Mount Tai: The Mountain on the back of the 5 yuan note

This post is about my trip to Mount Tai. I’ve been TWICE! Once, with my Chinese bestie Jason and my old roommate Travis. Secondly, with my favorite Brit bestie, Ellie!

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One of my goals when I returned to China was to visit every single place on the back of the current Chinese Renminbi Bank Notes.

  • 1 Yuan: West Lake, Hangzhou (杭州西湖) Check
  • 5 Yuan: Mount Tai, Tai’an, Shandong (泰安山东泰山) Check
  • 10 Yuan: The Yangtze Three Gorges, Central China (中国中部长江三峡, )
  • 20 Yuan:  Li River, Guilin (桂林漓江) Check
  • 50 Yuan: Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet (拉萨布达拉宫)
  • 100 Yuan: The Great Hall of the People, Beijing (北京人民大会堂)

So far, I’ve been to 3/5!


Mount Tai Travel Guide

The Back of the 5 Yuan Note is Mount Tai
PC: I had Diana, Chinese Friend, take this photo for me

After climbing this mountain once, I vowed I was NEVER going again!

“Was it because the scenery was bad?” NO, it was breathtaking!

“Was it because it was crowded?” No, we went at night for the sunrise in early May.


It’s because it took It took us 5-6 LONG, PAINFUL, EXCRUCIATING hours to reach the top. ( Jason and I were a bit, maybe too much, out of shape!)

Nevertheless, it was worth it because the sunrise was beautiful! Mount Tai is considered the leader of the Five Sacred Mountains of China. Not because of it’s height, but because its direction is in the East, where the sun and moon rise the earliest! Imagine how rejuvenated we felt when we reached the top.

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7:00pm-10:00pm: We took a train from Jinan to Tai’an in the evening and hailed a taxi to the bottom of the mountain.
  • Entrance fee was 125 RMB.
  • Hiking Mount Tai can  be divided into three parts.
10:30 pm: We began hiking the East Route starting at 第一天门,1 Tian Men, First Heaven Gate

Travis, Tyra, and Jason at First Heaven Gate at Mount Tai-Travis,Tyra, 和Jason在泰山的第一天门


12:00-12:30 am: PART ONE COMPLETE- Arrived at 中天门, Zhong Tian Men, Mid-Heaven Gate.

Tyra and Jason at Zhong Tian Men, Mid-Heaven Gate on Mount Tai, Tyra和Jason在泰山的中天门


  • Sweatpants and a hoodie are not enough. [ROOKIE MISTAKE] Rent one of those thick green jackets. I believe it’s 99 RMB, but if you get it at the bottom of the mountain, it can be cheaper. The higher you climb, the more expensive it gets.
  • Stairs in China, especially on the mountains, are not the same height, width or length. They are all different sizes, so you have to be careful when taking each step.
2:30 am: PART TWO COMPLETE: Arrived at 南天门,Nan Tian Men, South Heaven Gate


3:30 am: PART THREE COMPLETE: Finally arrived at the 玉皇顶, Yuhuang Ding, Jade Emperor Peak. Ate beef noodle soup.
  • We ate a Jianbing (Think of a Chinese Burrito), along the way. Plenty of food vendors to choose from as you go. I recommend bringing your own snacks as the price of food increases the higher you climb.
  • Since we were freezing and we still had one more hour before the sunrise, we took refuge in the lobby of the restroom with other hikers. We almost got kicked out because a guard lived on the other side. He said we were ALL too loud.
4:00 am: Left the restroom to go claim a spot to watch the sunrise

Travis, Tyra, and Jason bundled up on Jade Emperor Peak at Mount Tai, (Travis, Tyra, 和Jason在泰山的玉皇顶)

Waxing Crescent Moon at Jade Emperor Peak on Mount Tai. (泰山上的娥眉月)

4:30 am: Sunrise Begins!!

Sunrise begins at Jade Emperor Peak on Mount Tai (泰山日出)

Beautiful view at Jade Emperor Peak on Mount Tai

Travis and Tyra at Jade Emperor Peak (Travis 和 Tyra在泰山玉皇顶)


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Jason and Tyra at Jade Emperor Peak (Jason 和 Tyra在泰山玉皇顶)

6:30 am: Began hiking down

The view on the hike down was AMAZING. I felt like the staircase was a vine through a jungle. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but that’s what I felt!

Tyra pausing at a bridge on the hike down on Mount Tai

Halfway Down (don’t remember the time): Arrived at bus station, took the bus to the bottom of the mountain. Boarded a city bus (#3) to the train station. Returned to Jinan.

This was my first trip out of Jinan. Can’t believe it’s already been a year!

Mount Tai, Again.

The second time I went to Mount Tai was this past April. Standing Train to Tai’an only 🙁
Train to Tai'an, standing tickets were the only ones available
PC: Ellie


Took a different route. We didn’t do the sunrise, rather Ellie and I took a bus to Zhong Tian Men in hope of taking the cable car. The last cable car was at 5pm, however, we arrive a few minutes too late. SAD.
Entrance to Mount Tai
PC: Ellie
They told us the last bus down was at 9:30ish or 10:00 pm. So we had 4-4.5 hours to hike up and down the mountain in time to catch the last bus.
Why did I decide to hike Mount DEATH, I meant Mount Tai again?!
Stairs to Nan Tian Men, Stairs to South Heaven Gate
PC: Ellie
The things we do for friends. It was Ellie’s first time and she was dying to go.

