How to Plan a Yellow Mountain Tour
There is a saying, "If you have seen the five great mountains of China you don’t have to bother seeing any other mountains. But if you have seen Huangshan, you don’t have to see any of the other great mountains of China".
Huangshan is not an ordinary destination. In fact, its thousands of years of evolutionary history, its cultural dynamics, and its well-preserved heritage sites make it imperative to plan a trip to China’s most prized possession with a careful, detailed itinerary.
So how can you make the perfect plan for a trip to a land of cliffs, clouds, and exquisite sights? Maybe you’ll have some inspiration after reading what follows!
Best Time to Visit Huangshan
Snow-Capped Mountains & Rime Trees
Whether it be the flowering spring or the rather long ever-crowded summer; the cool autumn or the cold winter floating in brilliant snowflakes, Huangshan never has a lean period for tourists. This popular place can be visited at any time of year, depending on your particular interests.
- Spring (mid-March to mid-May) – great for blooms, with kilometers of flowering and flourishing trees.
- Summer (mid-May to mid-September) – good for escaping from the summer heat to enjoy languorous long days, with the sea of clouds at its best and some of the finest photographic opportunities.
- Autumn,(mid-September to mid-November) – the best time for appreciating the natural landscape.
- Winter (mid-November to mid-March) – see the snow-capped mountains and rime trees, the classic and exquisite scenic beauty of winter landscape.
Most travel guides, however, recommend most highly the time from April to November, unless you dearly love the winter landscape and want to avoid the tourist crowds.
Top Things to Do/Top Attractions to See on the Yellow Mountains
Huangshan is renowned for its craggy hills, rock structures, pines (of every possible shape growing in every possible place), dense clouds, and medicinal hot springs. Yet the following sites are the must-see places that certainly must feature on any itinerary.
1. Celestial Capital Peak
Monkey Watching the Sea
Located southeast of Huangshan, Celestial Capital Peak (天都峰) is one of the three main peaks of Huangshan (the other two are Brightness Top and Lotus Peak). It is 1,810 meters (5,938 feet) tall and seems to go straight up into the sky.
- In ancient times, Celestial Capital Peak was named the “Capital of Immortals”, meaning the capital in the heavens, hence the name.
Being the most majestic and most precipitous peak among the Yellow Mountains, Celestial Capital Peak is an ideal place from which to view the magnificent panorama of Huangshan. People say, therefore, that if you fail to reach Celestial Capital Peak, your trip to Huangshan will have been in vain.
2. Brightness Top
Brightness Top (光明顶), in the middle of Huangshan, is the second-highest peak, at an altitude of 1,860 meters (6,102 feet). It is flat and wide at the top. From there you can view the wonders of the East Sea and the other main peaks around.
During the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), a monk once built a Buddhist hall on top and now there’s a weather station there.
It’s named Brightness Top because the top is high and wide and the sun shines there for a long time. Due to its flat terrain, the top is one of the best places on Huangshan from which to watch the sunrise and view the Sea of Clouds.
3. West Sea Grand Canyon
The West Sea Grand Canyon is the essence of the Huangshan Scenic Area. The sea of clouds rises from time to time and the scenery changes every second as you walk, which is a great wonder.
4. Pines and Rocks with Grotesque Shapes
Walking on Huangshan, you’ll find a natural museum of rocks of all shapes and sizes, and thousands of pine trees also of every possible shape, growing in every possible place.
Some of these have nicknames, among which the most famous are Guest-Greeting Pine (an icon of Huangshan), Flying-Over Rock, and Monkey Watching the Sea; but most await names from your own rich imagination.
5. Ancient Villages Near Huangshan
There are a good few famous ancient villages near Huangshan, such as Tunxi, Hongcun, and Xidi. Culture buffs should add a day for exploring China’s ancient art, and its idyllic pastoral and countryside lifestyle from more than 300 years ago.
- Click Top 6 Ancient Villages Near Huangshan for more information.
