Huangshan (also called Yellow Mountain) is one of the most beautiful mountains in China, listed as a world heritage site and a must see for anyone travelling in China who likes nature and hiking. With a maximum height of 1,864 meters, Huangshan is not a tall mountain. Its charm comes from the profusion and shape of its peaks and the mesmerizing way it is often covered in clouds.
You can read more about Huangshan here Huangshan Travel Guide
Arriving in Huangshan City – I caught the K8418 train that leaves Shanghai train station at 21:24 and arrives in Huangshan City at 9:00am. A hard sleeper which is very comfortable only cost around 170rmb and is an excellent way to travel to Huangshan City while minimising time wasted on the road.
The taxi fare from the train station to the hostel on Old Street is only 8rmb. You can see the details of the hotel here Old Street Hostel
Too Late for Hongcun Village – After checking in at the hostel I caught the number 8 bus to the long distance bus stop for a bus to Hongcun Village. Arrived at the bus station just after 11am and missed the 11am bus. The next bus was not until 1pm. With a one hour plus journey to Hongcun Village, there was not enough time so I caught bus back into town.
Huangshan City is a nice city with plenty to see and do (Huangshan City) so had a delicious beef and rice dish at a small local restaurant for 13rmb I enjoyed the afternoon strolling down Old Street and the banks of the Xin An river.
Friends, Beer and a Balcony – Back in the dormitory I bumped into Chen Chen, a young woman from Shenyang in Liaoning province who is a fanatic for travel in China and makes me look like a couch potato in comparison. She’d been to so many places it was mind boggling. We ended up having local dumplings on Old Street for dinner then drinking beer on the hostel balcony over looking Old Street and talking travel.
An Early Morning – The bus from the hostel to Tangkou at the entrance to Huangshan left at 6:30am and arrived at Tangkou at 7:40am. Tangkou is the entry point to Huangshan and has two buses that run to the Yu Ping cable car on the western side of Huangshan and the Ying Gu cable car on the eastern side of Huangshan. The bus ticket cost 19rmb and the buses take 15 to 20 minutes to reach the cable cars.
Saturday Morning Cable Car Queue – My plan was to take the Yu Ping cable car to the top of Huangshan and hike the western side of the mountain. The entrance ticket to Huangshan is 230rmb and the cable car ticket is 80rmb. After paying for the two tickets I joined the growing hordes of tour groups queuing for the cable car. After queuing for around 25 minutes the line got to a stage where there was a signing warning tourist that the waiting time from that point was two hours.
Two hours!!!!! NO WAY! After confirming with a friendly guard that the wait was two hours it was decision time. Stay in the queue and OR hike up the mountain. You go to Huangshan to hike and enjoy the mountain so no way was I going to wait.
Hiking Up Huangshan – If you plan on visiting Huangshan more than once, make sure you register your ticket and passport at the ticket inspection point. This will allow you to use your ticket as many times as you like and not pay 230rmb again. I registered my ticket at the security point at the beginning of the trail. The western trail has better scenery than the eastern trail and is a harder hike. Normally takes 2.5 to 3 hours to hike. Excited to be climbing Huangshan and in a hurry to get to the top, I did the hike in just under two hours. Not a good idea. I recommend take your time, enjoy the hike and not be exhausted when you reach the top.
Everything on Huangshan from bed linen at the hotels to bottled water is transported to Huangshan by porters. You can see the porters overloaded and struggling up the mountain when you hike up the trail.
Crowds on the Mountain – After arriving at the top and catching my breathe, I set of to conquer Lotus Peak, the highest peak on Huangshan. The rest of the day was spent wandering down the many trails on the western and northern side of Huangshan drinking in the incredible views and dodging the largest concentration of tourists. That day was a Saturday and Hangshan is very crowded on weekends. The tour groups and their megaphone touting tour guides can be annoying so hike Huangshan during the week if you can.
Ascending Huangshan – I took the eastern trail down Huangshan to the bus stop at the base of the mountain. Even going downhill the trail is difficult but I found the scenery and views to be almost as beautiful as the western trail and definitely worth seeing.
You buy another 19rmb ticket for the bus from the base of the cable car back to Tangkou. Once at Tangkou you can catch one of the many mini buses that run to Huangshan City. Some buses go directly to Old Street and others go to the bus station and the train station. I caught a bus to the bus station and switched to the number 8 bus to Old Street.
Hongcun Village – After a day of hard core mountain hiking I needed a rest to restore feeling to my legs so I visited Hongcun Village. Hongcun Village is a charming ancient village dating back to the Song Dynasty over 800 years ago. Hongcun Village is an incredible place to visit so if your schedule permits, make sure you visit it. You can see Hongcun Village in half a day but ideally you should have a day. You can see details of Hongcun Village here Hongcun Village
A Slow Bus Trip – The bus that runs between the hostel and Tangkou services a number of hostels in the area and the time taken from Old Street to Tangkou varies. On this bus trip the driver went to a number of different bus stops and took two hours to reach Tangkou. The best way to avoid delays is to share a taxi or stay on the mountain overnight.
With a train to catch that night I did not have much time so I took the cable car. Being Monday the queues were minimal and did not have to wait more than 20 minutes. The actual cable car ride itself only takes 10 or so minutes.
Rain and Clouds – The weather that day from around 6am till midday was constant rain. Most of the other tourists were wearing disposal plastic rain coats, pants and (I’m not joking) plastic booties. Umbrellas are forbidden on the mountain for good reason.
Rain is a regular feature on Huangshan in summer and you are likely to have at least one rainy day during your trip. The temperature is warm and even if you are soaked, you will not get cold and will be comfortable so I recommend you wear the minimal clothing and just enjoy the rain. I wore hiking sandals, shorts and a tank top/singlet and was fine. Hiking Huangshan when the peaks you are climbing are wreathed in moving lasers of cloud is a great experience.
West Sea Grand Canyon – The best hiking trail on Huangshan is the West Sea Grand Canyon which has a vertical distance of over 1000 meters, is very difficult to hike and has incredible views. Unfortunately that trail was closed after the second ring road during my visit.
The best way to hike the West Sea Grand Canyon is to stay overnight on the mountain and head out at first light. From talking to people who have hiked that trail, you need at least 7-8 hours to the full circuit of the trail.
Ascending Huangshan – The hike from the end of the first ring road to the top of the Yin Gu cable car took two hours and traversed some very nice trails. By that time the rain had stopped and the clouds were breaking with providing some delightful views.
The views from the cable car as it when down the mountain were impressive and the car went through a layer of clouds that took two minutes to pass and was delightful.
Tips for Hiking Huangshan
One – Spend your first night in Huangshan City and second night on Huangshan. Staying on the mountain is cheaper and will give you more time to hike the West Sea Grand Canyon. Your Huangshan City hostel can book a dorm bed on the mountain for around 80rmb.
Two – If you have enough time, hike up Hangshan instead of taking the cable car. The hike is an excellent way of experiencing Huangshan and has great views.