The Chinese word “Dongying” literally means “East Camp”. This is not far from the facts at all. From a camp site to a major modern metropolitan region consisting of one major city and two counties had only took a few thousand years. Dongying City is quiet and modestly nestled in Shandong’s northern region.  Dongying is well connected among all major cities in China with its own airport. Yet, travelers from abroad will be shocked by the sight of the Yellow River Delta, where China’s mother river pours into the Bohai Sea. With the highest per capita income of the entire Shandong province, Dongying is known for its classical music fever and a local pride to be the hometown of Sun Tzu, author of the masterpiece, The Art of War.

Among the many remarkable attractions Dongying holds, these are four of the must-sees:

  • The Wetlands;
  • The point of China’s mother river, the Yellow River leading into the Bohai Sea;
  • the Sun Tzu Theme Park,
  • Dongying’s historical museum in Guangrao County.

Our journey to Dongying begins from Jinan, the Provincial Capital city.

Leaving Jinan City on G20 Expressway eastwards for 1.5 hours, we turn north onto G25 expressway at Qingzhou, well-known for its 3 km2 old town, a living museum and its collection of 400 Buddha statues in such vivid colors recovered since the North Song Dynasty in AD 1000. Continue driving north, we will enter Dongying region in 20 minutes; and within the hour, we would arrive at a modern farmer’s market in Guangrao County.

Guangrao is Shandong’s hidden gem. It is ranked 26th among China’s top 100 counties in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It is well-known for its agriculture, an immersive industry and rich historical presence. The County produces 90% of the paper used in today’s media industry. It has seven tire factories which are ranked amongst the top 75 tire manufacturers in the world. Michelin, one of the USA’s most trusted and respected tire companies, produces its tires out of Guangrao. Every morning before sunrise, caravans of trucks with freshly picked vegetables head to Beijing via designated highway toll booths. In the farmer’s market that we entered, there is a 48-acre modern greenhouse where local farmers to sell their meticulously grown produce, or to catch up with families over meals. This greenhouse type of farmer’s market also has a 96-room luxury hotels.

Guangrao County houses Dongying Historical Museum, where few of the exhibits push history back to a shocking 8,500 years from China’s recorded history of 5,000 years ago. This has surprised many historians from around the world. Dongying is a place that has altered Chinese history a few times. The local catch word is that history is tentative. Just wait until our next excavation. Who knows what could come up next.

Yellow River Delta and Wetland. China’s renowned Yellow River charging into the sea is Dongying’s icon. It draws big crowds just to see this. The wetland marsh nurtures over 42 km2 of wetland area following the Yellow River’s course shifting around the sea entry points. On any sunny day, a colorful marsh gathers across the sea. You might wonder, what a thrill to mingle with nature as a long wooden dock serves as your path that you can both protect the marsh and walk above the water. Truth be told by locals that there is another huge area of wetlands ahead of the first section where no road path can be seen or will ever be built. The wetlands are the true sanctuary to the birds since the land is undisturbed from its paradise. It is no wonder Dongying deserves your best camera shots you’ve been waiting all year. Never miss the migration season in November.

The Sun Tzu Cultural Theme Park. Sun Tzu is best known for the book he wrote, The Art of War.    Dongying is one of his two acclaimed “hometowns”. As worldly famed military strategist, Sun Tzu’s work is often display in almost every bookstore in the world. Therefore, requiring the book become part of the most military academy syllabus. The book is also used in large number of business schools around the world too. In Dongying, a Sun Tzu Cultural Theme Park has been built to commemorate his accomplishments. The park consisting of 220 acres was officially opened in 2017.

The Sun Tzu Cultural Theme Park is the best educational institution on ancient warfare in China. Not only does it provide an overview to the origin of the war in China, the park offers a complete inventory in 1:1 ratio of all of China’s major military apparatus including vehicles, extended ladders, bows and arrows, etc. that were used in its 3000 year history. Amongst many dated artifacts is a replica of the then commanding carriage equipped with magnetic compass invented in 206 BC. In addition, instead of describing military strategies in an abstract concept, classic battlefield in the book are recreated to illustrate all thirteen chapters of Sun Tzu’s book including over 10 bridges. You have the chance to walk into history and digest Sun Tzu’s brilliancy with such live scenarios. Be sure to catch the gigantic 360 degree rotating arm that extends over 25 meters long. This 10 floor high arm allows your camera an aerial view of the park. The sunset water dance amid the rise of the Sun Tzu statue is a must see.