Would you like to go hiking Huangshan? The most beautiful mountains in China?
Huangshan literally translates to yellow mountains. This stunning mountain range is located in Anhui, towards Shanghai. Although there are many other amazing hiking place in China, such as Tiger Leaping Gorge and Huashan, Huangshan is meant to be the most stunning. After living in China for a year and travelling all over, hiking the yellow mountains is still my favourite thing I did.
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Here is my ultimate guide to Huangshan hiking:
Get yourself the perfect backpack!
The Osprey Daylite Plus is a versatile daypack. It’s got room for everything and has some great hiking features.
Where to stay
|Accommodation||Price-Range||Why stay here?|
|Koala International Youth Hostel||Budget||Great little hostel, English speaking staff, great social area.|
|Huangshan Park View Hotel||Mid-Range||A 5* hotel at a 3* price. Clean and modern rooms.|
|Crown Plaza Huangshan Yucheng||Luxury||International restaurant on-site, bathtubs in all rooms and a pool, spa and fitness centre.|
|Accommodation||Price-Range||Why stay here?|
|Kunlun International Youth Hostel||Budget||Great hostel with roof terrace, individual lockers for every dormitory bed.|
|Xingyu Boutique Hotel||Mid-Range||Nice air-conditioned rooms with tour booking service.|
|Huangshan Lotus Villa||Luxury||Outdoor swimming pool, options for private terrace with your room, children’s playground.|
|Accommodation||Price-Range||Why stay here?|
|Baiyun Hotel||Mid-Range||Clean hotel with on-site restaurant, cheapest option on the mountain.|
|Beihai Hotel||Luxury||Best location on the mountain, on-site restaurant, only 15 minutes from bright top.|
Why visit Huangshan?
Most people visit Huangshan hoping to see its famed ‘four natural wonders’:
- Imaginatively-named pines – many pine trees are found in Huangshan; growing up to 10m tall.
- Odd-shaped rocks – many different rocks with lots of different names. Check out ‘monkey watching over sea’ in the picture below – this was my favourite!
- Cloud sea – on a clear day you will arrive at the top to be greeted by the sea of clouds. This is best viewed through winter and spring.
- Hot springs – also known as the springs of youth, people believe you will become younger after bathing…. Choose to believe what you want!
How long to visit Huangshan?
This mountain range is huge. You could easily spend a full three days on the mountain and two days exploring the surrounding area. However, I recommend an absolute minimum of two days in the Huangshan area, with one full day on the mountain. Although, you can never spend enough time exploring this mountain range!
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Huangshan hiking routes
There are several different hiking routes up and around Huangshan. The main three routes up the mountain are the western steps, the eastern steps and the west side canyon. The eastern steps are the quickest route up taking 3 hours compared with 7 hours on the western steps! The west side canyon is located in a different place so I don’t recommend starting your hike here.
Even if you use the cable cars to get around, you will still be subject to a good hike. This is worth bearing in mind if you have mobility issues or young children. Although you’ll notice the Chinese will do it in high heels with their two year old toddlers running alongside behind them!
On our route up, we actually got overtaken by a 60-something year old grandma in high heeled boots. It became out goal to arrive at the top before her, which we managed…. just!
I recommend staying at the bottom of the mountain in Tongcun the night before you hike Huangshan and the night you leave the mountain. This allows you take the first bus up and the last bus back.
1 day itinerary for a Huangshan hike
Follow the red numbers on the Huangshan hiking map above from 1 – 11.
First up on your Huangshan itinerary, take the bus to Yungu Temple (1). From here, take the cable car up to White Goose Ridge Station at the top of the mountain (2). Head to Beginning to Believe Peak (3), followed by Dawn Pavilion (5) and Monkey Watching Over Sea (6). Then head over to Bright Top (8) before walking down the mountain via Turtle Peak and Lotus Peak (9) (if time permits). Lastly, take the Yuping Cable Car (10) and the bus back to the starting point. Be sure to stop off at the hot springs if you’re spending the night in Tongcun.
This route allows you to visit all the main points within one day. If you reversed the trip the hike up would likely make it to long to be completed in just one day.
2 day itinerary for a Huangshan hike
Follow the blue numbers on the Huangshan hiking map from 1 – 14.