So even though we knew we would miss the sunset, we still hiked up to the peak in only 2.5 hours, ate some beef noodle soup, and hiked down. We were booking it so fast and our hands were FREEZING, that we didn’t even get that much pictures.

Nevertheless, I was happy to hike this sacred mountain again!
Tai'an City Lights view from Mount Tai
PC: Ellie

What was your favorite mountain to climb? What mountains have you climbed in China? Let me know in the comments below.


  • It sounds like you’ve had plenty of fun. Those stairs that are uneven remind me of the few stairs that lead to the ruins of some tower in a nearby park. In Europe though.

  • It is great that you had a nice sunrise. When I went last fall it was too hazy and cloudy to see the sunrise.

  • I did Tai shan as well but didn’t go up for sunrise. Those stairs must have been treacherous in the dark.

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  • Keri @flipflopweekend

    What a cool journey and awesome goal! It sounds like an incredible experience. Congratulations on making the trek!

    • Tyra Skinner

      Thank you for reading! It was pretty epic. I’m surprised we were able to hike up during night time, just using our phones as a flashlight! Hopefully one day you can visit as well!

      • Keri @flipflopweekend

        I would love to. China is definitely on the bucket list!

  • Sylvia Seaman-Peltier

    Thank you for taking me on such a wonderful journey….almost felt like I was there with you.

    • Tyra Skinner

      Thanks so much for reading! I’m glad you enjoyed it 😀

  • Jaime

    I’m still laughing at some of the funny but serious points you make… like how everything gets more expensive as you go up the mountain. And I have to say your goal to visit every place on the back of the Chinese bank notes is brilliant! There’s a reason they are printed on the currency! Wishing you safe & happy travels 🙂

    • Tyra Skinner

      I’m happy you were able to sign up and read the post! Yeah it’s crazy how they keep adding 1 or 2 yuan after each long stretch. I guess it’s to help alleviate the pain they must feel when they have to climb up those stairs each day 😀 I have two more to go. Hopefully they will happen by next year!

  • Foratau

    I love your style of writing girl!! 😀 It’s great that you took a different route for your second time!

    • Tyra Skinner

      Why thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed reading the post!

  • Nina Ahmedow

    Wow, how impressive! I haven’t been to China, but it’s a really intriguing country.

    • Tyra Skinner

      It’s quite different, actually, but that’s what makes it interesting! You have to go! Let me know when you do, chances are I’ll still be there!

  • Claire ☉

    I’ve never been to China but it looks incredible x
    Claire |

    • Tyra Skinner

      Waaah, my apologies! I thought I had replied! Thank you so much for reading! I hope you visit China someday. I’ll be there!

  • I love this post, I have never been to China (but it’s on my list) and I this hike has some incredible sights. It’s so interesting how it gets more expensive!

    • Tyra Skinner

      This hike, although challenging has great views! You should definitely go! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Nino_Number1

    I think its a great idea to visit all the places on the notes, my friend visited a few too! Also I’m impressed that you were able to recall the timings for your climb progressions! “the food price increases the higher you climb” could be applied as a metaphor for life in my opinion haha! I won’t get the chance to hike mount tai for myself any time soon so it was nice to read your journey~

    • Tyra Skinner

      Can’t believe I only have two to go! As for the timings, these photos were taken on my phone so a few had time stamps that helped me remember! Completely agree about this price thing haha. Thanks for stopping by and reading! I appreciate it!

  • Marina Kern

    I never use cash here anymore (the joys of Alipay …) so I haven’t really noticed the pictures on the back of the bills. We’re going to Beijing next week so I guess I could get started 🙂
    I love your pictures of this trip but hiking for 5 hours isn’t really my thing. You mentioned buses and cable cars, sounds promising, how much of the way can you save by doing that?
    Marina |

    • Tyra Skinner

      Yes, I love Alipay. I don’t use cash much either! There is a bus that takes you 2.5 hours up the way and then the cable car takes you to the top I believed. So technically you don’t have to do much hiking! Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Jaclyn Chua-Park

    This is amazing! I love your bucket list idea, btw! I’m also surprised how you had gone there a second time, but I totally agree with you that there are some things you do for your friends! Haha
    Why was your hike up shorter the second time around though?

    • Tyra Skinner

      The hike was shorter the second time around because we took a bus to the middle gate. Then hiked up the rest!

  • Josh

    Wow! I’ve never considered a visit to all the Chinese RMB destinations. Very creative. I’ve hiked a number of different “mountains” in China and my only complaint is that they all have one thing in common – stairs. I’d much rather HIKE a mountain, personally 😉

    • Tyra Skinner

      I know that is really true! However if you hike up the backway to the The Great Wall, you can actually hike a mountain, with no stairs. There are some other smaller ones in Jinan that has no stairs.