Huangshan, also known as Yellow Mountain, has been a popular destination in China since the ancient times famed for its uniquely-shaped rocks, incredible pine trees, hot springs and for the phenomena known as the ‘sea of clouds’.
It really looks like something out of Avatar!
As transportation has become more convenient, this beautiful gem has also become more easily accessible to keen hikers from around the world.
When combined with the archaic villages nearby (featuring traditional architecture and authentic folk life), a Huangshan hiking trip is a great choice for your China vacation.
This guide will help you plan a wonderful hiking trip to Huangshan to make the most of this incredible destination!
The Best Time to Visit Huangshan for Hiking
Generally speaking, spring (April – June) and autumn (September – November) are the best seasons for travel to China.
These two seasons also happen to offer magnificent natural views of Yellow Mountain, along with a temperate climate.
Traveling to Yellow Mountain, however, is not limited to only these two seasons as it enjoys varied beauty throughout the year.
In summer, Yellow Mountain is a great escape from summer heat and in the wintertime, the mountain is a popular photography destination, rewarding keen hikers with gorgeous snow-covered views.
Spring, summer and autumn are definitely the best times to visit Huangshan for hiking.
How Many Days Should I Stay to Hike Huangshan?
A hiking trip to Huangshan needs 4 days.
We also recommend one additional day is to admire the surrounding villages, including Hongcun Village and Xidi Village, taking your total visit up to 5 days.
You’ll want enough time to take in everything Huangshan has to offer – this is likely to be a lifetime experience.
Accommodation For Each of Your Days Hiking Huangshan
Whilst you’re hiking Huangshan, you’ll want to be sure you’ve got a comfortable spot to rest your head. The following are our accommodation recommendations.
Night One: Tunxi
To hike Huangshan, we suggest you spend one night in the downtown area of Tunxi. There are many different hotel choices in Tunxi, there you will find something to suit all budgets from international 5 star chain hotels to popular local hostels. The Tunxi district of Huangshan is small. The city itself is home to the Xin’an River which flows peacefully across the city, dividing the city into two parts. You can’t go wrong with hotels on either side of the river.
- Budget: Huangshan Sanggehua Homestay. With a delicious breakfast, a welcoming host who goes above and beyond and comfortable, tidy rooms, this is budget accommodation done right.
- Affordable Luxe: Mild Spring Boutique Hotel. A traditional boutique hotel, exceptionally renovated – it’s a real winner.
- Luxe: Huangshan Shanshuijian Hui Boutique Hotel. Thanks to its designer style, this is a hotel that’s Insta ready. It’s our pick in Huangshan City!
Night Two and Three: The Huangshan Mountain Top
Whilst hiking Huangshan, you should aim to spend two nights on the mountain top.
- Budget: XunShanLou Hotel. Comfortable and well-located, this guesthouse is amazing value for money!
- Moderate: Shilin Hotel. This hotel offers great value for money and information to help you on your Huangshan hike. They even share forcasts to inform you of your chances of a stunning mountain sunrise.
- Luxe: Xihai Hotel. The best hotel on top of the mountain, this local 5 star hotel has excellent facilities, service and breakfasts which guarantee a comfortable stay.
Night Four: Xidi Village
Finally, book one night in at the Xidi Village. This is a must-see, where you’ll enjoy total relaxation in the serene beauty of a local rural community.
- Traditional Luxe: Pig’s Boutique Hotel Bishan. This hotel was during the Ming Dynasty with elegant and local design, offering a relaxing and pleasant stay.
Bonus Night – Five: Chengkan Town
If you’ve got some extra time up your sleeve, we recommend spending a night in Chengkan Town. It’s the perfect place to break your journey between the city and mountain (so would work well as the second night’s accommodation on this trip), or you’re able to detour there once you’ve finished visiting the other locations we suggested.
- Luxe: Huanghsan SU House. Beyond stunning, this traditional estate has been beautifully renovated and is a real destination homestay in China. It can’t be missed!
How to Get to Huangshan
Huangshan has both direct and indirect flights to the top three cities in China; Beijing (where you’ll find the Great Wall of China), Shanghai (the most modern city) and Xi’an (home to the Terracotta Army). You’ll also find direct flights that connect Huangshan with two important gateway cities; Shenzhen and Guangzhou.
It’s important to note that flights from some cities only operate on certain dates. So before you book your trip, check flight schedules and plan the most appropriate cities for your connection to hike in Huangshan.
By High Speed Train
Thanks to the well-developed high speed train system, travel by land is a breeze. Today, high speed train travel to Yellow Mountain is popular among travellers as they can travel directly to Huangshan from famous touristy cities; Hangzhou (West Lake), Xiamen (Hakka Earthen Buildings), Nanjing (Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum), Xi’an, Shanghai and Beijing are all in easy reach thanks to Chinese railway lines.
Train tickets can be purchased locally, or online ahead of time through an agent, should you prefer.
This guide talks through all of the potential ways to purchase train tickets in China – it’s super handy!
By Sleeper Train
There are sleeper trains connecting Huangshan with even more places in China. If you are backpacking, a sleeper train is a great value choice.
It’s worth noting that as many Chinese travel by trains as well, the tickets are always in high demand. Early reservations are definitely needed to guarantee a smooth trip.
How to Get to Yellow Mountain from Huangshan City
A private vehicle makes the transfer easy (and quick at only 40 minutes). If you would like to book this option, we suggest you get in touch with a reputable tourism company.
If you prefer to experience the local buses, you’ll find them heading to the Yellow Mountain scenic area every 20 minutes. The Huangshan Distance Buses Station in the city is where you’ll both buy your tickets and depart. The bus ride itself is around 70 minutes.
