Top China Mountains

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Top Mountains in China


China stretches across a vast area covering many mountains, some of which are unspeakably spectacular while others are filled with rich cultural associations. Every year many climbers and adventurers from all over the world come to visit China’s magnificent mountains.

What are the Top Mountains in China?

The mountains listed below are among the most famous in China: the Yellow Mountains, Mount Lu, Mount E’mei, Mount Wutai, the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, Mount Everest, and the Famous Five Mountains (Mount Tai, Mount Hua, Mount Song and two mountains with the same name, Mount Heng).

Six Famous Mountains in China

Mount Huangshan

The Yellow Mountains (黄山)

  • Location: Huangshan City, Anhui Province, East China
  • Features

Constituting one of China’s most famous and beautiful mountain ranges, the Yellow Mountains are known for their spectacular natural scenery, peculiarly-shaped granite peaks, pine trees, and views of sunset and clouds from above. In 1990, the mountain range was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The range is home to "four natural wonders": the peculiar pine trees, oddly-shaped rocks, seas of cloud, and hot springs.

Yellow Mountain pines are found in various shapes and sizes, firmly rooted in granite. Some stand alone on peaks, while others hang downwards from the cliffs.

The many oddly-shaped rocks are famous for their strange appearance. Some look like human beings, while others resemble monkeys, tigers or birds. Some individual rocks look quite different depending on the angle from which you look.

Clouds are like clothing for the Yellow Mountains, often making the mountain peaks seem like variously large and small islands. The three tallest peaks (Celestial Capital Peak, Lotus Peak, and Brightness Top) are the best locations for observing this stunning phenomenon.

The hot springs of the Yellow Mountains were already being used during the Tang dynasty (618–907 AD). Bathing in hot springs helps towards healing and restoration. It is said that the Yellow Emperor, the earliest ancestor of the Chinese nation, bathed in the springs and grew younger as a result.

  • Best Time to Go: All seasons are appropriate.
  • Work Hours: 08:00–16:00 in winter; 06:30–17:00 in other seasons
  • Tickets:
  • 230 CNY from March to November;
  • 150 CNY in December, January or February
  • How to get there: Take a 1-hour bus from Huangshan city to Huangshan Scenic Area.

Tour Idea: Two tours are recommended:

Mount Lu

Mount Lu (庐山)

  • Location: Jiujiang City, Jiangxi Province, East China
  • Features

Located in the east of China, Mount Lu is renowned for its combination of clouds, cliffs and waterfalls. Its rich cultural connotations make the mountain more charming. Throughout history, Mount Lu has attracted many poets, leaving a legacy of praise and over 4,000 poems. In 1996, the mountain was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Popular attractions at Mount Lu include the Immortal Caverns, Five Old Men Peaks, Three Tiled Springs, Luling Lake, and the Peach Blossom Garden.

The Immortal Caverns is a natural cave. The mountain wall was weather-beaten over a long period of time until the cave gradually formed. It looks like the hand of Buddha, so its other name is Buddha Hand Rock.

Five Old Men Peaks are at the southeast of Mount Lu. The top of the mountain is split into 5 parts, resembling 5 seated men. The Five Old Men Peaks are high in the sky, 1,358 meters above sea level.

With a drop of 155 meters, the Three Tiled Springs appear quite different at different times of year. The springs first fall upon a huge flat rock, then continue their fall onto a second rock, and finally land on the bottom. The waterfalls are vigorous in spring and early summer, but become mere trickles in midsummer and winter.

Mount Lu is a religious center, with six kinds of meeting-place (Buddhist, Taoist, Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox Eastern and Islamic). There are churches, temples and mosques in the vicinity. It is a good place for finding out about different religious cultures.

  • Best Time to Go: May to August
  • Work Hours:
  • 06:00–18:30 (May 1st to October 7th);
  • 7:00–17:50 (October 8th to April 30th)
  • Tickets:
  • 180 CNY from April to November;
  • 135 CNY from December to March
  • How to get there:
  • Take a 1-hour bus from Jiujiang Bus Station to Lushan Scenic Area.

Tour Idea:

Mount Emei

Mount Emei (峨眉山)

  • Location: Leshan City, Sichuan Province, Southwest China
  • Features

Listed as a UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site, Mt. Emei is one of the best-known summer destinations because of its pleasant weather, lovely natural scenery and deep-rooted Buddhist culture.

It is not only endowed with beautiful natural landscapes including steep cliffs, wonderful caves, clean streams and odd-shaped rocks, but also a crowd of temples and pagodas.

