Penglai Pavilion


About 75km northwest of Yantai, perched on a bluff overlooking the waves, the 1000-year-old Penglai Pavilion is closely entwined with Chinese mythology and the Taoist legend of the Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea. The entrance to the ticketed scenic area is at the south end, and the route up to the pavilion passes the grounds of an ancient naval base and a series of temples. The pavilion itself is unassuming as its restored exterior is rather similar to surrounding structures.

Inside is a collection of prized inscriptions left by famous visitors since the Song dynasty, and a beautiful modern rendering of the Eight Immortals by Zhou Jinyun. There are many versions of the story, but in this one the immortals, who came from different walks of life, shared drinks at the pavilion before crossing the Bo Sea using unique superpowers.

Close to the pavilion, and still within the ticketed scenic area, you can zip across the bay by cable car for cliffside walks overlooking the Bo and Yellow Seas. The park also contains museums (open 7.30am to 5.30pm) dedicated to ancient shipbuilding, regional relics and Qi Jiguang, a local-born Ming-dynasty general who battled pirates.

If you arrive after a heavy rain, keep an eye out for mirages at sea that have appeared every few years. Long ago, this earned Penglai a reputation as a gateway to immortal lands and compelled Emperor Qin Shi Huang to send ships in search of islands of immortality further east.