This post was last updated on April 16th, 2020 at 01:27 pm
Huangshan is also called the Yellow Mountains. It is located in the east of China and is one of the largest sights in the country. It is said that once you have seen the peaks of Huangshan you will never want to climb another mountain again. Although that may be a bit exaggerated, the view here is spectacular!
The area consists of immense rocks and bamboo forests and guarantees a beautiful photo. That it is a special mountain is evident from the fact that everywhere you look you will find painters and artists who are hiding under umbrellas and in thick coats. Yet it is not just tourists and artists who come here.
Emperors and other leaders used to come here and Huangshan is considered sacred in China. Every Chinese, and there are many, wants to see the peaks of Huangshan at least once in their life. The consequence of this is that you are never alone on Huangshan. A noisy crowd of mainly Chinese will chase you everywhere.
Don’t let this put you off because if you take a turn somewhere and the magical landscape appears, all those Chinese tourists are forgotten. The trees that lie on an isolated rocky platform or the rocks that protrude above the green landscape provide an unforgettable experience.
It will not go unnoticed that the landscape here is one of the most special in all of China. Together with the Jiuzhaigou National Park, it is a popular place for Chinese and foreign travelers. Its origin dates back some 100 million years when rocks were pushed up from the sea. The special shape of the mountains is due to the formation of water and glaciers.
Together with centuries-old forests, this has made it a well-known highlight today. With the peculiarly shaped granite rocks, forests, hot springs, winter snow and views of the clouds from the top, this is entirely justified. It is not for nothing that it is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
This place is best known for its many peaks. Some are even more than 1,000 meters (3280 feet) high! The three highest and most important peaks are the Lotus Peak (1,864 meters, 6115 feet), Bright Summit Peak (1,840 meters, 6037 feet) and Celestial Peak, also known as the Capital of Heaven Peak (1,829 meters, 6000 feet).
The mountain peaks provide spectacular views and it is also called the Sea of Clouds or Huangshan Sea because of the view of the clouds. In addition, the sunrise is a must-see for many here due to the special light effects. Sunrise in this beautiful place is also called Buddha’s Light.
How to Get to Huangshan
Huangshan is easier to reach than you may think. Tunxi (Huangshan City) is the nearest city that has an airport. In addition to an airport, you will also find a bus and train station in Tunxi, from where there is a connection to all major cities in China.
From Tunxi Old City Center it’s about an hour’s drive to the base of Huangshan (Tangkou) and from there you can start the climb.
It is recommended to stay overnight in Tunxi before leaving early for Huangshan the next morning. This way you can enjoy the cozy old city center on arrival. In Tunxi’s old city center you will find several nice shops and stalls with the best local specialties. The next morning you can start the climb while you’re still full of energy.
Mountain Climbing in China
When you think of mountain climbing, you may immediately think of dangerous trails or dangling from a rope off the cliff of a mountain. Nothing could be further from the truth in China.
When you climb a mountain in China (not only in Huangshan), you can take the stairs. That’s right, thousands of steps will take you from the base of the mountain to the top. Not a fan of climbing that many steps? Then, of course, you can always take the cable car, as the majority of the Chinese will do as well.
Which Route Do I Take on Huangshan?
One important aspect of finding the right route for you is to determine the amount of time you have to visit Huangshan. There are a total of three hiking trails and three ziplines to the top of Huangshan. Once you are at the top you can easily walk around for a day or more.
Whether you choose to explore Huangshan in one day or three days, the Yellow Mountains will make a huge impression on you.
Finding the most beautiful and best places is not that easy. You will not encounter two of the same route maps anywhere and even the official maps in the park are confusing. It is easiest to visit Huangshan with a guide, so you do not have to worry at all and you will be sure that you do not miss out on the best places and most beautiful viewpoints.
Hiking Trails and Cable Cars
The two most chosen routes to hike to the top of Huangshan are the eastern and western routes from Tangkou (Southern Gate). The shortest and easiest route starts in the East, from Yungu Temple/Cloud Valley. If you take this route, it will take about three hours to reach the top (Bright Top).
Do you like a challenge and do you want to see the best the mountain has to offer? Then take the Western Route (from Mercy Light Pavilion) and hike from the foot to the top of Huangshan (Bright Top) in about five hours.
