Located in Southern Shaanxi (陕西) province, Mount Hua or HuaShan (华山) is the Western Mountain of the 5 great mountains of China. Mount Hua is located nearby the city of Huayin(华阴), about 120 kilometers east of Xi’an, home of the famous tera cotta warriors. Mount Hua has a long religious significance in China, and the highest of its 5 peaks is 2155 meters.
Mount Hua, or Huashan, is known for its beautiful and steep vistas, dramatic cliffs, crags, and hiking trails. There are also several important Taoist temples located across Huashan.
- Entrance Fee: March-November: 160 CNY; December-February: 100 CNY
- Hours of Operation: essentially open 24/7, but for Taoist temples: Xiyue Temple: 09:00-17:30, Jade Spring Temple: 09:00-19:00
- Peak Heights: South Peak: 2155 meters (7,070 feet); East Peak: 2096 meters (6,877 feet); West Peak: 2,082 meters (6,831 feet); North Peak: 1,615 meters (5,298 feet).
- Best Time to Visit: Between April and October.
- Location: nearby Huayin City- about 120 kilometers (75 miles), east of Xi’an
Mount Hua Hiking Routes
There are many different ways to Hike Huashan. Many visitors choose a combination of hiking pathways and cable cars, as they can easily see the highest peaks and most majestic vistas.
Huashan also boasts some of the most austere drops and steep, high, cliffs that can be found on hiking paths anywhere in the world. However, remember that these hiking trails see thousands of tourists every year, and whether you fall 50 meters or 5000 meters- you will be no more or less dead. Remember to take the many “Most dangerous hike in the world!” articles and stories you will find online with a grain of salt. It’s best to forget the hyperbole and simply try an adventurous hiking route.
At the foot of Huashan, visitors can check out Jade Spring Temple, the Memorial Archway, and 5 Dragon Bridge, all within a 5-15 minutes’ walk of each other. At 5 Dragon Bridge, hikers will find the ticket office, from which the vistas can be seen.
East Peak (Sun-Facing Peak)
Climbing the 2,090 (6,857 feet) meter tall East Peak takes 4-6 hours. At the top there is a platform with a telescope for sunrise viewing. The Immortal’s Palm Peak (whose rocky veins look like a titanic hand was pushed into the rock) is visible from the East Peak.
West Peak (Lotus Flower Peak)
The West Peak, at 2082 meters (6,831 feet) also boasts sheer cliffs, a Taoist Temple names Cuiyun Palace, and a large rock which resembles a lotus flower.
South Peak (Landing Goose Summit)
South Peak (Landing Goose Summit) is the highest peak, with an elevation of about 2,155 meters (7,067 feet). It is the highest peak of the 5 sacred mountains of China.
Visitors to the South Peak can traverse the Chankong Road. The Changkong or Cangkong Road is a pathway of planks stretching along the side of cliff with a 90 degree drop. The path itself is only about 1/3 of a meter (1 foot) wide. Below is a massive drop. It’s not an ideal trail for those afraid of heights.
Visitors to the South Peak can also see the Baidi Temple, A.K.A. Jintian Palace, the home of the Taoist deity Shaohao.
North Peak (Cloud Terrace Peak)
The North Peak may only be 1,615 meters (5,298 feet), but it’s steep cliffs on either side make it look like a walkway through the heavens.
One of the cliffs is called “Ear-Pressing Cliff,” named so because hikers can only ascend it by staying extremely close to the cliff- so close that it looks like they are pressing their ear to the rock. There is a cableway station located at the North Peak.
The Jade Maiden Temple, for which the central part of Huashan is named, is located at this peak. There are many sites of religious significance here, with stories that add to the spiritual nature of this area.
Recommended Hiking Routes
Huashan Hiking Map
1 Day Hiking Routes
- 1 Day Full Hike Route: Tourist Center → North Peak Cable Car → East Peak → South Peak → West Peak → West Peak Cable Car → Tourist Center
- Duration: 6~8 hours depending on hiking speed/fitness level.
This hike is recommended for most visitors who plan on spending one day at Huashan- it shows has a bit of everything: visitors will see the North, South, East, and West Peaks, they will also take cable car rides, see some very beautiful scenery, and traverse the famous Huashan Plank Walk.