Start your Huangshan itinerary with a bus to Yungu Temple (1). From here, you can hike up the mountain… if you’re not a big hiker, then hop on the cable car to shorten your journey time. It’s about a three hour hike up a seemingly never-ending staircase!
Once you reach the top, head to the Beginning to Believe Peak (4), followed by Dawn Pavilion (6) and Monkey Watching Over Sea (7). Finishing at Bright Top (9) to watch sunset.
I recommend staying at the Beihai Hotel for the night. This is located at a good stopping point and only a 20-minute walk from bright top.
Rise early the next day to see sunrise at Bright Top (9). This is a 20 minute walk from the hotel. Fortunately, most hotels provide warm down-coats; a blessing in the early hours. After sunrise, head to Flying Rock (10) followed by Fairy Walking Bridge (11). Please note, this area is closed during winter. Afterwards, head down towards Turtle Peak and Lotus Peak (12). Choose to hike up celestial capital peak (13) or if your legs are tired, skip it and take the cable car down instead. Take the bus from here back to the start.
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3 day itinerary for a Huangshan hike
So you’ve got three days? You’re very lucky! This is the perfect amount of time to explore the whole of Huangshan. Please follow the green numbers on the Huangshan hiking map from 1-17.
To start your Huangshan itinerary, take the bus to Yungu Temple (1). Then follow the same itinerary as stated above for day one. I recommend staying at Beihai hotel for both nights on the mountain.
Rise early to watch sunrise at Bright Top (9). Following this, it’s now time to explore the west side canyon. First, visit Fairy Walking Bridge (11) and Plank Way (12). Once finished, take the monorail back up to Bright Top (14) for sunset. Following sunset, return to Beihai hotel for your final night.
If you missed sunrise, head to Bright Top (14) again for sunrise. Following check out, head down the mountain firstly passing Turtle Peak and Lotus Peak (15), then Celestial Capital Peak (16). Then return to the bottom of Huangshan via the East steps, or cable car if you’re tired! You should have time to visit the hot springs (information below) on your way back to Tongcun.
Other things to do in Huangshan
Apart from trekking you can also go to Huangshan for sightseeing. There are many locations nearby that are great for this.
Tunxi ancient town / Huangshan city
If you have plenty of time, spend a night in Huangshan city prior to heading to Tongcun and Huangshan. The ancient street is nice for a wander. However, you will need no more than half a day to visit all places.
Mukeng bamboo forest
If you like hiking then you’ll love this gentle walk through a dense bamboo forest. Mukeng offers beautiful views throughout. After being dropped at the starting point, walk left and follow the circular trail.
If you’d like to you can take the zipwire, half way round the circuit. However, be prepared, it was just a little old man with a debatable looking wire and harness!
You will need to hire a driver to take you here. Your hotel can arrange this for you, costing around 650 RMB per day. I also recommend visiting Hongcun and/or Xidi ancient town in the same day.
Hongcun / Xidi ancient town
No huangshan sightseeing tour is complete without visiting an ancient town. If you’re short on time, head straight to Tongcun and visit them from there instead of Tunxi. The easiest way to visit these towns is to hire a driver (650 RMB per day).
Want to know more about China?
Pick up a copy of the Lonely Planet Guide for China. Be prepared with this Lonely Planet Mandarin Phrasebook.
After a hefty hike, there’s nothing better than soaking your sore muscles in hot springs. Although very enjoyable, these hot springs are not the most sophisticated. If I’m honest, we were a little disappointed by the quality of the pools. Furthermore, many were closed when we visited.
The easiest way to visit the hot springs is by getting off the bus on your way back to Tongcun after descending Huangshan. After getting on the sightseeing bus and exiting the scenic area, ask the driver to stop at the hot springs (a translator may be useful here).
Be sure to remember, that the bus from the hot springs to Tongcun leaves every two hours only. Upon arrival at the hot springs, confirm the bus times at reception.
Alternatively, to visit on another day, take the bus from the entrance towards the east steps getting off at the hot springs halfway.
How to get around Huangshan
Local buses: you can take these from the bottom of the mountain to nearby towns and attractions. They are very cheap with prices starting at 1 RMB per journey.
Taxi: local taxi meters start at just 5 RMB. The best app in China has to be DiDi. It makes it incredible easy to order a taxi, especially if you cannot speak Chinese. To download DiDi, switch your app store to China and download the English version.
