Explore Shandong on Jinan-Qingdao high-speed railway
Cui Xingyu

Our previous episode took you on an ice and snow adventure in northeast China's Harbin Province. Today, we plan to set off on a new journey and explore the "Friendly Shandong" in east China. 

December 26, 2018, marks the inaugural operation of the Jinan-Qingdao high-speed railway that links two major cities in Shandong Province. Since its operation, the bullet train has gained much popularity not just for its reduced travel time of 100 minutes, but also for the large number of attractions along the route. 

The following nine places at their corresponding stops will provide you with an unforgettable tour of Shandong for a chance to take in its enchanting natural scenery as well as its rich history and culture.

Jinan East Railway Station

Our tour starts from Jinan, the provincial capital of Shandong, which is also known as the "City of Springs" with 72 springs scattered across the city. There are three must-visit places in the city: Baotu Spring, Daming Lake, and Thousand Buddha Mountain.

Baotu Spring, nestled at the center of the city, is recognized as the top spring in Jinan. Dating back to the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC), the spring has a history of over 3,500 years, and was frequently mentioned in Chinese poems and prose for its unique beauty.

An ancient pavilion at Baotu Spring Park, Jinan, Shandong Province, east China. /VCG Photo

An ancient pavilion at Baotu Spring Park, Jinan, Shandong Province, east China. /VCG Photo

Baotu Spring is dubbed "No.1 spring in the world." /VCG Photo

Baotu Spring is dubbed "No.1 spring in the world." /VCG Photo

With a steady temperature of about 18 degrees Celsius throughout the year, the spring water is pure in quality and mellow in taste, which makes it ideal for drinking and making tea. You can also take a leisurely walk in the ancient pavilions and halls of ancient Chinese design.

Daming Lake, a natural lake formed from many springs, covers a total area of 860,000 square meters. It is characterized by its constant water level, which is not affected by heavy rains or drought. There are six islands inside the park with abundant flowers and trees flourishing among the pavilions.

The night view of Daming Lake in Jinan, east China's Shandong Province. /VCG Photo

The night view of Daming Lake in Jinan, east China's Shandong Province. /VCG Photo

Daming Lake Park in the summer. /VCG Photo

Daming Lake Park in the summer. /VCG Photo

Various entertainment facilities at Daming Lake Park. /VCG Photo

Various entertainment facilities at Daming Lake Park. /VCG Photo

Thousand Buddha Mountain, or Qianfo Mountain, is a famous religious spot that receives large crowds of tourists from home and abroad. In the early days of the Sui Dynasty (581-618) when Buddhism was prevalent there, a large number of Buddha images were carved out of the hill's rocks, hence its name.

The entrance of Thousand Buddha Mountain in Jinan, east China's Shandong Province. /VCG Photo

The entrance of Thousand Buddha Mountain in Jinan, east China's Shandong Province. /VCG Photo

The Thousand Buddha Temple located at the foot of the hill. /VCG Photo

The Thousand Buddha Temple located at the foot of the hill. /VCG Photo

The sunrise from the top of the mountain. /VCG Photo

The sunrise from the top of the mountain. /VCG Photo

The Thousand Buddha Cliff on the north side of the hill is one of the most elaborate and astonishing facades with thousands of Buddhas, large and small, carved into the rock. September, October, and November are the best months to visit the mountain, which opens daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Zibo North Railway Station

After three stops, we arrive at Zibo, the center of Shandong Province, which neighbors Mount Tai in the south. Remember to stop by at the Yiyuan Karst Cave to see a magical and rare world of stones. Jiutian Cave in the center of the Yiyuan Karst Cave, as its Chinese name implies, is home to nine branch caves linked to each other. 

The entrance of the Jiutian Cave in Zibo, Shandong Province, east China. /VCG Photo

The entrance of the Jiutian Cave in Zibo, Shandong Province, east China. /VCG Photo

Various speleohems inside the Jiutian Cave. /VCG Photo

Various speleohems inside the Jiutian Cave. /VCG Photo

Visitors are often impressed by its immense size and rich collection of speleothems in unique shapes. In this dream-like world, you will be amazed by the exquisite craftsmanship and unbelievable imagination of nature. 

Weifang North Railway Station

When the train reaches Weifang, a variety of natural and historical sites await you. Mount Yi, nicknamed East Mount Tai, is in the south part of the Linqu County in Weifang. With an altitude of 1,032 meters, this giant mountain boasts breathtaking natural landscapes. 

