, perfect to eat with roasted pancakes.
Paper cutting demonstrations in this Water Margin Cultural City are on the list of UNESCO’s non-tangible Cultural Heritage sites.
Doggy Boy Performance Art Group out of Heze tours the world for performances and are considered one of the best martial art troupes out of China. Half of the freshman class of the elite China University of Sports are from Songjiang Marshal Art School, where national champions are just “no big deal” as there are so many of them there!
Heze is known nationally for its delicious local foods, including Pan-fried meat buns, Yuncheng Multi-layer Pancake (famed as a daily “must-have” by 108 Heroes of the Novel, Outlaws of the Marsh, Hanging Roast Cake, and Shanxian County Lamb Soup – famed as the best in China.
From early April to the end of May, people all over China will gather at Heze to emerge themselves in the sea of peony. It is all over the town and country. It is fun to see when the whole region is blasted with intensive festivities including exhibits, competitions, photo shows, concerts, country fairs, feasts, etc. It is cheerful and relaxed.
Brush up your Kung Fu skills with Master Yang Zhi. Do not miss “Doggie Little” (Gouwa) performance of Songjiang Marshall Art School at Yuncheng.
Peony painting is a school of art itself. It is featured in detailed objects artwork using extremely fine pens. Peony flower details are very charming. That is why Heze Academy of Fine Arts gains national fame in peony paintings. Juye County Academy of Fine Arts has beginner classes starting with flower observation. It is very intriguing to see the instructors competing against each other with their work in person. In addition to paintings, the city is home to some of the most intricate and beautiful architecture in the region – perfect for a day spent sightseeing!
It is southwest of Shanxian County. The lake is 21 square kilometers with 3.5 meters deep. It is 4 times the size of China’s well known West Lake in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province. Bike route around the lake is carefully mapped out by Heze Tourism Commission.
Peony Flower Serum
Peony Paintings and Embroidery
Canned Lamb Soup of Shanxian County
Yuncheng Beef Jerky
Hand-Embroidered Bed Sheets Sets
Folk Art Souvenir: Paper-cutting, Silk Shoes
Southwest Shandong is renowned for its delicious, and milky mutton soup. The people of Shanxian County can prepare several dozen kinds of soups by using different main materials and techniques.
Since the Qing Dynasty, Caoxian County has earned worldwide recognition for its delicious, soft, and aromatic beef. It is believed that a Hui people created this unique cooking method. Through constant advances over the years, Caoxian Beef became a tribute to the imperial family.
This delicious local delicacy is made from the meat of young donkeys. Rinsed, deboned, and slow-cooked, this tender and savory meat goes well with many meals.
These dumplings, woven into the taste of Heze, make for a great appetizer or meal. They are filled with a combination of meat and vegetables, accompanied by the best of spices. Enjoy them either boiled or fried to a perfect golden color.
Plan to stay at least 2 nights in Heze.
Airline information: 0546-7665015
Railway Station: 0546-2964712
Eastern Long-distance Bus Terminal: 0546-8327403
Western Long-distance Bus Terminal: 0546-8210315
Peony farm and museums. There are 6 peony gardens close-by to Heze City. Some are known for its history, science research, and garden landscape designs. If you have time, you can add Sun Bin Tourism City to the list.
Water Margin Cultural Theme Park and Songjiang Martial Art School.
Shanxian County Long Hu (Dragon Lake) Tourism Resort: see wetland reserve, camping ground, and amazing natural scenery connected by toy trains.