Travelling to Shandong, China

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Shandong is a coastal province located in the eastern part of China. It is bordered by the Yellow Sea on two sides, and three sides are surrounded by different provinces. It has a population of 97 million, making it the second most populous province in China. The provincial capital is Jinan. The total area of Shandong is around 160,000 square kilometers. Shandong has a rich history and the roots of Confucianism, a philosophical system developed by Confucius, run deep. With this long and profound history, Shandong boasts a wealth of cultural relics and historical sites which attract a lot of visitors from all over the country. At the same time, Shandong is also one of the major birthplaces of China’s major ancient civilization of Shang and Qi as a coastal province. Shandong is famous for the birthplace of Confucius in Qufu and the city of Qingdao, which is also well-known in the world, not just because of the internationally famous Qingdao beer, but also the beautiful coastal sceneries. In addition, Shandong has now become a strong economic powerhouse. With the opening up of Eastern Shandong, the province has become a rising star in the East. For example, the Jinan Innovation zone, in the province’s capital, has created one of China’s top emerging regions for digital industries and technology. Also, the New and High-Tech Industry Development Zone in Qingdao has fostered international trade, technological innovation and urban modernisation in the Eastern coastal area of Qingdao. Now, Shandong is promoting a new round of opening-up, following the successful practice of Jinan and Qingdao, by seeking cooperation and mutual benefits with other countries and regions. As a result, greater achievements and broader prospects have been eagerly anticipated. So why is Shandong worth a visit? Well, apart from the release from study for a week, finding out Confucius from his hometown and lying on the beach of a coastal city, when considering the significant contributions Shandong has made in the past and being made at present- in history, in culture and in the future, there must be something more profound awaiting to be explored. And this comprehensive journey to Shandong will give an answer to all kinds of questions. In the following chapters, readers will first have a taste of Shandong in a more general and diversified way, then a thorough journey physically and mentally will be initiated, leading readers through both time and space, and finishing in a vast land of inspiration and wisdom.

Overview of Shandong

In addition to being one of the birthplaces of Chinese civilization, Shandong is a hub of rich cultural and economic history impacting both ancient and contemporary China. Shandong is home to numerous historical and cultural landmarks such as Mount Tai, which is widely regarded as the most famous mountain in China and associated with sunrise, birth, hope, and inspiration. Moreover, the province boasts a quite developed economy with a large number of well-known privately owned enterprises. Shandong dishes are one of the most influential local cuisines in China, and the province is the place of origin for ‘Lu Cuisine’, one of the Eight Culinary Traditions of Chinese cuisine. Every year, a number of major international professional and cultural events are held in Shandong, and these may supply visitors with great opportunities to appreciate the local culture. For instance, Qingdao International Beer Festival is reputed as the biggest beer festival in Asia; the tradition started since the end of the 19th century when Qingdao was occupied by Germany, and it is still a grand event nowadays. As a famous port city and the sailing events’ host of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Qingdao is worth a visit and is one of the most popular tourist cities around the globe. The Confucius Temple in Qufu, with its long history of 2000 years and invaluable cultural relics, is another highlight in Shandong. Besides, the temple fair is held every year on 27th August for the celebration of Confucius’ birthday, which attracts tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world. The province is also well known for the Yantai Wine Region, which covers an area of 759 square kilometers and is thereby the second-largest wine producer in China. Moreover, with a quite comprehensive social welfare and public facilities, for instance, some major hospitals have established international medical assistance departments, providing medical and consultancy services in foreign languages, such as English, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and so forth. This will be quite helpful for foreign travelers. Last but not least, following the development of the tourist industry in recent years, Shandong is now making big progress in infrastructure construction of tourism. Every place described here has its new plans of construction or maintains, and it can be expected that Shandong will be more attractive for tourists all over the world. From the brief introduction, I hope you have formed a general idea of Shandong. And as a geographer, Shandong will give me a precious opportunity not only to appreciate its unique geographical landscape and historical culture but also to investigate into the regional development and its relationship with geographical theories. I am going to spend nearly 2 weeks for this field trip, and during which I will travel around the major part of Shandong and visit different scenic spots and towns as well. And here comes my intended itinerary. Can’t wait to share with you next time!

Why visit Shandong?