At an elevation of 3,077 meters above sea level, the Golden Summit is the best place for seeing the sunrise, the sea of clouds, the Buddhist Light(a rare natural halo) and a sacred lamp.

The color of the clouds changes from dark purple to red as the sun rises. Peaks are surrounded by a fabulous sea of clouds. If you are lucky, you will see the rare Buddhist Light.

The Golden Buddha here is the highest golden Buddha in the world and the first artistic design of the ten-direction statue of Puxian. It has become symbolic of Mt. Emei.

Mt. Emei is a good place for seeing the autumn leaves. The mountain dons a golden-red coat in autumn, when leaves change color right across the mountain. The best places for appreciating the superb view are Wannian Temple, the Elephant Washing Pool, and the Golden Summit.

  • Best Time to Go: July to August; November to December
  • Work Hours: 7:00–18:00
  • Tickets:
  • 185 CNY (January 16th to December 14th);
  • 110 CNY (December 15th to January 15th)
  • How to get there: Take a 2.5–hour train from Chengdu to E’meishan City, and then take a bus No. 8 to E’meishan Scenic Area.

Tour Idea:

Mount Wutai

Mount Wutai (五台山)

  • Location: Taiyuan City, Shanxi Province, North China
  • Features

Mount Wutai (“Five Plateau Mountain”) is a unique mountain with cultural heritage and natural beauty. It is full of historical relics, ancient folk art, and Buddhist culture. Such rich human culture is accompanied by gorgeous natural views, like small peaks, steep cliffs, odd-shaped rocks, beautiful caves, bubbling springs and clear streams.

As one of the four mountains of China sacred to Buddhism, Mount Wutai has a lot of temples. Besides, many temples have pagodas, which are made of different materials, such as wood, brick, iron, glazed glass and crystal glass.

Among these pagodas, Foguang Temple's Zushi Pagoda is considered one of the most beautiful. It is made of white-painted brick, hexagonal with two layers, the upper one ornamental. The pagodas are Indian-style, with lotus-petal and lotus-flower decorations.

  • Best Time to Go: June to August
  • Work Hour: 06:30 to 20:00
  • Tickets:
  • 168 CNY from April to October;
  • 140 CNY from November to March
  • How to get there: Take bus 201 to Taiyuan East Long Distance Bus Station, where there are buses to Mount Wutai. It takes about 4 hours to get there and costs about 70 CNY per person.

Tour Idea:

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain(玉龙雪山)

  • Location: Lijiang City, Yunnan Province, Southwest China
  • Features

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is the southernmost glacier in China, and the whole of the northern hemisphere, with 13 peaks and occupying an area of 455 square km. Among the peaks, the highest is Shanzidou at an altitude of 5,600 meters. It is an important habitat of the Naxi minority people.

Jade Dragon is always sprayed with snow, so if you look from a distance, it looks like a silver-white dragon. This accounts for its name.

The landscape of snow, water, forests and meadows, creates many popular attractions, including Ganhaizi Meadow, Yak Meadow, White River (Blue Moon Valley), and Spruce Meadow.

Ganhaizi is an open meadow at the east of the mountain, 4 km in height, 1.5 km in width and at an elevation of 3,100 meters above sea level. Visitors can see various flowers and trees like orchids, wild peonies, snow lotus, cedars, firs and other plants. In spring, local herdsmen usually graze their cattle on the meadow.

White River is in a deep and serene valley. It has changeable colors. The water of the river seems white, as it flows over a riverbed of white marble. On rainy days, it turns blue. Besides, the shape of the valley resembles the moon, so it is also called Blue Moon Valley.

  • Best Time to Go: November to March
  • Work Hours: 09:00-16:00
  • Tickets: 130 CNY, plus another 80 CNY for repairs of the area
  • How to get there: Take bus 7 from Red Sun Square in Lijiang City to Yunshanping Meadow.

Tour Idea:

  • You can take a 4-day Lijiang and Magnificent Tiger Leaping Gorge Tour. On this tour you’ll not only see the natural beauty of the Jade Dragon Mountain and Tiger Leaping Gorge, but also appreciate the amazing Lijiang Ancient City and experience Yunnan’s ethnic culture.
Mount Everest

Mount Everest(珠穆朗玛峰)

  • Location: Tingri County, Shigatse City, Tibet, West China 
  • Features

Situated on the border of Nepal and Tibet of China, Mount Everest is the world's tallest mountain at 29,035 feet (8,850 meters). The peak is also called Chomolungma in Tibetan, meaning “Mother of Earth”. In 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary from New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay from Nepal were the first people successfully to reach the peak.

