Huangshan National Park: The Complete Guide

Huangshan National Park

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Huangshan National Forest Park

Address
China, Anhui Sheng, Huangshan Shi, Huangshan Qu, 205国道

Also known as Yellow Mountain, Huangshan is one of China’s most popular national parks and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This mountain range and surrounding scenic areas, often surrounded in mist, is located in southern Anhui Province in Eastern China and is famous for its four wonders: wind-carved pines, a picturesque sea of clouds, granite peaks, and relaxing hot springs. It’s described as one of the most picturesque mountains in China and has long been a draw for artists and writers.

Here you'll find hikes that are suitable for beginners with spectacular views that will impress even the most seasoned trekkers. The network of cable cars also makes this an accessible national park for anyone unable to hike who still wants to make the most of their visit.

Things to Do

  • Hongcun and Xidi Ancient Villages: Both UNESCO world heritage sites, these picturesque preserved traditional villages retain the features of Anhui villages from the fourteenth to twentieth century. Hongcun also appeared in the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. You will need a half-day to visit both of them. Near Hongcun, you will also be able to visit the luscious Mukeng Bamboo Forest which was also a filming location for Crouching Tiger covering over two square miles of the mountain which surrounds Mukeng Village.
  • Tunxi Ancient Street: First built over seven hundred years ago, this is one of the best-preserved old streets in China. You can enjoy shopping, restaurants, and tea houses or just wander the alleys and lanes. The ancient street can be found in the Tunxi District of Huangshan City.
  • Xin’an River Tour: If you are based in Huangshan City, don’t miss the chance to cruise the river at night and admire the twinkling lights of the city and silhouetted mountains.
  • Chengkan Village: With a history of over 1800 years, this is one of the best-preserved ancient villages in China. It is visited less frequently than Hongcun and Xidi but with one hundred fifty ancient buildings and twenty-one major cultural relics, there is plenty to see.

Best Hikes & Trails

The paths over Huangshan are paved with steps and cover much of the mountain making for easy trekking but a slippery walk during the inclement weather. Make sure to wear good hiking shoes with ankle support. 

The routes are marked by key landmarks to see on the way such as Flying Rock, Bright Top, Fairy Walking Bridge, Lotus Peak meaning you will always have a goal in mind. Maps can be picked up at tourist information services in Huangshan City or from the hotels in and surrounding Huangshan Mountain.

  • Eastern Stairs: This is the easier and most popular route up Huangshan, it starts at Cloud Valley cable car station and ends at White Goose Ridge taking around three hours. Many people opt for this route, stay overnight and catch the sunrise before heading back down.
  • Western Stairs: The western stairs are a longer route taking around five hours and are steeper. Due to this, it’s also a lot quieter which is ideal if you’re hiking during busier times. It starts at Mercy Light Pavilion cable car station and ends at Flying Rock. Taking this route means you'll see a lot more of the key sights on the way to the peak.
  • West Sea Canyon: This a rugged, steep, and highly rewarding hike that will take around seven hours round trip through Xīhǎi Dàxiágǔ gorge. You can start the hike at Páiyúnlóu Hotel and follow the designated path around.
  • Xihong (Xidi Hongcun) Ancient Pathway: For anyone looking for a long trek in the area surrounding the mountains, this five-mile walk will take you around three to four hours. Starting at Yyung Valley in Xidi Village and connects you to Qishu Lake in Hongcun Village. See both world heritage sites and enjoy a flat scenic walk.

Where to Camp

Camping is generally not permitted on Huangshan and, due to the terrain and the fact you should stay on the paths, it is very difficult to find a safe spot to camp. However, Beihai Hotel, located in a scenic area with an elevation of 1630 meters offers tents to rent and pitches in the basketball court in front of the hotel. You can use their facilities and water. 

You can also camp at the top of the mountain for around 180 yuan but it can be tightly packed and misty. If you would like to stay at the peak then you can negotiate with porters at the foot of the mountain to carry your gear to the top for you.

Where to Stay Nearby

There is a small selection of hotels within the park itself and provide excellent locations to hike from as well as views from your room. These hotels tend to be more simple than the ones in Huangshan's downtown area but offer a lot of convenience. 

You can also stay in Tangkou Town at the foot of the mountains which are great locations but you won’t be able to enjoy the famous sunrises and sunsets on the mountain.

  • Shilin Hotel: In the Beihai Scenic Area, this is the first four-star hotel on the mountain and provides easy access to the Back Huangshan Mountain walk as well as the cable car network. Western and Chinese restaurants are available on-site as well as a buffet breakfast.
  • Floral Shuimoxuan Boutique Hotel: Located in Tangkou Town Town, this quaint hotel is in a great location to go hiking or enjoy the Yellow Mountain Hot Spring. A Chinese breakfast is served.
  • Lianshan Meisu Inn: A cozy inn at the foot of the mountains, the owners are very knowledgeable about the trails and offer guests rides to the nearest bus stops if needed. Asian and western breakfasts are both served.

How to Get There

You can take a flight or bullet train to Huangshan City. The most convenient locations to travel to Huangshan from are Shanghai, Suzhou, or Hangzhou. A train from Shanghai will take around three hours and a flight is one hour from Shanghai. Hangzhou to Huangshan is three hours by bullet train.

Once you arrive, head to the Huangshan railway station or Huangshan inter-bus center station and transfer to a bus taking you to The Yellow Mountains; the bus will alight at the South Exit Xinguoxian Yellow Mountains Scenic Area Bus Station. This will take about an hour.

You can also take a taxi from the airport or train station showing the driver ‘Yellow Mountains Scenic Area’ with a Chinese translation. Taxis are a fast and inexpensive way to get around in China and can often be more convenient than public transport.

Tips for Your Visit

  • Peak tourist season in Huangshan National Park is between April and November, but try and avoid Chinese public holidays as the park can get incredibly busy. It is also very busy throughout the summer.
  • There is a map of cable cars that will take you up to different viewing points if you don’t want to hike the whole way. The views from the cable cars are astounding in their own right. Be aware that the cable cars stop around after 4:30 p.m and lines can be long during peak season.
  • Make sure to carry enough water for your hike as it's easy to dehydrate with few places to top up your water.
  • If you are visiting in winter then crampons are a must, otherwise, good hiking boots will be enough.
  • Most people spend two or more days in Huangshan National Park but if you only have one day in the park then start early in the morning and make use of the cable cars to see the key sights.
  • If you want to utilize taxis to help you get around the park and surrounding areas then use to app DIDI to call a taxi. It operates in a similar way to most ride apps such as Lyft.
  • Entry to the park costs 230 CNY March-November and 150 CNY December-February.
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Huangshan National Park: The Complete Guide