The North Eastern Province of Shandong combines the relaxed modern coastal charms of the city of Qingdao, with the deeply sacred Taoist sights of Tai Shan (Mount Tai). The coast is abundant in architecture and great cuisine, with the impressive backdrop of the mountains.
Looking out onto the Yellow Sea, Qingdao is a picturesque coastal city that is famous in China for being the home of Tsingtao beer, one of the most popular beers in China today. A well known summer resort for the local Chinese for many years, Qingdao has started to attract more overseas attention since it was used as the venue for the Sailing Regatta for the Olympic Games in Beijing. The city itself lies on undulating hills with buildings noted for their attractive architectural styles, with the red colour of the tiled roofs, the green colour of the hills and the blue of the sea contrasting beautifully.
Overlooking the sea, Mt Laoshan is the highest mountain along China’s 18,000 kilometre long coastline at just over 1000 metres. It is also said to be home to the “supernatural spirits” and holds significant importance for the believers of the Taoism religion. During more prosperous times, there were 9 great palaces, 8 great temples, and 72 convents located on Mt Laoshan and over history, many Emperors and famous scholars have visited this area and written lines about the mountain. Housing 140 rooms.
Taiqing Palace is the oldest and most impressive of the temples on Mt Laoshan. Look out for the giant stone located to the east side of the Palace with the words “Bo Hai Can Tian” engraved on the side – underneath is a very famous line of small words, which reads that there was a visit here on the 28th year of the period of the first emperor of China.
Taishan in Shandong is held in the highest regard of all of the five sacred Taoist mountains. The mountain held great importance to the Imperial Emperor who would ascend the mountain to pray to heaven and earth. Confucius and Chairman Mao had both scaled the mountain such is the reason it is held in such reverence today. In addition to the spiritual beauty, Taishan also has a wealth of man made and natural beauty. On your visit to Taishan you will begin to appreciate the significance that the mountain holds to the people of China. There are a number of ways to ascend the mountain including mini bus and cable car.
Qufu – Confucius home town
Qufu in Shandong province is best known as the home of the great Chinese philosopher and teacher Confucius. The city itself is small but impressive with the stone walls protecting the its valuable history. Qufu is important to the Chinese people as Confucius teachings are still followed today. Within the confines of the old city there are no high rise buildings, the locals not allowing any building to exceed the height of the Temple of Confucius. Whilst in Qufu visit both the Confucius Temple and the Confucius Mansions.
Jinan has under gone large scale development in recent years. The prosperous provincial capital offers a great base for exploring the delights of Jinan Province including Taishan (Mount Tai). Like Qingdao, also in Shandong province, Jinan still retains some of its German colonial heritage.
Thousand Buddha Mountain
The Thousand Buddha park is just a few kilometres south of Jinan. A cable car can take you to the peak of the mountain where visitors can enjoy Buddhist artifacts dating back to the Sui Dynasty (581-618). Visit the caves on the slopes of the mountain namely, Longquan Cave, Jile Cave, Qianlou Cave and lvzu Cave.
After a visit to the Thousand Buddha Mountain, take a visit to the Jinan Museum. There is an impressive collection of Chinese calligraphy, paintings, pottery, porcelain, jade, craftworks and bronze ware.
Taian is the gateway to Tashan (Mount Tai). Although most visitors will use the city only as a base, there are more things to see and do here than first meets the eye. Most attractions will centre on the area close to Dai Temple.
In the North of Tai’an City you can discover the beautiful and highly impressive Dai Temple, a Taoist temple. The impeccable stone walls with large red lanterns hanging below provide an insight into the incredible history of this Han Dynasty (206BC-220) site. The temple is regarded as one of the best examples of a complete temple in China, even suggesting comparison with the Imperial Forbidden City of Beijing.
Zoucheng town offers a further insight into Confucianism as it was the home town of the revered Confucian philosopher Mencius. The town is laid back and less well known than Confucius home town of Qufu, 25 kilometres away.
Yantai feels modern and relaxed and is a good place to enjoy a couple of relaxed days before embarking on your pilgrimage to Taishan or Laoshan. Enjoy great local seafood or amble through the colonial architecture which is still evident today.
Yantai Hill Park
Enjoy the architecture and examples of a different time in Yantai’s history. Close to the park you will find former Consulate buildings from a time when foreign influence was prevalent.
Seventy kilometres to the North west of Yantai is the Penglai Pavilion which dates back over 1000 years. Beyond the impressive pavilion which sits perched on a hill are impressive views out to sea, with ships and fishing boats busily going about their business. The area has inspired Chinese poets and writers over the centuries. A trip to Penglai is well worthwhile and can be easily achieved as a day trip.