My Experience and Advice: Visiting Huangshan (the Yellow Mountain)

Huangshan, which means “Yellow Mountain” in Chinese, is the image of China that we see in the movies. Climbing to the top of this UNESCO World Heritage Site is not for the faint of heart, but those who are up for the challenge will be rewarded with scenery that has inspired Chinese artwork for centuries.

Getting to Huangshan

The first discovery I made about this famous mountain is that it is not the easiest place to get to, especially for a foreigner such as myself.

I first had to take a train from Wenzhou to Shanghai because there were no direct trains to Huangshan. However, I ended up missing my connecting train in Shanghai. I couldn’t simply hop on the next train because even coming from Shanghai trains to the Yellow Mountain are limited and sell out quickly. Had I waited for the next train, I wouldn’t have been able to leave until late in the evening the next day.

I decided to hop on one of the trains from Shanghai to Hangzhou, which leave from Shanghai’s Hongqiao station virtually every ten minutes. From there, having gotten a bit weary of the train, I decided to try a different approach. I utilized the services of a website called China Bus Guide. The site was in English, and when I contacted them a very nice man who also spoke English assisted me in purchasing a bus ticket from Hangzhou to Huangshan’s “Scenic” bus station.

When I eventually did arrive at my destination via bus, I realized the situation had actually worked out for the better.

The train station is in the city of Huangshan, which is about an hour’s drive away from the actual Geopark. The scenic bus station, on the other hand, is about a 30 minute walk from the entrance to the park. In addition, if you’re in a hurry to get to the mountain, the bus station offers a shuttling service to and from the base of the mountain. Once you get there, the park offers a bus for a small fee that will take you up the mountain to the park gate.

Around the bus station is a small village that is clearly meant to accommodate tourists. There are a number of modest restaurants and hotels as well as services such as car rental. I found myself a room at a hotel right next to the bus station and bought myself some snacks and fruit at a convenience store. I then went walking down the road to determine where exactly the park was and how I would get there the next day.

I had gotten rather frustrated with the process of getting to Huangshan, but as soon as I rounded the corner and had my first glimpse of the mountain, that view by itself made the whole ordeal worth it.

Visiting Huangshan

The next day I took a bus up to the official park entrance. I handed in my pass at the entrance and began the climb to the top. Like most every Chinese park that entails some degree of climbing, stairs had been built into the slopes. I passed by a number of small stalls along the way that sold snacks and bottles of water to visitors.

Despite these accommodations, my shirt was already quite wet with perspiration by the time I reached the top of the climb and the path leveled out. I paused at what resembled something of an actual restaurant at the top of the climb to admire the view before continuing along the path.

I discovered there are a couple of different hotels at the top of the mountain. They offered all the usual services of a higher end hotel, but upon my return hike I saw a multitude of tents set up around the hotel as well as what seemed like a makeshift outdoor theater.

With every twist and turn I was met with another explanation of why Huangshan is known as the prettiest mountain in China. The rock formations that dotted the paths were graceful and majestic, and I periodically saw signs that bore the name of a rock formation. These names, such as “Two Cats and a Mouse” or “Rhino Watching the Moon” were meant to reflect the appearance of these formations.

Then I reached the end of the path. I perched myself up on a rock and waited for one of Huangshan’s famous sunsets. Time passed, and at a point I thought I was going to be disappointed. Then, the sun reached the perfect spot between the earth and the sky. Suddenly, a tremendous ray of light broke over the top of the mountain like a bridge into heaven and created a perfect, radiant link between the earth and the sky. The sun seemed to push the horizon closer to me as it took my eyes and mind a moment to discern which mountain peaks were real and which ones were illusions of the light.

After this amazing spectacle, I started to walk back and gradually began to realize I had underestimated how long it was going to take me to get back to the bottom of the mountain. By the time I reached the cable car station it was dark and the service had already been shut down for the night. I passed by the same hotel I had before and asked one of the employees which way to get off the mountain.

