Taizhou is one of those Chinese cities with a history that stretches staggeringly deep into the past. It was first settled some five thousand years ago and is home to both the only Great Wall in Southern China and a 1500-year-old monastery that founded a school of Buddhism. That monastery is located atop Tiantai Mountain, which is only one of many natural wonders within the city’s borders.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Taizhou:
1. Tiantai Mountain
Tiantai Mountain is one of the most beautiful and culturally significant peaks in eastern China.
According to local legend, Tiantai Mountain was once located on the back of a giant sea turtle; the creator goddess Nuwa moved the mountain to its current location before using the legs of the sea turtle to prop up the heavens.
There is certainly something otherworldly about the mountain, especially at the top of its 1,138-meter peak.
You might even see an extremely rare Seven Sons tree; Tiantai Mountain is home to one of the nine remaining wild populations of this cherished plant.
2. Guoqing Temple
This lovely monastery is located near the peak of the towering Tiantai Mountain.
It’s staggeringly old — according to records, it dates to the year 598 — and plays an important role in the development of Buddhism; the eponymous Tiantai school of the Mahayana branch started here.
It’s also a pretty massive complex, with fourteen halls spread out over 23,000 square meters of land.
Within these halls are many priceless cultural treasures, including an elegant Qing Dynasty bronze tripod, a Ming Dynasty statue of the Gautama Buddha, and five hundred golden arhats.
There’s simply too much to see in one day, but you can always try.
3. Jiufeng Park
In a city rich in green spaces, Jiufeng Park is one of the best.
The park contains not one but nine peaks, all of which you can climb up via clear, paved paths for great views of the city.
As you follow the paths, you’ll cross babbling brooks via classical stone bridges, both angled and arched.
The paths are peppered with life-size models of traditional Chinese architecture, including everything from grand palaces to simple homes.
There’s also a small amusement park with a surprisingly fast roller coaster within the boundaries of the park.
4. Wu Zixiong Glass Art Museum
Wu Zixiong, a Taizhou native, is one of the most significant contemporary glass artists in China.
This handsome, gleaming museum in downtown Taizhou is primarily dedicated to his lifetime of art, but also contains pieces by many other contemporary glass artists, including Wu Zixiong’s son and students.
At any given time, one of the artists is often in the museum and willing to explain the process behind the pieces.
You can also watch the artists working on new pieces in the on-site workshop.
They’ll make you a customized piece, perhaps engraved with your name, for a reasonable price.
5. Huangyan Grottoes
The Huangyan Grottoes are a series of naturally-forming karst caves in Taizhou’s Huangyan district.
The section of the cave that is open to visitors is divided into several poetically-named “rooms,” including Grotto Lake, Emperor’s Dream, and Fairy Murals.
As at most caves in China that are open to tourists, the walls are illuminated with multicolored, disco-like electric lights.
This detracts slightly from the “natural” atmosphere but doesn’t supercede the intricate beauty of the stalagtites and stalagmites.
Avoid visiting on summer weekends, when city dwellers flock here to escape the heat.
6. Luqiao Old Street
In the midst of the ultramodern city of Taizhou, it’s something of a shock to happen across this cluster of charmingly antique, Qing Dynasty-esque buildings.
Once you’re deep within the labyrinth of narrow stone streets, though, you might forget you were ever in the modern city.
Many of the old shop buildings have been converted into small eateries where you can taste both local specialties and the satisfyingly savory street snacks that populate every food street in China.
Other shops sell local handicrafts and souvenirs.
Even if you decide not to buy anything, you can have a pleasant time merely exploring the ancient streets.
7. Taizhou Dachen Island
The Dachens are a cluster of tiny islands near Taizhou that have been primarily supported by fishing for about as long as anyone can remember.
Like most fisheries worldwide, the population of fish around the Dachens has declined significantly over the past few decades; the islanders have turned to tourism to supplement their incomes.
Most visitors head to the largest of the Dachens, which is called simply “Taizhou Dachen Island,” via a regularly-scheduled ferry.
Once you’re here, you can spend your time eating fresh seafood, swimming in the blue water, or simply lounging on the beach.
8. Qi Jiguang Memorial
Qi Jiguang was one of the most important generals of the Ming Dynasty.
Most famously, he protected the coastal regions of China — including Taizhou — against the Japanese wokou pirates.
He also wrote two books on military strategy that are still frequently read today, as well as dozens of conventionally flowery poems and prose pieces.
Though Qi Jiguang neither died nor was born in Taizhou, the city considers him a local hero and has a fittingly grand memorial dedicated to his accomplishments.
For a small fee, you can enter a small museum at the memorial that explains the warlord-poet’s accomplishments.
9. Cinnabar Heap
Taizhou was once a prime source for cinnabar, a brick-red mineral that was prized throughout the ancient world for a variety of uses.
Here in China, it was primarily used as a coloring agent for the country’s famous lacquered ceramics.
In the Ming Dynasty, tons of cinnabar were pulled out of the ground for this use, which required miners to leave behind large piles of waste rock.
In the intervening centuries, thick vegetation grew all over the waste piles, allowing them to stabilize.
The so-called “cinnabar heap” is therefore now a hill that many locals like to walk up for their daily cardio.
You can follow the same route and think about the distant past.
10. Taizhou Bay Marsh
Taizhou Bay is one of the busiest commercial ports in China.
Outside of the hustle and bustle of the port, though, there are some relatively placid areas that preserve what the coast may have looked like before the rise of industry.
One of these is Taizhou Bay Marsh, a natural wetland area rich in both biodiversity and beauty.
While Taizhou’s National Wetland Park is effectively a zoo — many of the inhabitants, including the elk, peacocks, and black swans, were shipped here — the Bay Marsh is a natural wetland.
