The capital city of China’s Shandong Province, Jinan, is buzzing with a population of 8 million people. It is also known for its wealth of underground water that bubbles up to the artesian wells in Jinan city. There are 72 springs highly acclaimed over thousands of years, and some 700 wells even found within the city limits. Hence the nickname ‘the City of Springs’.

In less than 2 hours from Beijing, at the comfort of the high-speed train, Jinan is also a transit gateway for other destinations around the province. As a modern metropolis, Jinan has its share of skyscrapers. The atmosphere is comfortable and playful, but also ambitiously industrial – Inspur, China’s leading technology multinational company, is one of the many companies headquartered in Jinan. The Greenland Puli Center is currently the tallest building in Jinan, with a soaring height of 301 meters (988 ft.).

Jinan began to emerge as the present-day city it is today from the discovery of the Yellow River bed north of Jinan in 1852 and the railroad hub built by the Germans in 1912. Though this area had been the site of major ancient cities since the 8th century BC, the discovery and completed major railroad hub led to the city’s further establishments as a major commercial, trading, and educational center in northern China. Jinan later quickly grew to be Shandong’s second largest industrial center populated by textile factories, flour mills, oil and paper presses etc. It later grew rapidly after 1949 with the city taking off as a major center of China’s automotive industry by the 1970s. Jinan is home to the famed Shandong University, established in 1901, and is the 2nd oldest national university in China following after the Beijing University.

Jinan’s sightseeing starts with its spring trails. The Black Tiger Spring is a perfect spot to observe how the locals still live on spring water, just like 1200 years ago. Feel free to join in their filling of spring water with your walking bottles. There is no closer spot to watch and participate in this type of “spring fair” than here. And on top of that, it is free. You can hop over to the nearby street stalls in Kuanhouli – a lively street hub, crowded with young people and framed with a blend of traditional and newer architecture – to sample mouth-watering and creative street foods. And around Qushuiting Street are many colorful street performances to watch. Venture into hidden courtyards that offer workshops in tofu-making, paper-cutting or calligraphy. Try your hand, or shop for a souvenir!

The Daming Lake is a lake of spring water right in the center district of the Jinan City, a famed scenic site since the Tang dynasty (618-907AD). The lake used to be popular spot where literary notables would trade float liquor cups down the stream for poetic remarks. There are also temples, bridges and little islands to discover, with boat rides, and a nightly lightshow. The Dragon Boat Festival is a cultural celebration every May or June with a Dragon Boat Race that is highly anticipated every year on the Daming Lake. Today, 7.3 million of Jinan’s people take so much pride and effort in protecting the springs that they use tap water piped in from the Yellow River (200 km north of Jinan).

Jinan is the epicenter of Lu Cuisine, the most influential among China’s Eight Schools of Cuisines partly because of its heritage from Confucius’ doctrine. Common Lu style entrees include braised sea cucumber, sweet and sour carp, quick-fried pork kidney, sliced fish in wine sauce and braised pork intestine in brown sauce. The supreme master chef in Lu Cuisine, Yan Jingxiang is among the most celebrated chefs in China. His three private kitchens in Jinan are the most sought after eateries in town.

The main cultural center in Jinan has preserved a quaint style with old-school vibes that, to some travelers, could be compared to that of Kyoto, Japan. A stroll down Furong (“Water Lily”) Street and you could find yourselves checked in to a tailor shop, bookstore or finger food stall along the way. Witness the local giving up their seat for the elderly on bus rides. The warmth of the people is another heritage of the city.

Where hot springs bubble

While industries grow

Bicycles roam

And willow trees blow

We invite you to Jinan this is our home

Up until January 2019, it was announced that Laiwu has been merged to be a part of Jinan’s district areas. Laiwu prides itself in its beautiful ecosystem, colorful outdoor activities and the Great Qi Wall, built 400 years prior to the construction of the Great Wall of China. Some call it the great-grandfather of the Great Wall of China.

Nestled only 50 miles or 70 kilo from Jinan Airport to its southeast, Laiwu has 1.3 million residents. With inter-provincial highways, Laiwu is a perfect weekend retreat destination for urban slickers. Real estate in Laiwu’s surrounding areas are booming, and attracting people from all over China to its fresh air, green landscape and convenient transportation.

The Land of Qi-Lu. Laiwu was previously called Ying during the Spring and Autumn Period of China (770-476 BC). It bordered with both the Qi and Lu Kingdoms, which was annexed later in 220 BC by Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor to unify China. Located at a strategic position and the center of major powers, Laiwu has often witnessed many well-known battles in China’s history. Together, many stories in history abound. Fun fact: Shandong’s nickname is “the land of Qi-Lu”; everything is related to Laiwu in some way.

