“Trips to China’s five great mountains render trips to other mountains unnecessary, and a trip to Yellow Mountain renders trips to the five great mountains unnecessary.” First time when I heard this sentence, I was a little girl. I couldn’t imagine how attractive Yellow Mountain (or we should say Mt. Huang) is that Xu Xiake (geographer, traveler and litterateur of Ming Dynasty) gave it such a high credit! And it’s a pity that I haven’t had the chance to visit it till my annual leave in the just past December.
I decided to visit Yellow Mountain back then as I knew though December is not a good choice for most cities of China (you might also know that best time for visiting most Chinese cities would be from April to October), Yellow Mountain is an exception. Originally I planned to appreciate the fabulous rime of Mt. Huang as normally it snows from early December and apart from the famous four wonders of it, namely wondrous pines trees, fantastic rocks, sea of clouds and hot springs, its amazing snow is another wonder. Ha-ha, speaking of which, you might laugh at me as I didn’t see a shadow of snow during my visit. However, hold your mock as I was fortunate enough to encounter a rather pleasant weather and had taken numerous fantastic pictures!! ~
I flew to Huangshan on a Saturday night from Chongqing. Huangshan Tunxi International Airport is actually a quite small one, so it won’t take long for you to collect your checked luggage. And arriving time around 21:00 (earlier than expected) allowed me to have a walk outside and do some shopping after I checked in at a hotel in downtown Tunxi. Goods (especially bottled water) cost more and only available at certain spots on Mt. Huang, hence preparing some snacks and a bottle of water beforehand is really important.
PS: preparing a walking stick is also suggested if you plan to do a lot of hiking. I kept telling my partner I DO NOT need anything of that kind earlier, confident that I am a strong walker, though I did buy one (with only RMB 3) eventually right before I enter Mt. Huang. Ha-ha, guess I was not that confident after all, yet the walking stick did seem to help me a lot during my two days on the mountain. Turns out I shouldn’t have prejudice toward it as it is definitely not something only for the elders.
There was slight rain in Tunxi the first day I arrive. Yet Lucky me! Weather couldn’t be better the next day when I head to Mt. Huang. Speaking of it, guess preparing an umbrella or raincoat is also a good choice as you know, just in case (actually on average, half of the year there might be raining days, but the scenery of Mt. Huang is worthy of a risk).
For easier hiking, I chose to begin my tour from the back part of Mt. Huang and get down from its front. Namely start my tour from Cloud Valley Temple and end at Ciguang Pavilion (Mercy Light Pavilion). Yet before taking a transfer bus to Yungu Temple, I stored my suitcase at a local hotel in Tangkou Town, nearest base to Mount Huangshan. Taking as little luggage as possible is rather important!! BTW: the transfer station at Tangkou also provides luggage storage service.
My official tour to Mt. Huang actually began from the nearly 10 minutes’ cable car tour. It doesn’t only can help save lots of energy, but also can provide a stunning aerial view of part of the North Sea Scenic Area. The miraculous shaped rocks, pine trees and clouds jumped into my sight and I knew, with or without rime there, this visit to Mt. Huang will be awesome!!~
The first scenic spot after the cable car is Begin-to-Believe Peak. Following it I visited Dreamy Flowery Writing Brush, Refreshing Terrace, Stone Monkey Watching the Sea and Lion Peak, etc. Each sightseeing platform provides a different bird’s-eye view of Mt. Huang.
After the visit, I checked in at Paiyunlou Hotel and after lunch and also a short rest, I continued my trip to West Sea Grand Canyon is not available from every December to March, so I didn’t have the chance to explore it but decided to visit The Echoing Wall and Stone from Heaven, where real climbing begins if you’ve chosen the same route as I did. Following it I returned through the same route and went to Danxia Peak (just behind Paiyunlou Hotel) for the coming sunset. Be patient and you will see a flowing yet harmonious scene composed by the glowing setting sun and the unyielding pine trees.
My second day on Mt. Huang was all for its front part. Passing through the Echoing Wall and Stone From Heaven, I arrived at the Bright Summit, the second highest peak(1840m) of Mt. Huang, also the best spot for appreciating Celestial Capital Peak(the steepest peak) and Lotus Flower Peak (1864m, the highest peak), both not available during winter for safety reasons. From there, begins the route down to Dragon Fish Peak, 100-step Scaling Ladder, Guest Greeting Pine, Mountain Waist Temple, etc. Use your imagination, and you will get numerous amazing pictures. Cable car of Jade Screen Station was not available during my visit, hence I walked down to Mercy Light Pavilion the whole way. I can only say it was definitely a right choice to begin my tour from Cloud Valley Temple as indeed it would be a big physical challenge for anyone who tries to climb Mt. Huang from Mercy Light Pavilion without taking a cable car up!!
It was still early after the downhill walking, so I took a transfer bus and headed to Snow Drifting Hot spring to relax my muscles. Mainly outdoor springs there, you shall be able to see snow around during winter time, guess that’s why it got its name. Yet if you plan to enjoy hot springs there, preparing a bathing suit ahead would be suggested as even though you can also buy one or rent one there, it might be more expensive and choices for you might be limited.
That night was spent at Tangkou County where lots of hostels and local restaurants can be found along the way. It was also at Tangkou that I had my first taste of special Huangshan dishes. Speaking of which, I personally recommend dishes made of fiddlehead, winter bamboo shoots, mushrooms, and a special recommendation for drumstick steamed with preserved vegetables(梅菜蒸鸡腿). I am not really into Smelly Mandarin fish (臭鳜鱼) and Mao-tofu (毛豆腐), yet they are rather famous Hui cuisine and you can also have a try.
The next day morning, I had a visit to Jadeite Valley (also named Lover’s Valley). Famous movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” directed by An Lee has been shot here. It is also a valley with a beautiful story and many lovers believe that their love will last after a visit there. Yet, maybe it’s because I didn’t visit it at a right time/season or maybe it’s just not my type, its scenery didn’t impress me. Hence I don’t really suggest a visit there (especially for anyone who have visited Jiuzhaigou before). However, indeed it is a rather peaceful and tranquil place, not many visitors there, so it’s undoubtedly a good place for you to take pictures as you like~
I took a public coach from Tangkou to Xidi Ancient Village that afternoon. Listed as World Heritage Site in 2000, it has 300 ancient dwellings left from Ming and Qing Dynasties, among them, 124 are well-preserved. These time-honored ancient buildings are absolutely excellent treasures for you to know more about Hui style architectures. Yet be careful not to get lost in the village, as among its maze of lanes and ancient buildings, you might fail to find your way out easily.
My last night in Huangshan was for Tunxi Ancient Street, once the commercial center of ancient Huizhou, also the best persevered old street in China in the style of the Southern Song Dynasty, Ming and Qing Dynasties. Well-kept ancient streets in other parts of China are a lot and somewhat the same as Tunxi Ancient Street, yet along this1.3 kilometers long and 5-8 meters wide street, you can appreciate it’s Hui-style architectures, taste special Huizhou snacks and dishes or maybe enjoy a cup of the famous tea of Huangshan, which no other ancient street of China can provide. No doubt, this is also the place where I bought many souvenirs for my family, friends and also myself before I put an end to my Huangshan tour~
So to summarize this visit of mine, I just want to say: there is a reason for Mt. Huang been reckoned as “King of all mountains”.
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Want to know more about the experienced travel expert Bertina’s trip? You could just contact her directly or continue to read her travelogue.