Shandong might not be on the tip of your tongue when you think of China, but ignoring the region on a visit would be a mistake. The province is regarded as the birthplace of Chinese civilization and is where in 219BC Qin Shi Huang stood on top of Mount Tai and proclaimed the country’s unification, thus becoming its first emperor. Shandong sits on the Western shores of the Yellow Sea and is halfway between Shanghai and Beijing. It is one of China’s most culturally rich provinces, having been home to some of the world’s greatest thinkers. (Ever heard of a guy called Confucius?)
Shandong history goes as far back as half a million years ago. The province boasts a large number of cultural relics and historical sites where, to this day, archaeologists are still digging up relics from the Neolithic period over 8,000 years ago.
The province is the cradle of Taoism and Chinese Buddhism but is most famous for the thinkers who have called it home. Confucius, an influential Chinese philosopher, teacher and political figure was born in the region in 551 BC. His teachings are quoted around the world, 2,500 years on. It is also thought to have been home to the iconic military strategist, Sun Tzu, author of the The Art of War (6th century BC) – chapters of which have been unearthed in archaeological digs in the region.
‘Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance’ – Confucius
China’s national beer, Tsingtao (pronounced Ching Dow), is named after and brewed in the Shandong city of Qingdao. Qingdao and Tsingtao is the same word in Chinese but the name has been translated differently in English, similar to Peking and Beijing. With such good beer on offer to wash down your meal, it’s no surprise that the province has some great food too – in fact, Shandong Cuisine, known in Chinese as Lu Cai, is one of the eight great cuisines of China. Be sure to try the Dezhou stewed chicken – it’s slow cooked with honey, fennel, and sugar and is sure to hit the spot after a long day exploring the province!
Not sure what to visit in Shandong? Explore our top seven list of must-see sights and experiences below.
Baotu Spring is one of the most famous and scenic springs out of the many (over 100) which can be found in Shandong’s capital, Jinan. The spring lies in the center of the city in Baotu Spring Park: ideal for an afternoon stroll while exploring the city’s natural springs, culture, and architecture.
Mount Tai Shan
Mount Tai Shan is the most sacred Daoist peak in China and the most climbed mountain in the world. An estimated two million people ascend to the top to visit its temples and admire the sunrise each year. According to Daoist belief, the mountain is said to have risen from the head of Pangu, the creator of Mother Earth.
Confucius’s hometown and a famous historical city in China. Visit the Temple of Confucius, Confucius Mansion and Confucius Forest and learn about Confucius himself and his school of thought.
Penglai Pavillion Yantai
Perched on top of Danyashan Mountain, the 1000-year-old Penglai Pavillion is often referred to as ‘fairyland’ due to the optical illusions caused by the hot air. The Pavillion has been linked to the famous Daoist legend of ‘The Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea.’
Thousand Bird Island in Yantai
A must stop for bird watching enthusiasts. Head to the Changshan Islands in Yantai and watch hundreds of white birds flock around the island. During your trip make sure to stop at Mazu Temple erected in honor of the ocean goddess.
International Beer Festival in Qingdao
Every August Qingdao holds the largest International beer festival in Asia. For three weeks enjoy carnival-like celebrations, music, parades, performances, and lots of beer tasting. Visit the Tsingtao Brewery while you are there.
Kite Capital of the World – Weifang
People from all over the world head to Weifang to show-off their kites. Visit the World Kite Museum, the largest kite museum in the world, and discover the incredible art and craftsmanship behind kite making.