Liaocheng is a major metropolitan city-region located at the northwest corner of Shandong Province. It is a water-town populated by 6 million people. China’s mother river, the Yellow River, intercepts with the Grand Canal of China here in Liaocheng. The canal, a UNESCO World Heritage site, connects Beijing and Hangzhou city through its 1,800 km (1,125 miles) journey. The Grand Canal was constructed to supply Beijing with logistics such as bricks to build the Forbidden City. It had been in operation for over 1,400 years until the 1920s. Liaocheng boasts to be one of the nine key commercial ports along the canal route.
Water breeds commerce; and it certainly nurtures culture too. Magnificent lake sceneries have produced legendary and lavish literature. In China, the top four best-known works of literacy could not escape Liaocheng. Those four novels are: Outlaws of the Marsh, The Golden Lotus, Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, and The Travels of Lao Tsan. In conjunction with this literary tradition, one of the top four nationally ranked libraries constructed in Liaocheng during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) is the Hai Yuan Library (haiyuange).
Be sure to hop on a boat ride on the Dongchang Lake. Do not miss its central island of 3 km2 area surrounded by water. Dongchang Lake is said to be more beautiful than the West Lake in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province. We beg to differ, so we will leave the judgment to you. It is at the Dongchang Lake, with China’s largest, self-open-and-close opera house sits. It is called Shuicheng Mingzhu (Pearl in Watertown Opera House水城明珠聊城). It is built in the similar style as the Sydney Opera House. An evening show will complete your day at this grand theatre.
Linqing County is located at the northwest corner of Liaocheng City about one hour by car. In the ancient times, Linqing had prospered along on the Grand Canal. Scouting through its old town is like walking into the largest medina at Fez City, Morocco. It is hard to pull away your feet. It is the best place for you to explore the culture of China’s Grand Canal.
Historical Custom Post. The highlight of Linqing is the historical Custom Post. Although many buildings have undergone many overhauls and remodeling, the original foundation is still being preserved. You can see these foundation laid out inside the old customs complex. The original Custom Post was built in 1429 as a tax office from the Ming Dynasty. It continued to operate until the end of the Qing Dynasty around 1900s. At its peak, the Post had collected a quarter of China’s national tax revenue. Due to the Canal’s locking system to lift boats, merchant boats were often caught in a congestion at Linqing port. It was uncommon for canal boats to wait days, if not weeks to get their boats lifted to the custom post and pay their taxes along on the passage. Thus, restaurants and hotels mushroomed along the canal banks. Business-minded merchants from the southern provinces started to build their hometown clubs to serve ethnic foods. Entertainment in diversified local dialects were widely available to watch. As the population grew, Linqing started attracting talents in craft-making. Local residents reached out to larger cities to learn skills in making bricks, scales, shoes, brooms, etc. Hence, a commercial city was born. Plan about 2 hours at the Post museum to learn the governance of this post as well as locals’ resistance to corrupted officials.
Yuan Canal. Not too far from Linqing’s UNESCO landmark, you will find an original section of the canal built in 1289. It was built by order of the first Emperor of the Yuan Dynasty. This is the best preserved section of the oldest canal in China.
Linqing Bricks. Linqing is also known for its quality bricks. Almost all bricks used in Beijing’s Forbidden Palace Museum were made from Linqing. If you go to the Aotouji Tower, built at the intersection of two rivers, you will find many original bricks bearing Linqing seals at sections of the walls lower than 1 m high. Those bricks were made at Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Due to the brick quality, all merchant boats were required to carry bricks for the Forbidden City when they were in transit to Beijing.
Walking through the historical district, have a conversation with the locals and a taste of their local meals.
Ejiao. Liaocheng is known for its donkey meat that is prepared with spices and perfume. Ejiao is a form of gelatin, the technique to make it can be dated back to over 1,000 years ago. Donkey meat is usually prepared in thin slices served on a platter or in sandwiches. Ejiao is mainly made from donkey skin extracted into a gelatin which is used in traditional recipes to increase blood circulation and improve reproductive funcitonality. Ejiao is also used as a nutritional supplement to cure anemia, and in making face cream to restore youthful glows.
Punching Tiger at Jingyanggang. The Water Margin is one of the top four classic literatures of China that is deeply rooted in Chinese culture. The novel depicts how 108 Chinese “Robinhood heroes” kidnapped the rich and punished corrupted officials in Liaocheng region. One of the chapters mentions about how Wu Song punched a wild tiger to death, and in return offering the locals a safe passage over the Jingyang Pass. Genuinely, a true story of the Chinese “Robinhood”.
Liaocheng is a fascinating destination that if once hooked, it will be tough to escape. Welcome to uncovering the real China at Liaocheng.