Shandong is a province of rich history, beautiful landscapes, and diverse culture. The variety of attractions and experiences it offers makes it a perfect holiday destination for everyone. First and foremost, Shandong is the birthplace of Confucius, the great Chinese philosopher, thinker, and educator whose system of belief has a great impact on Chinese civilization. The Confucius Temple and Cemetery, where the descendants of Confucius are buried, and the Confucius Six Arts City are located in Qufu, a city in the southwest of Shandong. These ancient sites are not only of great historical and cultural importance, but also they are very serene and harmonious places. Therefore, if you are interested in Chinese history and philosophy, Shandong is a place that you cannot miss out. Secondly, Shandong boasts some of the most famous and sacred mountains in China. As the topography of Shandong is mainly flat, these mountains are particularly impressive as they rise high in their surroundings. For instance, Mount Tai, which is located in central Shandong, is the most famous one. It is a mountain of both natural and cultural significance, as it is long regarded as the foremost of the “Five Great Mountains” in China and a place where heaven meets the earth according to ancient Chinese belief. Nowadays, Mount Tai is classified as a 5A tourist attraction – the highest level in China, attracting a great number of visitors all year round. The beautiful and serene natural landscapes together with the awe-inspiring ancient architectures on the mountaintop are definitely a feast for the eyes. Last but not least, Shandong is also famous for its beautiful coastal cities, such as Qingdao and Yantai. With beautiful seascape, golden sandy beaches, comfortable weather, and fresh seafood, they are emerging as hot destinations for beach holidays in China. For people who prefer slow-paced travel experience, a few days of relaxation by the seaside in Shandong would be a great addition to their trip.

Must-Visit Destinations in Shandong

East of the city of Jinan, Shandong, and located in the center of the northern Chinese provinces, Mount Tai is one of the most well-known mountains in China. It is associated with sunrise, birth, and renewal, and therefore is regarded as sacred by the Chinese people. The mountain comprises imposing peaks, a number of Taoist temples, and the remains of a large number of stone inscriptions placed on the cliffs and rocks along the paths of ascent. This is a beautiful place to visit, not only for the stunning views from the summit and the beautiful pine forests and ancient trees found at every level, but also for the rich cultural experience offered by the temple complex and the chance to witness the ‘rite of the morning sun’. On the twenty-fifth and fifty-seventh day of the lunar calendar each year, hundreds of people gather on the summit to await the magical moment when the sun will rise in the sky. The ritual includes the offering of food, prayers, and the burning of incense at the Jade Emperor Temple before tourists can gather at the eastern side of the peak to watch the sun climb into the morning sky. I did this trip with my wife and young children on August 27th. It was a beautiful summer morning, and we arrived at the top of the mountain at about five o’clock in the morning. We sat and waited at the Jade Emperor Temple, and then once we had experienced the rite, we continued to explore the mountain and the temples, and climbed back down again. It was a truly fantastic experience to see the sunrise, and the atmosphere among the waiting pilgrims created a feeling of spiritual connection. The tourists began with caution as the first sliver of the sun began to creep across the horizon, then burst into applause once the first rays hit the sky. It was great to see such an old ritual still in place today.

Mount Tai

The first must-visit destination that we recommend is Mount Tai or Tai Shan. One of the most famous mountains in China, Mount Tai is located north of Tai’an and is closely related to both the Chinese imperial tradition and Chinese Taoism. The mountain is celebrated for its magnificent natural scenery – towering, imposing, and majestic – and for its cultural and historical significance. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. “Taishan, where the emperor’s thousands of years of prayer to the heaven and earth and to his ancestors have left a landscape of grand historic vistas, is a leading example of a sacralized mountain, a mountain venerated as a deity, as a monument to the identity of a community. Every day for two millennia, an unbroken chain of visitors ascended to the summit to perform this simple duty on behalf of the emperor, at least until the weeks before the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911.” The ancient Chinese believed it was the closest place to heaven. 登頂登封 (deng ding deng feng) means reaching the top of Mount Tai, and that phrase has entered the Chinese idiomatic dictionary. Alternatively, it means achieving higher social status. This digital photo that I took around 7:30 am is my favorite. It shows the Jin Wu Bu in the morning fog, with the sun rising from the East. The granite pavements had turned to a shade of orange not unlike the color of the mountain itself. As the sun climbed above the mountains, the Western rock was bathed in the golden morning light while Jin Wu Bu was still covered in the lingering lowland mist. The Taoist Daizong Baoxiang Temple and nuns congregating for morning prayers were also captured in the background. From this peak, there are 700 steps down to the Jade Emperor peak. Most people wisely opt for the public bus, which is the peak service. That is unless you had spent 4 hours and 60Y to be carried up to the peak, a royal service that claimed to have imperial connections. On my way down to the middle peak of Mount Tai, I was met with Fu and Lu. They are two friendly elderly ladies and we decided to form a team to reach the mid peak together. It turned out that they both were too nervous to continue; so I took off while they waited for Friends of the Joss to show up. And finally, this photo shows the unnamed peak on the way to the mid peak. It is a shady and peaceful place for the monkeys to congregate. I took this picture at the right moment when two monkeys were cuddling. How lovely.


