Jinan (济南 Jǐnán) is the provincial capital of Shandong in the People's Republic of China. It is located in the North-West of the province. In the South the city is flanked by the hills of The Tai'an massif, while the Yellow River passes North of the city.

Jinan carries the nickname City of Springs (泉城 quánchéng) because of the many artesian wells that bubble up within the city limits. The water from these springs flows North towards the main landmark, Daming Lake (大明湖 dàmíng hú), and onwards to the Yellow River.

While it doesn't always make the short list of tourists visiting China, there is certainly enough to be done in Jinan to warrant a couple days stay. It is also a perfect base for exploring the region, notably Qufu, the hometown of Confucius, and Mount Tai, the foremost of the sacred Five Great Mountains known in Taoism.


Pond in Baotu Spring Park


The Yellow River basin was China's cultural centre during the Neolithic period, and so it comes as no surprise that the area around present day Jinan has been inhabited for over 4,000 years. The oldest finds in the region are from the Longshan culture (roughly 3,000-2,000 BCE), a Late Neolithic culture noted for its advanced black 'egg-shell pottery', sometimes as thin as a millimetre. The name is from Longshan District, an area in Jilin Prefecture where the first relics were found, but the culture seems to have been considerably more widespread than that.

Fast forward past the Shang and Zhou dynasty. After the fall of the Zhou dynasty many independent states arose during a time known as the Spring and Autumn period. Eventually only a handful remained, striving for power during the Warring States period. During this era Jinan lay on the border of the state of Qi and the state of Lu. The great wall of Qi, to the East of Jinan, is a remnant of this age. It is the oldest Great Wall in China, and portions are accessible as open air museum. Lu (鲁) on the other hand was the home state of Confucius, and the character is still used as abbreviation for Shandong.

It was during the Han dynasty that Jinan became an important economic and cultural hub, and its role only became more prominent during the following dynasties. Some well known poets, painters and even a Han dynasty ruler all called Jinan their home.

Two events which both connected Jinan to the outside world in a new way spurred development and brought Jinan firmly into the modern age. The first was a natural evolution. In 1852 the Yellow River shifted it course, moving to the bedding of the Ji river from which Jinan derives its name. The Yellow River, being connected to the Grand Canal, now connected Jinan both to the Imperial capital in the North, and to agricultural areas in the South.

By the end of the 19th century the Germany Empire had established a concession in Qingdao on the Shandong coast, and a similar German area was built in what is now the area around the train station. The Germans built a railway connecting Jinan and Qingdao, this however was met with strong local resistance, which eventually led to the anti-foreign Boxer Rebellion. Despite all this the railway was opened for traffic in 1904, opening up Jinan to foreign trade.


Jinan is in basin region. The heat can be crushing in the summer when the breeze doesn't get down in the basin. Infamously hot in summer as it is one of the five furnaces of China.

Get in

Jinan is the hub of traffic for the region and province so you'll likely end up here if heading elsewhere in Shandong, notably Qingdao and Yantai. Most people will arrive by bus or train.

By plane

You can fly to Jinan, but the airport is located 40 km northeast of downtown. A taxi will take an hour and cost about ¥100 (foreigners might be asked to pay a higher fixed price or be taken a detour). There is a shuttle bus between the airport and downtown that runs hourly from 6 am to 5 pm. It takes just as long and costs ¥20. A subroute of bus 16 also goes to the airport.

You can find flights from most major cities with Shandong Airlines being the major carrier. (Shandong Airlines code-shares with Air China, so your ticket and check-in may well say Air China.)

By train

For the train, you may arrive at the main train station, north of town. Getting a taxi is chaotic and navigating the terminal is difficult so if you can get someone to meet you, it's advisable. The new Jinan West station is about 45 minutes by taxi from downtown. Several trains stop there and not at the main station.

Jinan is on the major line from Shanghai to Beijing so you can take the train. It's about 2.5 hours by fast train from Beijing and 3.5 from Shanghai. There's a few overnight slower trains from Jinan to Shanghai.

There's plenty of transport outside the station: bus 83 stops nearby to take you downtown to more options, K51 takes you to Quancheng Square and Thousand Buddha Mountain.

You can now also take the new China High Speed Rail train that runs from Beijing to Shanghai and stops in Jinan. The trip from Beijing to Jinan takes approx. 1.5 hours and the trip from Shanghai to Jinan takes approx. 3.5 hours. The CRH train stops at the new Jinan West train station all the way on the western outskirts of the city. A taxi ride from there to center of city will take you over 30 minutes and there are also various bus routes which will take longer.

Several travel agencies around the city sell train tickets for an additional ¥5.

By bus

It is very easy to get to Jinan with lots of buses running all day and some at night. Be sure to ask which station the bus will arrive in as there are two main ones, the long distance bus station (长途汽车站) and the train station bus station (客运汽车站).

By car

Several expressways connect to Jinan.

Get around

First thing you have to consider is, do you really need to take the Bus? Taxis are the easiest options. Other options are various motorcycles, and other vehicles that are either unsigned or a bit flimsy-looking. These are hard to use as you have to negotiate not only the destination, but also the fare.