Food & Drink
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Is the number one popular local product in Liaocheng. In the form of gelatin made out of donkey hide, the technique of making it is ancient dating back 1,000 years ago. Donkey meat is usually prepared in thin slices served on a platter or in sandwiches.
“Twin pocket” is a cannot-miss item that is different in size. Each pocket contains seven layers of pork and green onions. The Chinese name is “Yuan Yang Bing”. It is fun to see how they make it, and the best part is eating them fresh.
The Water Margin banquet is based on the legend of “Water Margin” and refines the food plot. The historical story is used as a background to extend the effect of the food. Through the transmission of the banquet cup, the atmosphere of the Liangshan heroes eating meat and drinking in large bowls is reproduced. There are 108 dishes in the water banquet, which symbolizes the 108 heroes. For example, a pot of stewed meat mixed noodles has just 108 strips of noodle. Even a piece of Wu Dalang Cake, there are evenly sprinkle 108 sesame seeds.
Apparently, the Beating Chicken Noodles is related to chicken, but its unique specialty if from the “beating”. First, you will need a male and female chicken as your prime ingredients. Then, you want to choose the tenderest male chicken breast to be beaten by the back of knife. And the female chicken to make the soup base. Beat together green bean starch and egg at the same consistency. After 20 minutes of beating, take the beaten dough and shape it into a wide and thin flat cake, and cut it into small thin strips.
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Aerka Diya International Hot Spring Hotel is a great place to soak in the hot springs, away from the hustle and bustle of the city with sceneries, lakes and hot springs.
Linqing is also known for its quality bricks. Almost all bricks used in Beijing’s Forbidden Palace Museum were made from Linqing. If you go to the Aotouji Tower, built at the intersection of two rivers, you will find many original bricks bearing Linqing seals at sections of the walls lower than 1 meter high.
A hot spring that is listed #1 by locals for entertainment. This is the biggest spring that can even fit 1000 people at the same time. There are about 30 themed pools which are both very popular and inexpensive.
Walk through the narrow streets alongside residential courtyards. Many of the rooms here were destroyed due to historical reasons. But, you will still see people living here if you go through the yield. Even a few art masters still remain in this building like masters in stone carving, wooden carving, brick carving etc. When you have walked through the building, your walk might make you think you have travelled back in time to the Qing dynasty. Be careful!
We have two renowned museums, the black pottery museum and paper cutting museum; that adjusted to the collections of black pottery dating back 4000 years from the region. Paper Cutting, designated as UNESCO’s “nontangible world cultural heritage”, is passed on through the decades as a family tradition even to this day. Watch them showcase paper cutting blindfolded.
Liaocheng is a water town on China’s Grand Canal route. Its local folklore shows a diversified regional mix. Wedding events are no exception. The Wedding Folklore Museum is a recommended stop. What gifts to give the newlywed by parents and what protocols used to “qualify” for a future daughter-in-law will be a surprise to you.
Liaocheng, “eye of the water-town” Ferris wheel is located in the south bank of Dongchang Lake. It is one of the top three largest Ferris wheels in Asia. Certainly a new landmark of Liaocheng. As this is the first Ferris wheel anchored against 3 high rise offices in the world, you could be the talk of the day if you scream really loudly.
Guan County is located along the ancient road of the Yellow River. It is known for its pear sizes and sweetness with over 50,000 acres at the pear garden. It is known as the first pear garden in China and is the famous “hometown of pears” in the country. It is the must-visit place if you are planning to be around this area. It could your business card to the Guan County.
The Dongchang Lake is located on the southwest part of Liaocheng downtown. A boat tour to check out this so called, “the junior West Lake” is high on our recommendation list.
Standing in the heart of ancient Liaocheng City surrounded by Dongchang Lake, the building ranks as the top architecture during the Han Dynasty (202BC-220AD) in terms of scale and technique to build.
The novel, Outlaws of Water Margin (aka Water Margin), is one of the top four Chinese classic novels. A leading character in the novel is Wu Song. He is known for his supernatural strength, eagerness to aid the poor, and appetite for alcohol. After learning that a tiger had harmed many villagers, he decided to punch the tiger. The movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is based on the story and it happened at Liaocheng.
One of the top eight custom post stations in China, the Grand Canal had been operating until 1901, when the canal dried up due to the lack of maintenance. During the time of active operation, the Canal in Linqing helped to collect one-fourth of the national revenue. The total length of the canal is about 40,000 sq. meters.
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Liaocheng is a national historical and cultural city. It is also the largest plantation, processing and commercial base for Chinese gourds. It has the reputation of being “the hometown of Chinese gourd carving culture”. As the largest plantation of gourds in the world, Liaocheng holds its annual Gourd Festival to generate a platform where worldwide gourd lovers and merchants can appreciate and communicate the gourd culture.
山东省文化和旅游厅 Shandong Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism
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Authorized agency for Shandong Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism in the U.S.
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