The city of Qingdao, settled on the south bank of the Shandong Peninsula in the Yellow Sea, has delightful seashore scenes, clear sea water, and energetic sea waves. Qingdao is likewise rich in vacation spots. The unpredictable mix of German and Asian design gives the town a particular look. There is such a great amount to see thus numerous great puts on display that a vacationer could spend an entire week getting a charge out of every one of the sights Qingdao brings to the table. One issue is that Qingdao is gigantically well known as a traveler objective in China, so it would be insightful to stay away from the Labor Day occasions toward the start of May and the National Day occasion in the principal seven day stretch of October, which are top occasions for homegrown sightseers. Nonetheless, in the event that you are adequately fortunate to be here outside these high pinnacle seasons, you will discover Qingdao an extremely charming and interesting traveler objective.

Confucius Temple in Qufu

One of the most attractive destinations in Shandong is Qufu, which is about two hours’ drive from Jinan, the capital city of Shandong Province. The main reason why people come to Qufu is the Confucius Temple. It is the largest temple of the 3,000 or so dedicated to Confucius all over the world. The temple is where people worshipped Confucius. Next to the temple is the Confucius Family Mansion, where the direct descendants of Confucius lived. Then there is the Confucius Forest, where the descendants are buried. These three sites – the temple, the family mansion, and the forest – are collectively listed as UNESCO World Heritage. Yu, who was born just 50 kilometers north of Qufu, led me to the south gate of the temple. This gate is called “Da Xiong Men” in Chinese, which literally means the gate of “Big Bear”. It is the main entrance of the temple, and Yu told me that we had to buy tickets at the building next to the gate. The tickets are like a passport, which allows us to enter the temple, the mansion, and the forest. As I walked through the gate, I saw a big garden in front of the main hall of the temple. The garden has a large collection of ancient stone tablets, which were used to record people’s achievements in the ancient time. These records were sent to the emperor as national treasures, so the tablets are regarded as important historical evidence of the Chinese civilization. The highlight of the temple is the 15th Hall, which is the main hall. It is where people pay tribute to Confucius. The hall houses the statue of Confucius, and the walls are decorated with the famous Analects of Confucius. The Analects are a record of speeches and discussions made by Confucius and his students. In the past, students had to study these texts before they could go to university. Now, the Analects have become an important historic and cultural symbol of China. As a result, many Chinese people see the temple as a location of national pride and a link to the thousands of years of Chinese history.

Yantai Wine Region

Tourists can visit the wine production region in both Yantai and Penglai for a day trip experience by going on a fully guided wine tasting tour which usually includes a visit to the wine production line, the wine cellars to see the oak barrels, and a sample session in a large wine tasting room. An added benefit to this kind of tour is that the companies often employ multilingual tour guides including English speaking staff which makes it accessible to foreigners who do not speak Chinese. I consider this day trip as a good opportunity for tourists as it is educational and visitors can learn about the history of wine in China. Also, it is a fascinating chance to enjoy the wine tasting experience by trying the variety of wines produced in the region. The beautiful coastal city and the natural environment in Yantai attracts millions of tourists every year and the wine tour is yet another reason for international travelers to make a stop here in their China journey.

One major tourism attraction for Yantai is the wine production in the region. Due to the climate and soil conditions being similar to those of wine producing regions in France and Italy, wine produced in the Yantai and Penglai has won a number of awards both domestically and internationally over the last decade. The top two wine producing companies in Yantai are Changyu and Great Wall. Both names reflect the city’s old and new tradition and heritage. Changyu has been producing wine since 1892 and is therefore the oldest wine producer in China. It is also known as the royal wine supplier to the last Qing Dynasty and the corporate has become a national symbol of the modern Chinese wine industry. On the other hand, Great Wall is well known in the world as one of the leading wine producers in China and is also the wine supplier for a number of major events, such as the APEC Summit which was held in Beijing in 2014.

