Looking at the gleaming high-rises, wide boulevards and a modern maze of flyovers that characterize Shandong’s capital, JI’NAN, it’s hard to believe that this is the site of one of China’s oldest settlements, inhabited for the last four thousand years. Though regularly ranked among China’s most liveable cities, Ji’nan would barely register on the travel radar were it not for its natural springs, a series of clear blue upwellings set among several urban parks – some of the cleanest water available in any Chinese city. These springs are close enough to each other to be connected on foot, but these days it’s also possible to explore them by boat. Ji’nan has non-watery attractions too, particularly the provincial museum and the steep hillside at Qianfo Shan, respectively to the east and south of the city centre.

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