· Discover and explore the hometown of China’s most excellent sage, Confucius, in the charming hamlet of Qufu. Temples, mansions, and mysterious cemeteries all pay homage to this great man
· Spend time on Mt. Tai, China’s most sacred mountain, and a haven of preserved temples and stunning natural scenery
· Qufu and Taishan just sit in the middle between Beijing and Shanghai. It is easily and quickly accessed by the bullet train within 2.5 hours, a great stop if you travel from Beijing to Shanghai or vice versa.
Day 1: Bullet Train from Beijing to Qufu
You will take a bullet train to Qufu. It only takes 2 hours and 20 minutes. When you arrive, you'll be met by your English-speaking travel guide. With a history of more than five thousand years, Qufu is the legendary birthplace of many Chinese sages such as Confucius and Mencius.
In memory of these great sages, temples and cemeteries were built by local people. Later, these temples and cemeteries were open to tourists as attractions. The most famous attractions are Temple of Confucius (Kong Miao), Cemetery of Confucius (Kong Lin), and Kong Family Mansion (Kong Fu), which now called the Three Kongs. And the Three Kongs were listed in the World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 1994 with a comment that said: "The Qufu complex of monuments has retained its outstanding artistic and historic character due to the devotion of successive Chinese emperors over more than 2,000 years." If you are interested in Chinese culture and history, or if you want to search the spirits and wisdom of ancient oriental sages, Qufu is a must-visit city.
Upon arrival, we'll get started on our sightseeing with a visit to the Kong Family Mansion, otherwise known as Kongfu. It is the place where Confucius' descendants lived in. Tonight, you will stay in a hotel in Qufu.
Day 2 Qufu-Mt. Tai (B, L, D)
After an early morning start, we'll drive over to Mt. Tai, where after taking the cable car up, we will spend the day exploring the mountain and its surrounding temples. Mount Tai is a mountain of historical and cultural significance. The word Tai in Chinese means stability and peace, and the name Tai'an is attributed to the saying: "If Mount Tai is stable, so is the entire country" (both characters of Tai'an have an independent meaning of stability and peace). Mount Tai is crowned by Jade Emperor Peak (in Chinese mythology, the Jade Emperor is the most powerful god in heaven) with an altitude of 1,545 meters.
The formation of Mount Tai dates back to the Archeozoic Era, and now it is growing at the speed of 0.5 millimeters per year. It faces the Yellow Sea to the east and the Yellow River to the west, and is in the neighborhood of Confucius' hometown, Qufu, and the City of Springs, Jinan. In 1987, Mount Tai was listed as both World Natural Heritage and World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.
Among the Five Sacred Mountains of Taoism (the other four are Heng Mountain of Hunan Province, Hua Mountain of Shaanxi Province, Song Mountain of Henan Province, and Heng Mountain of Shanxi Province), Mount Tai is only the third highest. Why it is seen as the leader of the Five Sacred Mountains? In absolute terms Mount Tai can not be considered as the highest of China's mountains, but because it is close to the sea and rivers and rises abruptly from the relatively low rolling hills and Qilu plains, its relative height is quite impressive, with an altitude difference of 1395 meters within nine kilometers. Moreover, in Chinese culture, east is regarded as a sacred direction, since it is where the sun and the moon rise. Therefore Mount Tai is often regarded as the first of the Five Sacred Mountains. It is associated with sunrise, birth and renewal.
After our jaunt around Mt. Tai we'll spend the night on the mountain at the Shenqi Hotel.
Day 3 Mt. Tai-Shanghai (B, L)
Today we'll rise early to watch the magnificent sunrise over Mt. Tai, and then we'll spend a little more time exploring. One major highlight that we will see today is the Dai Temple. Dai Temple, located at the south foot of Mount Tai, is the largest and best-preserved ancient building complex in the scenic area of Mount Tai. It was firstly built during the Han Dynasty and greatly expanded during Tang, Song Dynasties.
It is a Taoist temple where emperors during the past dynasties offered sacrifice to the God of Earth to pray and say thanks for peace and prosperity. Dai Temple is in the palace style of ancient Chinese emperors, to compose over 150 old buildings in many kinds. It together with the Forbidden City in Beijing, "Three Kong" (Confucius Temple, the Cemetery of Confucius and Kong Family's Mansion) in Qufu of Shangdong province and Chengde Summer Palace of Hebei province are considered as the Four Representative Ancient Chinese Buildings.
We'll then take the cable car down from the mountain to go back to Qufu. From there, you will take a bulletrain to Shanghai for 3 hours and 25 minutes.