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.