The mountain is still rising and moving. It is rising between 3 and 6 millimeters a year, and also moving northwestward nearly 1 meter a year.

Mount Everest has an extreme climate. According to data from a weather station in 2008, the air temperature then at about 8,000 meters’ (26,246 feet) altitude was -17℃ (1℉).

Everest is the best place for extreme sports’ enthusiasts, as well as those who want to get a glimpse of the top of the earth. Visitors need to apply for a border pass before traveling there.

  • Best Time to Go: April to June; September to October
  • Work Hours: 24 hours
  • Tickets: 180 CNY
  • How to get there: The best way is carpooling from Lhasa City to Everest Base Camp.

Tour Idea:

The Famous Five Mountains(Wuyue)

Mount Tai

Mount Tai (泰山)

  • Location: Tai'an City, Shandong Province, East China
  • Features

At a height of 1,532.7 meters, Mount Tai is foremost among China’s Famous Five Mountains. It has been listed among UNESCO World Natural and Cultural Heritage Sites since 1987.

It is said that 72 emperors from ancient times came to Mount Tai to sacrifice to heaven and earth. It is a mountain with a blend of Taoist and Buddhist culture. Besides, it was a popular destination for ancient poets and literary scholars.

Mount Tai is home to 156 peaks, among which Jade Emperor Peak, Heaven Candle Peak and Sun Viewing Peak are the most famous. There are also 138 cliffs, 72 caves, 72 grotesque stones, 130 streams, 64 waterfalls, and 72 springs. There are 2,000 historical relics in total, among which 58 ancient building complexes are mainly in Ming and Qing dynasty styles.

Jade Emperor Peak is the summit of Mount Tai. It is 1,545 meters above sea level, and offers tourists an amazing view of the entire mountain. In addition, it is great observing the sunrise, sunset or sea of clouds from here.

Bixia Temple (Azure Cloud Temple) is south of the top of Mount Tai, Jade Emperor Peak, and east of Heavenly Street. It was originally called Zhouzhen Temple and was first built in 1008 during the Song dynasty.

In 1770 during the Qing dynasty, Bixia gained its present name after restoration. The temple has two courtyards, with a gilded bronze sculpture of the Goddess Yuanjun placed in its main hall.

  • Best Time to Go: September to November
  • Work Hours: 24 hours
  • Tickets:
  • 127 CNY from February 1st to November 30th;
  • 110 CNY from December 1st to January 31st
  • How to get there:

    Take bus 39 from Tai’an railway station to the Tianwaicun stop, and take a 400-meter walk to the Mount Tai; altogether a 30-minute journey.

Tour Idea:

Mount Hua

Mount Hua (华山)

  • Location: Weinan City, Shaanxi Province, Middle China
  • Features

Mount Hua (also known as Xiyue in Chinese) is famous for its natural steep crags and narrow paths. At a height of around 2,155 meters, Mount Hua's five peaks create its unique scenery. It is the place where ancient emperors came to sacrifice to the god of mountain. It has several remarkable Taoist temples such as Jade Spring Temple and Xiyue Temple.

The East Peak is the best place for seeing a sunrise, and the best time to enjoy the sunrise is 05:00 to 06:00 all year round except summer (04:00 to 05:30); the North Peak is famous for its sea of clouds; the South Peak is the highest peak of Mount Hua and also among the Famous Five Mountains at 2,154.9 meters; the West Peak is a huge rock shaped like a lotus flower; the Middle Peak is at the center of the peaks.

The route up the mountain is known as one of the most dangerous hikes in the world for its many exposed, narrow pathways with precipitous drops. For example, the way from the North Peak to the South Peak is on a cliff face.

A cable car is available from Wamiaogou to the North Peak or from Donggoukou to the West Peak, if travelers want an easy and comfortable journey to the top of the mountain.

  • Best Time to Go: All seasons are appropriate.
  • Work Hours:

    East Gate: 7:00–19:00 during the busy season; 09:00–17:00 during the low season
    West Gate: 24 hours

  • Tickets:

    Tickets are available 2 days before entry.
    180 CNY from March to November;
    100 CNY from December to February

  • How to get there:
  • There are trains and bullet trains to Mount Hua from Huashan North Railway station. Travelers can take a bullet train at Xi'an Railway Station to Mount Hua for about 35 CNY. Or No. 1 Tourist Bus at East Square of Xi'an Railway Station is available from 8:00 to 17:00.