Note that this hike is a bit difficult for the average tourist, as hiking for a full 6-8 hours will be exhausting for most people.
- 1 Day Fast Hike Route: Tourist Center → Tourist Bus → West Peak Cable Car → West Peak → South Peak → East Peak → West Peak → West Peak Cable Car → Tourist Bus → Tourist Center
- Duration: 5~6 hours
This route is the fastest way to see a lot of Huashan quickly. It’s great for seniors, large groups, and tourists with small children. The cableway takes you directly up to the summit of the mountain.
2 Hour Hike
Take the North Peak Cable Car and hike along the Canglong Ridge. This short route is good for people who want a more relaxing experience, or don’t have very much time.
Route: North Peak Cableway Station → Group of Immortals Taoist Temple → Laujun Furrow → Macaque Sorrow → Return to North Peak Cableway Station along the same route.
2 Day Hiking Routes
The trail down the mountain
Visiting Mount Hua for 2 days will enable most people to see the majority of its beautiful sights, and proficient hikers to visit everything.
Hikers who will be hiking for 2 days should ascend by Yuquan temple to the North Peak, the do the East Peak, followed by the South Peak. The final peak 2-day hikers should visit is the West Peak, after which they can use West Cable Car to descend. Below is the detailed 2-day hiking route:
Day 1: A long day of trekking
Huashan Tourist Center → Park Bus (15 minutes) → Yuquan Temple → Mount Hua West Gate (20 minutes) → Huixin Rock (2 hours) → North Peak (2 hours) → Central Peak (2 hours) → East Peak (30 minutes)
Accommodation: You can find the Wuyunfeng Hotel and the East Peak Guest House on the way to East Peak and at East Peak respectively.
This hike has a very difficult section, from Huixin Rock to North Peak, so be sure to allot more time than you think necessary for this long day of hiking.
Day 2: Wake up to the sunrise at East Peak.
East Peak → Sunrise Pavilion (10 minutes) → Sparrow Hawk Turning (10 minutes) → Chess Playing Pavilion (10 minutes) → Plank Road (30 minutes) → South Peak (1 hour to 1.5 hours) → West Peak (30 minutes) → West Cableway (20 minutes) → End of 2 days hike (20 minutes)
The Plank Walk in the Sky (长空栈道)
Hiking the Plank Walk in the Sky
Arguably the most (in)famous place in Mount Hua, the Plank Walk elicits its notoriety for being one of the world’s most dangerous hikes. Constructed 700 years ago, but fortunately maintained, this walkway lasts about 4 meters and is only about 30 centimeters wide.
The road consists of planks held into a vertical cliff by iron stakes. Narrow planks function as steps and thick wire running above them alongside the cliff functions as a hand-rope to maintain balance.
For safety, those who wish to traverse Plank Road can rent safety harnesses with fall-arrest lines for 30 CNY. Many tourists like to play up the “death defying” aspect of this part of Huashan, but you should recognize that this route is as safe as a via ferrata, which is a common type of climbing pathway.
1. West Peak (Taihua Cableway)
The West Gate at the foot of the West Peak
Near Wengyu Peak Scenic Area (华山瓮峪景区) at the foot of Huashan there is a station where visitors can take a cable car to the West Peak. There is a stop at White Sparrow Temple mid-way through the cableway. The whole ride is about 4.2 kilometers (2.6 miles) and takes around 20 minutes. This cableway facilitates seeing most of the mountain, as it is easier to visit the other peaks from the West Peak than from the other cableway or by hiking alone.
You will need to take a tour bus from Huashan Tourist Center to Wengyu Peak Scenic Area (19KM) to get to the cable car station.
March to November: 140 CNY 1-way, 280 CNY round-trip
December to February: 120 CNY 1-way, 240 CNY round-trip
- Service Hours: March to November: 07:00-19:00; December to February: 08:00-18:00
2. North Peak Cableway
The North Peak Cableway
From Yuquan Temple you can take an 8 KM road (5 miles) to Wamiaogou (瓦庙沟). From there is a cable car directly to the North Peak of Huashan. The ride takes under 10 minutes and is about 1,500 meters (0.9 miles total). A tour bus runs between the tourist service center and Wamiaogou.