When she realized I intended to climb down Huangshan after dark, she seemed genuinely concerned for my safety and tried to offer me one of their dormitory beds for the night for 300 rmb.

I declined the offer and she told me to be careful. I climbed to the base of the mountain and encountered no real problems other than feet that had given up on being sore and decided to go numb instead.

I finally reached the park gate when the bus service had long since been shut down for the night. A park employee saw me and must’ve taken pity and phoned a bus driver because as I was trudging down the road a bus suddenly came up over the slope and stopped next to me. I showed the driver the business card of my hotel and he was kind enough to drive me all the way there.

Final Day and Thoughts on Visiting Huangshan

Although I don’t regret the opportunity to see the forests of the Yellow Mountain go from almost totally dark to illuminated by the intense moonlight with the passing of each cloud, next time I’ll probably look into getting a room in one of the mountain hotels.

The next couple of days I explored some of the less strenuous features of the park such as the Emerald Valley and the Nine Dragons Waterfall. These sites were also less than an hour’s walk from my hotel. I couldn’t find a bus that would take me to any of them, but when I went to the bus station behind the hotel I found a handful of taxi drivers waiting for prospective customers.

By use of both my translator and a small map, I was easily able to communicate where I wanted to go. Both locations were peaceful, quaint, and a welcome relief for my calf muscles. I could’ve sat there and gazed at the waterfall all day. I got so excited when I spotted a pair of monkeys walking nonchalantly through the trees in the Emerald Valley.

Since the bus had worked out so well before, I utilized the assistance of China Bus Guide again to get a bus from Huangshan Scenic bus station to Wenzhou. From Wenzhou, I managed to get a taxi back home.

The Yellow Mountain is not the first thing most people think of when they are reminded of China. For me though, after two years of living in China, Huangshan is my strongest and fondest memory.

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I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and went to California to get my first bachelor's degree. I am currently living and working as a teacher in China while studying the University of North Dakota's online bachelor of Communications/Journalism program.

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My Experience and Advice: Visiting Huangshan (the Yellow Mountain)

Huangshan, which means “Yellow Mountain” in Chinese, is the image of China that we see in the movies. Climbing to the top of this UNESCO World Heritage Site is not for the faint of heart, but those who are up for the challenge will be rewarded with scenery that has inspired Chinese artwork for centuries.

Getting to Huangshan

The first discovery I made about this famous mountain is that it is not the easiest place to get to, especially for a foreigner such as myself.

I first had to take a train from Wenzhou to Shanghai because there were no direct trains to Huangshan. However, I ended up missing my connecting train in Shanghai. I couldn’t simply hop on the next train because even coming from Shanghai trains to the Yellow Mountain are limited and sell out quickly. Had I waited for the next train, I wouldn’t have been able to leave until late in the evening the next day.

I decided to hop on one of the trains from Shanghai to Hangzhou, which leave from Shanghai’s Hongqiao station virtually every ten minutes. From there, having gotten a bit weary of the train, I decided to try a different approach. I utilized the services of a website called China Bus Guide. The site was in English, and when I contacted them a very nice man who also spoke English assisted me in purchasing a bus ticket from Hangzhou to Huangshan’s “Scenic” bus station.

When I eventually did arrive at my destination via bus, I realized the situation had actually worked out for the better.

The train station is in the city of Huangshan, which is about an hour’s drive away from the actual Geopark. The scenic bus station, on the other hand, is about a 30 minute walk from the entrance to the park. In addition, if you’re in a hurry to get to the mountain, the bus station offers a shuttling service to and from the base of the mountain. Once you get there, the park offers a bus for a small fee that will take you up the mountain to the park gate.

Around the bus station is a small village that is clearly meant to accommodate tourists. There are a number of modest restaurants and hotels as well as services such as car rental. I found myself a room at a hotel right next to the bus station and bought myself some snacks and fruit at a convenience store. I then went walking down the road to determine where exactly the park was and how I would get there the next day.