We suggest you arrive in Tangkou Town which is close to the South Gate of the scenic area. This is where your Huangshan hiking starts.
Recommended Hiking Route
To start your Huangshan trekking, you’ll want to catch a shuttle bus to transfer to the foot of the mountain; the Mercy Light Pavilion.
From Tangkou, you can purchase tickets for the shuttle bus at the Tangkou Transfer Station. The cost for this shuttle is around RMB38 (USD5.35) for a return trip.
Route for First Day Hiking
Follow this route to experience the most classic trekking route on the Yellow Mountain. Start your trekking from Mercy Light Pavilion, pass the Jade Screen Peak, take in the infamous Greeting Guest Pine (at 1,000 years old), get on top of the highest peak – Lotus Peak, experience the One hundred Ladders, then get to Bright Summit and see the stunning Flying-Over Peak.
Total time hiking/sight seeing:
Approximately 5 hours.
Following your first day of hiking, we suggest you head back to your hotel and take it easy, ready for another exciting day on the mountain. If the weather permits, be sure to pop back out to enjoy the beautiful sunset too.
Day One In Short:
- Mercy Light Pavilion
- Jade Screen Peak
- Greeting Guests Pine-
- Lotus Peak
- One Hundred Ladders
- Bright Summit
- Flying-Over Peak
Route for Second Day Hiking
The second day’s trekking will bring you to the gorgeous West Sea Canyon. Again, you will start from the Cloud Dispelling Pavilion.
Today, you will trek down to the First Ring, then the Second Ring (which has some fairly steep and exciting steps) to the bottom of the canyon. To save energy, we recommend catching the monorail to the White Cloud Peak area, and then hike towards the Fairy Walking Bridge. This is seldom visited so with a little luck, you’ll be alone to enjoy the beautiful serenity.
Total time hiking/sight seeing:
This day is a full day hiking so be prepared as it is energy consuming and challenging.
Day Two In Short:
- Cloud Dispelling Pavilion
- First Ring of West Sea Canyon
- Second Ring
- White Cloud Peak
- Fairy Walking Bridge
Third Day Hiking Route
The third day starts from Lion Peak, before continuing on to see Stone Monkey Gazing over a Sea of Clouds. Once you’ve soaked in the views from up high, you’ll come on down and continue hiking. See Flower Blooming on a Brush Tip, before walking past the famous Black Tiger Pine, Harp Pine, Phoenix Pine and Couple Pine. Then hike to the stunning Begin to Believe Peak where you will overlook the incredible sea clouds (if you’re lucky!) As you hike down the mountain, you’ll move from the White Goose Ridge to the Yungu Temple where your day of hiking finishes.
If you are feeling a little tired, a cable car from the White Goose Ridge to Yungu Temple is available.
Afterwards, catch the shuttle bus to back Tangkou for a well-deserved rest!
Day Three In Short:
- Lion Peak
- Stone Monkey Watching the Sea
- Flower Peak
- Begin to Believe Peak
- White Goose Ridge
- Yungu Temple
Food on Yellow Mountain
Food choices are limited whilst hiking on the mountain. Because of this, we recommend you bring plenty of snacks and drinks to fuel you for the day.
Should you prefer to eat on Huangshan, the hotels at the top of the mountain have restaurants that offer pretty good Chinese food.
Xihai hotel has a buffet lunch and dinner which has very reasonable prices which makes a delicious dinner an easy choice!
Essential Packing Tips You’ll Need to Hike Huangshan (Yellow Mountain)
Weather on the mountain is changeable during the day and cooler at night time.
Regardless of the time of year, a jacket is always a good idea just in case it gets rainy or cooler.
In summer, when the area has more rain, an umbrella or waterproof jacket is definitely suggested. You’ll find vendors selling disposable ponchos and shoe covers, should you need them, but we do suggest taking your own – they’ll be more comfortable and more environmentally friendly.
A trekking cane/hiking poles are also strong recommended as there are many steep sections during the hikes. If you don’t have your own, you are able to pick up a wooden trekking cane from local vendors.
Most importantly, remember to bring enough water for the duration of your hikes (and then some). Some of the hikes have very limited access to supplies (or example, after the Cloud Dispelling Pavilion, there will be nowhere to get water until you get down to the bottom
of the West Sea Canyon). You don’t want to be caught out.
Snacks are also essential to keep up your energy up for long days of hiking.
Luggage Storage for Hiking on Huangshan
Traveling to China, travellers often have big suitcases, yet hiking on the mountain requires travelling light.
Should you need to, you’re able to store your luggage at the foot of the mountain (at the Tourist Information Centre).
You will find it upon your arrival to Tangkou by bus. The cost is RMB15 (USD2.10) per piece per day or RMB1 per hour (USD0.15).
Visit Surrounding Ancient Villages
A visit to Huangshan must include the nearby ancient villages – like two of the most famous offerings – Hongcun Ancient Village and Xidi Ancient Village. Here, travellers will not only see traditional architecture but also observe the original way of life for the villagers.
What’s more, you’ll appreciate the special layout of the villages, the well-preserved family shrines, ancient schools, and much more interesting and unique local culture.
Another highly recommended village is Chengkan Village. This is less touristy and is home to more authentic buildings and traditional culture. Of particular interest is the unique design of the village, which considered the philosophy of Chinese Eight Diagrams.
Huangshan (the Yellow Mountain) is a real highlight in China and a must-do for nature lovers.
If you enjoy hiking, it’s worth getting out of the big cities and hitting the Huangshan hills.
With this thorough guide, there’s no reason not to!
Keen to hit some amazing Huangshan hiking? Pin this post!
Thank you to Sarah Zhou, an expert on all things China, for this fantastic post on hiking Huangshan.