Yantai is the second largest of the 17 cities in Shandong and is located in the northeast of the province. The city has a population of around 6.5 million and is a busy port and a major industrial center. The city is a great combination of both modern urban development and living alongside a rich history which dates back to 1398 when it was founded. The city has been under the administration of both the British and the Japanese occupations until 1945. With that history, Yantai today is both a vibrant and growing city to visit for business or tourism. However, it is also a convenient gateway to a number of coastal cities such as Qingdao and the surrounding areas of outstanding natural beauty.

Cultural Experiences in Shandong

Zhoucun Old Town, located in Zibo city, is among the first batch of famous historical and cultural towns and villages in China. Many buildings are remaining since the Ming and Qing dynasties and numerous stone sculptures, steles and couplets could be found. The town is well-known because it has all the three kinds of ancient city walls including Ming Dynasty city wall, Yuan Dynasty city tower and Qing Dynasty castle. It is definitely a good place for people to trace back to the past and delve deeper into the ancient history.

26th April, the day Confucius was born, is a day for people to commemorate Confucius in Qufu and the annual city’s major ceremony falls on the same day. Local people wear traditional dresses such as black three-unfinished round-collared robe and blue court dress and perform the traditional music and dance. It would be a great chance for people to embrace traditional Chinese culture and at the same time, to learn more about Confucius, the great philosopher in ancient China.

Shandong cuisine is known for its light aroma, freshness, and a mixture of tastes including salty, sweet, sour, and savory. One of the most famous dishes in Shandong is Sweet and Sour Carp – the fishermen’s style. The fish is deep-fried until very crispy and then poured over with a rich sweet and sour sauce that consists of fine sugar, Chinkiang vinegar, and dark rice wine. Lotus Pancake is another popular and traditional dish in the old city of Qingdao. It is a kind of small cake made of bean paste. The cake is then wrapped in a lotus leaf and is cooked by steaming, producing a light green color and a real lotus aroma.

Shandong Province boasts a rich cultural history and a variety of aspects that contribute to the Chinese culture, including Confucianism, literature and art, and traditional customs and festivals. This section discusses some of the main cultural experiences travelers will enjoy in Shandong, particularly focusing on the three areas of sampling local food, participating in traditional festivals, and visiting ancient temples and monuments.

Sampling Shandong Cuisine

Shandong cuisine, also known as Lu cuisine, is one of the eight culinary traditions of Chinese cuisine and a major cultural treasure in Shandong. With a long history, it has gained a high reputation around China for its delicious, pure, and original taste. The highlights of Shandong cuisine are its emphasis on aroma, crispness, tenderness, and freshness. Also, shallots and garlic are frequently used, which make Shandong dishes aromatic and delicious. The most influential schools of Shandong cuisine are the Jinan cuisine, the Jiaodong cuisine, and the Kongfu cuisine. More than 1300 years ago, Shandong cuisine started to be famous because of the imperial kitchen in Jinan, and cooking features gradually took shape during the Jin and Tang dynasties. In Shandong cuisine, numerous dishes have been widely accepted such as sweet and sour carp, bird’s nest in clear soup, Dezhou stewed chicken, braised abalone with mushroom and bean curd as well. These dishes cannot only be found in luxurious big hotels but also little eateries. The flavors of the dishes from both big hotels and little restaurants are quite authentic, traditional, and original without being commercialized. You may taste the essence of Shandong’s classic dishes everywhere along the trip. Also, we recommend several brilliant restaurants in Jinan for experiencing the typical Shandong flavor – Quancheng Wen Xuan and Lao Zhuang Yuan restaurant, which will definitely leave you a long-lasting impression in terms of traditional Chinese food.

