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Travel Guide Asia China Shandong

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Introduction

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Shandong (山东) is a coastal province of the People's Republic of China, and is part of the East China region. Shandong has played a major role in Chinese history from the beginning of Chinese civilization along the lower reaches of the Yellow River and served as a pivotal cultural and religious site for Taoism, Chinese Buddhism, and Confucianism. Shandong's Mount Tai is the most revered mountain of Taoism and one of the world's sites with the longest history of continuous religious worship. The Buddhist temples in the mountains to the south of the provincial capital of Jinan were once among the foremost Buddhist sites in China. The city of Qufu is the birthplace of Confucius, and was later established as the center of Confucianism.

Shandong's location at the intersection of ancient as well as modern north–south and east–west trading routes have helped to establish it as an economic center. After a period of political instability and economic hardship that began in the late 19th century, Shandong has emerged as one of the most populous and most affluent provinces in China.

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Geography

The northwestern, western, and southwestern parts of the province are all part of the vast North China Plain. The center of the province is more mountainous, with Mount Tai being the most prominent. The east of the province is the hilly Shandong Peninsula extending into the sea; it separates Bohai Sea in the northwest from the Yellow Sea to the east and south. The highest peak of Shandong is the highest peak in the Taishan area: Jade Emperor Peak, with a height of 1,545 metres.

The Yellow River passes through Shandong's western areas, entering the sea along Shandong's northern coast; in its traversal of Shandong it flows on a levee, higher than the surrounding land, and dividing western Shandong into the Hai He watershed in the north and the Huai River watershed in the south. The Grand Canal of China enters Shandong from the northwest and leaves on the southwest. Weishan Lake is the largest lake of the province. Shandong's coastline is 3,000 kilometres long. Shandong Peninsula has a rocky coastline with cliffs, bays, and islands; the large Laizhou Bay, the southernmost of the three bays of Bohai Sea, is found to the north, between Dongying and Penglai; Jiaozhou Bay, which is much smaller, is found to the south, next to Qingdao. The Miaodao Islands extend northwards from the northern coast of the peninsula.

With Jinan serving as the province's economic and cultural centre, the province's economic prowess has led to the development of modern coastal cities located at Qingdao, Weihai, and Yantai.

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Cities

  • The capital of this province is Jinan (济南).
  • Qingdao (青岛) is the largest city and financial capital of Shandong province.

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Sights and Activities

Mount Tai

Located in Eastern China, Mount Tai (泰山, Tàishān), is one of the most famous mountains in China. It is considered the most famous of the 5 Sacred Chinese Mountains. The mountain has had human settlement around it since the Neolithic period and has been the sight of several warring periods. About 3,000 years ago active religious worship began at the mountain and continues to this day, with several active temples still located precariously on the slops. As a legacy there are 22 temples, 97 ruins, 819 stone tablets and 1,018 clidd-side and stone inscriptions scattered across the mountain. Mount Tai is a tilted fault-block mountain, which means it is a series of high peaks, that increase in elevation from north to south. The highest peaks are Jade Emperor Peak, Heaven Candle Peak, Fan Cliff and the Rear Rock Basin. 80% of the area is covered in vegetation an many of the trees were planted by the Emperor Wu Di about 1,300 years ago. In 1987 the mountain was designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today the Mount Tai has over 6 million visitors a year. Official Website: http://www.mount-tai.com.cn/english/index.asp

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Events and Festivals

China has three "Golden Week" holidays per year. People get a mandatory two or three days off work for each holiday, and workers' companies can grant them the rest of the week off, making each holiday a total of 7 days. As you can imagine, having almost 1.4 billion people with the same days off can make travelling at these times arduous to say the least.

Travelling during the Spring Festival/Chinese New Year is incredibly difficult. Chinese New Year is China's Christmas, so the millions of migrant workers and students flood back to their home towns. Everybody else takes the opportunity to spend their hong bao (gifts of money traditionally given at CNY) and go travelling. Most of the time, since you are only allowed to purchase train tickets 6 days in advance and must be present in the city of origin, sometimes only standing room tickets are available. Be aware! The Spring Festival is undoubtedly the busiest time for the Chinese transportation system. Flying will avoid the crowded trains, but book early and expect to pay higher prices. All the main tourist attractions will be crawling with tourists (worse than usual), so unless you like crowds, it's best to avoid it altogether.

Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar, so the date changes each year. The Chinese New Year/Spring Festival holiday is 7 days long and usually starts on New Year's Eve.

The two other national holidays are October 1st, National Day, celebrating the founding of the People's Republic of China and May 1st, which is International Labor Day. Almost all Chinese get the two holidays off and many take the opportunity to travel. If you want to avoid the crowds, fly, but it should get a lot less busy towards the end of the week.

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Weather

Shandong has a temperate climate, lying in the transition between the humid subtropical and humid continental zones with four distinct seasons. Summers are hot and rainy (except for a few coastal areas), while winters are cold and dry. Average temperatures are -5 to 1 °C in January and 24 to 28 °C in July. Annual precipitation is 550 to 950 mm, the vast majority of which occurs during summer, due to monsoonal influences.

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Getting There

By Plane

Flights from Liuting International Airport go frequently to many Chinese cities, including Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai. There are also international services to Seoul, Osaka, Nagoya, Taipei, Tokyo and Fukuoka. It takes 30 minutes by taxi to reach the airport from downtown Qingado. Cheaper but longer bus rides are available as well.

By Train

The Jingjiu Railway (Beijing-Kowloon) and Jinghu Railway (Beijing-Shanghai) are both major arterial railways that pass through the western part of Shandong. The Jingjiu passes through Liaocheng and Heze; the Jinghu passes through Dezhou, Jinan, Tai'an, Yanzhou (the Jinghu high-speed railway will through Qufu), and Tengzhou.

By Boat

Ferries can be caught from this province to South Korea and Japan due to its relative proximity. There tend to be sizable Korean communities around the ports which sail to South Korea as well.

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Getting Around

By Train

The Jiaoji Railway is an important railway of Shandong, linking its two largest cities of Qingdao and Jinan, with the longest history of all.

By Car

Shandong has one of the densest and highest quality expressway networks among all Chinese provinces. At over 3,000 kilometres, the total length of Shandong's expressways is the highest among the provinces.

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Shandong Travel Helpers

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This is version 12. Last edited at 9:24 on Aug 16, 17 by Utrecht. 13 articles link to this page.

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