Hire a driver: expect to pay around 650RMB per day. I recommend doing this for one day so you can explore the nearby attractions.
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How to get to Huangshan
You can fly to Tunxi airport. Then from here you can take a taxi/local bus to Tongcun town. If you are visiting for than two/three days, think about visiting Tunxi for one night before moving to Tongcun.
You can take a high speed train from Shanghai, past Hangzhou, to Tunxi railway station. From here, take a taxi into Tongcun or Tunxi.
If you’re able to drive, you’ll have more freedom over your itinerary. I’d still suggest staying in Tongcun with perhaps 1 night in Tunxi (depending on time available).
Where to eat
China has the best food in the world – so don’t shy away from the local food here. Here is a list of the best places to eat in each location:
Tongcun: Haozailai restaurant
- Menu with pictures and English translations
- Address: Yanxi West Street, Tangkouzhen No. 16, Huangshan
Tunxi: Mei Shi Ren Jia
- Address: Tunxi District, Tunxi Lao Street 247, Huangshan
On Huangshan: Your chosen hotel
- Please note the food is heavily overpriced as porters are needed to carry the food to your hotel.
- The buffet at Beihai hotel was extensive, and will fill you up after a long day hiking.
When to visit Huangshan
In the height of summer, this mountain range is packed full of tourists. On many of the routes, one-way systems are used to help the congestion. However, still expect to queue. Huangshan should also be avoided on Chinese public holidays (specifically October and February). I recommend finding some other things to do in China during these times.
Winter offers stunning landscapes and a higher probability of seeing the cloud sea, but the steps up and around Huangshan are treacherous when there is ice. If you do visit during this time, consider taking the cable cars, or by crampons for your shoes in advance.
The best time to visit is in Spring and Autumn. These months provide the best weather for hiking but also avoid the big crowds.
What to pack?
- Sun cream – once you rise out of the clouds you’ll be surprised by the amount of sun!
- Crampons – if you’re visiting in winter, be sure to pack these to help your boots deal with the ice. When I visited in winter, I was Bambi on ice at the start of my hike without them!
- Snacks – these are expensive on the mountain so bring your own.
- Hiking boots/trainers – everything is paved, so wear whichever footwear is the most comfortable.
- The Huangshan map I’ve included!
Stay safe while hiking!
Get this pre-made First Aid Kit. Perfect for any situations that may arise during a hiking trip. Full to the brim with the necessities!
Money saving tips
- Stay in Tongcun – instead of staying on the mountain you can stay in Tongcun. However, by doing so you will not be able to see sunset/sunrise.
- Avoid the hot springs – although enjoyable, you will pay around 100 RMB for the entrance fee.
- Hike it – avoiding the cable cars will save you a lot of money. If you can walk it – go for it!
If you’re planning on doing a hiking trip it’s essential you get insured – and get a company that will cover this activity.
I recommend True Traveller for anyone with a pre-existing medical condition. If you have no pre-existing conditions, check out World Nomads.
I hope my huangshan mountain guide helps you to make the most of your time in Huangshan. If you need further tips or any help at all feel free to contact me.
Have an awesome trip in Huangshan!
jim matteoni says
Great overview on Huangshan Mountain! Thanks for the details on cool pics! I was wondering if you recall how long it would take to walk up the mountain instead of taking the cable car at the beginning? We only have one full day on the mountain (winter time so short day..we will be there at end of December) but are big hikers so endurance won’t be a problem….but we also want to see the best viewing and would rather hike all day looking at the best views. Is the hike to the top vs taking the cable car have good viewing? Also, is it easy to get Didi and/or taxi at the nearby ancient villages like Hongcun and Tangyue villages? thank you so much for your insight!
Hi Jim, thanks for your compliments! If you have just one full day I highly recommend taking the cable cars, there is still a really good hike between the two of them, and this is where the best views are – not on the way up 🙂 You will be able to take a DiDi/taxi from the main towns like Tunxi, but you will struggle to take one back when you have finished. This is the reason I recommend hiring a driver for the day. Hope that helps, any more questions just ask!
Hi! This is so helpful! Thank you 🙂 Quick question, for the last day, you recommend some hiking after checkout. So… what do you do with your luggage?