Participating in Traditional Festivals

The most pleasant time in Shandong is during festive periods, and tourists will, however, be able to feel the strong essence of the rich culture of Shandong by participating in the traditional festivals. There are many traditional celebrations in Shandong, such as the Lantern Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, and the Mid-autumn Festival. Among all of these, the most important and the grandest is the Spring Festival, which is also known as the Chinese New Year. Spring Festival is a time for family reunions. The festival starts from the first day of the first month in the Chinese lunar calendar and continues for 15 days. Every family is busy preparing for this big occasion by cleaning up the house, making tons of delicious food, and buying new clothes, as it is customary to wear new clothes during the first few days of the festival. On the eve of the Spring Festival, there is a large family dinner, and the occasion marks the end of the previous year and the beginning of the New Year. People will stay up late or even overnight to welcome the New Year with firecrackers and other activities. During the 15-day celebration, there are numerous activities and events all over Shandong, such as temple fairs, dragon and lion dance performances, and various folklore displays. Adults will give children “luck money” in red packets, as a special gift for the children and also to wish them a good year ahead. Another important festival is the Mid-autumn Festival, which takes place on the 15th day of the 8th month in the Chinese lunar calendar, when the moon is supposed to be the fullest. The festival is a time for family reunion, and it is customary for people to admire the full moon on that night. One tradition of the Mid-autumn Festival is eating the so-called “Moon Cakes”, which are deep-fried and sweet-stuff-filled pastries in a round shape. It is believed to bring good fortune, and thus the giving of moon cakes to friends and family members is a common practice as a kind of blessing. On the day when the Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated, the famous “Laoshan Lantern Festival” will also be held in Laoshan, which is a national holiday resort and scenic area. The festival is unique in a way that visitors and tourists are encouraged to make their own paper lanterns during the day, and then all the homemade lanterns will be lit up at nightfall along the shores and the mountain paths, which is an absolutely remarkable sight in the night. Such festive events have become more and more popular among international tourists, as the colorful and diversified activities provide not only enjoyment but also understanding of the very essence of the Chinese culture. Python users decided to use white-space as the delimiter between different elements in a list.

Visiting Ancient Temples and Monuments

Thirdly, there are many ancient temples and historical monuments that are preserved very well in Shandong. It’s a unique experience visiting these ancient, solemn places where once emperors or monks came for worship or meditation. The most famous one would be the Mount Tai – the most leading, the most splendid and the most well known mountain of the “Five Sacred Mountains in China”. In 1987, Mount Tai was listed as world cultural and natural heritage by UNESCO. Every year, millions of people come to Mount Tai for sightseeing or climbing and more importantly, many of them are pilgrims. Climbing Mount Tai is an amazing and must-do experience. There are totally 6,293 steps from the bottom to the top! Trust me, when you finally get to the peak and look back to see the thousands of steps you have just passed, you will feel extremely accomplished. The sunrise and sunset on Mount Tai are the two spectacles we shouldn’t miss. I’ve been to Mount Tai for three times and I can tell you watching sunrise there is absolutely unforgettable and especially at the top of Fenghuang Tower. It’s so extraordinary that you won’t believe your eyes and you probably will be moved to tears. Most importantly, watching sunrise won’t take you too much time to wait. As long as it’s a sunny day, you’ll definitely get to see the marvelous moment. On the top of Mount Tai, there are many cultural relics like Dai Temple, Bixia Temple etc. which also have a long history that can date back to thousand years. Besides, there are also some smaller mountains or temples such as Nanshan Mountain, Taimiao, Lingyan Temple, Daizong Architecture and Daimiao Confucius etc. I have been to Nanshan Mountain – a place for both Taoist and Buddhism activities. These temples are located in different cities in Shandong, so travelers may need to do some researches before making plans. Last but not least, I want to introduce Taierzhuang Ancient Town to you. Taierzhuang is the most famous water town in China which has a history of over 2,000 years. It’s located in Zaozhuang, a city somewhere between Qufu and Linyi and territory of the Grand Canal of China. When we were travelling by boat in the town, local people on banks just like to say hello to us. This experience really made me feel like I was a time traveler. The town is quite well reserved. Most of the houses are the traditional grey white walls and black tiles with wooden eaves, showing the simple and elegant style of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Also, the crisscrossing waterways attached by arch bridges make the town a very charming and peaceful place. This is a brief introduction about Taierzhuang and remember, the best way to enjoy this town is trying to slow down your pace, not to follow the main streets and crowds but to walk into those narrow lanes. Let the town surprise you at every corner. I’ve read many introductions about travelling and experiences in Shandong before but most of them, especially those in English, they are more likely to focus on Mount Tai and the Confucius Temple. As a local person who was born and grew up in Shandong, I would suggest you to travel to ancient temples and Taierzhuang. There might be some less convenient in transportation and less English signals, but with some helps from local people and a heart of explorer, you will definitely discover the beauty of ancient China that you have never known. I hope you will enjoy your trip in Shandong and create your own amazing experiences.

