"Great potential, lacks vision" Jinan by mke1963

Jinan Travel Guide: 34 reviews and 138 photos


Visiting Jinan successfully is not easy, and although there is a lot to see in this capital of Shandong province, I had a frustrating visit.
Jinan's potential is obvious: it has a very long and illustrious history, it has a (rapidly disappearing) moated old town, temples, parks, springs and opportunities for seeing the pastoral north China plain and the rugged hills of the Taishan.
Presently, though, there is no co-ordination of anything for visitors, very little marketing, planning or design, and visitors are left very much to themselves to struggle to discover the charms of the city and the surrounding area. I met a nice couple from Beijing who said they wouldn't bother returning to Jinan because it was just too difficult to manage.
This poor tourist infrastructure and 'design' is not just a problem for Jinan, as I have had similar experiences in Haikou, Lanzhou, Zhengzhou, and even in Wuhan. But in Jinan, I felt that the disorganisation and malaise came together most "effectively" (ruinously?) to make me consider my trip almost a complete wasted effort.
I should add at this point that I speak sufficient Chinese to get by in most situations, and I live in Beijing, so it is not simply a cultural or language barrier.

The reasons for travelling to Jinan

Jinan is the capital of Shandong, a province which is often considered to be at the heart of Chinese spiritual, cultural and national achievement. From the Longshan culture of the late neolithic era, through to the White Lotus and Boxer rebels, Jinana and Shandong have been at the forefront of national pride.
Jinan itself, sitting up against the Taishan foothills on the edge of the vast north China plain, is China in a microcosm. It is fast developing, yet more Chinese than the bigger cities of Beijing or Shanghai; it has a pride in its beauty, with 72 springs bubbling up to the surface in a number of beautiful little parks, and the ridges of the Thousand Buddha Cliffs to the south, and the sluggish waters of the great Yellow River to the north. Plains, hills, temples, archaeology, parks, museums - what more could you want from a 'typical' Chinese town?

The difficulties of Jinan

Well a starting point would be more information about the city before setting out. Jinan fails to market itself, so hotels fail to understand the wants and needs of even domestic tourists. I met a nice couple from Beijing who said they would not come back to Jinan.
The investment in the city does not consider tourists at all, so it is difficult to find places, when you arrive there is little or no information on what is there, and most sites suffer from a lack of maintenance.
I would love to be able to promote Jinan, but find it difficult to do so. The charms are there in great number, but you have to work so damned hard to find them or understand them.
I would go back (I want to go back) but next time I would use the services of a Beijing or Shanghai travel agent to plan and book everything first.
Many Chinese cities make you work hard to be a tourist or a visitor, and nowehere do you work harder than Jinan.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Long history, some beautiful parks, temples and buildings
  • Cons:Virtually no information; appallingly bad museum
  • In a nutshell:Great, great potential; don't hold you breath for improvements
  • Last visit to Jinan: Apr 2004
  • Intro Updated Aug 15, 2004
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