Have you reached the top? Explore the different peaks, viewpoints, pavilions, and bridges. If you have more time at the top, also hike the West Sea Grand Canyon route. This walk takes about 4 hours and takes you past the most fabulous bridges and viewpoints.
TIP – Go for the ultimate Huangshan experience and hike up through the West, explore the top of the mountain range, spend the night at the top, enjoy a unique sunset and sunrise, and hike back down the east side the next morning.
Is all that walking not for you? Then you can also take a cable car (80-90 Chinese Yuan, US$11.30-US$12.70, per ride) and only explore the top on foot. Be aware of long queues, as the majority of the Chinese prefer to go up by cable car.
TIP – Do you only have one day and still want to visit the most beautiful places in Huangshan? Take the cable car up and explore the most impressive viewpoints with a guide. Depending on the time, you can then take the cable car down again or walk down the shortest walking route.
We consider the right accommodation an important part for an amazing travel experience. That is why we always look for accommodations that have something special; in terms of authenticity, appearance, atmosphere, location or construction. We always look for a comfortable and centrally located hotel. That it features:
- Western Toilet
- Private Bathroom
- Airco (Excluding Homestays)
- Wi-Fi (Excluding Homestays)
- Warm Water
Our Favorite Pick in Huangshan
Our favorite place to stay in Huangshan is the simple but very attractive Old Street Courtyard in the heart of Old Town Tunxi. This guesthouse/hotel is located in the historic center. They also offer a free pick-up service which can come in very handy. In our opinion, staying in this location is an absolute must.
The choice of hotels near the old center is limited. That is why we have selected a few alternatives for you, both of which are a short walk away.
- Mild Spring Boutique Hotel: A great hotel made of traditional Huizhou architecture and is about a 6-minute walk from Tunxi Ancient Street.
- Kunlun International Youth Hostel: A great hostel, located in the Tunxi District. This is a great choice for budget travelers who are interested in hiking, old-town exploration and great scenery.
Huangshan Travel Itinerary
Our example itinerary gives you complete freedom to make adjustments based on your own preference. If you arrive in Huangshan (Tunxi) via Shanghai, Hangzhou or Wuzhen, it is probably by train or bus. Tunxi also has an airport with good connections to many destinations in other parts of China.
Day 1: Welcome to Huangshan (Tunxi)
Upon arrival at the airport, train or bus station, a car, and a driver will be waiting for you to take you to Tunxi. You will stay here in an authentic and attractive Chinese guesthouse or in a comfortable tourist hotel, both in or within walking distance of the Ancient Road in Tunxi. You can use the evening to stroll through the roads and eat in one of the restaurants.
TIP – Take a walk through the old town and pay special attention to what is sold in the shops and enjoy the beautiful facades. In the evening the red lanterns are lit and the entire place gets an enchanting look.
- Stay in a 3-star hotel with spacious and attractive rooms, located in the historic old center of Tunxi.
- Upgrade to a luxury 4/5-star hotel.
Day 2: Xidi and Hongcun
You can visit the old towns of Xidi and Hongcun on your own. In Tunxi it is possible to book a tour on the spot to Hongcun and Xidi. The disadvantage is that this is often with a Chinese group and a Chinese guide.
- Day tour to Hongcun and Xidi with a private car and an English speaking guide.
Day 3: Yellow Mountain (Mt. Huangshan)
Today, you will hike through the yellow mountains; Mt. Huangshan. You can do this on your own by taking one of the many public transport buses or by arranging your own transport. Please note that the total tour, including bus, shuttle bus, and cable car, takes about 2 hours and the park closes at 4:30 p.m.
- Travel by private car and driver from Tunxi to Mt. Huangshan.
- Stay for an extra day (and overnight) at Mt. Huangshan park.
Extend your stay in Tunxi to visit the other historic towns in the area.
Day 4: Continue your journey
Depending on your travel plans, you will be taken by car to the airport, bus or train station. Wuzhen and Shanghai are an excellent destination to resume your trip in China. You can also choose Guilin, Kunming, Dali, Lijiang or Hong Kong. These are just a few options, there are plenty of choices available to you.