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Of all the notable mountains in China, Yellow Mountain, or Huangshan Mountain, is the most famous and the most loved. You will find this mountain range in Anhui province in eastern China. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a major tourist destination.

A pine tree in the Yellow mountain

A Huangshan pine tree

Tourists like to come here because of the fabulous views, gorgeous sunrises, Huangshan pine trees, hot springs (most are located at the foot of the Purple Cloud Peak; the water stays at 42C for most of the year), the Buddha light phenomenon, which appears a couple of times each month, and many other reasons.

A short history of the Yellow Mountain

The mountain was formed approximately 100 million years ago. During the Qing Dynasty, it was known as Yishan (Mount Yi). In 747 AD it was changed by imperial decree to Huangshan, most probably to honor the famous Chinese emperor Hyang Do (Yellow Emperor) and the mythological ancestor of Han Chinese. According to one legend, the Yellow Emperor ascended from Huangshan to heaven. Another legend states that he „cultivated moral character and refined pills of immortality and so doing gave the mountains his name“.

A Yellow Mountain

A Yellow Mountain in clouds

The mountain has over 140 sites of interest for visitors, and is famous for its 60,000 carved stone steps, which are found throughout the area, and are believed to be about 1500 years old.

Before going to the Yellow Mountain, please remember that it rains a lot there. While I was heading to the mountain, it was raining heavily, so at the entrance to the cable car in the shop I bought a plastic raincoat and a huge umbrella as well, which became a lifesaver during the trip to the top of the mountain.

There are two options to get to the top of the mountain – climb all the way or take a cable car half way, and then walk to the top. If you hike all the way to the top, be prepared for quite a steep climb, but the stairs are quite comfortable and have a hand rail. It is usually more interesting to climb up one way and to descend another for different views. The stairs on the eastern side are more difficult than those on the western side.

I took the cable car during the rain, so I did not see much, and climbing to the top in the rain was also difficult, as crowds of tourists with umbrellas surrounded me. Frankly speaking, the beginning of the trip was quite disappointing, as it was wet, windy and I could not take any pictures.

It rains a lot on a Yellow Mountain

It rains a lot there

When I reached the peak of the mountain, the clouds had cleared and the rain had stopped. After lunch in a local restaurant, I finally could enjoy the beauty of the Huangshan Mountain and take pictures! It is definitely amazing and you have to see it if you‘re in China! The Chinese say, if you‘ve seen this mountain, there is no need to see other mountains in China…

Going down, I could observe spectacular views from the cable car.

My tips for the Yellow Mountain: be prepared for the rain, but the good news is that it will not rain all the time; the weather changes very frequently there. Take a lot of water for climbing. Not all the signposts are in English, so take a map from the hotel. Avoid Chinese holidays, and try to ascend the mountain after lunch, unless you enjoy climbing in noisy crowds. Please note that a cable car operates until 4 p.m. daily. If you have two days to spend there – you will be able to visit some peaks that are off the beaten path.

Getting there: You can travel to Huangshan domestic airport from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou or take an international flight from Seoul. Many trains travel to the railway station from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hefei and Nanjing. You can also take a bus from many places in south China, including Hangzhou, Ningbo, Shanghai, Wuhan and Hefei.
You also can take a bus from the Huangshan city center for 19 RMB. A one-way cable car trip costs around 90 RMB.

Everything is brought by porters

Everything has to be brought by porters

If you want to see a sunrise, it is advisable to stay in the hotel on the mountain, but be aware that, after the cable car, you will still need to walk with your luggage for around an hour to the hotel. You can pay a porter to help you. Everything has be carried by porters to hotels and restaurants on the mountain, so it‘s more expensive to stay there. It is important to book your room in advance.
Staying in Huangshan is cheaper, but if you stay overnight in a hotel on the mountain, make sure that you talk to the officers about your re-admission to the mountain the next day, as the admission ticket is usually limited to the same day, so you need to register for another day‘s entrance.

The arts and literature about the Huangshan Mountain.

The Huangshan Mountain is very well depicted in Chinese art and literature, especially in Chinese ink paintings. There are more than 20,000 poems about it, and a shanshui painting school was named after it, with renowned artists Jian Jiang, Jia Shibiao and others. The most famous of all was Shi Tao, whose essay, „Comments of the paintings of the monk Bitter Pumpkin“ is one of the most important in Chinese literature. James Cameron, the director of the movie, Avatar, cited this mountain as one of the essential inspirations in designing the fictional world of the film.

The Huangshan national park attracts 2.7 million tourists annually and this number is growing at around 9% per year.

Where to stay if not on the Yellow Mountain

If you stay in Huangshan city, I advise you to have a look at the Crown Plaza hotel, as it is one of the most comfortable and enjoyable hotels I’ve stayed in Chinese provinces. It has elegant and comfortable rooms, nice amenities, and a wide selection of food for breakfast. It is located in an area that is a bit remote from the city center, but is only half an hour from the airport and railway station.
The address:
No.1 Huizhou Avenue, Tunxi District, Huangshan 245000, China
00 1 877-859-5095

What to see in Huangshan City
Wooden carvings

The wooden carvings

In the evening, after a fantastic trip to the Yellow Mountain, I decided to visit an ancient street in the old Tunxi center. This street dates back to the Song Dynasty (960 to 1279). Some sources say that it is the best-preserved ancient street in China in the style of the Song, Ming and Qing Dynasties! The total length of this street is 1,273 metres, and the most significant part of it is a commercial area. The street is paved with maroon flagstones, and when entering it, you are surrounded by exquisite Hui-style architecture: white walls, grey tiles, elegant structures, memorial archways, etc. It is composed of one straight street, 18 alleys and three side streets. Strolling along the road, I enjoyed beautiful wood carvings – on beams, handrails, etc.

There are two museums there – the Cheng family houses – 3 Ming Dynasty houses with a 600-year history, located at N.6, 7 and 28, Baishu Dongli Alley. They were built by Chen Min, a famous master of the Ming Dynasty. There are beautiful wooden, tile and stone carvings there. The houses are open daily from 08.30 to 17.00 pm. Entrance costs 30 RMB

Tunxi museum

This is a regional museum displaying Ming and Qing Dynasty furniture, calligraphy, paintings, Huizhou tile carvings and much more. You can find the unique She ink stone (weight 360kg) there. It is also open 08.30 to 17.00 pm.
Shoppers will find a lot of local artisan works there, and tourists can see them working. It is worthwhile going to see wood carvings or glass paintings, such as glass bracelets with painting inside).
For foodies there are plenty of opportunities to try local tea and snacks. Try the famous local Huangshan Maofeng or Taiping Kowkui teas. I learned from locals to be careful with green tea leaves – if they look too green, they could be artificially colored!
Anhui cuisine is one of 8 main cuisines in China, and here you can try soft shell crab cooked with ham, Mandarin fish or baked odorous curd.

The street is located in the center of the Tunxi district of Huangshan city, 5 km from the airport, and 3.3 km from the railway station.