Hiking Huangshan – China’s Magical Yellow Mountain
Huangshan Mountain, literally translated to “Yellow Mountain,” is one of China’s most spectacular sights and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located about 6 hours west of Shanghai, it’s one of the most magical and beautiful destinations I’ve ever visited. If you find yourself anywhere remotely nearby, it’s absolutely worth finding a few days to enjoy this incredible mountain.
Huangshan Mountain VS Huangshan City
Many people who visit Huangshan Mountain base out of Huangshan City, which seems logical, right? They’re the same name, after all! However, the truth of the matter is that Huangshan City is a full hour away from the mountain! It’s much better to stay in a tiny town called Tangkou. It’s nestled right at the foot of the mountain about an hour north of the Huangshan/Tunxi airport (airport code is TXN), and there is plenty of accommodation and food available.
The easiest way to get there is to have a hotel in Tangkou pre-arranged and show the printed booking confirmation to a taxi driver from the airport. Alternatively, if you are coming from Shanghai, you can take a 6 hour bus ride directly to the Tangkou station, from which you can walk to every hotel in town on foot.
Get An Early Start
This advice sounds familiar, doesn’t it? You can choose to climb the mountain from the ground level, or if you want to save your energy for on top of the mountain, take the National Express bus to either the Yuping/Mercy Light Pavilion or Yungu cable car station. The bus station is right in the center of Tangkou, so be sure to get on the first bus of the morning by arriving at the station around 6:30 am (the park opens at 8:00).
Since I was fresh off my Huashan experience just 2 days earlier, I elected to give my legs a break and take the Yuping cable car up to the top. It’s a scenic ride and you even get some inspirational muzak to accompany your view.
Take Your Time
It’s very worth spending at LEAST one night on the mountain, if not two. I spent one and wish I had done two so that I could take in all of the sights this beautiful mountain has to offer.
There are several lodging options, from hotels to campsites. There are several fairly expensive but not-too-fancy hotels, but they’re the only game in town if you want a shower, air conditioning and a soft bed.
If you’re feeling more rugged, you can pitch a tent on any of the hotel grounds. In the courtyard in front of the Bai Yun hotel were dozens of tents forming what seemed like a fun little community, as long as they could contend with the bright display screen outside!
A Fairy Tale Of A Mountain
As soon as you set foot on the top of the mountain, prepare to pick your jaw up off the ground. Huangshan is filled with storybook paths showcasing beautiful views. Here are some of my favorite sights:
The Fairy Walking Bridge
This attraction is so special it needs its own section. Located about 90 minutes west of Bright Top Peak, it’s worth going out of the way to see. It was built
by ancient monks in 1987 and spans two sheer cliff faces. The view looking down isn’t as scary as you might think, but boy does it make for a great photo op!
Nearby are also breathtaking views of the West Sea and a beautifully crafted stone pagoda. To get the Fairy Bridge classic shot, just find a friend and have them stand on the outcropping just southwest of the bridge.
Starting And Ending Your Days
Staying on top of Huangshan Mountain affords you some great opportunities for special scenery. There are many great spots for catching the sunrise and sunset, and you can see a great map and guide at this site.
At the end of my first day on Huangshan I hiked to Turtle Peak, just a short trek from the Bai Yun Hotel and a great spot to see the sun set over the sea of mountains. I had to pry myself away after it got dark because it was such a great photo spot!
If the sunset was something special, the sunrise and entire morning experience was simply unforgettable. The sunrise itself was nice, but the sound of the birds singing as I walked along the empty mountain paths just before dawn was incredible. Just after sunrise, head to White Goose Ridge for magnificent, water-color like light on the mountains.
When it’s time to depart the mountain, try going down a different way than you arrived. The Eastern steps, Western steps and cable cars all take you to buses that shuttle back to the same area, so take the opportunity to see something new!
- Avoid going on the weekends or Chinese Holidays – Huangshan’s beauty is no secret and it gets crowded on the mountain when locals have a chance to visit!
- Bring your own snacks and water, or else you’ll pay a premium for it when you’re on the mountain.
- Like the rest of China, bring cash. Many places, even hotels, do not accept credit cards, so be prepared ahead of time as you may have a hard time getting cash on the mountaintop.
Huangshan Mountain Resources
- Huangshan Tour – A very detailed site with tons of information about visiting the mountain.
Disclosure: Some (not all) of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning I will get a commission if you purchase the products they link to. The accommodations listed are the ones I actually stayed in, and I only suggest other places that I think my readers will find helpful.