Tour Idea:

Mount Heng

Mount Heng(衡山)

  • Location: Hengyang City, Hunan Province, South China
  • Features

Zhurong Peak, Sutra Collection Hall, Shuilian Cave and Fangguang Temple are the most famous features of Mount Heng. At a height of 1,300 meters, it has the best climate among the Famous Five Mountains. In 2008, Mount Heng was one of the top 10 natural scenic spots in China as recommended by travelers.

The mountain is covered with green trees 300 to 400 years old, and some trees are even over 1,000 years old. Mount Heng has 72 peaks, and the first that comes into focus is Huiyan Peak.

The Four Wonders of Mount Hengshan are Zhurong Peak, Water Curtain Cave, Fangguang Temple and Sutra Collection Hall. They are noted for their height, oddity, depth and elegance.

In spring the mountain is decorated with a sea of flowers. The trees in summer, clouds in autumn and snow in winter create marvelous scenery all year round on Mount Heng.

There are a lot of Buddhist and Taoist temples for worshipping on the mountain. Wuyue Temple is the largest among them.

  • Best Time to Go: August to October
  • Work Hours:
  • 08:00–18:00 (April to October);
  • 08:30–17:30 (November to March)
  • Tickets: 100 CNY
  • How to get there: Travelers can take bus 1 to Hengyang West Bus Station or the train station, and transfer to the tourist bus to Nanyue; altogether a 45- to 60-minute journey.

Tour Idea:

Mount Heng

Mount Heng (恒山)

  • Location: Hunyuan County, Shanxi Province, North China
  • Features

At a height of 2,016 meters, Mount Heng (Beiyue) is located in Hunyuan County of Shanxi Province, 62 kilometers from Datong City. It is also known as "Taiheng Mountain" and is one of the Famous Five Mountains. Xu Xiake (a renowned traveler in the Ming dynasty) came to visit Mount Heng and was impressed by its beautiful scenery.

Tianfeng Peak is the highest peak of the mountain. Travelers can go there for a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding scenery. Travelers can also visit Jinlong Canyon (Gold Dragon Canyon) with beautiful scenery, and Xianren Cave – a popular place for worship.

Mount Heng was regarded as a great natural defense. It is the bottleneck guarding the Central Plains from the plateau outside the Great Wall. So it was an important battleground in ancient times, worth fighting for. Nowadays, travelers can still find battlefield relics scattered around the area, including paths, castles and beacon towers, which are unique among the Famous Five Mountains.

With more than 1,400 years of history, the Suspended Temple is a unique temple hanging on the mountain, blending Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian culture. Travelers should not miss the temple on Mount Heng.

  • Best Time to Go: April to October
  • Work Hour: 06:30–19:00 in summer; 08:00–8:00 in winter
  • Tickets:
  • The Gate Tickets: 55 CNY
    The Suspended Temple: 130 CNY during the busy season; 125 CNY during the low season
    Hengshan Temple: 55 CNY

  • How to get there: Tavelers need to go to Datong South Coach Station to take a 2-hour coach to Hunyuan County.

Tour Idea:

Mount Song

Mount Song (嵩山)

  • Location: Dengfeng City, Henan Province, Middle China
  • Features

Mount Song (also known as Zhongyue) is a famous mountain in the Central Plains, well known for the Shaolin Temple. The temple (the birthplace of Wushu) is an excellent place for enjoying Chinese martial arts.

At a height of 1,491.7 meters, Mount Song provides beautiful scenery including 72 peaks, valleys, waterfalls, water pools and caves. The snowy scenery in winter is marvelous.

Mount Song was the most popular mountain among emperors for offering sacrifices in ancient times, along with Mount Tai and Mount Hua. More than 30 emperors came to the mountain to ascend to the throne and sacrifice to the gods.

Visitors can see a sea of clouds, watch the moon at the mountain gate, go for an early walk on the mountain, get a glimpse of the waterfall on Lu Cliff, or go fishing at the stream.

The highlights of Mount Song include Shaolin Temple; Shaolin Pagoda Forest (the largest pagoda forest in China); Songyue Temple Pagoda and the oldest cypress as well as the earliest star observation platform in China.

  • Best Time to Go: March to May; September to November
  • Work Hours: 08:00-17:00
  • Tickets:
  • 100 CNY for the Shaolin Temple Area;
  • 80 CNY for the Songyang Scenic Area;
  • 80 CNY for the Zhongyue Scenic Area
  • How to get there:

    Travelers can take a plane or a train to Zhengzhou or Luoyang and transfer onto a coach to Dengfeng City. Buses to Mount Song or Shaolin Temple are available from both Dengfeng Coach Stations.

Tour Idea:

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