That means you won’t see as many animals, but when you do it will be a true treat.
11. Museum of Chinese Medicine
This little museum in Luqiao Old Street is dedicated to the history of traditional Chinese medicine, a millennia-old tradition that continues to play an important role in the lives of millions of people worldwide.
In keeping with Luqiao Old Street’s Qing Dynasty theme, the museum is decked out like a traditional apothecary shop; the walls are covered with shelves lined with rows of glass jars, each stuffed with a different dried or pickled mysterious ingredient.
In fact, the building in which the museum is housed was once the town’s real apothecary.
12. Taizhou Ocean World
Taizhou Ocean World is an impressively huge aquarium that claims to be the “highest Ocean World in China.
” The hulking cyclone-shaped building includes nearly 9000 square meters of exhibition space, which houses over 1000 different species of aquatic life.
There are aquariums full of coral reef fish, aquariums full of tropical freshwater fish, and an aquarium occupied exclusively by edible fish whose name translates to “Ocean Flavor.” There’s even a daily live performance in which young women with Spandex tails covering their legs swim through a large tank like mermaids.
13. Wanghai Tower
Records suggest that a tower has stood on this site near the urban core of Taizhou since the Southern Song Dynasty.
The current construction, however, was only completed in the early part of the 2000s, as part of a city-wide effort to beautify Taizhou.
Despite its relatively young age, the tower stays true to all the details of Song Dynasty architecture and is just as intricate and beautiful as a much older building.
For 40 yuan, you can climb to the top of the tower for a great view of the city.
14. Taozhu Ancient Town
Taozhu Ancient Town is a special little attraction located within Zhenjiang Linhai National Geopark.
It’s a collection of charmingly irregular rock walls that once formed the boundaries of a rustic Ming Dynasty village.
The walls, which were in ruins when the geopark opened, have been restored to resemble what they might have looked like in their original state.
Some of the walls form arches that you can walk through along the wide, paved paths.
The walls’ outer coating of multicolored moss and shrubs makes for a quaint, faintly spooky backdrop for artsy photographs.
15. Coral Rock
Coral Rock is one of the most significant geological formations within Zhenjiang Linhai National Geopark, and certainly the most frequently visited.
While it looks like a gigantic piece of coral rising out of the rock, it is actually composed of carbonate rock that was formed at the bottom of a warm, shallow sea.
Because carbonate rock is so soluble (it reacts with hydrochloric acid in rain water), the exposed rock soon wore away to the branched, organic shape we associate with coral.
For the best experience, go with a guide who can show you exactly where the coral rock is and explain its geological history.
16. Linhai Great Wall
Taizhou boasts the only true Great Wall in alll of Southern China.
This Great Wall never connected with the famous one in Beijing; it was built in the Jin Dynasty to protect Taizhou itself from both enemies and floods.
At its zenith, the wall stretched more than 6000 meters; about 5000 meters are still standing.
The best place to reach the wall is the town of Linhai within Taizhou.
Here, you can climb the wall and walk across its entire length.
Because the Great Wall is arguably the most famous historical site in Taizhou, it’s often crowded; try to avoid weekends and holidays.
17. Jiyan Flavored Lamb
One of Taizhou’s most famous delicacies is Jiyan flavored lamb, a complex dish made from the meat of “old lambs.” Officially, “old” is defined as a lamb who is about six to eight months old; that makes the animal no longer a baby but not yet old enough to be called mutton.
The meat is stewed over a long period of time with a variety of aromatics that are valued both for their flavor and their medicinal value.
The result is a rollickingly delicious dish that is credited with a long list of health benefits, including everything from healing kidneys to curing colds.
18. Taizhou Poly Grand Theater
The Taizhou Poly Grand Theater opened just a few years ago in 2009, though its hulking gray facade admittedly looks more like a relic from the Soviet-funded era.
The huge building has four levels comprising a total of 45,000 square meters of floor space and can host three events at any one time.
The venue shows about fifty performances every year, including local arts such as Peking opera, visits from traveling troupes from around the world, and the usual pageants and concerts put on by local schools and organizations.
19. Huangyan Night Market
Who doesn’t love a good night market? Taizhou’s own is located in the bustling Huangyan District and opens every night.
It’s one of the best places in own to get tasty street food, including the universally popular barbecue.
Hand the vendor the skewers you want and he or she will grill them up fresh for you.
You’ll also find all the fried foods your heart could ever desire, from eggplant to whole squids.
Once you run out of room in your stomach, you can start shopping for non-edible goods, including clothing and souvenirs.
20. Rapeseed Sea
Though its name is not particularly pretty in English (oil manufacturers call it “canola” to get around it), rapeseed bears a beautifully bright flower that looks especially impressive when it blooms in huge fields that stretch to the horizon.
This happens every year around March in many parts of China, but Taizhou’s rapeseed fields have a special quality.
They grow in marshy areas in the Taizhou bay, giving the impression that the sea itself is coming into sunshine-yellow bloom.
You can take a boating tour through the rapeseed fields to pass right through this dreamland of color.
21. Taizhou Commercial Street
Taizhou Commercial Street is a pedestrian shopping street, an indispensable feature in any Chinese city.
There’s lots to do here, including rows of shops from both international chains and local boutiques, a movie theater, and plenty of eateries at all levels of service.
It’s a great place to try local Taizhou cuisine in a setting slightly more refined than what you can get at the Huangyan Night Market.
One of the best hidden secrets on the street is the studio of Jing Gao, a well-known local photographer.
Step in during her open hours to admire her thoughtful world photography
Jiufeng Park Taizhou