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Published: April 24th 2017
Mount Huangshan – Yellow Mountain
I’ve written this as we were looking for information to help plan our trip to Huangshan Mountain and couldn’t find enough to give us a clear view of what is possible in a day especially relating to the trekking route. We wanted to go up and down the mountain in one day as time was short. Key for us was maximising the walking time and keeping costs low. This is more factual than painting a picture of the mountain views etc.
For some background, we’re two 27 year olds from London. Both have done walking trips before but would be no means far above beginner in terms of walking ability. We both keep fairly active and fit in normal life. We visited mid April 2017. It’s tough to predict the weather, it was raining when we set off but both came back down with sunburn so be prepared for all occasions is all I can say. I wore shorts and t-shirt the whole day as some indication.
There’s a map attached in English, don’t be put off that we did sections quicker than suggested by the map, they really are generous. One of
us speaks Chinese which helped with directions but if you have both this map and one in Chinese you should be fine (hotels give you the Chinese one). Chinese characters on your map can be matched to sign posts on the mountain as not all have English translations although most do. All prices I quote will be per person apart from hotels.
From Shanghai we took the overnight soft sleeper train. Approx 12 hours. 300RMB approx each way. Arrives around 7am into Huangshan main station. This was booked online via China Highlights a few weeks prior and tickets were collected from the station.
Tunxi is the main town in the area and often referred to as Huangshan City. Many people stay here and get early morning transfers to the mountain entrance. It takes around an hour and would cost 20-25RMB and can be organised from hotels etc. The other option is to stay in Tangkou which is much closer to the mountain entrance.
We decided to visit Hongcun, a local village not far from Huangshan to experience a smaller countryside area. It costs 104RMB to get in. Getting there direct from Huangshan station we took
the bus to Hongcun main station (cost 13RMB) and then changed to another bus which took us to Hongcun (cost 3RMB). This took about 90 mins in total. Another village popular for visits is Xidi.
From Hongcun we took a private car to Tangkou, as mentioned this is the closest town to the mountain and easiest for access in the morning for your walk. This cost 20RMB each and is the same cost as a bus but more direct and they leave when you wish.
We stayed at Ziyouren Inn, prebooked using CTRIP. Good size room, decent bed with a great shower. Clean, friendly and helpful staff. One of the staff speaks good English and will give you a map and recommend a route. This costs about 140RMB for the night and part is paid online as a deposit. The bus station that takes you to the mountain is about 5 mins walk from here and they also let you leave bags behind the desk if you’re not staying another night in Tangkou – great as you don’t want all your stuff going up the mountain. There’s not a great deal to do in Tangkou but its nice
to chill out before walking the next day. There’s a nearby waterfall that you can visit. We walked the 3km down the road as we had time to kill. It costs 85RMB to get in.
There’s a few mini-marts around where you can pick up food to take up the mountain. There are shops on the mountain, the more remote shops can be quite pricey but there were more touristy areas offering noodles etc for 25RMB often near the hotels.
We left our hotel at 6am walking to the bus station and picked up some steamed buns on the way for breakfast. Lots of places are open and selling these and a few other places are open if you’d like something more substantial. The bus ticket office opens at 6.15 and the first bus leaves around 6.30 and it costs 19RMB to get to the Yungu Cable Car station (Eastern steps) – it takes about 20 mins. From here you can either get the cable car 80RMB or walk up for free. Entrance to the mountain is 230RMB.
We walked up the Eastern Steps from the main entrance by the Yungu Cable Car. This took
us approx. 90mins to get to White Goose Ridge. The steps are tough going but the views are amazing going up. Going up it was quite a mix of weather, it may look cloudy from the bottom but we walked through the cloud and mist to come out into bright sunshine above. There weren’t many other people walking up as the majority take the cable car. It’s really nice and quiet, the main people you come across are the porters carrying up supplies for businesses at the top.