Tour Bus to North Peak: 20 CNY 1-way, 40 CNY round-trip
Cable Car from Wamiaogou to North Peak: March to November: 80 CNY 1-way, 150 CNY round-trip
December to February: 45 CNY 1-way, 80 CNY round-trip
- Service Hours: March to November: 07:00-19:00; December to February: 08:00-18:00
How to get to Mount Hua from Xi’an
The Xi’an Zhengzhou bullet train goes from Xi’an North Train Station to Huashan North Train Station in Mengyuan town. The train departs every 40 minutes, and the ride takes about 35 minutes. Costs range from 55-100 CNY.
1. From Xi’an Railway Station coach buses leave regularly during normal business hours. The bus can be taken straight to the foot of the mountain, making it an excellent choice for kitted-out trekkers.
2. Travelers can also take Tourism Bus Line 1 at Xi’an Railway Station to the foot of the mountain and at the main ticket hall (east gate) of Huashan.
3. From the Xian Cheng Dong Coach Station, visitors can take the regular bus to Huayin City. The bus leaves every 15 minutes, from 07:00 to 19:15, takes about 2 hours, and costs 35 CNY.
Private Car or Van
Taxis and private vans can be arranged through various agencies in Xi’an. Their prices will range from several hundred CNY for a taxi/private car from Xi’an to Huashan to 50-60 CNY for a shared van.
Accommodation at Mount Hua
Huayin City and Nearby Huashan
Huayin City is loaded with accommodation, and a quick internet search will reveal numerous hotels that should suffice for a wide range of clientele- from those looking for a cheap hostel on their way to the mountain, to those looking for 5-star type resorts.
As for accommodation on Huashan itself, there are options as well.
Staying on Mount Hua
Accommodation on Mount Hua is basic and functional- don’t expect resorts or an exceedingly high degree of comfort on the mountain. The steep cliffs and tight mountain passes are beautiful, but they aren’t accommodating to building huge structures with lots of amenities.
The hotels on Mount Hua tend to have basic accommodations, dormitory rooms, private rooms, showers, and camping gear. Here are some recommends:
1. East Peak Hotel (东峰饭店)
On the south side of Mount Hua’s east peak is the East Peak Hotel. It is only about 1 kilometer from the West Peak Cableway. Forests and dramatic cliffs make this area generally regarded as the best place to see the sunrise at Mount Hua. This hotel is also surrounded by numerous of Huashan’s famous attractions.
The East Peak Hotel can accommodate over 200 people, in dormitory and hotel-style rooms. Dorm rooms include: 10-bed rooms and 4-bed rooms. The hotel rooms each have 2 beds. There are also some individual capsule style rooms.
- All toilets at the East Peak Hotel are public.
- East Peak Hotel’s rooms are hard to book so it is best for low-season bookings, especially if you are booking last-minute.
- Because of its location, it is good for those who wish to do little hiking and still catch the sunrise.
2. West Peak Hotel (华山西峰饭店)
One of the best places to view the sunset at Huashan, the West Peak Hotel is divided into two parts:
1) Cuiyun Palace
Part of an old Taoist Temple megastructure, the Zhenyu Palace. It is also close to both the West Peak Cableway, and the summit of West Peak. Food available are some basic Chinese dishes with high prices (on account of the difficult location), and some fast food. Expect to spend 50 RMB or more for even the simplest meal/snack. Rooms are warm and cozy, and private rooms are available.
2) Metrological Guest House
This oddly-named accommodation only provides extremely basic amenities: 2-bed and 10 bed rooms, as well as public bathrooms only. There are no showers.
- West Peak Hotel is good for travelers arriving late at West Peak (for example, those who wish to see the sunset)
- West Peak Hotel is within walking distance of Huashan’s various peaks:
West Peak: 10 minutes; South Peak: 20 minutes; East Peak: 40 minutes; North Peak: 90 minutes
3. Huashan North Peak Hotel (华山北峰饭店)
North Peak and the hotel there
Conveniently located only 10 minutes from the North Peak Sante Cableway, this hotel is less popular because it is further from the various peaks than the other hotels. Its room conditions on the other hand, are better than the mountain’s other hotels.
