Dai Temple

Top choice in Shandong

This magnificent Taoist temple complex is where all Tai'an roads lead, being the traditional first stop on the pilgrimage route up Tai Shan. The grounds, enclosed within mighty walls, are an impressive example of Song-dynasty (960–1127) temple construction with features of an imperial palace, though other structures stood here 1000 years before that.

Many visitors enter from the north through Hou Zai gate (which you can climb for views of Tai Shan), but entering from the south through Zhengyang gate allows you to follow the traditional passage through the main temple and up Hongmen Lu to the start of Tai Shan's Central Route ascent.

From the south end, two lions watch cars pass by on Dongyue Dajie, flanking the splendid páifāng (ornamental arch). Beyond this and the Zhengyang gate is the Yaocan Pavilion.

Between the buildings, the courtyards are filled with prized examples of poetry and imperial records. Fossilised-looking bìxì (the mythical tortoise son of the dragon), dating from the 12th century onwards, carry stelae on their backs documenting everything from the civil exam process to emperors’ birthdays. The Han Emperor Wudi himself is said to have planted some of the massive, twisting trees in the Cypress Tree Pavilion 2100 years ago.

The main hall is the colossal Hall of Heavenly Blessing, which dates from AD 1009, and whose dark interior houses an exquisite, 62m-long Song-dynasty mural depicting a journey undertaken by Emperor Zhenzong as the Lord of Tai Shan, the god of longevity to whom the entire complex is dedicated.

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Nearby Shandong attractions

1. Zhengyang Gate

0.07 MILES

This gate lies in the south of the Dai Temple, facing the southern aspect. Purists enter the temple through this gate to follow the traditional passage…

2. Hall of Heavenly Blessing


The main hall of Dai Temple is the colossal, twin-eaved, nine-bay-wide Hall of Heavenly Blessing, which dates to AD 1009. The dark interior houses an…

3. Yaocan Pavilion

0.12 MILES

This pavilion contains a hall dedicated to deities including Bixia, the daughter of Tai Shan, who became the focus of worship by the 11th century, and…

4. Hou Zai Gate


This gate leads into Dai Temple from the north. Be sure to scale the walls over the gate to see what’s in store for your pilgrimage up Tai Shan.

5. Guandi Temple

1.17 MILES

Many climbers start their ascent at the bus stop by the Guandi Temple, the first of many dedicated to the Taoist protector of peace. Note the old…

6. First Gate of Heaven

1.28 MILES

The first of the major gates on the climb up the mountain, this gate marks the official start of the ascent for Tai Shan's determined band of climbers.

7. Red Gate Palace


The Red Gate Palace is the first of a series of temples dedicated to Bixia, the compassionate daughter of the god of Tai Shan. She wears a headdress…