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A large crowd of people walking through the gates of the Temple of Confucius in Qufu. (@128mm on APS-C)

One Day in Qufu: Exploring the Legacy of Confucius


Qufu (曲阜市, Qūfù Shì), located in Shandong Province, China, holds a special place as the hometown of Confucius (孔子, Kǒngzǐ), one of history’s greatest philosophers. It’s a city where you can dive deep into Confucian culture and wisdom, even in just one day. From the lively Confucius Show to the serene Kong Forest, Qufu offers a unique experience. The star attractions here are the Confucius Temple, the Kong Mansion, and the Kong Forest, all part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Temple and Cemetery of Confucius and the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu.” This post will guide you through your day in Qufu, with hotel recommendations and optional sights, so you can discover the charm of this place and carry it with you as you explore China.

Morning: Confucius Show and Breakfast

Start your day in Qufu with the Confucius Show at 8 o’clock in the morning. The show takes place in front of the main gate of the Confucius Temple in the South of the Temple (Google Maps Location). It will be busy, but it is a good and vivid show that sets the tone for the day. After the show, enjoy a leisurely breakfast before heading out to explore the main attractions.

Main Attractions: Confucius Temple, Kong Mansion, and Kong Forest

Qufu is the birthplace of Confucius, the great philosopher, politician, and educator of the 6th-5th centuries B.C. The main attractions in Qufu are the Confucius Temple, the Kong Mansion, and Kong Forest. These three sites are collectively known as the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Temple and Cemetery of Confucius and the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu“.

Confucius Temple

When you step into the Confucius Temple (孔庙, Kǒng Miào), you’re entering a hallowed space that transcends time. This monumental tribute to Confucius, East Asia’s largest and most celebrated temple dedicated to the philosopher, has a history dating back to 478 B.C.

Over the centuries it has grown and developed. Today, there are more than a hundred different buildings that stand as living proofs of the continuing influence of Confucius. At the heart of this architectural marvel lies the majestic Dacheng Palace, a towering masterpiece soaring 32 meters into the sky, stretching 54 meters in length, and extending 34 meters deep.

The Dacheng Palace, with its nine decorated eaves and bright yellow tiles, is a symbol of respect for the teachings of Confucius. As you explore this magnificent temple, you can’t help but be fascinated by the profound history and wisdom it represents – a fitting tribute to the philosopher whose ideas continue to shape cultures and mindsets around the world.

Kong Mansion

The Kong family mansion (孔府, Kǒng Fǔ), once the residence of Confucius’ direct descendants in Qufu, is a fascinating step back in time. The surviving buildings date mostly from the Ming and Qing dynasties and provide a glimpse into the wealth and lifestyle of Confucius’ descendants. Today, the historic mansion serves as a museum and is part of the esteemed UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As you explore the complex, you will discover not only the finery of the eastern and western work areas but also the hidden charm of the back garden. Don’t forget to look for an opportunity to buy some of the famous local sweets that can be found in the charming garden. This way you can enjoy a piece of Qufu’s history and satisfy your sweet tooth at the same time.

Kong Forest

The Kong Forest (孔林, Kǒng Lí), affectionately referred to as the Cemetery of Confucius, is a hallowed ground that cradles the remains of Confucius and generations of his illustrious descendants. When you enter this peaceful sanctuary, it’s like entering a kingdom where time seems to stand still.

Amidst the lush, undisturbed vegetation, you’ll encounter an assembly of tombs and gravesites, each telling its own tale of devotion and reverence. Here, history finds its eternal resting place, with centuries of Confucius’s legacy etched into the very earth beneath your feet.

As you walk through this sacred forest, take a moment to absorb the deep sense of peace that surrounds you – a witness to the enduring respect and admiration for Confucius and his cherished legacy. It’s a place where the past and present seamlessly merge, inviting you to reflect on the timeless wisdom of one of China’s most known philosophers.

Optional Attractions: Qufu Dacheng Hall and Former Residence of Confucius in Qufu

If you have more time, you can also visit the Qufu Dacheng Hall and the Former Residence of Confucius in Qufu. The Dacheng Hall is the main temple inside the Confucius Temple complex. The former residence is part of the Kong Family residence, the second of the “3 Kong” sites within Qufu’s walled city.

Hotel Recommendation

Choose a hotel close to the main temple, if possible, to make the most of your day in Qufu. This will allow you to start your day with the Confucius Show and easily access the main attractions throughout the day.

I stayed at the JW Marriot Hotel Qufu, which is not the best choice if you are travelling on a budget but a very nice place to spend a peaceful day in Qufu.

Getting to and around Qufu

Qufu, located in Shandong Province, China, can be reached by various modes of transportation. The city has a high-speed railway station, Qufu East (曲阜东站), which is served by trains from major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Nanjing. However, Qufu East is located about 20 kilometres from the city centre, so you will need to take a taxi or bus to reach the main attractions. 

Qufu also has a bus station, Qufu Bus Station (曲阜汽车站), which is located in the city centre and has regular bus services to nearby cities such as Jinan and Tai’an. Taxis are available in Qufu and can be hailed on the street or through ride-hailing apps such as Didi or T3. 

Once in the city, walking or taking a taxi are great ways to get around and explore the city’s rich history and culture. Qufu’s main attractions, including the Confucius Temple, Kong Mansion, and Kong Forest, are located within walking distance of each other.

Contemporary Considerations of Confucius

In the present day, Confucius’s teachings, revered by many, also spark thoughtful discussions on various fronts:

Confucian Hierarchy and Authority: While Confucian values emphasize hierarchy and respect for authority, some argue that these principles may not align seamlessly with modern ideals of individualism.

Gender Roles: The traditional gender roles promoted by Confucius have raised concerns about their potential contribution to gender inequality in today’s society. For example, he championed the traditional role of women as wives and mothers and emphasized the importance of piety for children.

Adaptability: The strong focus on tradition within Confucianism has prompted questions about its ability to adapt to a rapidly changing world.

Cultural Inclusivity: The association of Confucianism with a specific cultural context has led to discussions about its inclusivity in an increasingly diverse and globalized world.

These considerations are part of an ongoing conversation, reflecting the dynamic nature of Confucian philosophy in contemporary times.


In a nutshell, a day trip to Qufu is a chance to soak in the history and the legacy of Confucius. From the energetic Confucius Show to the peaceful Kong Forest, it’s a journey worth taking. As Confucius wisely said, “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” So, start your adventure in Qufu slowly, and as you leave, remember the wisdom you’ve gained. 🙂

This day trip is a good combination on your way to Qingdao, Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, or Nanjing, depending on in which direction you are travelling.

For more travel ideas, visit the travel section on my homepage or connect with me on Instagram.

If you want to visit the Confucius Temple in Qufu, you will want to capture its beauty in photos or videos. An ultra-wide angle (UWA) lens can help you do just that! Read my guide to ultra-wide angle lenses for Sony APS-C to find out if a UWA lens is the right choice for you. With the right lens, you can capture the intricate design and architecture of the temple, even in tight spaces.

Frederic Konkel

My name is Frederic B. Konkel and to capture landscapes and cityscapes is a big passion of mine. I'm currently back in Berlin, Germany. I love to explore new places and I'm using my cameras to document these moments. On F.B.K. Photography I showcase a few impressions of my captured moments from around the world.