Pénglái Pavilion

Historic Site in Penglai

About 75km northwest of Yāntái perched on a bluff overlooking the waves, the 1000-year-old Pénglái Pavilion is closely entwined with Chinese mythology and the Taoist legend of the Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea. 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.

After the pavilion, zip across the bay by cable car for cliffside walks overlooking the Bo and Yellow Seas. There are also 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 Pénglái 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.