The Red Leaves Valley, also known as 红叶谷, is a park just outside the city of Jinan, in Shandong province （济南，山东省）。As the name suggests, the park is famous for its particular autumn allure, and the shades of red the trees assume in that season.
To visit the park at its best, it is fundamental to guess the best period: if you go too early the leaves will not have gained the red nuance typical of autumn; if you go too late, the leaves will have already turned brown or fallen. The best timing to visit the park would be in the middle or at the end of October, but of course, the dates are subjected to changes according to the weather of the year in which you are planning to go. Unfortunately, there is no way to anticipate how the park will look like before you are actually in the park, since the color of the leaves can change even in one single night.
Where is it located
The location of the Red Leaves Valley can be convenient for the tourists for many reasons. First, it is close to many other points of interests in Shandong province: not only the city of Jinan but also the smaller village of Taihan ( 泰安), known for the mountain of Taishan 泰山，the highest mountain in Shandong province. Therefore, visiting the Red Leaves Valley can be a convenient stop if you are already in Shandong and have some spare time. Moreover, being it a small park it is the perfect choice if you are tired of mainstream parks such as The Fragrant Hills in Beijing, which is also famous for its autumnal beauty.
Here is a map of the precise location of the park: Click here to see the map!
Tips to organize the trip
The Red Leaves Valley is not a big park; there are few attractions: the main reason the attracts the tourists is the beauty of the landscape in autumn. Therefore, it is entirely possible to visit the park for half a day even taking it easy. However, like many other parks in China, it closes at 5.00 pm. I recommend to go the in the early morning to avoid the traffic, so that you can have enough time to explore the park, and you can also choose to have lunch there. Inside the park, there is a restaurant that offers local dishes, but it has to be mentioned that menu is only written in Chinese, so you might have some trouble in ordering the food if you don’t speak the language. The price for a basic meal is about 30￥, which is quite expensive by Chinese standards, being this a touristic park it is quite a reasonable price. Of course, bringing your own packed lunch is also an option, but there is no pick-nick area staged in the park, and eating on a random bench with a plate on your lap might be uncomfortable, especially in the autumn weather. Anyway, you’d find many chances to get snacks, such as cotton candy or crisps, provided by the vendors inside the park.
How to get there
The park is located just outside of the city of Jinan. The only way to reach the place is to go by bus, since there is no train station near the park. Going by taxi is also an option of course, but it might be quite expensive due to the length of the ride. If you take a public bus, leaving from the city center, it will take between 1.30 – 2.00 hours to get there, depending on the traffic you might find to get out of the city. You could also rent a private bus and organize a trip on your own, or go with your car would also be a possibility: just at the entrance of the park, there’ s a convenient carpark with stalls for cars or busses.
At the entrance
Like any other park in China, it is likely that it’ll be crowded in the day you decide to go, especially if it is just the perfect time to see the re d leaves and the park look at its best. Therefore, you might have to queue to get to the entrance. The entrance fee is 100￥ for the adult ticket, but the student ticket is only 50￥, therefore remember to bring your student card if you plan to go there; otherwise you’d miss the discount. There is no need to go through security checks before getting in.
Immediately after the entrance, you’ll find a big balcony with a view on a scenery spot: this is one of the most beautiful views on the valley, and if you’ve been lucky with the timing you’ll see an ocean of red leaves in front of you. If you’re there at the right time of the year, it will be breathtaking.
The park’s staging has the typical Chinese taste: you’ll find pagodas overlooking on lakes, ducks longing in the water and small paths entwining among the trees. To heighten the beauty of the park, some peacocks are allowed to roam free in the park, and many visitors enjoy taking pictures with them.
But besides the landscape, what could you find in the Red Leaves Valley that is worth visiting? The park’s administration does not provide a tour guide service, but anyway the cultural attractions in the park are not many.
There is a little temple valley, easy to find walking through the paths. The temples are small and not known, but they are still used to hold ceremonies some time. Indeed, there is an altar to burn incense in front of the biggest one, and you might see people praying in front of it. You can also light up the incense on your own and pray for your wishes in front of the temple.
Apart from the temple valley, there’s also a tower outstanding in the park: it is possible to climb the staircase to the top and enjoy one of the most beautiful scenic spots in the valley. There is a golden Buddha placed at the top level of the tower, and Buddhist ceremonies are held there on special occasion. If there is a celebration staged on the tower when you’re visiting the park, you’ll still be able to climb the staircase, but you wouldn’t be allowed to go to the top.
Besides the cultural attractions, there are also activities meant for those who want to spend a pleasant afternoon with their family or friends: a park is a perfect place for a laser-tag session. There are a few shops located in the park that rent the clothing and the provide the equipment for groups of people who want to join. If you’re traveling in a group of more of 5 people, chasing each other into the woods, immersed in such a beautiful environment, can definitely be a fun experience.
So these are all the useful information I got for my visit to the park. Once again, mind to go there at the right time, otherwise you’ll miss the red leaves, and it would be a pity. Wish you the best of luck and enjoy your visit!