I had gotten rather frustrated with the process of getting to Huangshan, but as soon as I rounded the corner and had my first glimpse of the mountain, that view by itself made the whole ordeal worth it.

Visiting Huangshan

The next day I took a bus up to the official park entrance. I handed in my pass at the entrance and began the climb to the top. Like most every Chinese park that entails some degree of climbing, stairs had been built into the slopes. I passed by a number of small stalls along the way that sold snacks and bottles of water to visitors.

Despite these accommodations, my shirt was already quite wet with perspiration by the time I reached the top of the climb and the path leveled out. I paused at what resembled something of an actual restaurant at the top of the climb to admire the view before continuing along the path.

I discovered there are a couple of different hotels at the top of the mountain. They offered all the usual services of a higher end hotel, but upon my return hike I saw a multitude of tents set up around the hotel as well as what seemed like a makeshift outdoor theater.

With every twist and turn I was met with another explanation of why Huangshan is known as the prettiest mountain in China. The rock formations that dotted the paths were graceful and majestic, and I periodically saw signs that bore the name of a rock formation. These names, such as “Two Cats and a Mouse” or “Rhino Watching the Moon” were meant to reflect the appearance of these formations.

Then I reached the end of the path. I perched myself up on a rock and waited for one of Huangshan’s famous sunsets. Time passed, and at a point I thought I was going to be disappointed. Then, the sun reached the perfect spot between the earth and the sky. Suddenly, a tremendous ray of light broke over the top of the mountain like a bridge into heaven and created a perfect, radiant link between the earth and the sky. The sun seemed to push the horizon closer to me as it took my eyes and mind a moment to discern which mountain peaks were real and which ones were illusions of the light.

After this amazing spectacle, I started to walk back and gradually began to realize I had underestimated how long it was going to take me to get back to the bottom of the mountain. By the time I reached the cable car station it was dark and the service had already been shut down for the night. I passed by the same hotel I had before and asked one of the employees which way to get off the mountain.

When she realized I intended to climb down Huangshan after dark, she seemed genuinely concerned for my safety and tried to offer me one of their dormitory beds for the night for 300 rmb.

I declined the offer and she told me to be careful. I climbed to the base of the mountain and encountered no real problems other than feet that had given up on being sore and decided to go numb instead.

I finally reached the park gate when the bus service had long since been shut down for the night. A park employee saw me and must’ve taken pity and phoned a bus driver because as I was trudging down the road a bus suddenly came up over the slope and stopped next to me. I showed the driver the business card of my hotel and he was kind enough to drive me all the way there.

Final Day and Thoughts on Visiting Huangshan

Although I don’t regret the opportunity to see the forests of the Yellow Mountain go from almost totally dark to illuminated by the intense moonlight with the passing of each cloud, next time I’ll probably look into getting a room in one of the mountain hotels.

The next couple of days I explored some of the less strenuous features of the park such as the Emerald Valley and the Nine Dragons Waterfall. These sites were also less than an hour’s walk from my hotel. I couldn’t find a bus that would take me to any of them, but when I went to the bus station behind the hotel I found a handful of taxi drivers waiting for prospective customers.

By use of both my translator and a small map, I was easily able to communicate where I wanted to go. Both locations were peaceful, quaint, and a welcome relief for my calf muscles. I could’ve sat there and gazed at the waterfall all day. I got so excited when I spotted a pair of monkeys walking nonchalantly through the trees in the Emerald Valley.

Since the bus had worked out so well before, I utilized the assistance of China Bus Guide again to get a bus from Huangshan Scenic bus station to Wenzhou. From Wenzhou, I managed to get a taxi back home.

The Yellow Mountain is not the first thing most people think of when they are reminded of China. For me though, after two years of living in China, Huangshan is my strongest and fondest memory.

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