Penglai Pavilion has been regarded as a ‘Fairyland‘ since ancient times. The Song Dynasty (960-1127AD) pavilion is listed among the Chinese "Four famous ancient pavilions". And Penglai Pavilion Scenic Area is perched on top of Danya Mountain at the northernmost part of Jiaodong peninsula, Yantai.
It is a complex that includes Sanqing Palace, Lvzu Palace, Tianhou Palace, Longwang (Dragon King) Palace and Mituo Si (Amitabha Temple). In the pavilion, numerous calligraphic works by famous writers, couplets hung on the columns of the hall, and stone inscriptions can be seen everywhere, as it was once the gathering place for many renowned scholars and poets.
Penglai is said to be the place where Qin Shi Huang, the first Chinese emperor, sent off five hundred boys and five hundred girls on ships to the east, to look for the islands of immortality. "There are tales of a mystic dolphin seen from the cliffs above, at which the mighty Emperor cast an impotent spear and knew that his days were numbered. In addition, the legend of the Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea adds more mysterious atmosphere to the Penglai.
The legend goes that the eight immortals crossed the sea using their special powers after they got drunk in the Penglai Pavilion. Penglai, Yingzhou and Fangzhang were said to be the three divine mountains in the sea for immortals to live in.
Under the pavilion is the Penglai Water City built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It has two gates, namely, the south Zhenyang Gate, and the north Water Gate. The south gate connects the land, serving as the gate for the entry of vehicles and horses; the north gate has a huge strobe that controls the entry of ships. Outside the north gate are two emplacements separately placed in the west and east. Water City is presently the most complete ancient military water base in China. In 1982 it was designated as a key national cultural relic along with the Penglai Pavilion.
Among other cultural attractions of Penglai are the Naval Museum with exhibits of ancient ships, and the restored residence of the famous patriotic general Qi Jiguang.
Penglai also has the largest ocean aquarium in Asia. It includes a polar area, a shark hall, a tropical rainforest, and a theater with mermaids, dolphins and sea lions.
Besides enjoying seeing the area, visitors can experience local customs. Temple Fair is a traditional annual activity - a picturesque festival takes place in January for the birthday of Tianhou, a local sea goddess. January 16th by the lunar calendar is regarded as Tianhou's birthday, so local people from near and far go to Tianhou Palace to pray. At that time, locals present a wonderful performance.
Penglai has been ranked by the Chinese government as a top domestic tourist destination for its natural and cultural beauty.
Besides, the Penglai Pavilion is a very good place to witness a magical mirage because it often occurs here, and it is also a good place to appreciate the magnificent scene of the sun rising in the morning.