Let us start our story from the Qi Wall.

The Jinyang Pass. The Qi Wall was built 2,600 years ago. Its total length is over 1000 kilometers. It took 170 years to build. Shandong TV is running a Qi Wall series of more than 30 episodes. We hope to be able to present to you in English soon.

There are many sections of the Qi Wall that has or are being rebuilt. Nonetheless, this 56 km long Qi Wall in Laiwu is the longest walkable path. And in our opinion, the best section to trek is the Jinyang Pass, where you should start your journey. The Gate of Jinyang Pass is restored, but sections of the historical ruins are carefully preserved to its original state. Trekking along the original sections of the Great Qi Wall no matter what lengths you take will be a refreshing and an enchanting experience. Camping and mountain trekking are also available. Our recommendation is for you not to miss the best one-tenth section of the entire 1000 km length of the Qi Wall, well within walking distance of the Jinyang Pass. The section was last repaired in the Qing Dynasty over 150 years ago. It is a rare treat to see them in its originality before they fell into ruins. We were told they could repair it no further since it would not be able to be preserved to its natural beauty. The best time to trek the walls is in the late afternoon, where you will watch the sunset.

“Cinque Terre” of Shandong. Laiwu affords many opportunities for a closer look into the daily activities of the locals. Similar to the Cinque Terre in Italy, Laiwu boasts its own version with the five villages at the foot of Qi Wall overlooking a large lake called Xue Ye Lake. All five villages are within walking distance.  Mountain views within the Qi Wall section are dotted within the historical residences built over the course of 600 years. And newly converted bed and breakfast facilities will make your trip an enjoyable one. These 5 villages are called Fanggan, Wangshimen, Luzuqian, Liujialin, and Nanguishi. Local produce are often found sold along the village paths. Villagers are hesitant to show tourists around, but sometimes you will be offered their country-styled mutton and fish-head soup. “Three Spicy and One Numb” is Laiwu’s local pride. Visit China’s only ginger museum. You will be surprised at how ginger is used to make cosmetics and ice cream.

Each of these villages embodies their own unique charm. The Village of Fanggan has a huge gorge called the Nine Dragon Gorge. A 5 km hike onto the mountain peak and descending to the valley’s bottom is a sensational experience. Stop by a village’s Bed & Breakfast inn to join locals for a lavish 10-course family meal. The village of Wan Shi Men is the highest village in Shandong at 851-meters above sea level. Nicknamed “Family in the Cloud” (Tianshangrenjia), it draws people all over China for their weekend stay to recharge. Do not miss the hidden lake where you will find an astounding view with a great setting, especially on a sunny day for photo-taking.

A great man (woman) must climb the Great Wall” is noted on your Great Wall Certificate at Beijing. What title do you deserve if you have conquered the “grandfather” of the “Great Wall”?

TRANSPORTATION

You can take bus 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 15, 18, 33, 34, 35, 43, 49, 77, 101, 103, K50, K51 to get to Jinan downtown.

PLANNING

1-day trip

Morning: “opening ceremony” of Wangren Palace (万仞宫墙开城门仪式 ”)

Confucius Temple(孔庙)

Confucius Mansion (孔府)

Afternoon: Qufu Ancient City (曲阜古城)

Confucius Culture Theme Park (孔子文化园)

Sliver Jining 2-day trip

Day 1:

Morning: “opening ceremony” of Wangren Palace (万仞宫墙开城门仪式 ”)

Confucius Temple (孔庙)

Confucius Mansion  (孔府)

Afternoon: Qufu Ancient City (曲阜古城)

Confucius Culture Theme Park (孔子文化园)

Day 2:

Morning:  Weishan lake Wetland Park ( 微山湖湿地公园)

Eat Fish soup nearby Weishan Lake ( 微山湖附近农家乐品鱼汤)

Afternoon: Mount Yi (驿山)

Golden Jining 3-day trip

Day 1:

Morning: “opening ceremony” of Wangren Palace (万仞宫墙开城门仪式 ”)

Confucius Temple(孔庙)

Confucius Mansion (孔府)

Afternoon: Qufu Ancient City (曲阜古城)

Confucius Culture Theme Park (孔子文化园)

Day 2: Whole day – Endless Color Resort

(Biking, Hiking, Fishing, Spa)

Day 3:

Morning:  Weishan lake Wetland Park ( 微山湖湿地公园)

Eat Fish soup nearby Weishan Lake ( 微山湖附近农家乐品鱼汤)

Afternoon: Mount Yi (驿山)

Endless Color Resort