Travel Guide to Huangshan City (Tunxi)
Hangshan City is a small city (by Chinese standards) located at the base of China’s famous Huangshan Mountain in the south of Anhui province. For most tourists, Huangshan City is just a transit point and gateway barely noticed on the way to the mystical cloud shrouded peaks of Huangshan Mountain.
With a history stretching back over two millennia, a strong Hui cultural presence and a location central to Hongcun Village, Huangshan City is a tourist attraction in its own right. I recommend you spend 1-2 days there relaxing and enjoying the sites if your schedule permits.
Huangshan City covers a large area and the actual city center itself is called Tunxi. People often refer to Huangshan City as Tunxi which can be a little confusing.
Though you can’t see it from walking around the city, parts of Huangshan City were established over 2000 years ago. The city has gone through a few name changes over the years and its current name was given in 1988.
The Hui are one of China’s 56 ethnic minorities and Hangshan City is one of the Hui historical centers. Hangshan City was even called Hui city or Huizhou during the Song Dynasty (960-1279).
Hui cuisine is famous and delicious and you’ll find many restaurants and stalls selling Hui food. You can also see a Hui influence in the cities architecture and Hui arts and crafts sold through out the city.
Apart from Huangshan mountain, the main attractions in and around Huangshan City you can enjoy are the Hongcun Village, Tunxi’s Old Street, the Ink Slab Factory and the Xin An River.
Hongcun Village – This is an ancient Southern Song Dynasty (1131-1162AD) village an hour north west of Huangshan City. Hongcun Village is great to see and best done as a day trip. You can see more information about Hongcun Village here. Hongcun Village
Old Street – This is a street over 800 years old that stretches for over 1,200 meters through the heart of Huangshan City. It was developed as a commercial center at the beginning of the Ming Dynasty with 47 stores to attract business people. It is now full of stores for tourists that sell a large assortment of goods that range from artistic tea sets and ornate calligraphy stones to trashy clothes and electronic gadgets.
Old Street is fascinating with an ironic contrast between the Ming Dynasty architecture and the shops full of camera toting tourist and frantic merchants. A leisurely stroll down Old Street will not take more than an hour and you can stretch it out by eating in one of the many restaurants or stalls on or adjacent to Old Street.
Ink slab Factory – Calligraphy is an integral and fascinating part of Chinese culture and the four key tools of calligraphy are the brush, rice paper, the ink stick and the ink slab. Huangshan City’s Ink slab factory produces both ink sticks and ink slabs and is one of the most famous factories of this kind in China.
You can visit the factory and see the whole process of manufacturing ink slabs and ink sticks. To visit the factory, go to 37 Yan An road where you’ll find a small side street. Follow the side street till you get to a Y intersection and take the left road. The factory entrance will be around 100 meters further down on the left.
Hiking the Xin An River – The Xin An river is a beautiful river over a hundred kilometres long that flows east through the center of Huangshan City. The river has a 10 kilometer section surrounded by amazing mountain scenery that passes through several ancient villages that is ideal for hiking. You need to drive a fair way out of the city to reach the better hiking trails on the Xin An river. Your hotel should be able to organise a hiking trip for you or at least arrange a car to take you out to the trails and back.
The two main ways of reaching Huangshan City from nearby cities such as Shanghai and Hangzhou are train and plane. Plane tickets are expensive and many of the trains run overnight so my recommendation is to travel to Huangshan City by train.
Tips for Visitors
Stay at the Old Street Hostel – This hotel has a brilliant location on the eastern end of Old Street in the heart of Huangshan City so njoying Huangshan City when you stay at this hostel is easy. The hostel front door is on old street, the Xin An river and the In Slab factory are a short walk away and the hostel will arrange tours to Hongcun Village and other out of town attractions for you.
Shop in Huangshan City – Everything on Huangshan Mountain is extremely expensive and other attractions such as Hongcun Village are not much better. If you can, buy all of your drinks and food in Huangshan City.