Recommended Tour Routes
Yuping Cableway → Jade Screen Mansion (Greeting-Guest Pine) → Celestial Capital Peak (or Lotus Peak) → Hundred-Step Escalade → A Ray of Sky → Turtle Fish Peak → lunch → Bright Top → Flying-Over Rock → Monkey Watching the Sea → Beginning-to-Believe Peak for oddly-shaped pines → White Goose Ridge → get down to Yungu Temple by foot or cable car
- Please feel free to customize a 1-day Huangshan tour with us to save your time and trouble during the trip.
1. If you want to tour Huangshan in one day, you are recommended to take the cable car up and down the mountain to save time, depending on your physical condition.
2. You can just as well tour the above route in the opposite direction.
Day 1: Yuping Cableway → Jade Screen Mansion (Greeting-Guest Pine) → Celestial Capital Peak (or Lotus Peak) → Hundred-Step Escalade → A Ray of Sky → Turtle Fish Peak → Baiyun Hotel for lunch → Bright Top → Flying-Over Rock → Echo Cliff →Cloud-Dispelling Pavilion for sunset → overnight stay at Xihai Hotel
Day 2: Get up early for sunrise at Purple Cloud Peak → check out of your hotel → West Sea Grand Canyon → Ring 2 → Ring 1 → Refreshing Terrace → Monkey Watching the Sea → Lion Peak → Beginning-to-Believe Peak → Black Tiger Pine → White Goose Ridge → get down to Yungu Temple by foot or cable car
- If you want to stay overnight on the mountain top and wake up for sunrise, our Yellow Mountain Hiking Tour will not let you down.
1. If you’re planning a Huangshan tour for two days, you must stay at the top of the mountain for one night to view the sunset (Purple Cloud Peak in the West Sea) and sunrise (Dawn Pavilion or Refreshing Terrace in the North Sea).
2. You can just as well tour the above route in the opposite direction.
The itineraries of Day 1-2 can refer to the above Two-Day Tour.
Day 3: Tour Hongcun Village, a well-known ancient village located in the southwest corner of Huangshan.
- Click 3-Day Yellow Mountain and Hongcun Village Tour to start your natural and cultural tour in Huangshan!
How to Get to the Yellow Mountains from Huangshan City
First, take a shuttle bus from Huangshan Bus Station to the South Gate of Huangshan (Tangkou, 汤口), sometime between 6:30 and 17:30, at a cost of CNY 20.
Then take a tourist bus from Tangkou to Huangshan mountain-climbing entrance.
Transportation Methods for Getting Around the Mountains
Bus within the Scenic Area: there’s a transfer center for special buses running in the scenic area to Yungu Temple Cableway and Yunping Cableway.
Three cableways (with enclosed cars): Yuping (the front of the mountain), Yungu (the back of the mountain), and Taiping (the North Gate)
Opening hours: 7:00-17:00 (6:30-17:00 at weekends)
One-way price (per person):
- High season (from March to November): Yungu and Taiping – 80 RMB; Yuping – 90 RMB
- Low season (January, February, and December): Yungu and Taiping – 65 RMB; Yuping – 75 RMB
Please note: Every year during the low season from December to February, the three cable cars will take turns to stop operation for routine annual maintenance. So it’s important to check the up-to-date information before your travel.
4. Monorail in the West Sea Grand Canyon: You can take the rail cable car from Stone-Bed Peak to the bottom of the valley at a cost of 100 RMB. It runs between 8:30 and 16:30 from April to November. Notes: The monorail in West Sea Canyon is closed for maintenance from Sep.21, 2018, the opening time is unknown.
Where to Stay/The Best Hotels in Yellow Mountains
- 5-Star: Xihai Hotel, the best hotel on the mountain.
- 4-Star: Beihai Hotel, not so comfortable in winter.
- Inn: Huangshan Nuanshanding Hotel (黄山暖山町酒店), located at the foot of Huangshan, is next to the transfer center in the scenic area. It is the best choice if you don’t want to stay overnight on top of Huangshan.
Note: Hotels are limited on top of the mountains and due to limited resources their overall conditions are not as good as other star-rated hotels at the same levels.
Two Very Useful Tips You Do Need to Read
1. Prepared for changeable weather, so windcheaters, warm clothing, parasols, sturdy shoes (an extra pair thrown in), and all supplies of medication must be brought along.
2. Do remember to carry food and water while climbing the mountain, to supplement your strength.