It’s very important to accept right at the onset that Huangshan is no ordinary destination-in fact its thousands of years of evolutionary history, its cultural dynamics and its well preserved places and heritage sites, make a trip to China’s most prized place not just imperative but it also entails that the travel plan be done with the best planned itinerary.
For the success of any planned visit there are essential requisites-time of visit, availability of days and scope of interest if in particular-but keeping in mind that this eastern region of China close to Shanghai possesses places of interest that will win anyone’s heart, the plan can be made quite easily.
Best Time to Visit Huangshan
Be it the flowering spring season that lasts from March to May or the rather long summer that is interspersed with cloudy spells and rains; the winters that bring in the fog or the autumn that is ever crowded , in Huangshan there is never a lean period for tourists. This much visited place can be visited any time of the year depending on your interest.
Spring-great for blooms, natural foliage and kilometers of flowering.(March to May)
Summer for their languorous long days, sea of cloud at its best and the finest photography if it clouds and cliffs that interest you.(June to October)
Autumn, the red foliage, cloud photography and the abating heat with cool weather.(November to December)
Winter bring in discounted rates, snow capped mountains and pines and rime trees-an exquisite scenic beauty of winter landscape loved by many.(January to February)
Highest recommendation as per most travel guides however is from April to November.
The Huangshan Treasures
Anyone who has ever visited China will gush over its southern parts and the Anhui province in the East. Home of the Qin dynasty in 207B.C, it became also the seat of power of the Tang dynasty whose emperor believed in the myth of the times that the Yellow Emperor had made immortality pills here and thus the name Yellow Mountains stuck.
Be it the craggy hills, rock structures, pines of every possible shape growing in every possible place, the densest clouds and the most exquisite of flowers and foliage, or hot springs that churn out gallons of sulphur water with medicinal qualities-this is that part of China where discovering the past is possible in every moment of the present.
Here are the must see places that most certainly must feature on any itinerary.
The Yellow Mountain-in itself the biggest draw-the mountain itself is one of the most attractive places to see –replete with views and scenic sites that just cannot be summarized in words. The springs, waterfalls, peaks and forests are exhausting in numbers. The yellow mountain in itself should take three days in all to explore-to catch all the action of the sunsets, the clouds and the sun rises at various places. or example the Yupin Pavilion, the Shixin Pavilion, The Renzi Waterfall between the Purple Cloud Peak and the Cinnabar Peak, the Ciguang Temple with the Fahai Temple and the Ten Character Pavilion and the Celestial Capital Peak at 5900 feet-the list of places to see in Huangshan can be endless.
Word of advice-Hurrying along is not an option at the Yellow Mountains- an important factor that decides any plan here at Huangshan is time-three days is an absolute necessity because the ,limb or hike if the cable cars are not opted for will take a minimum of 5-7 hours and can be quite strenuous if fitness levels are low.
Historical Tunxi and Its Value- A must for culture buffs-adding a day for exploring the calligraphy center, ink drawing and tablet making and the Hu Kaiwen Ink factory and see how the process of creating ink sticks actually happens –two ancient arts of China have been well preserved here and one can indeed buy some specimen for back home. More than anything else this ancient village also showcases architecture and lifestyle well preserved from the times of the Song, Ming, and Qing Dynasties.
Hongcun and Xidi-two ancient sites that are listed on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites. Hongcun is the rarest of places where each picture frame looks like a work of art and it is here where the much celebrated martial arts film ‘Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon’ was filmed. Xidi on the other hand has so many ancient heritage buildings showcasing the architectural styles dating back 900 years of history that the walk through this village will be exhilarating.
Not to be missed places on the Huangshan mountain like the Five Wonders, Xihai Grand Canyon, Cloud Dispelling Pavilion, Lion Peak, Black Tiger Pine and the likes will ensure that straight three days are spent just on enjoying the Yellow mountains. One day for the foothills and two days on the mountain trying to catch the sunrise. The fourth day could be at Tunxi and the fifth day could be slotted for Hongcun and Xidi.
Those interested in the process of porcelain making may plan a visit to Jingdezhen which would be a day well spent learning the ancient art and see its manifestations in modern Chinese porcelain making. Another option is Wuhan for those who visit in the summer months can enjoy the impressive stretches of rape oilseed fields for miles together.
Perhaps one of the best connected places in China, being close to Shanghai as it is, the base of course is Huangshan city and there are flights as well as trains connecting all major cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou as well a s many trains from all smaller cities around. In fact there is an overnight train from Shanghai which many consider very convenient.
There are less frequent flights to Hong Kong as well. Locally of course your tour operator will arrange for your transport while going up the mountain is usually done either on foot or by cable cars.
Choosing the Place to Stay
Well as far as star comfort goes there are plenty of options in the Huangshan city itself and on top of the mountains the choices are quite limited. Those wanting to stay at the villages there are lovely traditional inns that not only have comfortable rooms but also local delicacies served on request.
Many tourists stay at the foothills to begin trekking really in the morning to catch the view of the sunrise from different places. Also the Hong or Xidi villages allow easy and comfortable access to all the view points as much as any place in Huangshan city. There is ample choice in terms of places and budgets.
Huangshan is as much a seat of culture as can be and even today the people are engrossed in cultural pursuits like poetry writing, fine arts and design-it is believed that the rich mercantile community of this region wanted ancient Huizhous(the old name of Huangshan) to be the center of finest innovation in arts, writings and architecture which was later well preserved for 2000 years. Discovering its classic past and its intensely beautiful sights will be possible if one comes prepared for a trip of at least five days.
Tips for a Memorable and Comfortable Stay
Eat as much of the local food which is supposed to belong to China’s nine forms of cooking and has been given an international flavor due to the tourist influx.
Come prepared for changing weather-so windcheaters, warm clothing, parasols, sturdy shoes (an extra pair thrown in) and all supplies of medication must be brought along.
Do remember to carry adequate food and water while climbing the mountain.
While traveling with children it is imperative that you take the cable car and avoid the steep climb up the mountain side.