Practical Information for Travelers

When planning your trip, the best time to visit Shandong is from March to November when the weather is mild. Mid-April to mid-May and mid-September to mid-October are recommended because the scenery is beautiful, the weather is pleasant, and the tourist spots are less crowded. Summer is hot, humid, and rainy and many areas of China, including Shandong, are affected by typhoons from July to September. Winter is cold and dry. If you travel to Shandong during the winter, you have the opportunity not only to see snow and experience various winter activities, but also to enjoy the renowned winter food and hot springs. Due to the fact that the weather is very different between the south and the north of Shandong, you may come across different climates and conditions in different cities. For example, it might be raining in Qingdao while it is sunny in Jinan. It is important to check weather forecasts for regions you plan to visit before you set off and bring suitable clothing and skin protection, especially for long outdoor activities or trips. Also, it is worth noting that most of the ancient cultural and natural attractions in Shandong are located in mountains. Please bear in mind that the weather in mountainous areas changes frequently so you are strongly advised to check the local weather in your destinations and the conditions of paths or attractions regularly.

Best Time to Visit Shandong

The best time to visit Shandong is in spring and autumn. Spring falls in March to May and autumn starts from September to November. The temperatures are moderate in both seasons, which is pleasant to travel and they are not in the peak season. This means the entrance fees for tourist attractions are relatively cheaper and there are fewer people in the sites. The summers in Shandong are from June to August. The weather is hot and it is the rainy season as well. On average, more than ten days per month are rainy days. Sometimes, the typhoon will affect the weather in Shandong, especially in coastal areas like Qingdao and Yantai. Given all this, it is not ideal to travel Shandong in summer for the outdoors activities. Winter is from December to February in Shandong. The temperatures are low in Shandong and it is humid. Although winter is the low season for travelling, it is not the best time to visit Shandong since many outdoor tourist sites are not available due to bad weather. For example, the transportation to Mount Tai in winter is limited. And the famous Mount Tai sunrise can only be seen from April to October. Besides, the Yantai International Hot Air Balloon Festival, Qingdao International Beer Festival and many other grand events are held in summer. And the “Golden Week” of the tourist peak season in China is 1st October to 7th October, in which Chinese people are having their national holidays for seven days. It is also suggested not to travel Shandong in this period as all the tourists and students all over China are having their holidays in Shandong as well.

Transportation in Shandong

The province is very well connected, and transportation in Shandong is efficient and reliable. You can choose to travel to Shandong by plane, by train, or by boat. Shandong has two international airports. Qingdao Liuting International Airport is one of China’s eight regional hub airports and is well connected with major cities in China and major cities in South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong. Yantai Penglai International Airport is also well connected with many domestic cities in China, including Beijing and Shanghai. If you are planning to visit Qingdao from Japan, Incheon from South Korea, or Hong Kong, taking a flight will be your best option. However, if you are already in China, you can travel to Shandong by train. There are two high-speed rail lines, Jinghu High-Speed Railway and Jiaoji High-Speed Railway, passing through Shandong. If you are traveling to Shandong from Beijing, you can take a high-speed train from Beijing to Jinan. After that, you can either continue the journey by high-speed train to other cities, such as Qingdao, or you can take a normal train or coach to other tourist destinations in Shandong. Also, passengers can choose to travel to Shandong by boat. Yantai, Weihai, and Rizhao are all listed as ports open to foreign ships. Yantai Port is the base port of Shandong, and it has services to Incheon and Gumi in South Korea and Uji in Japan. As for domestic routes, passengers can travel between Yantai and Dalian, Tianjin, and Xingang. The boat travel experience is tranquil and conducive to sightseeing and exploration of the Yellow Sea. In Shandong, the high-speed network is well developed, and road conditions and traffic are generally good. Therefore, travelers can choose to travel by bus and coach as well. Buses are generally cheaper than trains. Plus, traveling by bus will give you more flexibility and greater access to rural areas in Shandong. Many big cities have long-distance coach stations and you can always check the latest information or purchase tickets at the coach stations. Local bus services are also offered and tickets can be in cash or by the Shandong public transportation IC card. The Shandong public transportation IC card is called “shanxiangtong” and passengers can get it from metro counters, designated convenience stores, post offices, and metro stations. The use of the “shanxiangtong” card allows you to integrate payment for metro, airport bus services, and some city buses. So, it is definitely a good option for travelers who want to make full use of the public transportation services in Shandong.