From White Goose Ridge we made our way over to Black Tiger Pine, this is a short walk and where we first came in contact with the large Chinese tour groups. Expect tour guides shouting over loud speakers and slow moving groups wearing matching hats. We then made our way over to the Behai Hotel area, again this is pretty easy going and flat. There’s fantastic views across the top and we got some really great pictures. This took around 15/20 mins, photo stops and tour groups may mean it takes longer.
From here we followed signs to Paiyunlou Hotel, again approx. 15 mins of easy going walking. From here you have 2 options, either take the route right to follow the West Sea (Xihai) Grand Canyon or go left skipping this section. We chose to go for the West Sea – definitely worth it. This route is not difficult and can be taken at a leisurely pace, there’s still tour groups this way, a few less so nothing that will ruin your day. This section takes you round to the bottom of the Paiyun Xi Station. We did this section in about an hour. Again great views and a nice easy break to the middle of our walk.
We took the cable car from here up to Tianhai Station, it costs 100RMB and takes 10 mins. There is a steps route following the cable car but it would take quite a while and wouldn’t have fit with our plan. It was quite misty all the way up for us so couldn’t say anything about the view.
From here we followed the route towards Baiyun Hotel and then on to Haixin Pavilion – we took a lot of pictures here, it’s a great 360 view. Following on we went along the trail toward the Lotus Pavilion. This took us about an hour or so but we spent a good 10 mins taking pictures at Haixin.
Lotus Peak was closed and the sign said it has been since Dec2014 for maintenance. Don’t worry, Celestial Peak view is amazing and so nearly as high. We followed the trail towards Celestial Peak, the signs in this area aren’t great and it can get a bit confusing as to whether you’re going the right way. Keep going and you’ll pass the cable car on your right as you go over a small bridge. If you’re too tired or out of time, obviously this is your chance to take the Yuping cable car down – it costs 90RMB and runs until 5pm.
Celestial Peak is amazing. It’s high above all the clouds and I expect on a clear day you’d be able to see a lot of the mountain area. It took us about 40 mins to climb up and around an hour down. It’s a tough walk both up and down. There are some very steep sections of steps with narrow paths so be aware of this when making the decision. There are ropes and handrails to help you almost all of the way. It took us so long to get down as it’s quite treacherous. Paths can be slippery as water drips/runs onto them. We did see a family with a 6 year old doing it though…fearless. The alternative is to follow the main path down of the Western Steps.
Eventually we found our way down and re-joined the main path down for the Western Steps. By this point our legs were pretty tired, it’s all downhill from here meaning pretty constant steps. We pushed through and made it down to Mercy Light Pavilion. This took approximately an hour of non-stop walking/hobbling. There are some good spots for pictures along the way so it could take longer if you stop. We arrived at Mercy Pavilon at 3pm
From here we got the bus back to Tangkou and that was the end of our trek. This costs 19RMB and took 20 mins. Make sure you ask the driver/helper about getting off here otherwise they may drive through. There is the option from Mercy Light to walk a further 1500m to the bottom of the Yuping Cable Car where again similar bus options are available. Back to the hotel to collect our bags and get on the bus to Tunxi. Our hotel helpfully called the bus direct to the door and we stopped and a few others so I expect this is common in other hotels also.
It took about an hour to get to Tunxi main bus station and cost 20RMB. From here you can either get the number 2 or number 8 bus (cost 1RMB) to Yi Ma Lu stop (by the bridge) which is gets you nearest to the nice little area of the city we stayed in (across the bridge). Taxi drivers are also around but the bus is much cheaper and takes about 5 mins – we arrived here around 6pm. We stayed at Daylight Wharf Youth Hotel, reasonable shower, ok room and costs about 140RMB for the night. There’s some nice restaurants and cafes around the area to spend your evening and perhaps the next day. We didn’t look into doing anything else as had planned a rest and chill out day which was really needed as our legs were pretty stiff. There is another excursion that can be organised which is to the Thousand Islands, I’m not sure of what else there is in and around Tunxi. You could also aim to get the night train back that same day, it leaves around 8pm.
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