It is said that every sunrise looks different on Mount Yi, sometimes with a sea of clouds, sometimes not. Photographers love to shoot the sunrise over Mount Yi, while tourists sometimes even set off at midnight to climb the mountain so that they can admire the sunrise the next morning. 

Mount Yi in east China's Shandong Province offers a good spot for watching the sunrise. /VCG Photo

Mount Yi in east China's Shandong Province offers a good spot for watching the sunrise. /VCG Photo

The sea of clouds over Mount Yi. /VCG Photo

The sea of clouds over Mount Yi. /VCG Photo

Dongzhen Temple at the Mount Yi Scenic Resort. /VCG Photo

Dongzhen Temple at the Mount Yi Scenic Resort. /VCG Photo

As for a site with historical atmosphere, Qingzhou Ancient Town is at the top of the list. The town is packed with well-preserved ancient buildings from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). As you wander the streets, look out for the handicraft demonstrations and traditional music performances. You can learn about dozens of folk arts that are listed as intangible cultural heritage.

Qingzhou Ancient Town in the winter. /VCG Photo

Qingzhou Ancient Town in the winter. /VCG Photo

Qingzhou Ancient Town is a well-known historical site in Weifang. /VCG Photo

Qingzhou Ancient Town is a well-known historical site in Weifang. /VCG Photo

The night view of Qingzhou Ancient Town in Weifang. /VCG Photo

The night view of Qingzhou Ancient Town in Weifang. /VCG Photo

Hongdao Railway Station

Getting off from the terminal station, we are finally at our last stop, Qingdao, a beautiful seaside city. It is one of the most-visited cities in Shandong Province.

The iconic landmark of Qingdao is the May Fourth Square. Built in 1997, it is to commemorate the significance of Qingdao in the May Fourth Movement, an anti-imperialist, cultural and political movement in 1919. 

Covering an area of 10 hectares, May Fourth Square faces the office building of the city government in the north and Fushan Bay in the south. As an image of patriotism, the magnificent square has become a landmark architecture of the city.

An aerial view of the May 4th Square in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province. /VCG Photo

An aerial view of the May 4th Square in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province. /VCG Photo

The night view of the May 4th Square in Qingdao. /VCG Photo

The night view of the May 4th Square in Qingdao. /VCG Photo

At the center of the square stands the symbolic sculpture "May Wind", which stands at 30 meters tall. The shape of a swirling wind and the flaming color of the sculpture demonstrate the greatness of the May Fourth Movement and project national power.

Mount Laoshan, located to the east of Qingdao, is a majestic mountain with its highest peak soaring 1,133 meters above sea level. It is noted for its marvelous mountains, coastal landscape, as well as its importance in Taoism, one of China's major indigenous religions. As Mount Laoshan is home to numerous scenic areas, you had better set aside more than one day to visit the mainland's highest coastal mountain range.

Mount Laoshan in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province. /VCG Photo

Mount Laoshan in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province. /VCG Photo

The waterfall at Mount Lao. /VCG Photo

The waterfall at Mount Lao. /VCG Photo

Mount Lao is the mainland's highest coastal mountain range. /VCG Photo

Mount Lao is the mainland's highest coastal mountain range. /VCG Photo

When you come to Qingdao, don't forget to try the renowned Tsingtao Beer. If you are curious about its history and development, then Qingdao Beer Museum will answer all your questions. 

German Beer Company Qingdao Branch, China's first brewing factory with European technology, was established in 1903. It is the predecessor of the Tsingtao Brewery Company. Now, the over one-hundred-year-old Tsingtao Beer has carved out its own history and culture.

The gate of the Qingdao Beer Museum in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province. /VCG Photo

The gate of the Qingdao Beer Museum in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province. /VCG Photo

Tsingtao Brewery Company has a history of over 100 years. /VCG Photo

Tsingtao Brewery Company has a history of over 100 years. /VCG Photo

Samples of Tsingtao Beer that are exhibited at the museum. /VCG Photo

Samples of Tsingtao Beer that are exhibited at the museum. /VCG Photo

Since its opening, the Qingdao Beer Museum has welcomed countless domestic and foreign tourists, including both national and international statesmen. The superb environment, high quality of service and distinctive charm have made it a leading light of domestic industrial tourism.