Room types include 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, and 16-bed rooms. North Peak Hotel also has Wi-Fi, electricity for charging devices, and vendors selling snacks/drinks.
- Best for those looking for serious hikes. Staying at this hotel will provide visitors with nice opportunities to hike the various peaks and see many of Mount Hua’s sights over the course of several days.
- Good for those arriving late in the day via the cableway.
4. Huashan Wuyunfeng Hotel (华山五云峰饭店)
Between the North Peak and the East Peak, situated in the forests under Jinsuoguan Pass, is Wuyunfeng Hotel. Wuyunfeng is the most full-fledged hotel in Huashan. There is a breathtaking view of the Yellow River, sunrise and sunset views, and the widest range of amenities available in the accommodation at Huashan.
Rooms range from double to 5+ person rooms. There is also food and entertainment, ranging from fast food/noodles to a tea hall, and hotel restaurant. Wuyunfeng can accommodate over 80 people each night.
- Visitors wishing to see the sunrise or sunset should leave from the hotel at least 1.5 hours in advance.
- Wuyunfeng is advised for those arriving late, whether on foot or by cableway.
- High-end travelers will appreciate staying at this hotel as it provides private rooms and bathrooms.
5. Camping on Huashan
Adventurous travelers will find numerous camping spots on Huashan. Camping spots include: East Peak near Sunrise Pavilion and East Peak Hotel, West Peak, and South Peak near Jinsuo Pass. It is highly recommended to bring your own gear.
- Campers should bring their own tents and sleeping bags. Hotels will rent out tents, but they are more expensive than sleeping in a dorm room for the night.
- Campers should be especially prepared for cold, windy nights. Cold weather sleeping bags, extra clothing layers, and wind protection are a must.
- Don’t forget the usual camping supplies, headlights, water/food, a first-aid kit, etc., are necessary.
Most travelers should be able to book tickets during their Huashan trip. During high season, A.K.A. “shoulder season,” which is roughly May-August it’s recommended to book hotels and high-speed train tickets in advance.
Additionally, during Chinese holidays- most notably Golden Week (October 1-7)- it is also recommended to book entry tickets, train tickets, and hotel accommodation on the mountain well in-advance. Feel free to contact us when you need help to book Mount Hua tickets.
1. Shoes: Hiking boots or walking sneakers are a must, even if you take the cableway- make sure you bring something you are comfortable walking in
2. Walking Sticks: Unless required for physical reasons such as an injury, it simply isn’t necessary, and most likely hikers will want their hands free for gripping stone/surroundings on the precipitous slopes for which Huashan is famous.
3. Sun Protection: During the Autumn, Summer, and Spring, it’s a good idea to bring hats and clothes that provide body coverage, as well as plenty of sunblock because UV rays are notably strong at elevations above 1000 meters- nobody wants skin cancer.
4. Water: Hikers should bring at least 1.5 or 2 liters of water, it is possible to buy more along the mountain trails, but be certain to bring more than you think you will require.
5. Food: Food purchased on the mountain will be limited, and more expensive than normal, so be sure to bring adequate food.
6. Extra Layers: If you are going in Autumn or Winter, be prepared for cold weather at night- bring a jacket (preferably a waterproof windbreaker with insulation), and it’s also a good idea to bring gloves and some extra layers.
7. Emergency Gear: A flashlight and/or whistle is a good idea for the purpose of signaling in the case of an injury or other emergency.
8. Map: A map is a good thing to have for any hike, however Huashan is well-marked with signs so a digital map on a phone should easily suffice in place of a paper map.
9. Packing: Simply put, pack light. Bring everything you need, but things that are light enough to carry comfortably on your back for at least 1 full day of hiking.
10. Attractions (Besides the Peaks): Mount Hua has many attractions, from caves to temples to ancient forests, and it can take a long time to see them all; it is imperitive that you plane enough time to get to all the attractions you wish to see at Mount Hua.