By bus

Buses are often overcrowded. Still, if you are interested in traveling as the locals do, hop on.

Buses are ¥1, or ¥2 for air-conditioned. Buses that begin with K are supposedly air-conditioned and even if the a/c is off or not working, you are likely to get a seat on these buses as they are much less crowded than the ¥1 (no a/c) buses. It should be noted though, that a line either is a K-line or not, same lines don't have K buses and non K buses operating on them, so mostly it is not possible to prefer either type without some walking being involved.

Most busses with two digits serve the central city (which is tiny). Three digit ones are either coming from or going to the suburbs (may be very far). Bus stops are easily identifiable and bus numbers are written in the Western numbers both on the busses and at the bus stops. The lists of stops for a given route are posted at every bus stop, but in Chinese only, although the beginning and end stations are written in pinyin.

By taxi

Taxis drivers do not speak English, and they will often not be able to read maps or your destination in pinyin. So to be certain to reach your destination, make sure you have it written out in Chinese. Price for shorter trips from ¥7.50. It can be difficult to get a taxi between 7am-8am and 6pm-7pm. Many taxi drivers will try to cheat out-of-towners, foreigners and Chinese alike.


Also nearby is the Jinan Hero Mountain Culture Square, a shopping area known as the "Culture Market" (see below under Markets). free.


Jinan has 72 springs and is famous for them from ancient times. However, nowadays some of them do not have much water.

Black Tiger Spring (Hēi hǔ quán, 黑虎泉)



You can join people dancing, playing many sports, writing poetry (calligraphy) with water, etc.

Further away


If you are after traditioal Chinese tea houses, there are some more traditional looking ones scattered around. They are more popular among business people for the quietness. Tea can be served in traditional Chinese ritual.



For clothes make your way over to Shanshi East Road (山师东路 shānshī dōng lù). There you will find a handful of adjoining buildings each full with tiny stores, and tiny aisles between them. It might be hard to find something here to satisfy a western taste, but at least you pay Chinese prices.

For much more upmarket shopping experience head over to a newly developed area called Joiwalk (泉乐坊 quán lè fāng), sitting on Xian West Lane (县西巷 xiàn xī xiàng), just off Quancheng Road. Spread over three levels with streaming water and elevated walkways, this open air shopping complex provides a great afternoon strolling opportunity. Note that prices are what you would pay in Europe, so don't come here looking for a bargain. But window shoppers might be happy to know there is also some delicious food to be had, Italian ice cream, chocolate cake, a Chinese renowned tattooist (Does not speak English) and even a reasonably priced Japanese restaurant.

Daily supplies

For daily supplies, food, clothing, and stuff like that try one of the following. There is little in the way of western food (e.g. cheese) but you may be pleasantly surprised.


When you get tired of shopping head to nearby Hero mountain for a change of scenery.


This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Under ¥15
Mid-range ¥15-40
Splurge Over ¥40

Shandong cuisine is known as Lu cai (named after the ancient Lu State) and is one of the eight culinary traditions of China and a major influence on the present day food in northeastern China. Jinan cuisine represents a branch of Shandong cuisine famous for its soups.

There are the usual mediocre international fast food chains, plenty of street food, scores of little restaurants, etc. The easiest is either street food or one of the many buffets where you can see the food and order that way. Or if you want expensive and exotic (e.g. Japanese, go to the 4-5 star hotels). There are some nice local restaurants, but if you can't read Chinese it is not worth the hassle and the free entertainment you provide to onlookers. Each restaurant seems to specialise in a style of cooking and a special dish or two. However, finding what you might like can be quite a challenge, as many restaurants don't have menus with pictures, and next to none have English menus. Some of the smaller places have a part of their menu printed into a large poster on the wall, with photos, and provides an easy way to get something you want.


Jinan does not have much to offer in terms in Western style drinking places. However, there are plenty of Chinese style outdoor drinking places with impossibly low tables and chairs, which dish up skewers of meats for a few cents along with a few other things like soybeans or such. Beer flows freely.



There are plenty of places to choose from in the ¥200 range. There is a complex of fancy hotels in the swank SE of the city at the end of Lishan Lu, which are all surprisingly affordable for what they are, considering they have beautiful grounds, five star services and facilities, etc., for maybe $70–80. Also good hotels downtown. There are also hotels at the transport nexus at the train station, but that's a little removed from the sites.


Middle and High End

Stay Safe

Jinan is a generally safe city with a low crime rate. People in Jinan are very gentle and docile. Violent crimes are rare, but you still need to avoid walking alone after midnight.

Burglary is one of the most common crimes in Jinan. Some odd thieves can climb outside the building to a high elevation (almost 9-10 floors), so that you should always lock your windows when you go to sleep, no matter what floor you are on.

However, some parts of the city are not safe, such as Beiyuan, Huangtai and Dang Jiazhuang, which have a reputation for gang activities, and other crime issues. The good news is that these areas are all in the outer region of the city.

Go next

Routes through Jinan

Beijing Dezhou  N  S  Taishan Shanghai

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, November 21, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.