Starting from January 1, 2019, five Chinese cities — Xiamen, Qingdao, Wuhan, Chengdu and Kunming — will implement a 144-hour (6 day) transit visa exemption policy for non-Chinese citizens who are transiting through the five cities, giving them more time and opportunities to get a taste of the hospitality that Shandong province is known for and experience some of its folk customs. How does one travel in Shandong in 144 hours? Below are some recommendations.
Three-Day Trip throughout the Province’s Coastal Regions
Stop 1: Qingdao
The old city of Qingdao is a place that every traveler to China has heard about and wants to visit. Badaguan, a.k.a. the Expo of World Architecture in China, features a multiplicity of architectural styles, giving visitors the opportunity to feel the romance of the historical locale. Qingdao is also world known for its beer. The Tsingtao Beer Museum founded here by Germans in 1903, and the Qingdao International Beer Festival are major attractions. Zhan Bridge and the May 4th Square are also must-see attractions.
Stop 2: Yantai
The seaside city of Yantai has a distinctly different feel from Qingdao. Yantai Mountain is the region’s landmark and a scenic spot replete with beautiful scenery and oddly-shaped rocks. The nearby city of Penglai has a long, historical association with the Taoist legend of the Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea, imbuing visitors with a sense of being in a wonderland. In winter, lightly falling snow and seagulls in flight make for a spectacular sight.
Stop 3: Weihai
Nicknamed China’s Garden City, this coastal city is known for its relaxing, lush forests, picturesque islands and beaches. Every winter in Yandunjiao, travelers can observe the thousands of whooper swans that spend the winter here. Lights from the fishing boats, seaweed cottages and country roads form a dream-like world reminiscent of what one might only see in an oil painting.
Three-day Trip of the Inland Regions
Stop 1: a magical journey to Tai’erzhuang
During the visit in Tai’erzhuang, a water town nestled in a landscape that is typical of the region that lies on the north side of the Yangtze River at the point where Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces meet, you can make your entrance into the ancient city on the deck of a black-awning boat and turn back the clock as you stroll leisurely around the houses, walking bridges and gently meandering canals and rivers that frame the exquisite scene, taking in the ancient Huizhou buildings and the architecture that is emblematic of the region.
Stop 2: Mount Tai
Climb to the top of Mount Tai, known as the Chief of the Five Sacred Mountains, and take in the view of all mountains in a single glance. At the top of the mountain, you can look down on the whole of the city of Tai’an.
Stop 3: Qufu, a.k.a. the Holy City of the East
If you want to understand the true meaning of the common Chinese saying, “how happy we are to meet friends from afar”, a visit to Kong Family Mansion, the Temple of Confucius and Confucius Cemetery is an essential part of the journey through Shandong. Experience what it must have felt like in the days of Confucius at Kong Family Mansion, visit the Great Hall of Confucius and the first private school in China, which is located inside the Temple of Confucius, as well as the classic Confucian culture on display at the famed burial place.
Stop 4: Jinan, the City of Springs
In Jinan, a city known for its many springs, you can enjoy the beauty and sound of bubbling water, all well stocked with many species of beautiful fish. The water that pours forth from Pearl Spring emulates the look of gorgeous pearls. The area is home to 72 famous springs, among them, Baotu Spring, Black Tiger Spring, Five Dragon Pool and Baimai Spring, each one worth a visit as each is unique in its natural design and surrounding flora.