Accommodation Options

We spent 10 days in Shandong and we chose to stay in three different types of accommodation to fully experience the variety that was on offer. The different types of lodging were hotels, a hostel, and a homestay. In Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province, we stayed at the “In Spring” Youth Hostel. This was a modern hostel with fresh and clean rooms. It was located near the historical area of the city and the staff were incredibly welcoming and helpful. The hostel itself also offered a wide range of services including free luggage storage, laundry rooms, and even a self-serve bar with a variety of traditional Chinese drinks. We, of course, knew that staying in a hostel, the facilities were not going to be as extensive as those of a hotel, but actually, we were pleasantly surprised. The laundry room, for example, consisted of several large, industrial-standard washing machines and dryers so that guests would not have to wait long for their clothes to be cleaned. The self-serve bar turned out to be another highlight too and acted as a fantastic social hub in the evenings. In both Yantai and Qingdao, we chose to stay in hotels. The first hotel was the “Bright Radiance” Hotel. Situated in the downtown area, this four-star modern hotel had a fantastic central location which made walking around and seeing the sights of Yantai very easy. The staff were extremely helpful and the room was spacious and really comfortable. We were especially pleased to have an en-suite bathroom as this wasn’t something that we got from the hostel in Jinan. The next hotel, the “Grand Hoya Hotel” in Qingdao, was where we enjoyed the most luxury out of the three types of accommodation. The hotel was rated with five stars and we certainly were not disappointed by the quality of the service and the rooms themselves. Staff members were incredibly attentive and greeted us very warmly on our arrival at the hotel lobby. The double room that we stayed in was magnificently furnished and came with an en-suite bathroom, a seating area complete with a large television, and even a balcony with a lovely view overlooking the streets of Qingdao. For our last two nights in Shandong, we decided to book a homestay in Mount Tai through the website Airbnb. With the increasing popularity of homestay bookings, we were interested to experience what this type of accommodation was like. After a number of considerations, we chose the “Tiantai House” and booked the only two nights they had left available. To our delight, the location was truly as described on the website – in fact, when we arrived and saw the little house surrounded by bamboo forests, we became excited like little children. However, what truly astonished us was the incredible kindness and friendliness of the hosts. They were an elderly couple who couldn’t speak any English at all, but they were so incredibly warm and full of joy that the language barrier seemed to have no effect on our communication. The lady, Mrs. Yang, welcomed us with open arms and even insisted that she would cook dinner for us. We had a double room that was part of the main house, and the room was nicely decorated with a traditional Chinese charm. The bed was very comfy, and we had the luxury of air conditioning – which was greatly appreciated as we visited Mount Tai during the summer when the temperature could soar up to 40 degrees Celsius. Mrs. Yang’s homemade dinner under the setting sun gave us one of the most memorable and heartwarming experiences in Shandong. I would definitely recommend staying in a homestay and if possible, choose the “Tiantai House” – you won’t regret it! In Shandong, there is also the option of staying in “guesthouses”.

Safety Tips for Traveling in Shandong

It is important to be always aware of your surroundings and have a good understanding of the local laws and customs when traveling in China. This would help avoid any unpleasant incidents that could easily be prevented and ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip in general. The official language in Shandong is Mandarin Chinese and it is the only language used in official and formal occasions. The following are some safety tips for traveling in Shandong. First of all, you are advised not to give any form of gratuity to any government personnel, for example policemen and custom officers. This is considered as a serious criminal offense and the circumstance could be worsened by making illegal payments. In addition, a traveler should take good care of their personal belongings and never leave them unattended in public areas, especially in tourist spots. Do not put wallets or mobile phones in the back pockets of your pants and make sure the handbags are properly zipped and secured. Also, try as much as possible not to carry too many valuable items with you and do not wear expensive jewelry conspicuously. Always make sure that your passport and visa are in a secure and safe place and lock them in a safety box at the hotel. Do not carry them around unless it is absolutely necessary. For female travelers, be extra cautious when shopping or traveling alone at night. If you eventually do face any difficulties, seek help from the local police. However, if there is any language barrier, you can call 110 to ask for police assistance. Last but not least, it is essential to be aware of the local emergency number and the location of your country’s embassy or consulate in Shandong.