Climbing Tai Shan for sunrise

The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
67 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
Length of time
1-2 days
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 80
Time of year visited
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
152nd/372 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 40% SUMMARY RATING: Superb


If you’re going to climb one mountain in China, Tai Shan (Tai Mountain) is the one.  There are a series of reasons why the Chinese see it as the most sacred of China’s mountains, but one piece of info stands out as quite telling as to Tai Shan’s significance – UNESCO have 10 criteria that they use to qualify a site as World Heritage (6 for cultural significance, 4 for natural) and  Tai Shan meets 7 of these criteria which, along with the Tasmanian Wilderness Area, puts it top of the list of all sites in the world.  Plus, the views from the top, if you catch a good day for it, are spectacular


Top Tip – consider staying at the top  overnight to catch the sunrise.  Not only because it is beautiful, but also because there will be fewer people before the cable car visitors arrive


#1 Enjoying the sunrise from the top as you look out across the clouds

#2 The long walk up is dotted with culturally significant points - a bit like a very long museum and justifies a break from the uphill slog

#3 The views all around of the stunning, and misty, mountains

#4 Some of the unusual and intricate little temples all the way up

#5 The climb itself up the stairs - a good challenge

Travel Tips

  • The walk– although it’s called a mountain, it’s more of a hill and only 1,533m / 5,030ft in altitude, so you don’t need any special equipment or anything like that.  But, it is quite steep and a lot of steps (something like 7,000 in total if starting from the First Gate of Heaven), so be prepared for 4 hours or so to the top
  • Time of year – we went in March and the crowds were quite a bit reduced, mainly because of the cold, but the best time of year to visit is September to October when the temperature has dropped a bit and the air is cleanest
  • Stay in one of the guesthouses on the top – when we stayed for the sunrise we slept on the floor of a restaurant, who were happy for a bit of extra cash.  This is a risky strategy as they may not be so hospitable, and doubt it’ll be much fun staying through the night exposed at the top.  Instead, stay in one of the guesthouses they have available
  • Weather – the weather is going to play a key role in your overall experience.  Difficult to do, but if can be a bit flexible on avoiding rain, it could make the different
  • The sunrise – the sunrise is quite magical if you get the weather.  The cable cars only start at 730am in the summer and 830am in the winter, so its just you and the others who stayed the night there to explore the top before the cablecar (aka cheaters :)) visitors arrive


Some tips on Travelling in China:

  • China is vastboth in terms of its sheer land area, population, economy, but also its history and culture.  You could spend a lifetime travelling China and still only scrape the surface.  Very much like a continent on its own and, in recommending a book to read or movie to watch, it’s a bit like recommending a book to read on “Europe”.  However, I did find that the book Wild Swans by Jung Chang, gave me good context on modern Chinese history.  The book tells the true story of 3 generations of women living in China from 1909 to modern day and I’d highly recommend
  • The Chinese peopleit’s often difficult to interact with locals in China – there are certainly strong cultural differences that go deeper than you would experience in most other parts of the world, but the main problem is of course the language.   Get out google translate for simultaneous translation.  You’ll be surprised how keen the locals will be to speak to you, and just how interesting you may find their stories
  • Frustrationstravelling in China can often be difficult . . . scream-out-loud, pull-all-your-hair-out, call everyone a c**t, never-ever-going-back style difficult.   The language barrier, the often radically different way of doing things, the combo of an often world leading digital country mixed in with archaically manual processes can all make it feel at times like a challenge rather than a joy.  I lived in China for 2 years and experienced a lot of these frustrations.  My advice is simply to go with it, its all part of the adventure, and above all don’t lose your temper.  Shouting at someone or generally showing frustration will just be viewed by the Chinese as embarrassing and, at worst, a loss of face for them, which means you’ve got very little chance of them helping you.  Patience, politeness and a smile will often see them wanting to help you.  They’re not trying to be difficult . . . most of the time 🙂

Experiences nearby

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Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone